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11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About

11 Grants for Women-Owned Businesses You Need to Know About | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
You already know you're unstoppable. Here's how to get the cash to prove it.

In 2014, there were close to 9.1 million women-owned businesses in the United States, a 68 percent increase since 1997, according to The 2014 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report from American Express. This percentage increase exceeded the national average of small business growth by 1.5 times.

It also illustrated what we already know: Women entrepreneurs are having a tremendous impact on the small business landscape nationwide.

Yet to continue to be competitive and grow, these entrepreneurs have to find funding for their ventures. And, alarmingly, women entrepreneurs are increasingly being turned away by banks for small business loans. Thankfully, they still have other options, given the rise of technology-driven financial lending sources -- such as online loans, peer-to-peer loans and crowdfunding.

Then there are government grants. While not widely known or used, these grants are another great option for women seeking extra funding for their business ventures. They just take a little more work. Read more: click on image or title.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Another option to get your business started is to obtain a #grant.

This article offers a good introduction and has a list for #women

's grants.

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500 Startups Keeps Its Commitment To Invest In Women In Tech | TechCrunch

500 Startups Keeps Its Commitment To Invest In Women In Tech  |  TechCrunch | Pitch it! | Scoop.it


The best thing women in tech can do is to invest in other women,” 500 Startups managing partner Christine Tsai told me by phone earlier today. That’s exactly what the early-stage investment firm has been trying to do over the last five years, and it seems to be succeeding.

Its commitment starts with the makeup of the organization itself, but extends into the portfolio companies that 500 backs, as well. Half the managing partners and staff at 500 Startups are women, and at least one-third of the investing team are women. More than a quarter of the companies in the 500 portfolio are led by female CEOs, according to the firm.

Read More: http://snip.ly/20aP

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"With Growthink on your side, you are in a win-win situation. They placed themselves in my situation and analyzed my business as if it were their own business. I could never recommend any firm but Growthink to provide business planning services at this level of quality."
Prem K. Kapani, CEO

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

“"We are committed to working with women. We are investing in women because we want to make money and we feel they have been overlooked. Others have been touting it, but we haven’t really been publicizing it,” he told me. “Is this self-promotional? Sure as hell is. But the numbers speak for themselves.”

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11 Startup Lessons From A Successful Female CEO

11 Startup Lessons From A Successful Female CEO | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

For those with a great idea and some investor cash, a down economy and a troubled job market mark the right time for a small business to take off. In many cases the risk-taking, innovative, emerging entrepreneurs are women. To be successful in what can still be considered a man's world is different than it was 10, 20 and 30 years ago. Today there is less talk about asserting feminism and more about doing things openly and creatively.

Be a chameleon

Tena Clark, a songwriter, producer and entrepreneur who is the CEO of DMI Music, has triumphed and sustained a vibrant career in the music business for almost three decades because she always evolved as both an artist and an entrepreneur. She watched the music industry change and discard hardworking artists and innovators, but was able to adapt instead of fighting to keep the way things always were.

“I’ve watched industries transform and jobs disappear,” says Clark. “But I kept having successes because I kept my fingers in so many pies so that if any part dried up, I had others to rely on. I never was just a one-trick pony.”

Be ready to start over

Every industry experiences the terrible moments where half the talk is about how the good years are over and how it’s time to move on to another industry. The other half tends to think if they stick it out and keep their head down, things will be okay. Find the middle.

“Sixteen years ago I was listening to two extremes of talk with my industry, and what I realized was that they were both wrong and that it was time to recreate,” says Clark. “I realized then that I had to be ready and okay with starting over and thinking differently, thinking with fresh ideas.”

Be courageous

Being bold with her business and thinking far outside the box was the only way to survive. But doing so took tremendous risk and separated Clark from the pack.

“I was always looking for how to do things differently,” says Clark. “Years and years ago I was asking questions like: ‘Why is the only place you can buy music in a warehouse or a tower?’ Or, ‘Why is music only playing on the radio? Why can’t it be heard in other places?’ I was thinking of those concepts before they were in practice today.”

Be a game-changer

Because Clark had branding experience from working in commercials and films, she was able to change the game of her industry.

“I was dangerous,” says Clark. “I was about connecting the consumer to the brands through music, and using the emotional power of music. I coined a phrase: ‘There is no better way to create loyalty than through emotion, and then there’s no better way to create emotion than through music.’ We approached brands through a marketing side. We didn’t have an agenda we were trying to sell you; we were just trying to sell your brand by creating a sound DNA and now the music footprint is everywhere: online, in stores, concerts, in webisodes, in gaming...it can touch you in any audible place.”

Have a strategy

Design and map out a plan with your team that everyone signs off on so it can just be plugged in and applied to clients and projects.

“I never had to worry about what the future of radio was or what the radio would or wouldn’t play because I had all these other non-traditional dependencies I’d mapped out," says Clark. "My strategy and my company’s strategy have been to never be dependent on one way of doing things. I get new artists and understand there are new ways to hear them. Then you start to be able to predict what will happen in your industry.”

Modernize the feminist approach

The 80s are over so there are battles that have been won and new challenges to conquer.

“It’s not about going in blazing guns with ‘I am a women, here me roar’ anymore,” says Clark. “There shouldn’t even be that conversation anymore. I don’t come across the sexist stuff like that anymore. So much business happens over dinner, on a golf course, and through good relationships. So it’s important as women to really have those relationships and build them with other women in the business world."

Befriend other CEOs and entrepreneurs

Find other women you jive with in the business world whether they relate to your business or not. They can be mentors or you can be theirs.

“It’s been the best way for me to network and to give me confidence because from the male standpoint if you don’t respect yourself, then you’re aren’t going to be treated with authority," Clark says. "It’s about being you and being real. Building a group of fellow CEOs from various companies is empowering.”

Don’t equate nice with weak

For too long it’s been portrayed that a woman in power has to be a woman who is also ferocious. The reality is that being a genuine, honest person who is a forthcoming and loyal person is someone who is strong, and anything but weak.

“To be at the top and kind isn’t a weakness,” Clark. “People see being nice as a weakness and it’s not. As long as people know this is the way it is in your company and that’s it, then they know you mean business and you’re free to be human to one another.”

Seek change where it’s needed still

Female entrepreneurs still aren’t seeing an equal distribution of private equity, says Clark. “There is a lack of funding from VCs. It is still very uneven here for women.” One solution Clark suggests is working with female venture capitalists that specifically seek out private equity for female entrepreneurs.

Be in charge

Embrace being at the top and be confident with it. Clark owns 51 percent of BMI Music and her partner owns 40 percent.

“I couldn’t have done it any other way,” says Clark. “We don’t have any issues over power struggle, or dominance when you choose your partner wisely and put everything in writing."

Have a great support system

Surround yourself with people who believe in you and are your biggest fan.

“You need those people on the outside who see the barn is on fire and aren’t afraid to tell you to put out the flames or just let it burn,” says Clark. “Those people on the outside with your best interest at heart know how to help you tweak things and make things work better.”

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Via The Fish Firm
Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Excellent advice.

Alanna Rogers's curator insight, October 10, 2014 1:03 PM

Great tips - for men and women.

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Sixteen Year Old Anaya Tipins Wins First Place for Startup and an Award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at MIT’s Launch Program | Articles | INDIA New England

Sixteen Year Old Anaya Tipins Wins First Place for Startup and an Award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at MIT’s Launch Program | Articles | INDIA New England | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Sixteen Year Old Anaya Tipins Wins First Place for Startup and an Award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at MIT’s Launch Program

This summer, Anaya Tipnis, a 16 year old rising junior at Needham High School started a company with three other students at a prestigious MIT program called Launch. MIT Launch is a highly selective summer program where 40 talented high school students from all over the world are invited to stay on campus, go through a rigorous 4 week program to learn about entrepreneurship and launch businesses.

Tipnis co-founded Commisi, a web platform that bridges the divide between skilled high school developers and startup companies. Through her venture, teens can gain hands-on experience and earn money working on real world projects. In turn, budding startups utilize the next generation's creative minds to develop their company's products and services. In just 4 weeks, Commisi signed up 10+ interested high school developers and secured 5 letters of intent from local companies, including one affiliated with Museum of Science.

In Tipnis' session, eleven teams competed with one another. They brainstormed ideas, developed concepts, tested the customer and market needs, and executed within a short duration of four weeks. At the end of four weeks, eleven companies presented at the Kirsch auditorium to a panel of judges which included successful and influential business leaders and entrepreneurs. Tipnis's company Commisi was awarded first place for Startup with the Best Execution. Tipnis was the CEO of their team of four; along with Sohom Paul from India (CMO), David Yuan from Texas (CFO), and Alex Yu from Maryland (CTO). Tipnis was also a proud recipient of an award for One of the Three Most Powerful Women at the program.

Tipnis was interested in entrepreneurship from an early age. She would often tag along with her father to local WebInno conferences in Boston, where local startups presented their ventures to the community. Learning from her experience, Anaya believes entrepreneurship is a key skill all teens should have. She explains that it allows a student to harness their passion and creativity and solidify them into an actual business.

Through this experience and service, Tipnis hopes to inspire local students to pursue STEM-related activities and find exciting opportunities for work and experience while in school. Her vision is that Commisi would be used as a go-to academic platform for teens to find opportunities, ranging from research and data entry to video and song composition. She plans to bring Commisi to Needham High, in order to give teenagers the creative freedom to find opportunities suited to their interests.

Here is a brief Q-A with Tipnis:

INDIA New England News: How did you get interested in entrepreneurship?
I have always been intrigued by the start-up world. My dad himself is an entrepreneur, so I would frequently see him working in his basement when I was younger, developing a venture with his partners. I thought that his drive to get a company up and running himself was admirable, especially being in elementary school, when we were told without thought that becoming a doctor or lawyer was the best profession.

In addition, Boston is home to a diverse range of startups, and it was inspiring to see that people were able to turn a dream into a tangible company. It showed me that entrepreneurship allows a person to both work independently and contribute towards the community, and I think that this combination is liberating. Originally, I never saw myself as an entrepreneur; I dreamed of becoming a journalist or a neurologist. But once I realized I had the potential to shape my future by pursuing personal, innovative ideas, I decided to look into entrepreneurship as a potential career choice.

INE: What do you want to do after studies?
Although I enjoy entrepreneurship, I definitely want to be able to go to college and learn more about other fields of study. I especially love learning about aerospace and aviation, because I see that space travel is a growing market and an expansive field for innovative technologies. Working for a disruptive company like SpaceX would be a dream come true. In addition, I want to be able to apply the entrepreneurial skills I've learned after my studies. Teaching about the logistics of the startup process in India, Malaysia, and other parts of the world would be a humbling experience. I really believe that by learning how to maintain businesses, especially for young women, people can benefit tremendously in terms of self-sufficiency. I envision a world where everyone can do what they love, and I think entrepreneurship lends that freedom.

INE: What advise you will give to your other students?
My advice to other students is to find your passions. From a young age, we are told how the world works, and to squeeze ourselves inside those limitations and make do with what is available. I say that despite your age, you have the potential to broaden your horizons and do what you enjoy if you love to learn and soak up knowledge like a sponge. It is never too early to explore career opportunities and areas of interest; don't be afraid to put yourself out there and discover what you are happy doing. Steve Jobs once said, "If you don't love something, you're not going to go the extra mile, work the extra weekend, challenge the status quo as much". Go out and challenge the status quo!

INE: When you are not studying or working, what do you do? What are your hobbies?
When I am not studying/working, I love to play and compose music on the piano and guitar. During the Launch camp, we would frequently gather on late nights and pour ourselves into a song. Music is a wonderful means of de-stressing and showcasing passion, and it's definitely a hobby of mine. I also enjoy playing basketball, creative writing, and public speaking. In addition, the entrepreneurs I met during Launch also said that cooking is a great hobby to pursue - so I'm looking into that as well.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Amazing story.

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Here are the 11 Startups Women's iLab Discovered Through The MassChallenge Partnership

Here are the 11 Startups Women's iLab Discovered Through The MassChallenge Partnership | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Here’s an impressive fun-fact: David Chang, Co-Founder of Start Tank, has said that over 60% of startups that pitched in the second round of judging in the high-tech lane on the show had at least one female founder. And, at Women’s iLab, we celebrate the rise of female entrepreneurs.

This year Women’s iLab was invited to partner with MassChallenge to discover Boston’s best and brightest female-led startups and compete in its accelerator program. MassChallenge’s four month accelerator program offers mentorship, office space, and education resources, and awards two million dollars in cash awards. With programs in Boston, Israel, and the United Kingdom, MassChallenge is open to anyone in the world, from any stage in the startup and in any industry.

Women’s iLab is one of Boston’s experts on women in tech, and we’re proud to highlight the startups that we’ve chosen.  The selected startups were given the opportunity to work out of the MassChallenge offices leading up to the program and/or be fast-tracked into the second of the three rounds of judging to make it into the program.

Here are the eleven startups chosen by Women’s iLab and their elevator pitches (those marked with an * made it to the MassChallenge Semi-Finals):  read more: click on image or title.

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"I loved working with Growthink. The staff are passionate about their work and committed to what they do in a way that can only be achieved when you love what you do. They helped keep us on track to achieve our planning goals. I am looking forward to continued success working with everyone from Growthink in the future."
- Venus Williams, Professional Tennis Player and CEO, V Starr Interiors

Marc Kneepkens's insight:

From #Beauty to #Breastfeeding, #Education to #Wardrobe management, these startups are made by women and for women (mostly).

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New accelerator is solely for firms with a female founder

New accelerator is solely for firms with a female founder | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

In Greek mythology, she is the goddess of war and wisdom. In Philadelphia's University City, Athena is a more earthly vessel, taking shape to make warriors of female entrepreneurs.

DreamIt Athena is a rare business accelerator, exclusively for companies with at least one female founder.

Announced this month and accepting applications until Dec. 8 at https://app.wizehive.com/appform/login/2015philly, the program to help women turn their ideas into fundable businesses with growth potential will launch in February with its first cycle of participants, a minimum of four companies. A second cycle is planned for spring 2016.

To qualify, applicants must have technology-based products or services with large market opportunity.

The program's name seemed a natural, said Karen Griffith Gryga, managing partner of DreamIt Funds, the equity arm of DreamIt Ventures, a top-tier accelerator that has launched 168 companies since its start in 2008. Of those, 40 were companies with female founders.

"Athena is the Greek goddess of wisdom, courage, inspiration," Gryga said. "And whenever you're doing a start-up, you've got to have tremendous inspiration and vision, but also fortitude and courage. It's not easy to launch and build and develop a start-up."

Especially for women.

"We just felt it was time to do something about it," she said. "The answer is not more networking events."

Timing proved fortuitous. In the spring, DreamIt applied for funding from Pennsylvania's "Discovered in PA, Developed in PA" grant program and was approved in August for $491,000.

That's enough to finance two three-month cycles. The plan is to continue afterward, "but with a more commercial partner," said Gryga, who will oversee the Athena program with Patrick FitzGerald, managing director of DreamIt Ventures' Philadelphia program.

"There's just been an outpouring of support for it," said Gryga, who plans to conduct a national search for female CEOs and serial entrepreneurs willing to serve as mentors and inspiration.

To fill the post of project manager, DreamIt Athena's creators have hired a local woman described by a peer as "a real connector in the Philadelphia ecosystem" of female entrepreneurs.

Archna Sahay, a native of India now living in Center City, started the Female Founders Network in February to help women in business find one another.

A finance major at Virginia Tech, Sahay, 35, went on to work as a portfolio analyst and investment analyst at Wachovia and its successor, Wells Fargo, and then worked in the brokerage business for Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

Sahay left Morgan Stanley on Sept. 30 to focus on the Female Founders Network. But in just weeks, she had a job offer from DreamIt that seemed like divine intervention.

"I'm very spiritual," she said. "I always like to see God's hands in things."

As a believer that financial independence for women is "one of the most important things you could work on," and as a big sister who wants "to leave the world in just a slightly better place" for two younger ones, Sahay said the chance to help build what was believed to be the first female-oriented program by a top-tier accelerator feels like "what I was meant to do."

Her 12 years in finance - and some recent studies - left her convinced of the need for DreamIt Athena. Among those studies was a report by professors of Babson College in Massachusetts, "Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital."

It found, in part, that though early-stage investment in companies with a woman on the executive team has tripled to 15 percent from 5 percent in the last 15 years, 85 percent of all venture-capital-funded businesses have no women on the executive team.

One reason for that, Sahay said, is another troubling finding by Babson: The total number of women partners in venture-capital firms has declined since 1999, dropping to 6 percent from 10 percent.

"There aren't enough women on the other side of that table," Sahay said.

When it comes to successfully pitching to investors, entrepreneurs need to connect with them. The sex divide is a serious obstacle, said Holly Flanagan, managing director at Gabriel Investments, a Philadelphia early-stage investment group.

"The challenge for women is they tend to solve problems that are faced by women," Flanagan said. "Because the majority of investors continue to be men, the advice I always give female founders is they have to articulate their story in a way that helps [all] investors feel the pain they are out to solve."

That message will be driven home at DreamIt Athena, Sahay said.

Among others applauding the effort is Yasmine Mustafa, founder of Roar for Good L.L.C., a young self-defense technology company.

"With greater inclusiveness," Mustafa said, "the opportunity to support the growing number of women founders creates even more possibilities for delivering transformative solutions - not to mention establishing more female role models, especially in predominantly male industries like technology."

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Another great initiative for women in technology and startups

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Rise of Female Angel Investors Fuels Women-Run Companies

Rise of Female Angel Investors Fuels Women-Run Companies | Pitch it! | Scoop.it
Women make up about 20 percent of both the entrepreneurs and investors involved in angel investment deals, up from single digits a decade ago

In 2009, when Amy Norman and Stella Ma started pitching investors on their San Francisco-based startup, Little Passports, both had young children and Norman was pregnant. The overwhelming majority of the investors they met with were men who wanted to know “if we were running this as a ‘lifestyle company,’” Ma recalls. Investors passed and word got around Silicon Valley that “there’s no way women like this could grow a company fast enough” to satisfy venture capitalists, Norman says.

Yet grow it did, to $5 million in revenue five years later. Norman and Ma eventually raised nearly $2 million for their education business, which sells monthly subscription packages to help kids learn about geography. Much of the funding came from a female investor group that saw in the idea potential that eluded many men.

With ‘brogrammer’ culture spreading through the male-dominated world of tech, Little Passports’ experience reflects a contrasting trend: Women are running an increasing number of America’s startups, and they make up a growing share of the angel investors funding them. Today women make up about 20 percent of both the entrepreneurs and investors involved in angel deals, up from single-digits a decade ago, according to the University of New Hampshire’s Center for Venture Research (PDF).

Women made up 23 percent of all entrepreneurs seeking angel capital in 2013, up from 9 percent in 2005. There were fewer than 20,000 female angel investors in 2005, but that number increased to nearly 58,000 by last year.

The group that funded Little Passports, Golden Seeds, was founded nine years ago, making it an early female investor group. Managing director Jo Ann Corkran says the group has 300 investors, 72 percent of them women. They are committed to investing in companies that have in top executive positions at least one woman who holds significant equity and decision-making power.

All together, members from chapters in New York, Boston, Silicon Valley, and Texas have invested $50 million in 61 companies, Corkran says. The group also holds regular open office hours, giving company founders a chance to meet informally with experienced investors.

There’s no mystery about why women are underrepresented in the investor community, Corkran says. “If you make 77¢ on the dollar and you compound that over a lifetime, you end up with women having a lot less free cash flow.” Corkran is aware of the perception that women aren’t as comfortable with risk, but she doesn’t buy it. “They are as thoughtful and as willing to take a knowledgeable, considered risk as anybody else,” she says.

Natalia Oberti Noguera, founder and chief executive of Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women, agrees. Since its April 2011 launch, her program has trained more than 80 women, who have committed over $400,000 in investment. Having started in New York, the group has expanded to Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington.

The idea came about after Oberti Noguera attended a gathering of nearly two dozen investors as one of two women in the room. “These people were deciding whether or not to invest and they went around the room saying, ‘Well, my wife and her friends say this,’ or ‘My girlfriend says that.’ I realized then and there that women do not have a seat at the table.”

A Silicon Valley pitch-fest at which her all-female team presented to an all-male investor panel provided a further vivid lesson. “We were told, ‘The fact that you’re an all-woman team is too distracting.’ I came out of that realizing that we weren’t taken seriously,” she says.

If women are becoming increasingly influential as angel investors, however, they still have a way to go in the venture capital world. Alyse Killeen is an associate at March Capital Partners in Los Angeles, specializing in the fields of health and life science. Last year, she founded a networking and professional development group called Women In Venture. The group has about 18 members, but only two—herself and one other woman—currently hold jobs at venture capital firms.

The group’s goal is to provide encouragement and professional development that will help keep women in the field and advance them. Women now make up just 4 percent of venture capital partners. “We want to make it at least 20 percent women,” Killeen says.

She feels that along with her efforts, entrepreneurs themselves are pushing advancement for women. Both male and female founders are actively looking for diversity in their investment teams and on their boards and management teams, she says.

“We have had a few competitive deals come in because entrepreneurs who could have chosen from between 20 to 30 firms chose us because they wanted to work with a woman investor. It’s like, ‘Listen, all of our engineers look essentially the same, but we believe you can help us recruit women, and that will give us an edge,’” Kileen says.

Oberti Noguera is also hopeful, but says she won’t back off any time soon. “I tell people, don’t complain,” she says. “Just raise awareness of the issues and disrupt within the system, while creating our own systems. That’s the way we’re going to make progress.”

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Women bring a whole new perspective in funding. They work with different kinds of startups and bring in different criteria, balancing out the male dominated world of funding.

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5 Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face — And How to Overcome Them

5 Challenges Women Entrepreneurs Face — And How to Overcome Them | Pitch it! | Scoop.it

Each year, more and more women set out on the journey to become successful founders and CEOs of their own companies. While these business-savvy ladies are inspirational to women with dreams of launching a startup, entrepreneurship remains a traditionally male-dominated territory, and there are still some significant obstacles that many female business owners have to face. Here are five of the biggest challenges of women entrepreneurs today, and how to overcome them.

To read the full article, click on the title.

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Marc Kneepkens's insight:

Good article that addresses some real problems to overcome for women entrepreneurs.

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