By Emily Rachelle Russell | Echo
On Nov. 7, in the Indiana Conference Center in Indianapolis, finalists of The Startup Ladies and the Indiana Conference for Women's annual pitch competition for female aspiring entrepreneurs will present to attendees and network with existing businesses at the 2017 Indiana Conference for Women.
According to their website, this is their sixth year hosting this conference. After the first three years, they decided they wanted someone in the area to take over the pitch competition. According to CEO and founder of The Startup Ladies, Kristen Cooper, Billy Dragoo, the co-founder and CEO of the Indiana Conference for Women, was Cooper's mentor for several years. Cooper said the partnership between her and Dragoo for the pitch competition came naturally.
The pitch competition and the conference both aim to support women in their unique entrepreneurial struggles. Cooper pointed out that funding, time, business inexperience and the lack of a support system can all hinder female entrepreneurs.
"The pitch competition helps the finalists become more clear about their business model," Cooper said. "It helps them to become better storytellers about their business. It exposes them to potential funders. It elevates their companies through different media platforms. And the ultimate goal is that you can shine a light on these entrepreneurs so that they can go and make meaningful connections to future clients and investors."
This year's finalists are Christine McDonnell, Marie Maher, Stephanie Corliss and Caitlin Coffman. McDonnell's startup, "Codelicious," intends to build confidence in students through the use of technology. Maher's "Synapse Sitters LLC" allows parents of children with autism or Down syndrome to find caregivers qualified to meet their children's unique needs. "SnapShyft," Corliss' mobile platform, gives food service venues access to on-demand service industry professionals. Coffman's app, "tend.ly," gives care providers of elderly individuals a way to communicate with patients' family members.
Startups that came out of previous pitch competitions include Pam Cooper's Boosterville, a platform to connect businesses and nonprofits with cause-driven buyers; Aimee Kandrac's What Friends Do, a company that helps individuals support their loved ones during difficult life experiences; and Kate Nolan and Danielle Wolter Nolan's DNK Presents, an adventure retreat organizer for groups and businesses.
"Shock, amazed, scared, were the words I was thinking when I first received the email that DNK Presents was accepted into the Pitch Competition," Danielle Wolter Nolan wrote in a blog post published to the Indiana Conference for Women's website on Aug. 30, 2016. "(Kate Nolan and I) could not have asked for a better experience from receiving the initial, 'you were accepted' email, to the end of the conference. We are forever grateful to the courageous women who initiated this conference, and the amazing efforts of others to bring in influential women and businesses to this conference."