Nearly a Decade of YEC Value for Nathalie Lussier
For many entrepreneurs, one business very often leads to another. Such was the case for Nathalie Lussier, the founder of AccessAlly. Nathalie had studied software engineering and turned down a full-time job offer at Morgan Stanley to start her own company. “It was 2008 and a lot of people were getting laid off,” she recalls. The prospect of moving to New York City to take a job that may not exist in a few months seemed riskier than launching her own venture. So she started Raw Foods Witch (later renamed Real Foods Witch), a blog that focused on healthy eating and consuming more fruits and vegetables. She’d frequently wear a witch hat on her videos.
Nathalie had been building websites since was a 12-year-old, but she thought of Real Foods Witch as her “training business.” She learned how to build an email list, produce webinars, drive sales, and make connections. Over the course of two years, she grew traffic to 750,000 visitors a year, and brought her husband, Robin Li, also a software engineer, on board to work with her. One of their first projects together involved fixing a problematic plugin. “We ended up writing our own because we had a lot of people going through our course and the website kept crashing,” she says. One thing led to another and they added progress tracking, checklists, and gamification to their platform — features that were so popular that users began asking for details about what platform they were using. “We realized that there was potential for this to be its own business,” says Nathalie.
So in 2011, they stepped away from the business and, drawing on their practical experience and training as software engineers, started a web design and consulting practice, AccessAlly. “A lot of people who were in the nutrition space and had seen me grow my website ended up being customers,” Nathalie says.
"[Through Expert Panels and by-lined articles], I’ve been able to elevate my ideas in a bigger sphere. I have so many things to say about running a business and being a woman in tech."
One of her first clients was functional nutritionist Andrea Nakayama, whom Nathalie helped to create an online program. “I had launched my own online courses, but this was the first time I helped someone else do it in a consulting capacity,” says Nathalie. “She made $139,000 from her launch, and that showed me that I was on the right path.”
AccessAlly is a WordPress plugin for scaling online businesses through courses, group coaching, and memberships. The company’s ideal clients are coaches, trainers, and other course creators who want to grow their businesses. “One of the things that differentiates us and that people come to us for is selling to corporations,” says Nathalie. For example, a client may call upon AccessAlly for help developing a course to teach sales techniques to teams in corporations. The company, which currently has approximately 800 clients, also works with individuals such as herbalists, music and language teachers, photography instructors, and dog trainers. “You can basically deliver whatever you want to deliver, the way you want to deliver it, all in one place,” says Nathalie.
When Nathalie first joined YEC, nine years ago, “I felt that it was a group of people I could really relate to,” she says. “It’s hard when you’re an entrepreneur starting out and you don’t know a lot of other people doing this.” Many of her peers had jobs at prestigious tech firms such as Google and Facebook and sometimes wondered if she had “missed the boat.” It helped to have a group of like-minded peers for support and reassurance.
While she no longer needs that kind of support, Nathalie says she remains an active YEC member because “I really love the ability to publish, to get some press mentions, and to keep my finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the community.” Through Expert Panels and by-lined articles, Nathalie says, “I’ve been able to elevate my ideas in a bigger sphere. I have so many things to say about running a business and being a woman in tech. Nathalie is also a member of YEC Women and values those connections. “I love seeing what other women are doing,” she says. “Being in that very ambitious space is really powerful. I feel like it's validation.”