Executive Assistant turned CEO La Donna Higgins pitches her solution for startup professional services at a Shark Tank casting call in Oakland, CA

For the ninth stop of the nationwide Shark Tank Diversity Tour, the casting team for ABC’s Shark Tank visited Oakland, California, where entrepreneurs pitched their businesses at the Kapor Center for Social Impact.

While at the Kapor Center, Brandon Andrews sat down with La Donna Higgins, founder and CEO of The Startup Admin (TSA); a new way for startup founders to get the professional services they need to grow their businesses.

The Startup Admin

(The Startup Admin CEO, La Donna Higgins. Image: The Startup Admin)

Every business needs a good team. What’s the Startup Admin story?

La Donna Higgins: Before starting The Startup Admin I was a career executive assistant. I’ve supported Paul Marciano, owner of Guess Inc., Jeff Bonforte, SVP of Communication Products at Yahoo Inc., and Matthew Brezina, co-founder of Xobni and Sincerely.

I joined Xobni in 2007 as an executive assistant, office manager, HR manager, bookkeeper, and event planner. Within my first six months of being at Xobni, I was asked to prepare due diligence for Microsoft. During this process it became clear to me how many processes were not in place. Finding documents took longer than necessary because there wasn’t anyone managing where things should be kept or if the documents existed.

I began to create working procedures for every task that needed to be done. I started to implement policies and procedures and found I had a lot of free time on my hands. I began to answer questions from other founders on things like “Who do I use for payroll?”, “What insurance plan would be good for our team?” or “Can you recommend a vendor to deliver lunch to us?”

In the beginning, I was providing consulting services free of charge. Then a company reached out to me and asked if I could setup their new startup with everything they needed and they were willing to pay me. I did this for a few startups then one day Jeff Bonforte, who was the CEO at Xobni, said to me “if you could teach others how to run startups the way you do, it would be a goldmine.” This is when the light bulb went off and I started to work on my own startup, The Startup Admin!

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