Invest in She hopes to promote, help fund women entrepreneurs

Invest in She hopes to promote, help fund women entrepreneurs

$40K up for grabs in new pitch competition One event won’t change the tides for women business owners in Iowa – but more awareness and a little cash never hurt, said organizers of Invest in She. “We need to get them out from behind the curtain, so people know what they’re doing and can support them in the way that they need to be supported,” said Lydia Brown, president and CEO of Ascent Iowa, a not-for-profit organization that supports women in business. Ascent partnered with the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference and presenting sponsor Guaranty Bank to create the new Invest in She event, which will happen Sept. 18 at the Paramount Theatre in Cedar Rapids. Six female entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their business to a panel of judges comprised of local business leaders. The judges have pledged to give feedback on-the-spot and invest up to $40,000. The judges  will not invest directly in the businesses in exchange for equity, because of SEC regulations on angel investing. Instead, the judges will give the presenters “critical feedback in a positive way,” and make a donation to Ascent, which will then help the entrepreneur connect with necessary resources. Though the two organizations have not worked together on an event before, Brown and Diane Ramsey, executive director of the IWLC, have been friends for years, and Brown was first inspired to launch Ascent at an IWLC event, when she heard of a 2012 report by American Express that ranked Iowa last or next-to-last on every measure for women in business. Ramsey said the IWLC hopes to collaborate on events like Invest in She to expand its…
Innovation Index: Invest in She finalists announced and more Creative Corridor startup news for August 29

Innovation Index: Invest in She finalists announced and more Creative Corridor startup news for August 29

Welcome to the Innovation Index! Each week, I’ll round up links and stories from around the web relating to startups, innovation and entrepreneurship in Iowa’s Creative Corridor and around the state. You can help! Email me news and notes.  Quotable: “Yet, while folks in the Midwest take pride in their individual integrity and humility, Silicon Valley has some lessons to learn here. From ride-sharing companies fighting dirty to unethical executive behavior, from a self-righteous 1 percent viewpoint to the further divide of the rich and poor, Silicon Valley’s meritocratic culture means those that win win big — and think they have a divine right to flaunt it.” Here’s what Silicon Valley can learn from good old Midwestern values on VentureBeat News and notes: Ascent Iowa, an organization that supports women business owners in the state, announced six finalists for the Invest in She pitch off coming to Cedar Rapids Sept. 18. The new event is being produced by Ascent and the Iowa Women’s Leadership Conference, and will feature cash prizes. Tickets available at iwlcleads.org. The finalists are: Nikki Hynek, Dollup by Nikki Hynek (Cedar Rapids) Molly Clubb and Jaymie Feldmann, Hired Hands Software (Cedar Falls) Dr. Stephanie Gray, Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic (Cedar Rapids) Jean Wenisch, John Holladay Graphics (Cedar Rapids) Laurie Moritz, Sweet Raw Joy (Cedar Rapids) Andrea Hansen, VenueFox (Des Moines) Rise of the Rest, the road trip celebrating entrepreneurship in all corners of America, will come to Iowa Oct. 8 as part of it’s second tour. The events are led by Steve Case, the former co-founder of AOL and current chairman and CEO of Revolution, who will personally invest in a new startup...