Erica Mackey

Erica Mackey

Erica Mackey is a serial entrepreneur who co-founded MyVillage. Previously, Erica co-founded and was COO of Zola Electric (previously Off Grid Electric), connecting over 1 million Africans to affordable solar energy.

Bozeman, Montana, United States
Member since April 15, 2019
CEO & co-founder of MyVillage, co-founder of Off-Grid Electric Quote_down
  • About
2011 Oxford , MBA , Business
2005 UCLA , BS , Evolutionary Biology
Fundraising, Entrepreneurship, Startups, Strategic Planning, Public Speaking

I am a(n):


Companies I've founded or co-founded:
MyVillage, Off Grid Electric
Companies I work or worked for:
MyVillage, Off Grid Electric
Achievements (products built, personal awards won):

Forbes 30 under 30, C3E Clean Energy Award for Entrepreneurship, Zayed Future Energy Prize, Citi Ashden Award for Innovative Finance, Delegate, International Achievement Summit, Oxford Saïd Impact Career Award

If you're an entrepreneur or corporate innovator, why?

I want to change the world.

Why did you start your company or why do you want to innovate inside your company?

As a general rule, I don’t believe that “the way it is” is the way it has to be. What drew me to become an entrepreneur has always been the chance to solve meaningful problems. The company I previously co-founded, Off Grid Electric (now Zola Electric) is based in Africa and is democratizing energy access by providing affordable, clean solar energy to more than 1 million people.

Once I became a mom, my focus shifted. I experienced firsthand the struggles that families have in finding affordable, high-quality childcare. I also learned how hard a childcare provider must work to make ends meet, all the while encountering red tape and confusing regulations.

My time abroad also made me truly value the role that community plays in helping children thrive. I believe that happier providers and educators mean happier kids. Happier kids mean happier parents. Happier parents mean happier communities. And happier communities mean a better world. I wanted that community for my family -- for all families.

That’s where the vision for MyVillage was born - to rebuild the village of care in our communities. We created MyVillage as a solution that works for everyone: kids, families and care providers. MyVillage makes it easy to start and successfully run an exceptional home-based childcare and preschool business.

What's most frustrating and rewarding about entrepreneurship/innovation?

The most rewarding part is working with a mission-aligned team to solve a complex and unclear problem. The "how" isn't always clear, but being aligned and connected as a team in terms of the importance of solving the problem is very rewarding.

I'm a hardcore optimist, but the most frustrating thing is probably that entrepreneurial minds work very fast, and complex systems don't work that way. Some factors will be out of your control, slow, or unpredictable. That can be hard for entrepreneurs, I think.

What's the No. 1 mistake entrepreneurs/innovators make?

The sunk cost concept. Entrepreneurs can get too emotionally invested in their solution, and the cost calculation you do in your head is not always rooted in reality. We tend to love every piece of what we build, even if it's not the right tool to solve the problem.

What are the top three lessons you've learned as an entrepreneur?

1) People are everything. Your idea is only as good as the team you build to execute it.
2) It's important to delegate important decisions early in the life of your company.
3) It's futile to waste time worrying too much about your competitors, because at the end of the day, it all comes down to execution. You could hand your blueprint over, and another team would execute it differently. It's all about having the right people in the right jobs, and once you have that A+ team, don't divert precious time worrying about competitors. It will only slow you down and distract you from your mission.

Full bio

Erica Mackey is a serial entrepreneur who recently co-founded MyVillage. As CEO, Erica is building a high-quality, community-driven solution to the national childcare shortage by empowering home-based childcare and preschool providers with the tools they need to grow a successful business that puts kids and families first. MyVillage’s model mixes the best parts of franchising (quality, connection, support) with the best parts of a do-it-yourself startup business (freedom, control, independence).

Previously, Erica co-founded and was COO of Zola Electric (previously Off Grid Electric), the world’s first massively scalable off-grid electric company, connecting over 1 million Africans to affordable solar energy. Her ventures have raised more than $250 million from world-class investors including Tesla, Paul Allen, and others. She was a fellow at the Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship, and she has been recognized among Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Entrepreneurs (2012). She was a delegate for the Academy of Achievement (2014) and was awarded the Zayed Future Energy Prize (2015).