Jenny Anderson-Frasier lives by a simple motto: “Be bold and be fearless.” That describes how the senior majoring in digital innovation and design transitioned from homelessness to founding a new company — Maggie — through Boise State’s Venture College.
Maggie, named after Maggie Bailey, a legendary Kentucky bootlegger who bettered her community and won legions of admirers, helps women find lucrative careers in tech sales.
In 2022, Maggie tied for first place in the services track of the Idaho Entrepreneur Challenge, an annual competition at Boise State where aspiring entrepreneurs compete for money to advance their startups.
Boise State President Marlene Tromp recognized Maggie with the President’s Award, a prize for the most inspirational company among the competitors.
A long road
Born in central Tennessee, Anderson-Frasier grew up in generational poverty. Women in her family worked in shirt factories.
“My clothes were all from second chance stores or handed down. Any purchases were made from clearance racks, and I can still vividly remember receiving a vanity for Christmas, without the mirror,” she recalled.
Anderson-Frasier graduated from high school, attended college for a few semesters, but under pressure to support her mom, dropped out and went to work. A series of jobs followed, including flight attendant, call center agent and flooring sales representative. She married her husband Curtis Frasier. Like so many Americans, they struggled to earn enough to live comfortably. They even ended up homeless and lived in a hotel for a time. Through it all — including the birth of two sons, Thoreau and August — Anderson-Frasier continued to work hard and honed her talents for sales.
A job posting for a nationwide company that makes workers’ uniforms changed her fortunes. She became a sales representative and rose through the ranks. In 2016, she and her husband moved their family to Boise so that she could take a management position with the company. They welcomed a third son, Alden. With a little more financial security in her life, Anderson-Frasier took on a new challenge: earning a college degree. She enrolled at Boise State.
“A degree means opportunity, not just for me but for my family and the people going through Maggie… My degree will help me do the most good,” Anderson-Frasier said.
Anderson-Frasier created Maggie in her Analytics for Design class in response to a class assignment to “choose a worthy cause and solve a wicked problem.” She chose child poverty. Knowing that a large share of American families headed by single women struggle, she decided that one way to help children is to help their mothers. Maggie trains women for tech sales jobs while offering mentorship, interview preparation and placement assistance. Participation is free thanks to partner companies that subsidize the program and benefit from 23 the skilled workers Maggie provides.
Jennie Myers, director and assistant clinical professor in the College of Innovation and Design who teaches the Analytics for Design class, recognized the merits of Anderson-Frasier’s idea and referred her to Boise State’s Venture College Incubator, a program that helps students develop startups. Maggie launched in 2021.
Anderson-Frasier’s “worthy cause” was unique because it was personal, Myers said. “She turned her class project into a mission and there was no doubt she was going to make something awesome.”
Rachel Pierce, one of Maggie’s first participants, said that Anderson-Frasier was persistent, checking on her, helping with her job search and eventually connecting her to the hiring manager who offered her a job.
“I just needed a chance and Maggie was that,” Pierce said.
A new chapter
In summer 2022, Anderson-Frasier took a new job as a technical sales strategist for IBM. “The role is very interesting. It is all-around career planning and development for technical sales professionals,” Anderson-Frasier said. “It ties that passion in with my degree program, so it is a perfect fit.”
The company offers flexibility, she said, and a work/life balance that will let her continue to focus on Maggie.
Maggie by the numbers:
- 50 women have completed the Maggie program
- 67% of women in Maggie’s first group have landed sales jobs
- 500 people are on Maggie’s waiting list
By Cara Van Sant