Felecia Hatcher Took an Unlikely Path, From Popsicle Visionary to Tech Evangelist
"I opened a popsicle business, and my brother is a standup comedian," Hatcher says with a laugh. "Our parents have always supported us totally. Maybe behind closed doors they were like, 'What the F are our kids doing?' but to our faces, they always supported our passions."
Hatcher's unexpected path began with a frustrating experience at Atlantic High School in Delray Beach. She was an unconventional learner — a hands-on tinkerer thanks to her dad, who owns a construction business, and a deep thinker, thanks to her mom, a teacher. Her grades weren't great, but she was the one of the only high-schoolers learning coding in her free time.
"I had a guidance counselor tell me I'd never make it to college," Hatcher says. "I realized then I could either drop out of high school... or I could just prove this lady wrong, and that's what I did."
Hatcher snagged more than $100,000 worth of scholarships to Lynn University. Then she used that experience to become a consultant, teaching other students and their parents how to do the same. Soon that gig became a full-time job, creating college prep programs for schools and companies. That, in turn, turned into a social media marketing career for tech firms such as Nintendo and Sony.
But in 2008, Hatcher's life took another typically left-handed turn. She returned to Miami with her husband, Derick Pearson, at the height of the recession and soon landed on a truly improbable idea: a mobile popsicle stand aimed at adults on Miami's party scene.
"We traveled a lot for work, in Mexico and in L.A., and paletas were huge there. We'd come home and tell people: 'A better popsicle exists; you have to try it,'" Hatcher says. "The idea came out of necessity. No one is hiring you, so why not take a chance?"
Feverish Ice Cream soon became a hit. It started at the very beginning of Miami's food truck boom and used Twitter to build fans and direct them to the latest spot where the truck would be selling the gourmet and booze-infused treats.
Hatcher still had another career turn coming, though. She'd already started Code Fever, a project to teach kids and parents coding. In 2014, she took the project a step farther, cofounding Black Tech Week — a seven-day expo meant to bring minority businesses, coders, and funders together.
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"The conversation was all about getting people coding, but you start coding and then what?" she says. "You need mentors, access to capital, a network to support that, storytellers to express your message, a whole community around it... These are all things you need to have a really healthy ecosystem, especially when you're talking about a diverse population like Miami's."
Hatcher isn't done innovating. Her latest project with Pearson, now in the works, is a co-working space in the heart of Overtown, an area so far untouched by Miami's tech boom.
"The resources are already there," she says, "and we hope this can be a way to really grow that area."
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