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NEON Client Invents Phone App to Connect Contractors to Customers

Robin Crockett, proprietor of Heaven Scent Home Cleaning LLC, is redefining bidding for contracts. With the Virtual Bid App, Crockett allows service contractors the ability to virtually connect with prospective clients, eliminating the need for costly and time-consuming logistics.

Crockett (pictured on left) describes herself as seasoned entrepreneur, doting single mother, and dedicated worker. She can now add Black woman in tech to her credentials, but the road from cleaning business to patent-pending app that allows users to connect instantly via live real-time video wasn't easy.

In 1995, with just her GED and two mouths to feed, Crockett decided to clean homes to support herself and her family. She went to the Dollar Store, purchased $20 worth of cleaning supplies, from this, Heaven Scent Home Cleaning LLC was born.

Her first clients were homeowners in North Minneapolis and under advice from a business mentor, she expanded her client base to include more affluent neighborhoods. From this, Heaven Scent skyrocketed. As more clients clamored for her, she employed staff and made it her duty to remunerate them a livable wage.

One day, as Crockett hustled through traffic on a busy day to a contract bid meeting, she was hit with the realization that bidding was a logistical nightmare. It wastes valuable time and money getting to a location for a job that you may not end up securing. She dreamed of an app that would make bidding easier. She knew it wouldn't be easy, but she was taken aback by the stumbling blocks that prevented her from making her vision a reality.

Initially, she employed the services of an offshore company, which led her to cultural barriers, gender discrimination, and wasted a considerable amount of money. Disheartened, Crockett even put the idea to rest for a while. However, her burning ambition would not let her rest.

With her interest reignited, she decided to turn to NEON and other community-based resources for support. NEON VP of Business Development Stephen Obayuwana connected her to a group of local investors so she could raise the needed capital. "From Day 1, Stephen has been one of my biggest cheerleaders," she says. On the technology side, she turned to app developer Christopher Black, owner of Blacktop Interactive. "I thought Robin had a really good idea," he said. The two formed a strong partnership that led to innovation.

The two were thrilled when both Google and Apple welcomed Virtual Bid into their app stores

last month. It's now available for download, and achieving Crockett's goal of making interfacing with potential clients cost-effective and cost-efficient while bolstering customer care for service providers such as handymen, repairers, and, of course, home cleaners.

Crockett has this advice for other women of color intent on entering the tech industry: “Be prepared, believe in yourself, and do your homework. Don’t forget to recognize the benefits of social and knowledge equity.

Making this dream a reality has taken a lot of determination, patience, and perseverance.”

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