Challenges for Diverse Entrepreneurs: LaToya Johnson AwayZone Interview

AwayZone: A Company Connecting Minority-Owned Businesses and Consumers

FullStack is co-founded by Dawn Lively, and Dawn has taught us a lot about the challenges for female company founders in a statistically male-dominated role.  If you drill down further into the data, the majority of entrepreneurial founders are white and male. During Black History Month, we wanted to explore the challenges for female and minority founders as FullStack has the honor and privilege of serving clients with these founders, and knowing many more thanks to our sponsorship of The Startup Ladies.

One of these amazing founders is LaToya Johnson of AwayZone, a SaaS company she launched  from a vision to connect culturally-diverse businesses and consumers. “Think about a college student that has relocated to a new city to start their life, but they happen to represent a racial or an ethnic religious affiliation or sexual minority group,” says LaToya. “Now that they have found themselves in a new environment, they are looking for people that they can relate to on a deeper level. We are making it easier for people who have similar experiences of being in an unknown to find those communities that they can relate to.”

The AwayZone app allows business owners representing a racial, ethnic, religious, and/or sexual orientation minority group to register their business on the website based mobile app. Users can then search different categories (Arts & Entertainment, Food & Drink, Places of Worship, etc.) to see what minority-owned businesses are in the area. LaToya encourages people to use AwayZone not just for when they’re traveling – it can and should be used to locate businesses within their own city.  

As a minority-owned business owner, LaToya’s major challenge is seeking funds from investors who relate to her experience. “One of the things that investors are able to do is see themselves in the people that they are investing in and for me it’s a bit more of a challenge because often times they cannot see themselves in me.”

Beyond the challenges LaToya has experienced, she has found a great network within the Indianapolis startup community through Startup Ladies. Kristen Cooper – Startup Ladies Founder and CEO – has introduced LaToya to potential investors and provided useful advice, aiding in AwayZone’s success. 

What advice does LaToya have for people looking to support female and minority entrepreneurs? “Demonstrate the support in action.” For her, this means buying their product, attending their events, and promoting their companies on social media. “The actions do not have to be big, just sincere.”

To learn more about AwayZone and LaToya Johnson, visit her website at or download the AwayZone app to your smartphone to discover and support minority-owned businesses in your city.  

And check out this quick video our very own Daniel Fuller shot with LaToya at the Startup Ladies 5th Anniversary event!