Taking the World by "Swarm"
PROVO, Utah – Jul 18, 2022 – As someone who has often felt like the odd woman out, Mikayla Cluxton knows what it is like to be lonely. As a second-year student in the entrepreneurial management program at the BYU Marriott School of Business, Cluxton recently created a startup, BeeFriend, to help alleviate loneliness in the geriatric population. Inspired by the iconography of a bee, Cluxton and her two cofounders are creating a hive for the senior citizens in their community to find friends.
Cluxton’s personal background makes her well-equipped to handle the delicate task of helping elderly people find compatible companions. “I’ve experienced many moments where I felt like I stood out,” says Cluxton. She references being a woman in entrepreneurship, a typically male-dominated field; being one of the few members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in her hometown of Powdersville, South Carolina; and being one of only a few of her friends who chose not to serve a mission. “These instances have helped me empathize and connect with individuals who may also feel apart from the people around them,” she says.
In the case of elderly people in care homes, this distance is often literal as they live apart from family and friends. “Our plan at BeeFriend is to hire employees who will focus on building a one-on-one relationship with our clients, whether they are living in their own homes or in assisted-living homes,” says Cluxton, the CEO of the company.
On top of her entrepreneurship endeavors at BYU Marriott, Cluxton is also minoring in family history. Besides the common belief that older people are more inclined toward family-history work, Cluxton has found several other connections between her startup and her love of genealogy. “People care about their families and where they come from; you can see that in the responses we’ve gotten about BeeFriend,” she says. For Cluxton, the purpose of both BeeFriend and family history is to satisfy a desire people have to make sure family members are taken care of.
“With family history I’ve always been drawn to the concept of finding every single person,” Cluxton shares. “That idea also translates to our business because we’re catering to individuals and their specific brand of loneliness.”
Cluxton, who currently serves as the president of the Women in Entrepreneurship club (WE), also strives to look after women at BYU Marriott by helping them find their own hive of people. “WE has validated my experience as a female in entrepreneurship,” she says. “The club is a safe space for women to talk about our experiences at the business school. There have been times where I have felt marginalized in a specific way and then I would talk to other women and find out what I had experienced wasn’t just a me problem; other women had experienced the same things.”
Besides helping women in the entrepreneurship program feel more at home, Cluxton works to open the doors of the Tanner Building to women outside of BYU Marriott. Through WE, she leads workshops and info sessions to help women who are interested in business learn more about the resources and support available to them.
One of Cluxton’s favorite moments at BYU Marriott was when a professor, after finding out about her involvement with WE, came up to her and said, “I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been specifically trying to find more female entrepreneurs to speak in our class.” Cluxton says she has seen actions such as this, designed to include women, throughout her experience at BYU Marriott, and she is thrilled to be a part of the effort.
“My work has always been about finding the individual, being their friend, and caring about them,” Cluxton says.
Media Contact: Chad Little (801) 422-1512
Writer: Liesel Allen