Let your light shine, help others to shine, so together we sparkle.
The name We Sparkle came from one of Michelle’s personal mantras. This is our why. It is the vision upon which We Sparkle is grounded. It is at the heart of everything we do and what we use to guide our work.
Founder & CEO
We're committed to helping democratize the process of starting and growing a business and demystifying the tools and technology that can make this easier.
We have a mission of creating a stronger and more inclusive economy, so we're particularly interested in supporting underestimated entrepreneurs, like women and people of color (the fastest growing segment of entrepreneurs).
Starting and maintaining a business can sometimes feel all about the hustle. But we believe in holistic growth both personally and professionally, because you must first sustain yourself before you can sustain your business.
Community and self care is a foundational part of our platform and our company.
We Sparkle is a social enterprise and public benefit corporation, which means we care about more than just making a profit. We also care for people and the planet.
We support nonprofit organizations through our Rate to Donate program and by offering scholarships to entrepreneurs who can benefit from our platform but may not be able to afford a subscription at the time.
Collaborating is a huge part of growing a business, and of We Sparkle! We are intentional about partnering with organizations who serve small business owners, like co-working spaces and entrepreneurship hubs.
Feedback and support from our Sparklers have been essential to helping us grow and thrive. Serving them, our customers, and supporting their work is what we love to do!
"For there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it. If only we’re brave enough to be it."
Michelle Maryns (She/Her)
Founder & CEO
Michelle founded We Sparkle with the mission of building a stronger, more inclusive, and more just economy by equipping underestimated entrepreneurs with the tools they need to succeed.
Michelle's career was deeply inspired by her mother's experiences. The owner of a thriving fabric business in Vietnam, she later came to the United States as a refugee and didn’t feel confident as a business owner. Her career choices were limited, and she experienced a host of discrimination and challenges as an immigrant and woman of color. Michelle always wondered what her mom could have accomplished if she had continued with her business.
Michelle has been widely recognized as a leader and connector, and has been honored as a 2021 Bush Fellow, a Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business Honoree, as well as being honored with Fellowships by the Global Good Fund, FINNOVATION Lab, and Luminary x United for America. She is also the Entrepreneur in Residence for Junior Achievement North, and serves on the board of a number of organizations supporting entrepreneurs in the community.
Prior to launching We Sparkle, Michelle was most recently the Chief of Strategic Initiatives of MEDA - a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) named by the U.S. Department of Commerce as the top minority business development agency four years in a row. While there, she was able to help thousands of entrepreneurs begin and grow their businesses. We Sparkle gives her the opportunity to continue this work on an even larger scale.
Nick Weber (He/Him)
Co-Founder & CTO
Nick leads and oversees all technical aspects of We Sparkle. With degrees in psychology and industrial technology, and a background in mortgage banking, his pathway to a career in technology was a bit atypical, and his diverse experience informs his perspective on the work we do at We Sparkle - as does his experience growing up as the child of a small business owner.
Nick's mom ran her own house cleaning business by day and waitressed at night, as a young divorced mother of two without a high school degree. Nick is intimately familiar with the challenges of building and growing a business, "Helping people find a path towards creating a rewarding career, that also allows them to support their families in a sustainable way, is something I am proud to be part of."
Nick is passionate about creating space, and personally mentoring underrepresented folks to diversify the tech field. He is also a big supporter of organizations like Eau Claire County Humane Association that help rescue animals.
When he is not working, you will find him with Cecily, his wife and partner of more than 22 years, and Ellie Beans, their 70-pound Australian Cattle Dog mix that occasionally likes to sit atop his shoulders while working – (adorable) photographic evidence available upon request.
Melissa Gutierrez Nelson (She/Her)
Head of Community
In her life and in her work, Melissa fiercely believes in the adage that “we all do better when we all do better.” She is immensely grateful to be part of a team whose work is guided by this same value.
As We Sparkle’s Head of Community, Melissa assists in facilitating partnerships, leads community initiatives (like our Rate to Donate and BIPOC Scholarship Programs) and our social media efforts. Melissa is also the primary connection to our customers. She finds their innovative spirits and dedication a continual source of inspiration. 'We have so many customers with incredible ideas, but who need just a bit of help to launch them into the world. I love that We Sparkle can be a part of people turning those ideas and intentions into action.
She brings her background in communications and her perspectives as a small business owner, a nonprofit manager, and the daughter of immigrants to her work with We Sparkle.
Melissa is involved with many community organizations including Everyday Miracles, The Minnesota Breastfeeding Coalition, The Minnesota Healing Justice Network, and Karuna Community.She serves on the board of Led by Truth, an organization that curates change and equity in the community by supporting BIPOC entrepreneurs.
Melissa’s deepest joy is spending time with her family - born and chosen. You will often find her teaching community or prenatal yoga, mindfulness, and childbirth education, or in her kitchen trying to hone her baking and vegan cooking skills.
Aucoeur Ngo ('okurr!')
Aucoeur is a part of the We Sparkle technical team. Motivated by a desire to build tools that make life easier for people, Aucoeur works predominantly on the frontend, working on user interfaces & API integrations to improve user experience of our products.
"Growing up, technology was always a source of fascination for me, but I never thought I would be able to make a career out of it. I am so grateful to be part of a team where I'm able to show up authentically and contribute meaningfully to good in the world, while learning and growing in my professional career."
Aucoeur comes to this role with a non-traditional educational and professional background – initially majoring in Psychology and Social Behavior with a minor in Education, while working at Caltech Library. There, Aucoeur found her way into the IT department, which eventually segued into managing the Caltech Library's pilot 3D printing lab.
The experience of picking up a new technology, coupled with the gratification of being able to assist academic researchers in doing the same, was instrumental in Aucoeur's decision to return to school to pursue an Applied Computer Science degree.
Aside from We Sparkle, Aucoeur enjoys indulging in all things drag, repurposing found objects, and hanging out with their inner child.
Rate to Donate Program
We asked our We Sparkle community Sparklers to nominate outstanding nonprofits to participate in our special Rate to Donate program, in which we donate $1 or an hour of volunteer time every time someone leaves a rating or a review for one of our Sparklers.
Mobilizes Latinas and Latin@ communities to end gender-based violence
Working to reduce health disparities and improving outcomes for families during the pregnancy year
Empowering women of color as they navigate their next steps in tech, through mentorship and community
Inspiring and preparing young people to succeed in a global economy.
Led by Truth is a non-profit organization that creates a growth-oriented space for BIPOC professionals to thrive
Challenging women to see their role in furthering women’s leadership in all sectors of society
The Minnesota Healing Justice Network is an intergenerational community of healers and cultural workers that center Black and brown wellness through mutual aid, holistic care, and solidarity work
Inspiring communication that supports cooperative co-parenting and stabilization of families of color
Dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.
We Sparkle is deeply committed to being part of creating a more equitable, diverse, and just economy.
We encourage you to apply for a Sparkle Scholarship. Recipients will be awarded a complimentary Sparkle Assistant subscription, and a one-on-one coaching session with a Sparkle team member.
Are you a BIPOC professional that is launching or growing your business?
Are you doing community work to make the world better?
We Sparkle is proud to serve Minneapolis residents as part of their Business and Technical Assistance Program.
Learn more about how to get support for your small business through this amazing community resource.
Do you live or have a business in the city of Minneapolis?Apply for the B-TAP Program
We Sparkle in the News
The Business Journals
We Sparkle targets economic-development organizations with AI
After CEO Michelle Maryns first started her company We Sparkle, in 2018, not many people were familiar with how artificial intelligence could benefit their professional lives. But after ChatGPT hit the mainstream discourse, instead of blank stares, Maryn’s company is now greeted with excitement and curiosity from larger organizations.
Twin Cities Business
Making the Most of AI
All conversations about business innovation seem to lead to artificial intelligence. With this year’s release of ChatGPT, Google Bard, and others, the public is starting to consider AI’s potential. But AI isn’t new to tech founders, and as many point out, it’s only as useful as its application. Here’s how four Twin Cities startups use AI.
Monitor St. Paul
AI: stuff of science fiction is now a business reality
Representatives from local businesses, (left to right) Andrew Eklund of Ciceron, Michelle Tran Maryns of We Sparkle and Ron Lancaster of Structural, chat about the pros and cons of artificial intelligence on Sept. 20. The event was organized by the Midway Chamber and held at the Wilder Foundation.