Amber Hinds – Changing the world while running a business

May 06, 2021

Amber Hinds changes the world while running Equalize Digital

Hats off to entrepreneurs whose goals are to make the world a better place. One of them for sure is Amber Hinds, Founder & CEO of Equalize Digital who richly deserves a part of our list that spotlights 100 inspiring and successful female entrepreneurs.

Successfully dealing with the challenges of life, being a good wife and a dedicated mother to her children, she still finds a way and straight to fight for her dreams. Being an ambitious woman as she is and intending to be a force for good, she is building websites, applications, and digital content that is usable by people of all abilities.

The benefits of owning a business not only helped her build a work-life balance but she grew her business into something that supports the whole family, without having to sacrifice important things to achieve greatness. It may sound dreamy but it’s a real-life story that will inspire and remind you how hard work and dedication always pay off.

Feeling under-appreciated as an employee, a nonexistent work-life balance, financial struggles, getting out of bad relationships – these are the most common triggers that push women to become entrepreneurs. Tell us about your trigger?

I started my first business venture 10 years ago after the birth of my first daughter. When she was born I worked in the admissions department overseeing marketing and recruiting efforts for graduate students at a private college in New York. I oversaw recruitment efforts for two campuses in New York, a campus in California, and a campus in Palestine. I loved my job, but it required a lot of travel. In the early days, I took my daughter on trips with me – her first plane ride was at 11 weeks old and she had a babysitter in New York and a babysitter in California.

This was fine when she was very young but was not a long-term solution so when she was 9 months old my husband and I started exploring other options. He was offered a once-in-a-lifetime position as the head chef at a restaurant on Nantucket and we jumped at the chance for a change; we moved to Nantucket and I started a freelance marketing business which allowed me to work at home with my daughter and no longer travel.

In 2015, after 5 years of freelancing, I wanted to start traveling again, but this time with family. My husband and I had caught the “RV life” bug and wanted to travel the country with our daughters, but his job didn’t offer more than 2 weeks of vacation or remote work. My freelance business was thriving so I suggested that we grow it into something that could support our whole family. So with a business plan, I restructured the business in September 2015, officially launched the rebrand on January 1, 2016, set revenue goals, and in May of 2016 he gave his notice at his job. We’ve since built a team with employees in 3 states and clients across the country and internationally.

Amber Hinds explains how to stand above competition

How did you come up with your business idea?

Equalize Digital is a website accessibility auditing, remediation, and development company. We specialize in helping businesses, government agencies, schools, and nonprofit organizations have accessible websites that can be used by people of all abilities. 

User experience has always been a primary focus of my work, but I was first introduced to the idea of website accessibility through work that I did on websites for universities. Any government organization or public university is mandated to have an accessible website under Section 508 of the Telecommunications Act. I’ll admit this was a little bit of trial by fire on my first project. Since that first project, I have had the ability to experience firsthand the importance of accessible websites through conversations with and observation of people who are blind or d/Deaf using the web. It was truly eye-opening the first time I watched a blind person attempting to navigate a website (and struggling) using a screen reader. 

As a creator of websites, applications, and digital content, I believe it is my social responsibility to ensure everything we build or create is usable by people of all abilities. I also have a deep desire to make a larger impact within the world and for my business to be a force for good, which is why we’re a Certified B Corporation. 

Unfortunately, too many website designers and web development agencies fail to consider accessibility as they design and develop projects for clients. From an entrepreneurial perspective, Equalize Digital offers products and services that are specially targeted to filling a gap in the market and are offered at a time when accessibility is increasingly becoming a focus for businesses of all sizes and in all industries.

Have you had support from someone, even if just encouragement? Who was that and how did it help you?

The most support I have received in my business journey has come from my husband and business partner, Chris. Chris saw the potential in my business and left his career so he can help me grow it. Additionally, over the years, he has taken the lead at home, caring for our four daughters and ensuring that everything runs smoothly when I have to work later nights or on weekends to advance the business.  Without his support, my business would not be where it is today.

Female entrepreneurs are often underestimated and overlooked. Have you ever felt at a disadvantage?

The first time that I attempted to raise capital was 2 years into the business. I took my business plan to banks and also met with a local investment firm, both of which reviewed the plan and said it was “great” but that I and my plan were too high risk. As a young woman in my late 20’s, they pretty much assumed that my business would fail and that I was a bad investment. 

Four years later, I again attempted to raise capital to acquire another business and though I felt that I was taken more seriously at that point, I was turned down because our business model doesn’t have a significant amount of physical capital to guarantee a loan and it was considered too high risk. I’m not sure how much being female factored into it, however, I definitely felt that there were moments when age counted against me.

I was finally able to secure capital last year for a product we were developing. My advice to other female entrepreneurs is to not give up – keep trying and don’t take no for an answer.

Some say it’s hard work, others say it’s talent and resourcefulness that play a crucial role for success in entrepreneurship? Which traits have been instrumental for your success so far? And why?

My success has come through a combination of hard work, perfectionism, not being afraid to learn or try new things, and knowing how to network. 

In the early days of a new business venture, founders wear many hats. I have (and sometimes still do) work long hours over very late nights and weekends. Ariana Huffington and other Fortune 500 business owners talk about never sacrificing sleep for business; that’s easy to say from a pillar of success post-startup phase but not the reality of early business ownership. When you’re just starting out businesses require a significant time investment. If you don’t have a team to help push things forward (or have only a very small team), then the reality is that time can be one of your biggest limiting factors.

I’ve gotten where I am today because I have been willing to put in the time and late hours to make magic happen. I set aggressive goals and I met them. In the early days, I taught myself new skills when I needed to get something done but didn’t have the funds to hire someone to do the work, but I always made sure things were done right. 

What excites you the most about being an entrepreneur?

When I was working for other people, I often felt limited. My ideas were not taken seriously or my creativity felt stifled. Additionally, I worked at a large organization with a bureaucracy that slowed things down. As an entrepreneur, I get to set the direction of the company and the pace. I love that I can get up one day and tell my team we’re going to pivot, and then we can take action immediately – no 15 layers of approval.

Share with us some of the worst business advice you’ve ever received?

The worst advice we ever received came from an accountant when we moved from Colorado to Texas. He told us that we should close out our EIN and LLC in Colorado and start a new LLC and EIN in Texas, when we later learned that we needed to keep the existing business and EIN and just register as a foreign entity in Texas. It cost a lot of headaches, fines to the IRS, and back peddling once we realized that this particular accountant was wrong.

Take away: if you’re doing something out of the ordinary with your business it’s probably worth it to ask more than one person for advice.

You’ve got a high stake investment opportunity. Pitch your business in 150 words.

Since 2010, Equalize Digital’s team has been designing and developing websites and web applications for nonprofits, K-12 and higher education institutions, government agencies, and Fortune 500 companies. As a Certified B Corporation, our mission is to be a catalyst for positive change on the web and in how we do business, for ourselves, for our employees, for everyone. We envision a world where, one day, all people will have equal access to information and tools on the internet, regardless of ability.

One in four American adults has a disability that may prevent them from using or interacting with the online world in a traditional manner. Too many designers and developers fail to consider accessibility as they launch websites. The services we offer are specially targeted to filling this gap, whether it’s through accessibility audits, remediation, and education or developing websites designed and coded from an accessibility-first perspective.

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to inspire aspiring entrepreneurs?

Half the time, the appearance of success brings success. It’s important for new entrepreneurs to figure out what parts of their business need to be strategically invested in to provide the appearance of success and then to invest in those areas. For everything else, go with the “MVP” (minimal viable product) version so you can move quickly and iterate.

Looking like you know what you’re doing will bring the attention of customers and investors and help your business stand above the competition. So focus on building a good buyer-supplier relationship and don’t let perfection stand in the way of progress.

What are your goals for the upcoming year?

We launched our first product, Accessibility Checker, a WordPress plugin that scans websites for accessibility errors, in December of 2020. In 2021, our top goal is to increase the plugin’s user base, both for the free version available on and the paid Pro version. Moving into the product space in addition to offering services is a big shift for us and one I’m very excited about.

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