Founder & Chief Executive Officer
TBHF Alum, Class of 2019
Texas Tech University – Free Market Institute
This month TBHF is spotlighting Ayodele (Ayo) Aigbe, a 2019 Alumni from Texas Tech University. We asked Ayo, the Founder & CEO of Hangio, to share some of her best advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Tell us about Hangio and what inspired you to start the business?
Hangio is a premium clothing care brand. We create products that help our customers keep their clothes better and longer. We are passionate about retaining the quality and value of a garment. The Hangio Hanger is the world’s first premium patented bendable hanger that can mold in any way, shape, or form, to accommodate to your exact garment. This prevents garments from getting bumps or creases in the shoulder, it prevents silk materials from slipping off, and prevents stretching.
This whole journey started and was inspired by a personal pain point. In 2017 during my freshman year, I walked to my closet and took out my favorite sweater. I saw that the sweater had shoulder bumps from the hanger. I was frantically Googling and asking friends for advice – but none of it worked. And I realized that this was a problem. Hangers should not cause damage to the clothes that I spend my time, money, and energy on. That was the initial case study that would eventually lead to the creation of Hangio.
My spring semester freshman year, I had the opportunity to take an entrepreneurship class. I knew that I wanted to try and create a better hanger. I had a problem I wanted to solve, and that class taught me the fundamentals. I went through the process of customer discovery, customer journey, pain points and the early-stage development process. In my research, I discovered a lot of other people shared this pain point and it encouraged me to keep going.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
At the time, I didn’t know what the word entrepreneurship was, but as early as middle school, I was thinking of creative ways to turn a profit. Some of my classmates asked me where I got my hair bows. My mom would buy me hair bows in exchange for completing my chores. I started flipping the bows for twice the cost, selling them to classmates in the gym before school started. That was the first time I experienced the magic of entrepreneurship and selling a product – the exchange of receiving and giving value.
What traits do you think have benefited you so far in starting your own company?
I wouldn’t be where I am without resilience. If you have resilience, you can do anything. I’ve had some tough times and lows in this journey, and as an entrepreneur you have to decide not to give up, to keep going. I think about other entrepreneurs I admire and remind myself that had they given up when they faced a challenge, they might not have been able to create the impact they did.
Additionally, having empathy for the problem you are solving, and empathy for who you are solving it for, is crucial. One of my favorite parts is getting to talk to customers and learn what problems they need help solving. I’ve learned through this experience that it’s about much more than just hangers and clothing. Clothing is a form of self-expression; it’s visceral. Empathy helps you create better products, market to your audience, and deliver value.
You have a lot of experience in the world of pitch competitions. Can you share a valuable lesson you learned from that experience in the early stages of your company?
I started my pitching journey in 2017, shortly after coming up with the idea for Hangio, because as a broke college student, there was no other way I could get the capital needed for the business. I saw it as not only an opportunity to raise money, but also as an opportunity to share and spread the word about Hangio. To date, I’ve raised about $70,000 in capital from pitch competitions and my own personal investment.
My first pitch completion was in Chicago for an organization called Future Founders. I didn’t have a deck—just me and my product. Some of those early pitches were tough, but they taught me a lot of valuable lessons. First, continue to listen and iterate. When I first started, I was reciting a memorized script, fumbling over my words, and lacked confidence. But I received feedback on those early pitches and having a learner’s mindset helped me tremendously.
It’s also important to know your audience. My pitch changes slightly if I’m talking to a group of students versus talking to a group of investors. I try to know my audience and know what they care about.
And the last thing is to come out with energy and passion. It may sound cliché, but passion can be extremely compelling to your audience.
One of TBHF core values is excellence. How do you define “excellence” in business?
I define excellence by having sincere empathy for and taking the time to understand who you are serving. What are their needs? What problems are they facing? Why does this product matter to them? You take all that and use it to create something that can help them. Excellence starts with caring about people and finding a way to add value to their lives.
What are your future plans and goals for Hangio?
Hangio has a lot of exciting plans for future growth. On the product side, we want to create more hangers and expand our offerings. We have plans to expand our team and marketing efforts. And we are also thinking about ways to make our product more accessible by exploring partnerships. One of our newest initiatives is our podcast called Styled by Science CEOs that highlights innovative changemakers in the fashion industry. We are always proactively listening to customer feedback and looking for their pain points so we can continue to improve our offerings.
How has TBHF helped you in your entrepreneurial journey?
I’m not sure where I would be without the Texas Business Hall of Fame. I received the award in 2019, which was a very pivotal time for me in the business. The recognition and support, knowing someone believed in me and wanted to make an investment in me, was hugely impactful. Getting to attend the award ceremony in San Antonio and meeting business leaders and my fellow recipients was incredibly inspiring. The ongoing programming and support with the alumni association continues to be an amazing resource. It has encouraged me to continue striving and pushing forward.