SERIAL ENTREPRENEUR & INVENTOR, Automated retail & WEB3 Pioneer

Dawn Dickson
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Dawn Dickson At A Glance:

Dawn Dickson is a serial entrepreneur and inventor with over 20 years of experience in technology and business development. She has founded six successful cash flow positive companies since 2001, including Flat Out of Heels (2011) and PopCom (2017) and has successfully exited one company (Lifestyle Cafe, 2021). Dawn is the first female founder globally to raise over $1M secure token offering under a Reg CF of the JOBS Act. She is considered to be a pioneer in Web3 and equity crowdfunding and her company PopCom leverages AI, facial recognition, and blockchain technology to revolutionize retail.

Channeling a lifelong entrepreneurial spirit, boundary-pushing fearlessness, and innate understanding of
the nexus of technology, commerce, and culture, Dawn Dickson-Akpoghene consistently catalyzes the
companies and brands under her purview. At the helm of multiple cash flow positive businesses, the
Ohio-born entrepreneur, inventor, businesswoman, angel investor, and speaker has made history and
emerged as a consumer thought leader in her own right. As the C.E.O. and Founder of PopCom, she
pioneers the connection between e-commerce and vending machines, continuing a legacy of innovation
and invention.

“The common thread throughout my career is the belief in using technology to create generational
wealth and empower my community,” she explains. “Whether I’m using technology to help people
discover events, raise money, or sell products, I’m leveraging the power of technology. Technology is
more inclusive now, but I’ve never been intimated by being the only woman or black person in a room. I
was always driven to be exceptional and to set an example for those that proceed me, to keep the bar
very high.”

She started to raise the bar as a child in Columbus, OH. The daughter of entrepreneurs, she moved from
one hustle to the next, selling candy, old toys, and lemonade throughout grade school. She valued the
experience, and it ultimately informed her path. “The culture of my neighborhood and family was, ‘If you
want money, go out there and make it’,” she explains. “That was always me. I wanted my own money, so
I found a way to make it.”

This tenacity has defined her career. After achieving a B.A. in Journalism from The Ohio State University
and studying technology at DeVry University, she launched a successful online platform called
TheUrbanStarr.com to highlight local entertainment and events in Central Ohio at the
turn-of-the-century—the site was ahead of its time, even streaming music and videos online before
YouTube. Following years of running a successful tech start up and consulting, she launched Flat Out of
Heels in 2011, to sell rollable ballet style flats as the ultimate solution to stiletto sore feet. She
distributed these stylish flats online, wholesale to retailers, and in vending machines in high traffic
locations. As the company grew so did the need for data, she founded PopCom in 2017 to provide
future-facing software solutions for vending machines and self-service retail through revolutionary
technological integration and consumer data collection—arriving in locations nationwide in 2021.
Along the way, she made history as “the first female founder globally to over $1 million from equity
crowdfunding under the Reg CF the JOBS Act.” A second fully subscribed equity crowdfunding campaign
and Reg A+ campaign followed, yielding over $6 million from 8,000 investors. In March 2020, she
testified before a Congressional Committee on Small Business in a hearing “Building Blocks of Change:
The Benefits of Blockchain Technology for Small Businesses” to advocate for blockchain technology. She
invented the PopShop Digital pop-up shop, which employs facial recognition and machine learning
technology in order to procure customer data and insights. It received a highly coveted design patent
from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in 2020.

Media and culture consistently recognize her as a visionary. Forbes touted her on its “Next 1000:
Small-Scale Super Achievers” list in 2021, INC Magazine named her among its “Top 100 Female
Founders,” and Black Enterprise dedicated a cover to her. She has also graced the pages of Entrepreneur,
Fortune, Fast Company, Venture Beat, Huffington Post, and Essence Magazine in addition to appearing

on The Breakfast Club, the CNBC/Yahoo! series The Biz Fix with Marcus Lemonis, and MSNBC’s Your Biz
Elevator Pitch. She received the 2021 Black Women Talk Tech ‘Tech Trailblazer Award”, 2021 Culture
Shifter Award recipient, 2021 Black Women in Media Awards in the area of ‘Digital and Tech’; 2020
OBWS Entrepreneur of the Year award, graduate of the 2019 Nasdaq Milestone Maker program and her
photo was featured in the center of Times Square, and was recognized as one of the “Heroes in the
Movement” by the National Urban League Young Professionals. She also hosts the BARS! Podcast on
Apple Music and Spotify, dispensing wisdom over a hip-hop soundtrack. She is also a highly sought after
and accomplished public speaker sharing the stage with some of the nation’s top business leaders.
In the end, Dawn most importantly shines light through every venture.

“My job title is C.E.O., but I’m a lightworker, first and foremost,” she says. “Everything I do is aligned with
that. With all of my different ventures, I want to encourage, empower, and inspire everyone I work with.
I want to be a walking example of what hard work, tenacity, and not taking the popular path can be. I’m
here to be a beacon of light and help raise the vibration of the planet by being a living example of the
good we can be. I’m a wife. I’m a mother. I’m an inventor. I’m a C.E.O. There’s so many communities and
roles that could define me, but ‘lightworker’ embodies who I am as a spirit and soul.”

  • Female Entrepreneur: When Being Underrepresented is an Advantage

    Dawn discusses her 20+-year journey as a woman in technology and ways for other women to leverage their unique skill sets to design the life and business they have always desired. Topics include lifestyle design, the importance of self-care, quieting the noise in your life, finding your ‘why’ and staying true to yourself.
  • Blockchain, Crypto, Web3 and NFTs...oh my!

    Dawn was an early adopter and advocate for the use of blockchain technology in business. She started as a crypto investor which led her to learn how to leverage blockchain technology to raise capital. In 2019 Dawn became the first female founder to raise over $1M using a security token offering (STO); she discusses how PopCom leverages blockchain for identity management and the use case of selling regulated retail products; Dawn is also a pioneer in the NFT space, incorporating in real life experiences with digital NFTs. PopCom was the first company to sell physical art that can be minted on the blockchain as an NFT from a vending machine in 2022. Flat Out of Heels did a successful NFT drop for the 10-year anniversary. In 2020 Dawn was invited to testify before Congress about how Dawn discusses how you can find innovative ways to leverage Web3 technology for your business.
  • Perfecting Your Pitch

    Dawn has won thousands of dollars and secured over $1.5 million in investments from pitch competitions, venture capitalists, and angel investors. In this workshop or keynote, Dawn takes you step-by-step with key tips, vocabulary, and techniques on how to create the perfect pitch to attract customers and investors. Takeaways will be an editable investor deck template and a vocabulary list.
  • The Future of Retail is Omnichannel

    In this keynote, Dawn discusses the automated retail technology industry and how vending and kiosks are the future of omnichannel retail. Topics include: how kiosks and vending machines are innovating retail, why omnichannel distribution is important, how small and medium-size companies can compete with Amazon through maximizing omnichannel distribution.
  • Non-Traditional Ways of Raising Capital

    In this keynote or workshop, Dawn takes you through the various ways to secure capital for your business outside of the traditional venture capital or bank route. This talk focuses on the JOBS Act and SEC Title III Regulation CF and Regulation D rules around raising capital.
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