By: Philtrina Farquharson | Contributing Writer 

Happied CEO, and Inglewood native April Johnson, Esq. is all smiles after her company has raised over $1.72M in funding to date. Happied is an event planning software platform that uses data to plan corporate, client, and community events of all sizes and has had major success in recent years. 

The journey has not always been joyful, but Johnson is no rookie to entrepreneurship, and always had a desire to succeed.

Johnson’s earliest days as a business owner began during her undergraduate years at UCLA when she and her roommate came together to create Westside Student Tutors. The idea was to offer affordable tutoring services, hiring students from UCLA to help younger students throughout Los Angeles, and business was booming! Before their website was up and running, they had customers inquiring, over time had hired over 30 tutors, and even had office space in Santa Monica.  

Eventually, the business subsided as her roommate went on to business school and Johnson went on to law school in hopes of following in her mom’s footsteps of becoming a lawyer. During Johnson’s time at law school, she became President of the Black Law Association where she realized she had a natural knack for curating events worth attending without having any professional experience. She put together about 50 events while in law school and that is when the inspiration for Happied came about in 2011, but at the time it was just an idea. 

Johnson graduated from law school and began working as a successful corporate real estate lawyer making over $200K. During her time as a lawyer, life happened and in 2018 a toll of tragic family events took place. April then realized that life was too short. She quit her well-paying job and stepped into the world of entrepreneurship full-time. “I would rather try and fail than live with regret,” said Johnson. 

Fast-forward to 2019, she launched the first version of Happied which initially started as a consumer product connecting individuals to local experiences like happy hours. Johnson wanted to expand and hired a developer but things did not go as planned. “Our product looked good but did not function well at all,” said Johnson. Not too long after trying to expand her business, she learned a hard lesson and failed miserably.

Johnson had lost all the money she put in her business and was left with a few hundred dollars in her savings account. “After one big mistake, It was truly humbling to go from being a corporate lawyer safe and secure to absolutely nothing,” said Johnson. “I had to pick up side hustles which included doing marketing for companies, I did contract work for my old law firm, and I waited tables,” she said. 

“Oftentimes people glamourize being an entrepreneur and start-up life and I think it is important for people to know if you are going to do this, you have to be ready to go through the trenches,” said Johnson. 

Although she had many trials and tribulations, she was focused on the mission to revolutionize the way people plan events and there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel. Before she raised a single dollar of outside capital she was able to earn 1 million dollars in revenue in 2021 and became profitable once she changed her business model. 

She began to work with Fortune 500 companies including Twitter, Google, Disney, and Capital One to name a few. The biggest lesson she learned besides never giving up, was focusing on building a product that people actually need. 

With grit and determination Johnson has gone far and has high hopes for the future of Happied. “Growing up in Inglewood really made me feel like I could do anything. Seeing Black women like Issa Rae successfully make it, gave me hope and pushed me to continue to make my city proud like they did,” said Johnson. 

As far as what we can expect from Happied down the line, Johnson hopes to make this a global platform that will serve as the heartbeat of engagement for corporations across the world. 

Los Angeles News Observer coverage of local news in Los Angeles County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California.