Cynthia Nevels, Integrality and Soulgood
Small businesses are big business for this alumna
A passion for creating and expanding small companies launched a successful career for Cynthia Nevels (BA accounting '96, BA psychology '10), who shares her business acumen with aspiring entrepreneurs globally.
Nevels is founder and senior partner of Integrality LLC, established in 2000 as a management consulting firm specializing in the design and delivery of solutions to business needs.
Based in Dallas, Integrality supports start-ups and established businesses with services ranging from management, personnel training and marketing strategies to technology integration and financial assistance. Nevels formed the company out of a desire to help others by sharing her knowledge.
Many clients who started with her — small and mid-size companies owned mostly by women — are now multimillion-dollar companies and winners of local and national business awards.
Women and minorities comprise the majority of Nevels’ clients. One longtime client, a wholesale distributor of pharmaceutical, health care and emergency-preparedness products to municipalities, has grown to $10 million in nine years.
“I’m able to relate and communicate with women as a business owner, building a rapport,” she says, crediting her TWU coursework.
As a strong proponent of using technology, Nevels stays ahead of the curve on “what’s next, what’s new, what’s hot.” Among her innovations is the company’s offering of crowdfunding assistance to clients as an alternative means of raising capital through an equity crowdfunding space, thinkcrowdfund.com.
Alternative financing helps level the playing field for small businesses, especially women and minority-owned business, which have historically been left out of the funding market in raising capital, she says.
“Through crowdfunding, people are giving you money because they support you, believe in you and want you to succeed,” Nevels says.
Excited to be helping women-owned businesses
Nevels gained experience in technology development, consulting and customer relationship management with jobs in Los Angeles and Silicon Valley during the dot.com boom. When the recession hit and resulted in her layoff, she returned to Texas with a new focus — to teach others about financial literacy, building wealth and entrepreneurship.
“I wanted to do something more profound with life outside of just making money,” she says.
Nevels named the company Integrality because its multiple areas of expertise tie together to create a strong foundation for businesses.
“I want to be integrated into my clients’ world, where if they need to make a decision about their business as a whole, they pick up their phone and call me first. That’s the kind of relationship I have with most of my clients,” she says.
After earning certification as a woman- and minority-owned business, Integrality grew quickly. Nevels now employs two experienced consultants, both women.
“It’s what I wanted, to be able to create jobs for smart people, to create a culture where others can thrive. Because I went to TWU I have a propensity to hire women. I’m very proud of that,” she says.
So good to be a chef
In a totally different business venture, Nevels established her organic fast food company, Soulgood, for diversification and as a “passion business.”
She learned many years ago that diversification is key to longevity for business owners. Multiple offerings reduce the risk of losing your company if an industry goes upside down, she says.
She developed Soulgood as a popup kitchen at the Dallas Farmers Market and, in October 2016, debuted a Soulgood Food Truck — the first organic vegan and vegetarian fast food truck in North Texas.
Nevels enters a whole new world when she walks into her commercial kitchen and turns on the creative switch.
“I feel like an artist when I’m cooking. I see instant gratification when people taste my food, and there’s no better high for me than making people happy,” she says.
Nevels undertook the food project as inducement to encourage her son, Tyler Nelson, born with Cystic Fibrosis, to eat healthfully. As a teenager, he wasn’t interested in eating “rabbit food,” so Nevels became innovative to trick him into thinking he was eating meat, not vegetarian meals.
She became really good at it, so good that she was featured in CEO MOM Magazine. So good that she was featured on a segment of the nationally syndicated TV show Harry, distributed by NBC Universal and hosted by Harry Connick Jr.
In the segment, Nevels serves her Italian Po’ Boy sandwich to Connick, who can’t tell that the vegetarian sausage isn’t meat. She sells the sandwich and other favorites out of her Soulgood food truck.
Tyler died from transplant complications in 2015. Nevels donates a percentage of the revenue from her food business to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in his memory.