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Meet 9 women founders scaling their startups in Indiana

You very well may know that the current system of funding women founders isn’t working. Traditional pitch competitions do NOT work for women founders. In 2021, out of the $330 billion invested into US startups, women founders captured a whopping 2%. That’s the lowest percentage since 2016 according to Pitchbook. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

Transformational change requires different leadership and nuanced thinking.

Unlike most startup events and pitch competitions - this event is being led by women and supported by our male allies in an effort to eliminate gender disparity in the startup space.

We’re ditching the pitch!

At our #InvestInWomenFounders Summit, instead of pitches, we will pair each founder with a seasoned entrepreneur or senior executive from a major company. These proven entrepreneurs/execs will interview the founder (think Oprah style interview). Interviewers will ask questions allowing founders to cover the content in their decks. These conversations will be more personal, relaxed, and hopefully fun!

It will be the interviewer's job to champion the founder before, during, and after the event. Interviewers will spark conversation with the audience and ask attendees how they can help founders: secure investment, and connect to prospective investors, and clients.

Meet the nine smart, experienced, creative women who are building scalable startups in Indiana.

---> Purchase tickets HERE.

Jessica Bussert, Founder & CEO, Wave Therapeutics

Jessica Bussert is a lifelong technologist who taught herself electronics and computer programming as a child. She was published as a software author at 15, started her own consulting firm at 20, and eventually went to work for a Fortune 100 tech company, leading their business consulting efforts in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Later in life Jessica became a registered nurse after discovering a love for emergency medicine while volunteering with the local fire department. While working in a small town ER she was moved by the plight of a disabled veteran suffering from the worst bed sores she had ever seen. His story inspired her to design a new, affordable, smart cushioning product to prevent these horrible wounds. Wave Therapeutics is the direct result of those efforts.

Wave Therapeutics has developed the first affordable and effective smart cushioning technology to prevent and treat bedsores, save lives, and reduce a significant healthcare burden for families and facilities alike.

Cindy Dunston Quirk, Founder & Chief Dog Lover, Scout & Zoe’s

Dogs have always been a part of Cindy Dunston Quirk's life. Cindy was successful in sales and marketing after completing her Marketing degree at Georgia State University. It was gratifying, but her creative side was itching to get out and run. Cindy turned heavily to writing as a professional wordsmith and editor, forming her creative firm in Anderson, Indiana. In 2009, she made another pivot that combined her business, marketing, and creative skills. She was inspired by her German Shepherd’s allergies and founded her pet treat company, Scout & Zoe’s. Her products, naturally shed elk antler chews and treats, are available in over 10,000 pet stores across the globe. It’s a dog’s life, and Cindy wouldn’t have it any other way.

Scout & Zoe's creates the yummiest treats in the Universe for the world's most deserving pets.

Ansley Fender, Founder & CEO, Atlas Solutions

Ansley fell in love with entrepreneurship in middle school when she started her first business walking dogs during the summer. Since then, she founded Fender Financial Services, a one-woman financial consulting business working mostly with nonprofits. This is where she came in contact with grant management and realized how time-consuming, manual, and expensive it can be. She leveraged her knowledge of finance and grant management to build Atlas. When she's not geeking out about grants, Ansley is mom to little girls and wife to the woman who makes the long workdays possible.

Atlas Solutions is an industry-agnostic grant management platform that enables grant funders and recipients to manage their funding in a single, collaborative platform to recapture the $330B/yr wasted on manual grant management tasks.

Vanessa Gorham, Owner, 360 Cleaning Services

Vanessa is a visionary and innovative creator and servant leader. She is a business professional serving more than ten years in the cleaning industry. Now, she is building technology that will accompany the business and make it easier than ever for her clients to schedule services on demand. Earlier this year, she won Pitchfeast scoring a $25,000 investment from the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), as well as an additional $5,000 investment from CICF as the “fan favorite”. She is very passionate about empowering others to create change.

360 Cleaning Services cleans everything inside and outside!

LaToya Johnson, CEO & Founder, Victor

LaToya is a "doer" who possesses a rare combination of vision and practicality. She is a system builder who believes that "systems" should be founded and developed based on human beings and human values so that the resulting contribution to the community is profound and impactful. Her experience as an Occupational Health and Safety Risk Manager has provided her with the skills necessary for hard logic concepts, research, and information technology. Her foresight for obtaining her Masters in Public Health, with a concentration in Health Policy and Management, was to understand the conditions of diverse communities to further drive her compassion for others while also being able to develop policies, plans and procedures that create positive and sustainable impact. Her company, AwayZones Inc. dba Victor, The App is an extension of that. The vision of the company is to reduce inequalities and create a system for economic growth among underserved and under-represented communities.

The Victor App is a discovery platform that helps authentic, minority-owned businesses get in front of the people who are looking for them.

Mary Beth Kohart, Founder, MBK Designs

As a commercial real estate broker and entrepreneur at heart, Mary Beth has always focused on developing relationships, creating solutions, pursuing excellence and doing so in style. After becoming diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, Mary Beth quickly realized there were few quality and fashionable clothing options that supported the medical needs of people who wear an insulin pump. So, she set about adapting her clothing to support her needs, specifically in the area of sleepwear.

After 28 years as a commercial real estate professional, Mary Beth was ready to expand her horizons and focus on bringing the solutions she developed for herself as a Type 1 diabetic to others by launching MBK.

MBK offers a line of medically supportive clothing for people with diabetes who wear insulin pumps and glucose monitors by increasing comfort and accessibility to medical devices through the garment design. MBK is dedicated to creating fashion forward clothing that aids and inspires people with diabetes.

Alicia McKoy, Founder & CEO, PeakMind

As a corporate interior designer for over 20 years, Alicia Mckoy, a Black-owned entrepreneur, began to realize that no aesthetic was going to help employees cope with hard times. So, she embraced her entrepreneurial spirit and launched Peak Mind, an interactive tool that guides employees to take action to implement self-care and improve mental well-being from the convenience of their desk. Annual costs of work-related stress the average company $300 billion. Thanks to Peak Mind, now companies are reducing those costs by focusing on their employees' individual well-being.

Peak Mind is an artificial emotional intelligence (AEI) SaaS software with a hardware component that helps users identify their stress triggers so that companies can recognize the best solutions from a pool of options that will empower their employees to thrive!

Jean Ross, Co-Founder, Primary Record

Purposefully choosing the nursing profession at 29, Jean spent six years in critical care before launching a community-based business focused on care coordination for aging adults and their family caregivers in 2015. This experience led her to see the harm and stress disconnected health information was causing families. She co-founded Primary Record in July 2020 with her neighbor and technologist, Jim McIntosh, to address the growing need families have to organize, discuss, and share health information with the teams of people who support and help them.

She serves on advisory councils for a local hospital, her state nurses association, and the Hamilton County Guardianship Program. She volunteers as a Circle Leader of a caregiver support group called Daughterhood and Dementia Champion with Dementia Friends Indiana, making 500 Dementia Friends in her community. Jean is the mother of three sons, Jonas, Ian, and Otis, two rescues, Blossom & Kevin, and the wife of Dr. Christian Ross, who also serves as the physician advisor to Primary Record.

Primary Record is a safe and secure way for families caring for someone with complex health needs to collect, organize, discuss, and share health information.

Lindsay Wainscott, Founder & Owner, Nails by Neat

Lindsay combines a BS in graphic design, 15 + years in the beauty industry and a passion for entrepreneurship to be the founder of Nails By Neat. Lindsay is well-known for her intricate gel nail art, her go-getter attitude for life and business, and her sense of humor. After building experience and lots of natural market research she decided to take the plunge and founded Nails By Neat 4 years ago. Since then, Lindsay has navigated owning both a private studio and a separate mobile services entity while maintaining a team and strong customer relationships. She is now strategically expanding Neat into a flagship location, downtown Indianapolis.

“My goal has always been to modernize the industry I know and love by inserting the elements that are, by standard, missing from something millions of people regularly incorporate into their lives.”

Nails by Neat is a destination for customer focused, modern nail services.

Meet all nine of these founders at our inaugural #InvestinWomenFounders Summit on Wednesday, November 30 at Delta Faucet Company from noon-6pm.

Who will be there?

Founders of course! While there will be a few professional investors in attendance, there will be more individuals with financial capacity wanting to learn how to invest in women founders and connect with those who are investor-ready. Several of our corporate members who provide services to founders and investors will be there and ready to support our growing companies!

This is a female-friendly event. We are so excited to include men, however you won’t find any of the bravado or machismo that many have experienced at other investor events. Instead, you will meet people of every gender who are interested in meeting women founders and learning how to invest in women building scalable startups. Founders and funders of every gender are always welcome to participate in our events and become members of The Startup Ladies!

---> Purchase tickets HERE.


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