When it comes to the startup world, it’s no secret that women are outnumbered by their male counterparts. But it’s not for lack of talent or ability, as evidenced by our 48Hour Launch: Female Founder Edition.
After hours of nonstop planning, strategizing and modeling, nine female founders each presented a startup or startup concept that has potential to become a full-fledged, successful business. Read on for a recap of each pitch.
- Blerd Nation, Suen Enerle: Suen wanted to find a way to connect blerds, or “black nerds,” across the globe. Blerd Nation is a platform that showcases talented black people, creating a community that allows them to interact while contributing to the nonprofit community. Through questions asked on the site, blerds will create profiles in order to find people with similar interests or accomplishments.
- EMCI, Mary Grace Stocker: A design student at Covenant College, Mary Grace originally hails from Dallas, TX. Her love for Chattanooga inspired EMCI, a location-based app that “shows you how to live like a local, anywhere.” The app connects to Facebook and other social media sites, automatically creating a profile for each user. EMCI uses that data to make personalized suggestions for nearby shopping, restaurants and events.
- Friendly Sitter, Cara Hicks and Michelle Johnson: Friendly Sitter is a “mommy-vetted” emergency care service supported by employers and endorsed by social networks. Before receiving approval from Friendly Sitter, each sitter will undergo a five-step process, including background checks and a training course. After hiring a sitter, families will have the option to write online reviews. Cara and Michelle hope to create a sellable Friendly Sitter model that can be utilized across the country.
- Gift House, Emily Skaar: Gift House is a “fun, easy and accurate” suggestion service to find the perfect gift for friends and family. Users create an online profile for the gift recipient using 10 pre-set personality characteristics. Emily said the app will reduce shopping time while supporting small business.
- Mama’s Got Mail, Shannon Rinckey (Winner): A family counselor and a mom of four, Shannon Rinckey is familiar with the plight of busy parents. “Moms take care of everything. I want to take care of moms,” she explained. Shannon’s service provides gift boxes for moms that are sent to their doorstep on a monthly basis. The gifts will vary from month to month, ranging from novels to skin care to handwritten letters. Shannon said each item will provide relief from the everyday stresses of motherhood.
- My God Time, Ann Prom: When Ann’s father was very ill, she used a beeping watch as a daily reminder to pray. Ann, who traveled from Minnesota for the startup weekend, is transforming that concept into an app. My God Time uses an alarm as a reminder to stop and pray. It includes options for users who wish to keep track of prayers, take notes and send messages via email or text. The app also features a “verse of the day.” Ann plans to partner with Christian organizations and churches as she builds out the app.
- The Red Lipstick Experiment, AJ Willis: AJ and her team are building a line of healthy, handmade red lipsticks made only of natural and organic ingredients. Why? “What goes on your body goes in your body,” AJ explained. On Demo Night, the team showed off its first product: Moroccan red. As she develops the business online, AJ plans to create a unique, interactive website that allows customers to digitally test each color option.
- Society of Work, Kelly Fitzgerald: As an architect, Kelly said collaboration is crucial to the success of her projects. She believes that the best outcomes are achieved “when multiple disciplines are involved,” and she wants to increase that kind of interaction in Chattanooga through Society of Work. The startup concept enables professionals to work out of shared spaces, with financial responsibilities (utilities, rent and basic amenities) distributed evenly among the occupants.
- Whiskey Women, Ashley Danford and Rachel McCrickard (Winner): Whiskey Women aims to educate women about all things whiskey and increase female representation in the whiskey market. Traditionally, whiskey companies have focused on men as their target market category. Whiskey Women wants to change that by building an online platform and creating events that are directed specifically toward women. The startup also will perform extensive market analysis, which can be sold to distilleries that are looking to increase their market share.
Pitches were judged by a panel of local business professionals and entrepreneurs: Caleb Ludwick (26Tools); Pamela Durbin Beaty (Philanthropy Concierge); Kim McCormick (Chattanooga State); Andrew Scarbrough (Delegator); and Stefanie Crowe, (CapitalMark).
The evening ended with exciting news for local female entrepreneurs: Kristina Montague of UTC College of Business announced The Jump Fund, a new female-focused funding concept. The Chattanooga-based initiative will be led by several of the city’s prominent female professionals, whose goal is to encourage the continued success of women entrepreneurs across the region.
CO.LAB is grateful for the knowledge and expertise that was offered by local mentors, including representatives from 26Tools, Chambliss Startup Group, Derryberry Public Relations, Full Media, Morris Group, Sandler Training and Sprout.
48Hour Launch couldn’t have happened without the gracious support of our sponsors: Blue Cross Blue Shield, CapitalMark, Chambliss Bahner & Stophel, Claris Networks, Decosimo Public Accountants, Henderson Hutcherson & McCullough, Miller & Martin, Launch Tennessee, Lyndhurst Foundation, Sandler Training and The Jump Fund.