Building on the strength and success of last year's inaugural #InvestInWomenFounders Summit, The Startup Ladies have selected nine accomplished executives and exited founders to interview nine women-owned businesses ready to scale at the November 15 half day event at the Delta Faucet Company HQ in Indianapolis.
Instead of pitches, we pair each of the 9 Startup Ladies founders with a seasoned entrepreneur or senior executive from a major company. These proven entrepreneurs/executives will interview the entrepreneurs and ask questions that will allow founders to cover the content in their decks. Conversations are more personal, relaxed, and fun while simultaneously, covering topics covered in a traditional pitch.
It will be the interviewer's job to champion the founder, get to know who is in the room, and ask questions of the investors to ultimately help founders secure investment, be introduced to prospective investors, advisors, and clients.
Understanding obstacles creates NEW opportunities for women founders.
In 2022, U.S. startups with all-women teams received 1.9% out of around the $228 billion in venture capital allocated, according to the latest PitchBook data. That percentage is a notable drop from the 2.4% all-women teams raised in 2021. There is a reason why male founders win more than 98% of the investment dollars.
Pattern matching prevents investors from investing in women founders. When an investor is judging a founder at a traditional pitch competition, he is assessing her based on a pattern of what he perceives to be an ideal model of a founder. Investors have learned what the ideal pattern is from other male investors. Statistically, the perceived "successful model" is overwhelmingly white, cisgender, straight, and male in his 20s, 30s or early 40s.
Investors proliferate the "pattern matching" by investing in founders who fit the pattern of previous founders who successfully secured investment. The cycle repeats itself over, and over, and over. To begin to end a deeply entrenched practice that covertly discriminates against women, we launched our inaugural #InvestInWomenFounders Summit in 2022.
Change requires different leadership and nuanced thinking.
We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. Unlike most startup events and pitch competitions - this event is led by women and supported by male allies in an effort to eliminate gender disparity in the startup space. Each interviewer goes through extensive training alongside the woman business owner they have been matched with prior to the event. We want these relationships to flourish beyond the November 15 Summit.
All of the men involved (there are a lot o them) in the summit and in our community are staunch allies of women business owners. They want to change the landscape for women so that they can secure more capital so they can expand production and hire full time employees. Most importantly, many of them are modeling the behavior of investing significant money into women founders to other male investors. This encourages more men to get involved and invest in women founders. It's one of the reasons why people of every gender are welcome to participate in our events and become members.
100% of the executive interviewers selected understand the obstacles that diverse women founders face daily and are committed to supporting women business owners in ways they need. That includes: training alongside with them, amplifying their business, making meaningful introductions, and in some cases, investing directly in our women founders - no strings - just deals. Meet our 2023 dream team of executive interviewers:
Jantina Anderson is a Startup Ladies Board member and Urban Education Studies doctoral candidate at Indiana University, Indianapolis, IN campus and an emerging educational leadership scholar with research interests around belonging, and Black girls’ and women’s narratives and lived experiences in organizational and institutional spaces. By investigating and characterizing spaces where Black girls and women learn, work, and perform, she focuses on how various policies and cultural norms influence Black girls’ and women’s identity, agency, and success.
Her research is used to further conversations around institutional and organizational leadership, administration, and policies while centering social justice issues to support the academic, professional, and social success of Black girls and women.
Jantina’s work has been selected and well received at various national conferences such as American Education Research Association (AERA), University Council of Educational Administration (UCEA), Critical Race Studies in Education Association (CRSEA) and Bergamo Conference on Curriculum Theory and Classroom Practice. Additionally, her work has been published in the Journal of Cases and Educational Leadership and ENGAGE! Journal. While pursuing her doctoral degree, Jantina has also excelled in Human Resources (HR) for various Fortune 500 companies and is currently an HR Director.
As a leader in HR, she has implemented leadership and high potential development programs; designed and executed structural and cultural organizational change efforts; coached and counseled executive leaders; and recruited and retained key talent. She is a proud alumna of Clark Atlanta University and Michigan State University where she earned a Bachelor of Psychology, and a Master of Labor and Industrial Relations and Human Resources, respectively. Jantina resides in the Indianapolis, IN area with her husband and 2 daughters.
Jantina believes that "Funding women founders is so important because society needs to be exposed to and support the greatness and innovation offered by everyone. Women are the fastest growing entrepreneurial demographic in the nation. Our ability to collectively achieve and progress hinges on our acceptance of and engagement with ideas and efforts beyond those offered by individuals who are traditionally in positions of power."
Amy Brown is the founder and CEO of Authenticx. Amy built her career in the healthcare industry, during which time she advocated for underserved populations, led and mobilized teams to expand healthcare coverage to thousands of local residents, and learned the nuance of corporate operations. She founded Authenticx with the mission to bring the authentic voice of the patient into the boardroom and increase positive healthcare outcomes.
When talking about the future in a recent Forbes article Brown said, "The U.S. health system is the
most expensive and produces the worst health outcomes of any other country in the world. That's just unacceptable. One of the visions we have is to help remove the burden that the business of healthcare puts on the health care consumer, and to change how healthcare companies get insights to know how to effectively reduce that burden.
We believe that this data source is much more powerful than NPS surveys or online work. Secondly, we’re working very hard to create a culture of psychological safety and compassion to allow employees to be their authentic selves at work, which leads to a high performing team. Our vision is to disrupt an industry with the most compassionate human beings helping lead the way in that effort.”
Liz Conzo-Kershner has been working in or leading analytics teams for 18 years across manufacturing, sales & marketing, and software development functions – 16 years at John Deere and this past year joined Delta Faucet Company. Liz is the Sr. Director of Strategy, Insights & Analytics at Delta Faucet Company where she leads company strategy and data science capability development and drives evidence based decisioning across the business. While at John Deere, she led the market economics, market research, and advanced analytics teams developing market outlooks and insights for agricultural and forestry markets.
On the manufacturing side of the business, she led the development of predictive market models used across sales and operations planning processes to optimize inventory. While in precision agriculture, Liz established data science teams who now build algorithms directly used in consumer products. Prior to Deere, she was an Economist at the Bureau of Economic Analysis and attended Wright State and Kansas State Universities.
According to Liz, “Funding women founders is so important because of investment inequities that exist in our state and across the country. We need more women to startup scalable businesses because their ideas and perspectives will deliver better solutions for consumers and results in our economy. I witness the power of diversity on teams in the corporate world daily and believe this is amplified when we improve diversity of business leaders in our economy.”
After a successful 34-year career in the kitchen and bath industry, including more than 28 years at Delta Faucet Company, Jon Dartt retired/rewired in March of 2022 to travel, play more golf and start his next venture in local politics. Jon brings extensive knowledge of sales, marketing, finance and customer relationships to the city of Westfield, his board roles and consulting projects.
Some of the most rewarding experiences during his time with Delta were mentoring associates, building relationships with customers, and leading/developing a world class sales organization. These experiences provided opportunities to serve on many industry advisory committees, the board of HomeAid, Clear Software, The Startup Ladies, the Indiana Advisory Council for St. Jude’s Children's Research Hospital
among many other local organizations Jon earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay and is a graduate of the Masco Executive Leadership Development Program.
Jon was on the team that created and launched the #InvestInWomenFounders Summit in 2022. He had so much fun, he joined The Startup Ladies Board and decided to help us do it again!
Jon thinks that, “We need more women to startup scalable businesses because women entrepreneurs receive less than 4% of all small business loans. They also face challenges in accessing business training and counseling. Supporting scalable women owned businesses allows them to invest back into the business for training and other essential needs. The result is financial security, community involvement and local economic impact.”
Christi Garcia leads recruiting for E-gineering, Inc. With a passion for hospitality and developing authentic lifelong connections, Christi applies her experiences to serve others. She embraces Danny Meyer’s A.B.C.D. philosophy — “Always be collecting the dots so that you can always be connecting the dots.” In her 30-plus-year professional career, Christi has been a software tester, developer, product manager, salesperson, human resources manager, event planner, and recruiter. She earned an undergraduate degree from Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College and a J.D. from Indiana University McKinney School of Law. Her hobbies include cooking, traveling, reading, and exploring the outdoors.
Christi says that funding women founders is so important because "I want to be a part of a more just and equitable society. We need more women to startup scalable businesses because they will create a snowball effect to encourage and inspire women and girls to start their own businesses. I'm excited to be an interviewer at the Summit because I am serving to lift and highlight the ideas, products, and services developed by women.”
Jon Gilman has always been passionate about fixing broken processes, whether it's at home or at a fortune 500 company. He started his career as an SAP ABAP developer at Accenture, implementing SAP at some of the largest organizations in the world. He found myself constantly developing productivity tools for my customers both in SAP and Excel to help them accelerate business processes.
In 2012, he founded Clear Software after creating a configurable product that accomplished the same productivity goals as my custom software development. Today the Intelligent Process Automation (IPA) platform enables organizations to streamline core business processes across software such as SAP, OracleEBS, Salesforce, and many other cloud and premise applications.
Jon sold his company to Microsoft and now serves as their Director, Power Platform Enterprise Solutions.
When we asked Jon to serve as an interviewer for the second year in a row he said, “Funding women founders is so important because we need to level the playing field for entrepreneurs.”
Joanna Milliken is a dynamic technology leader and customer success champion who has delivered results for some of the biggest brands in the world. In her career, she has built sales, services, and product teams from scratch and rapidly scaled them to meet demand. She is a pioneer in Martech as “Employee #1” at ExactTarget/Salesforce, SVP & GM of Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and currently CEO at SAP Emarsys.
Joanna believes that, “ We need more women to startup scalable businesses because it helps reduce gender inequality, creates jobs, and will have a meaningful economic impact.”
Brian is an engineer, attorney, and the founder of PactSafe, the company that pioneered the Clickwrap Agreement (all of those boxes you check online when you install an app or sign up for something). PactSafe was acquired by Ironclad in 2021. Brian currently gardens, drives his 2 daughters to and from swim practice, and builds legos.
When we asked Brian why he wanted to be involved this year, he said, “I'm excited to be an interviewer at the Summit because this is a badass organization. Funding women founders is so important because it's ridiculous that we don't help foster more women founders. We need more women to startup scalable businesses because our daughters need to see more women start amazing businesses that scale to success.”
Eric is a Startup Ladies Board member, former founder, and an accomplished product and go-to-market leader currently serving as the Chief Product Officer at Authenticx. Prior to Authenticx, he was the co-founder and Chief Product Officer of PactSafe who was acquired by Ironclad in March 2021. His successes include developing and building our product strategy, go-to-market strategy, pricing, revenue growth, positioning, and messaging. Prior to founding PactSafe, Eric got his start in software by spending 7 years at ExactTarget in various Solutions Consulting and product leadership roles helping to build the company prior to and beyond the $2.7B acquisition by Salesforce. His experience has also taken him across the country and overseas where he spent 2 years building ExactTarget’s APAC business in Sydney alongside local leadership. He loves music, movies, TV, and all things tech and lives in Indianapolis with his wife, 3 kids, and their dog Hershel.
Eric is a Startup Ladies Board member and believes that funding women founders is so important because, “women trying to get important ideas off the ground have not been given the time, attention, and resources they deserve. We need more women to startup scalable businesses because it will ignite the development of networks of women founders, investors, and further development of new businesses that continue to level the playing field.”
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