Posts Tagged ‘Melissa Wylie’

On Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, words of wisdom from 10 female founders

Melissa Wylie, Bizwomen reporter

Kate McAleer

Kate McAleer, founder of organic candy bar company Bixby & Co., won a $100,000 investment from the Tory Burch Foundation.

Today marks the annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, the day when the world takes a moment to recognize the big dreams and hard-earned rewards of female founders everywhere.

The Women’s Entrepreneurship Day initiative was founded in 2014 to celebrate female entrepreneurs and shed light on their challenges.

Here’s a compilation of professional and personal lessons from 10 entrepreneurs who tackled the startup grind and emerged successful.See Also 8 female founders on going from corporate climber to entrepreneur

Kate McAleer, Bixby & Co.

McAleer beat out nine other female entrepreneurs for a $100,000 donation from the Tory Burch Foundation for her organic candy bar company. She did it by nailing down a pitch that resonated with investors.

“When people are looking to invest money, if you think about their mindset, they’re looking for a return on their investment,” McAleer said. “You have to show that influx of capital is going to have immediate effect.”

Kelly Peeler, NextGenVest

Peeler created a solution to the student loan debt crisis plaguing many young people, but she’s not giving it away for free. Even though her business is cause-driven, Peeler never shied away from wanting to turn a profit.

“I decided to do this as a business because I really believe in the philosophy of a for-profit, for-purpose company, one that does well by doing well and uses technology to scale impact,” Peeler said.

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Foodstirs

After starring in the TV series “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Gellar turned to entrepreneurship and launched a subscription baking kit. However, the food box delivery space is crowded, and being a celebrity doesn’t exempt Gellar from having to differentiate her business.

“We are taking advantage of all social platforms to involve our customers in the experience. The Foodstirs experience does not end with purchase. We offer alternative recipes, substitutions, how-to videos, as well as original content. I believe the modern consumer not only wants transparency in their food products, but they want their voices to be heard.”

Stephanie Lampkin, Blendoor

Lampkin had a firsthand experience with perceived unconscious bias in the tech world, and decided to do something about it with her blind hiring app. Confident in her mission to diversify the hiring process, Lampkin was never afraid to set a new precedent along the way.

“I’m very proud of the fact that this is not only something that is helping facilitate diversity in the workplace, but I’m also passionate about being a black woman engineer starting and running a company,” Lampkin said. “In the process of creating this company, I’m also catalyzing change in women that are willing to take the plunge to create businesses that have social impact.”

Kathryn Minshew, The Muse

Minshew wasn’t looking to raise capital for her job search platform, but investors approached her anyway. Instead of turning them away, she took them up on their offers and closed a $16 million Series B round giving the company a nice financial cushion.

“The best time to raise capital is when you don’t need it,” Minshew said.

Jessica Mah, InDinero

Mah’s accounting services and software business took off fast, growing exponentially in a handful of years. But as investments, employees and offices increased, workplace culture began falling apart. Mah learned to look out for those internal growing pains that can sink a company.

“More money, more employees, more problems,” Mah said.

Ruth Gresser, Pizza Paradiso

Throughout more than 20 years owning her own restaurant, Gresser made pizza the way she wanted to – without pepperoni. But eventually she had to meet growing customer demands, or risk losing them altogether. The pivot to pepperoni was a difficult but smart strategic decision for Gresser.

“We have this philosophy that we say ‘Yes,’” Gresser said. “One thing I tell the staff is to act as if we’re having a dinner party. This is the hospitality business.”

Karida Collins, Neighborhood Fiber Co.

When it comes to knitting, city-dweller Collins knows she doesn’t match the “quaint and cottagey” stereotype. Instead of trying to fit expectations, Collins decided to be herself, which in turn helped her create her brand of one-of-a-kind, vibrant, hand-dyed yarns.

“When I started this business I just jumped in without any real expectations. The more I became exposed to the larger knitting and yarn community, the more I realized that I was not the norm and the more I went out of my way to be publicly me. Not in your face. But more: ‘It can be like this, too.’ In terms of actual people who knit, there is a much larger variety than you might think.”

Joanna Griffiths, Knix Wear

Griffiths created a revolutionary bra to fit all facets of life, from the workplace to workouts, and unknowingly designed a product that met the needs of women diagnosed with breast cancer. Griffiths embraced the surprise demographic and gained a new pool of customers.

“This bra we made was a great option for women who had gone through surgery – no wire, no shape. If you have a prosthesis, it holds,” Griffiths said. “It wasn’t designed for this intentionally, but it was a really great happenstance.”

Jessica Herrin, Stella & Dot

Herrin had a tough time in high school, and most of her teachers didn’t think she could make anything of herself. She set out to prove them wrong, and eventually built her own direct-sales empire.

“You have got to believe in yourself. Not a little — a lot,” she said. “You have got to believe in yourself beyond reason.”

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