P.Terry’s Co-founder Kathy Terry fills an unmet need with her new app, inLieu.
By Elizabeth Ucles, Photos Kerri Lohmeier, Smith House Photography and courtesy of inLieu
For Kathy Terry, entrepreneurship means going out of her way to find a solution. From her work as a paralegal and through her feats as the co-founder of beloved Texas chain P. Terry’s, she has never been one to take no for an answer. The March 2018 release of her new app, inLieu, highlights an entrepreneurial journey overflowing with grit.
Terry grew up in Midland, Texas, and moved to Austin in the 1990s. After graduating from the University of Texas, she became a paralegal, and for the past 12 and a half years, she has worked alongside her husband, Patrick Terry, at P. Terry’s. She is also a mother to 7- and 10-year-old daughters.
“It’s so funny,” Kathy Terry exclaims, “everyone describes my husband as the serial entrepreneur. And I always thought I was like his sidekick.”
When reflecting on her entrepreneurial journey, she recalls her beginnings as a paralegal specializing in patent-infringement litigation. As P. Terry’s began to take off, Kathy Terry served on the operations end, while her husband came up with the restaurant concepts. The two played off one another’s strengths, but she says she never recognized how hard it would be to maintain a business.
Kathy Terry took on that same sense of determination when developing inLieu, an app that allows users to donate to a charity in lieu of giving a gift. She came up with the concept three years ago after attending a holiday party. Kathy Terry knew the host wouldn’t want a candle or bottle of wine and would appreciate a more philanthropic gesture.
“I couldn’t really find anywhere where I could do that,” Kathy Terry says, “where I could make a donation and at the same time send her a message, and say, ‘Hey, excited about coming to the party, but in lieu of bringing you a bottle of wine, I made a donation to your favorite charity.’ ”
While she took on other projects, she always found herself coming back to the idea for the app.
“There’s not a platform that’s accessible to everybody,” Kathy Terry says. “If you want to make a donation to a friend’s cause, you have to go to that website, you have to fill out the profile, you never know when they’re going to get the message that you made it in their honor. It just takes the spontaneity out of it.”
She also says she wanted an app like inLieu to help nonprofits that are funded primarily through events.
“I just felt like there was a lot of lost opportunities to do good,” Kathy Terry says. “I just feel like there’s so many people [nonprofits are]not getting in front of.”
In inLieu’s early stages, Kathy Terry took the app idea to Girls Who Code and the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders, but left empty-handed. Everybody loved the idea, but with her inexperience in technology, Kathy Terry was at a loss for how to create a mobile app. But that didn’t stop her. In March 2017, she connected with various technology experts throughout the U.S. until she found a tech partner to make a clickable prototype. And that summer, Kathy Terry turned to friends to test inLieu.
After months of bootstrapping funds and getting her hands dirty in the design process, Kathy Terry officially launched inLieu March 6, 2018. The launch event for inLieu brought more than 400 attendees and raised more than $20,000 for local nonprofits, once more solidifying the market for the app.
“We can’t rely on 10 percent of the population to save the world or solve our problems,” Kathy Terry says. “If we want to create, we all have to participate. And by having this app, everyone gets to participate.”
The ease of a mobile app helps make philanthropic behavior public, with a social feed rather than typical private action. Kathy Terry says the app also helps brings society together.
“You have to meet people where they are,” she says. “Building the technology is where everybody is right now.”
Kathy Terry’s drive to pursue inLieu’s fruition would not be suppressed by doubt. She says being a woman equipped her with the skills to succeed, even when faced with pushback.
“With this generation, we’re defining our own rules,” she says. “I think by me not knowing anything about technology, it also kind of helped me because it was one of those I-didn’t-know-I-couldn’t-do-it [moments].”
Kathy Terry’s success in a field foreign to her did not inhibit the entrepreneur in her. And with that, she offers these pieces of advice for women’s entrepreneurial pursuit.
Don’t give up: “You have to have some grit and perseverance. Realize you didn’t get the answer you were expecting. Just go ahead and try again tomorrow.”
Be resourceful: “Take advantage of people you know and resources you have.”
Confidently make decisions: “We all get handed the same amount of good luck and bad luck. It’s making the decision and being positive about it.”
Go with your gut: “There’s no bad idea if it’s a need you’re filling.”
Work harder than everyone else: “I knew that if I worked harder than everyone else, then I was going to succeed. And that’s what I do every single day. I may not get the results that I’m expecting, but I just don’t give up.”