Posted in Making Moves, The Who, What, When, Where, and Why

The Serendipitous Chiming of Sequoia B

     Have you ever thought about inventing something? Maybe you wanted to create the next best television show, or maybe you wanted to take part in a game show as a contestant? What would you do with your winnings? There are people and places that make these things happen. They aren’t your “rainy day” people. These people have an idea, and they will do everything they can to make it happen. These are people like Sequoia Blodgett, aka Sequoia B of Draper University Sequoia B of “7AM”- Sequoia B of the ABC Family production of Startup-U. Haven’t heard of Sequoia B? Well, let me introduce you, because this is one young lady, whom you definitely want to recognize. After you make this written introduction, you will definitely not forget her.

Photo Credit/Luc-Richard
Photo Credit/Luc-Richard

Sequoia Blodgett was a photographer in 2014. She was a success in her current career, as she had worked as senior video producer for Clear Channel’s ad agency, Creative Services Group. In addition, she signed to several production companies where she worked with multiple mainstream artists, directed commercials and shot fashion photography. Yet, in March of 2014, from a hospital bed, a certain silence had descended upon her, and she realized, a second chance lay outside for her. It was when she became ill in that early Spring, she realized her goals no longer stood, behind the camera.

Sequoia had always dreamed of starting her own business, but re-evaluating where she was, and where she could be, just never presented itself, until now. Fascinated by life coaching and the psychology of human relationships, she called a friend who was a life coach and the two of them discussed her idea of starting over, creating something bigger, and a little more unsafe, and it awaited her. From that hospital room, to the Bay Area, California streets, the serendipity interrupted Sequoia B and chimed with the hands of her “7AM” business and internet community, and the road to entrepreneurial success.

Photo Credit to Luc-Richard
Photo Credit to Luc-Richard

It was in July of 2014, when Sequoia began teaching photography with her Bachelor of Arts in Film/Television Production from Loyola Marymount University. Across the street from Stanford University, she would see many venture capitalists and business CEO’s who were parents of her students, but what had Sequoia spellbound, was Draper University. She remembered her hospital bed; she remembered her dream of starting a business, and she knew this could be her start, if she applied and was accepted. Dreams do come true, and she became on her way to seeing other dreams, gain momentum.

Draper University sits in Silicon Valley in California. It is a learning and growing facility where opportunity is found in creating a diverse investment system. Sequoia B became part of this system with her internet community, She started her vision with action, and a partial scholarship from Tim Draper of Draper University. She followed it with $5,000 in crowd-funding from a radio station called the Beat, where she had worked as an intern, once before. She used her head for business and her growing knowledge from Draper University to aid in growing Startup U. The reality show brainchild of Tim Draper, which includes the enrolled students at Draper University, aired on the ABC Family Express which began production of Startup U, Season 1 on August 11, 2015. The season ran through October 15, 2015. Faculty and Residence Staff members, such as Sequoia B, and outside visitors such as Tony Robbins and Jane Buckingham were onsite to advise.

Photo Credit to Luc/Richard
Photo Credit to Luc/Richard

Since entrepreneur dreams opened Sequoia B’s eyes to the horizons of Draper University, it was only natural she become involved in this endeavor. What began as a dream for Sequoia, has broadened her horizons and she has become more than dreamer; she is now an entrepreneur-in-residence, helping others, realize their potential, as “dream-maker.”

Draper University and the inventions that take place there have always been about innovation and venture capital. Students come there wanting to “walk on the moon.” And Tim Draper is glad to show the world, one of his students is walking on the moon, and to fund the thing, as long as they can 1) Tell him how to get there; 2) Tell him how they will survive while there; 3) Develop the necessary equipment, proper clothing, with a DU in the center; and 4) Tell him how to get back.

     Draper University is well renowned for having a method to this madness starting with creativity and innovation as the model. Popularity is grown through building user acquisition. Without customers and repeat customers, you have nothing. People see something they like, and it becomes popular. Retention is gained and the purchasing of that model turned product begins to gain money towards the investment. You product becomes your investment and you build your business. This is your community. This community becomes popular throughout social media, and branding grows, and sales grows.

Photo Credit Luc-Richard
Photo Credit Luc-Richard

Venture Capital (VC) is returned to those who loaned the startup for this venture and fronted your business. therefore the ROI (Return on Investment) is the amount of return less your VC and Community (builds your business) – Branding & Social Media (grows your brand, grows popularity and sales) – Venture Capital (end stage return on company after investing front end start-up)– Return on Investment (ROI) (amount of return less the VC) and if prospering, you are another product of Draper University.

     After all, every investment must  have marketable opportunity. Without it, you are giving money away. Even if you have, an Angel Investor, or crowd-funding through equity, you could consider matching that commitment, with a balanced ROI (return on investment) which was presented with the idea at in the beginning of the process. I recall hearing many times, when evaluating marketing and metrics, “Engagement is the most important metric for evaluating social media success,” and Sequoia B summed up that evaluation and more by elaborating on how important accountability is when evaluating the success of your product or idea.

It was exhilarating for me to watch the Season Finale tonight. If you didn’t see Season 1, well, there’s still a chance before Season 2 comes along. You can watch on ABCFamilyTV, or Hulu has #StartupU, so make use of those back-to-back opportunities. I will be going back and catching each episode, just to see the Pivots I missed. What’s a pivot you say? That’s for a rainy day me on Hulu. For you, maybe you are a rainy day person too, or maybe not. Take some notes, think about the tomorrows, and remember the “Draper University motto”, Failure doesn’t mean something bad; failure means your seasoned. Therefore, if you are a seasoned ideologist that you know will “bring in the dough”, head out to Silicon Valley, and see the “dream makers.” Ask for Sequoia B; you know who she is. And be sure to reach out and tell her what you thought of the show, on Twitter, or on Instagram if you prefer. She will be happy you chimed in.

StartupU Finale


I am Brenda Stapleton, a professional writer and social media enthusiast. Adaptability is my best characteristic, and humility is my worst. I am the founding columnist of “from the park bench” and blogger of "touring from the park bench". As a writer of freelance works, technical communications, articles, blogs, and the like, I have had the honor and the privilege of working with a very diverse group of people over the years. All have in some way enhanced my understanding, personally or professionally of their expertise, encouraging me to continue to seek knowledge and certifications in fields other than just those pursuant to a single degree program. Professionally- My professional accolades presently include a host of published articles and blogs with Faith Filled Family Magazine, as well as freelance writing from interviews with Voltron Publicity. The column “From the Park Bench” was published weekly in the Ruston Daily Leader from its inception. Through the Louisiana Department of Education and teaching the University of Louisiana at Monroe, I was an educator of grades 3, 5, 7-8, and 9-12 for five years. Through the University of Louisiana at Monroe RN program, I worked and trained as a registered nurse for five years. Being well-versed in both the Arts and Sciences, I hold a BA and MA in Criminal Justice with an undergraduate minor in Sociology, and graduate work in English. I was certified through (POST) Police Officer Standards Training after competing the professional law enforcement training academy in 1995, and worked in investigations for seven years. Personally- I grew up in Columbia, Louisiana in the same house, where my parents still live today. I began my life literally, stumbling every day of the way. I was fitted for my first set of braces on my legs, just so I could walk. I would wear braces on my legs, until the age of four, and orthopedic shoes until the age of six. Thinking the past was behind me, I took the world in leaps and bounds, until at the peak of my career, I faced yet another set-back, only this one, left me with a neurological injury that was irreversible. Since then, I have continuously chased a career, where my work ethic and my passions driving me forward, would often be pushed aside due to disability. Armed with a sense of humor, a desire to stay in the game of life, and a dream, I have continued on. I remember the words of Robert Frost often, “I took the road less traveled,” and I, too have learned many things along the way. I’ve learned the day is scarier than the night, for you will see the harm that befalls you. I’ve learned unconditional love is never stronger than in the very young, and in the very old. I’ve learned no matter what emotion a person is experiencing, a cuddly puppy can make you re-evaluate so much. I’ve learned the only certainty in life, is death- be ready. I’ve learned the most experienced emotions are forgiveness, grief and hope, and I’ve learned that patience is the most taught virtue. I often find myself deeply overwhelmed by nature, and I’ve come to realize how important grounding is for the body and soul. It’s the fleeting moments people don’t take advantage of, like when you are caught in a rainstorm, or snowflakes begin to fall, and melt as soon as they touch the warmth of your skin. Have you ever watched over a cocoon, as it changes into a butterfly, or a rose bud as it blooms? It is almost like watching your children grow, all too quickly, they aren’t children anymore. At the Moment- I am currently writing my first book. My two greatest accomplishments call me momma. These two beautiful ladies are inspirational to me, each in their own way, having faced their own giants, and still stand so strong. They are learning about life now, and are actively seeking their purpose in this world, through the pursuit of their own dreams. With the past behind me, my footing is a bit steadier, and I too, am focusing on what comes. Leaving my old dreams behind me, I am concentrating on writing, and continuing on with whatever comes my way, with pen and paper in hand.

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