Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Alumna Reinvents Career, Creates Nonprofit for College Search

Nichelle McCall
Baldwin Wallace graduate and BOLD Guidance CEO, Nichelle McCall, has been featured in Inc Magazine as a "Woman Tech Founder to Watch," Crain's Cleveland 40 Under 40, and this fall, in a Plain Dealer article highlighting "career reinvention." But just 5 years she was wrestling with unemployment.

After a series of jobs following graduation, McCall took a fellowship in New York and Washington D.C. with the promise of a full-time post with a Cleveland nonprofit when she returned home. Instead, the organization went in a different direction at the end of her fellowship, and McCall found herself unemployed at age 27.

It was a turning point for McCall, who decided to become a consultant, rather than labeling herself unemployed. McCall noted to the Plain Dealer that, "What I learned is that a job is not secure. At any time someone can decide that they want to go in another direction or that your services are no longer needed. At least with entrepreneurship, even if something doesn't work out that I'm working on, I can always create something new."

She consulted with schools and nonprofits, forming college access programs. Within two years, she found herself making more money than ever before, and added a technology-based product in order to continue growing.

In 2012, McCall launched "Bold Guidance," a software company that not only makes the college admissions process easier and more accessible by walking parents and students step-by-step through the process, but also caters to colleges by supporting marketing strategies for enrollment.
Bold Guidance's CEO and President Nichelle McCall
-Photo Courtesy of The Plain Dealer

The Plain Dealer acknowledged the steep hill McCall climbed to make her business a success. "Women represent just 8 percent of venture-backed companies in the country, but for black women, the number shrinks dramatically to .2 percent. McCall has raised $500,000 in the last two years for her company, 'Bold Guidance.'"

In regards to her time working college admissions at Baldwin Wallace, McCall is quoted as saying, "that's when the seed was planted for wanting to make a difference for underprivileged students."