After losing both parents as a teenager, Sevetri Wilson has founded two multimillion dollar businesses and helping other entrepreneurs build

BY Ben Ebuka Oji February 28, 2024 2:01 PM EDT
Sevetri Wilson
Sevetri Wilson, the founder of Solid Ground Innovations (SGI) and Reslia. Photo Credit: Sevetri Wilson

When considering the journey of tech founders, Sevetri Wilson‘s stands out as because of the emotional odds she had to surmount. Also, as one of the few Black female tech founders, she defies the norms in the male-dominated and fiercely competitive tech industry.

Wilson’s journey began in rural Louisiana alongside her three siblings, where access to public transportation was scarce, the library was small, and resources like the latest technology and books were limited.

Reflecting on her upbringing, Wilson notes that she lacked exposure to many things, which initially hindered her sense of possibility. Nevertheless, she acknowledges that growing up in a resource-constrained environment fostered her imagination and ability to create opportunities.

Despite her parents not having attended college, her mother consistently emphasized the value of education. Consequently, Wilson became a first-generation college student as her mother ensured she enrolled in college.

Nevertheless, her educational aspirations were almost shattered when her mother passed away from stage four cancer just days before one Christmas. Recognizing the need to secure external funding for college, she proactively sought resources and received a full scholarship from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to attend Louisiana State University. Attending a retreat hosted by the foundation sparked her interest in philanthropy, leading her to pursue a career as a consultant in the field after graduation.

“Not only did I lose my father at a young age, I would also lose my mother a little bit later,” Wilson said.

On those losses, she explained:

As I would matriculate through college, my mother would get diagnosed with stage four cancer and she would pass away four days before Christmas. In my head, I’m thinking, I’m in college, I lost my father at this point, I lost my mother, and I was in my first semester of grad school. With all of the work I’d done up until that point, I was trying to have a career because I wanted to give my mother the life I felt she deserved but didn’t have. So, everything about why I wanted to be successful wasn’t really for me. It’s because I wanted to give my mother a better life.

Despite facing the challenges of being an orphan at a young age, she persevered and completed her undergraduate studies, followed by graduate school, where she earned a double major in history and mass communication.

While her dream was to become a professor and blend her passion for history and journalism into documentary filmmaking, her journey took a different turn when she landed her first job at the nonprofit organization CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in Louisiana, serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA member. This role steered her towards a career in the nonprofit sector, where she had the opportunity to collaborate with inspiring athletes who later established their own charitable foundations and philanthropic endeavors. She also served as an advisor to some of the athletes she worked with.

Solid Ground Innovations (SGI)

The opportunity, exposure, and experience gained at CASA empowered her to establish her first company in 2009. Wilson founded Solid Ground Innovations (SGI), a strategic communications and management agency with focus on nonprofit organizations, offering comprehensive services to support charitable institutions and individuals aiming to make a positive impact.

Driven by growing demand, SGI diversified its offerings to include expertise in branding, public relations, and digital marketing, eventually securing a multimillion-dollar government contract. Remarkably, within its initial years, Wilson bootstrapped SGI into a seven-figure company, achieving this milestone at just 22 years old.


Over time, Wilson observed that nonprofits often face resource limitations and lack a strong technological foundation, hindering their operational efficiency.

Driven by her ongoing commitment to foster nonprofit advancement, she identified an opportunity to streamline processes through a software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform, aiming to cut costs. This vision led her to transition SGI’s nonprofit services into a tech-based platform, culminating in the creation of her second company, Resilia, in 2016. Resilia is revolutionizing the way socially conscious leaders manage, sustain, and expand nonprofits, corporations, cities, and other enterprises under their guidance.

Resilia operates within a dual market structure, facilitating swift and efficient capital deployment for grantors such as cities, private foundations, and corporations. Simultaneously, it equips nonprofits with enhanced tools for compliance, management, training, and funding.

The company’s initial product has made a significant impact by drastically reducing the time required to file for nonprofit status. Previously averaging over 100 hours, this process can now be completed in 10 hours or less, and at a fraction of the previous cost.

In January 2017, the New Orleans-headquartered company, with a secondary office in New York, secured $400k in a pre-seed round. Continuing its growth trajectory, Resilia raised $2m in another seed round in May 2018. Then, in May 2020, the company achieved a significant milestone by raising $8m in Series A funding, marking it as the highest venture capital raised by a female-founded tech firm in Louisiana. By the conclusion of 2020, Wilson had successfully raised over $11M for Resilia, establishing herself as the first Black founder in New Orleans to close a 7-figure funding round.

In 2019, Resilia earned recognition by being named one of Venture Beat’s Top Startups to Watch Out For. Then, on October 27, 2022, Resilia achieved another significant milestone as its SaaS platform announced a remarkable $35 million Series B funding round. This achievement solidified Resilia’s position as the recipient of the largest funding raise ever for a solo Black female-founded tech company. Additionally, this new funding milestone represents the largest venture capital raise by a female founder in the state of Louisiana.

Selfless Efforts to Build Others

Through her remarkable journey of bootstrapping her first company to millions without initial capital and subsequently raising millions in venture capital for her second venture, Wilson now dedicates herself to empowering business owners and entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds.

Today, Wilson remains committed to fostering a supportive community by providing resources and tools, and facilitating conversations that enable current and aspiring leaders to conquer new levels in life and business.

Whether delivering a keynote address, leading a seminar or workshop, or providing one-on-one consultations, her ultimate aim is to inspire, uplift, and propel audiences toward their envisioned destinations. This commitment has been her consistent theme and primary focus.

Throughout the years, her work has garnered recognition in esteemed national publications such as USA Today, Time Magazine, and CNN. Additionally, she serves as a voice for communities through her contributions as a Forbes contributor and Medium blogger.

In 2019, Wilson published her debut book, “Solid Ground: How I Built a 7-Figure Company with Zero Capital,” which achieved six weeks at No. 1 in Amazon’s Startup category. Following this success, in 2021, she released her second book, “Resilient: How to Overcome Anything and Build a Million Dollar Business With or Without Capital.”

Additionally, in 2019, Wilson established The S.M. Wilson Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of her mother, Shirley M. Wilson. This endowment scholarship, at her alma mater, LSU, continues to provide financial awards to deserving students, embodying her commitment to giving back and supporting education.

“My mother was a firm believer in providing opportunities to all and giving everyone a chance for a seat at the table.,” said Wilson.

“In her honor, this endowment will provide a financial backbone for students to rely upon, just like my mother was that backbone for me.”