SheStarts

Get your motivation on for this week’s events

It’s a new week, new energy! Network, get inspired and advance your venture vision.


Today, Nov. 7: Tech Tackles Cancer, hosted by hack/reduce, at Lansdowne Pub9 Lansdowne St., Boston. 6-11:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Register HERE.  Join hack/reduce, one of Boston’s biggest tech associations, for a good-time fundraiser aimed at eliminating pediatric cancer. No matter if you donate or just go out and support the cause, you’ll have a ton of fun with your fellow tech community builders.

Tuesday, Nov. 8: Recruiting Challenges for Startups, hosted by Nancy Drees at WeWork South Station, 795 Atlantic Ave., 8th floor, Boston. 6-8 p.m. FREE. Register HERE. So you have your startup vision in place, and you’re in the early planning stages. A priority needs to be the team you assemble to make that vision happen. The Vacaré Group is hosting a seminar with tips on how to build that startup team successfully.

Wednesday, Nov. 9: SheDemos 2016, hosted by She Starts and the Babson WIN Lab, at C Space, 290 Congress St., Boston. 5:30-8:30 p.m. FREE. Register HERE. If you’re an aspiring female entrepreneur, don’t miss the SheStarts/WIN Lab annual showcase of their dozen startup finalists. Not only will you get inspired by these rockstar women and the businesses they’re creating, you’ll get to make connections helpful to furthering your own startup vision.

Thursday, Nov. 10: 6 Months On: Equity Crowdfunding Rules and You, hosted by the Capital Network at the Cambridge Innovation Center’s Venture Cafe, 1 Broadway, Cambridge, 5:30-6:30 p.m. FREE. Register HERE. Startup funding can be a complex and confusing field. Head to the Venture Cafe for an educational conversation with experts on the ins-and-outs of crowdfunding and investing and how to successfully navigate them.

Friday, Nov. 11: Babson Entrepreneurship Forum: Take Action, hosted by F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College, 231 Forest St., Wellesley. Tickets $30. Register HERE. Entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs: Join Babson students, faculty, and the Boston business community for a day-long conference and networking bash. You’ll get access to valuable entrepreneurial trends and leadership tools, along with pitch advice from the “Live to Pitch” component.

Saturday, Nov. 12: BU BUzz Lab Startup Bootcamp Fall 16, hosted by the Boston University BUzz Lab at Boston University Questrom School of Business (Room 208), 595 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tickets $10. Register HERE. If you’re looking to get your venture off the ground, or are already there and just want some tips on improving the process, join the BUzz Lab’s boot camp. Your startup will benefit from BU professors’ expertise on key topics like market validation, financing, legal navigation and team building.

Sunday, Nov. 13: Power Hour Brunch Bites Sunday, hosted by Cove at 293 Third St., Cambridge. 10 a.m.-noon. FREE. Register HERE. Cap off your weekend with yummy brunch treats and networking with your fellow Boston community space workers. Local eatery bites, coffee, and socializing galore.

WeBOS shines the spotlight on female founder growth

By SHELAGH BRALEY

BOSTON—When women help other women, you get success on par with this week’s second annual WeBOS Week.

Women exemplifying Boston’s entrepreneurial spirit turned out to develop their skills and connect with seasoned experts at programming held all over the city. WeBOS (Women Entrepreneurs Boston) is a city-run program led by Kara Miller that provides training and networking in support of economic growth from the nearly 20,000 women-run businesses that have proliferated here.

High-profile speaker events, skill-building workshops, round-table discussions and networking opportunities all materialized, at the direction of the women who have been behind the scenes, driving the growth and recognition of this ecosystem.

Bobbie Carlton, PR expert and founder of Innovation Women, says based on positive reception from the inaugural WeBOS Week, “shining a spotlight on the great women-led companies and initiatives in Boston,” she couldn’t wait to get involved again.

“We’re very much focused on driving visibility—women are doing great things, running great companies—sometimes we just don’t see it,” Carlton says. “We want women to recognize that their visibility brings even more opportunity—customers, partners and investments.”

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Women make up more than half of Boston’s residents, yet only $1 of every $23 in conventional bank loans and less than 3 percent of venture capital funding is distributed to women-owned businesses, according to city reports. That’s a cold reality for the female founders pumping more than $7.6 billion into the local economy. These businesses also provide more than $208 million in tax revenue, according to city of Boston data.

By partnering with such groups as Boston Business Women, Innovation Women, SheStarts, Women In MassChallenge, BREAD, the Babson WIN Lab and more, Mayor Walsh’s office supports growth in funding, scaling and networking, the three priorities identified for the weeklong program.

“It’s really important to get involved in programming that supports women entrepreneurs because if one succeeds, then we all succeed,” says Meaghan Corson, founder of Flash22 Productions. “Most women tend to shy away from sharing their success. I know I’m still learning to get better about sharing the value I have to offer people. We need to encourage women to brag a little more because we do have a lot to offer and if we don’t share it, then no one will know about it.”

After attending Wednesday’s event hosted at ImpactHub Boston, she says having this supportive community focused on women in business will make it that much easier for everyone to own their successes and be proud to share what they’re working on.

“I made some great connections that I believe will develop into relationships where we refer business to each other,” says Corson. “I loved sharing what I’ve learned thus far and hearing other women’s experiences speaking. It’s great to know that people are on the same journey as you and still trying to grow themselves. The biggest thing for me was getting confirmation that I’m heading in the right direction.”

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The “Own It” panel, moderated by Innovation Women’s Carlton, revealed the intricacies of speaking as a means for amplifying expertise and accelerating growth. Experts Ann Brainard, founder of MOJO cold-brewed coffee; Jenny Mirken, founder of Jet.me, an ad-free, secure chat platform for children younger than 13; and Samantha Stone, author of Unleash Possible: A Marketing Playbook That Drives Sales, walked the audience through their most practical tips and shared their own moments of uncertainty as they’ve scaled their businesses.

“We focused more on leveraging and capitalizing on speaking engagements,” Carlton says. “Women get such a small share of the funding pie because they are just not visible. We get on stage and we have instant credibility and expert status.”

“We had such good response from the attendees,” Carlton says. “The “Get It” and “Work It” panels did more to cater to those just getting started. So many felt they got good starting-out pointers. Many wanted to know what topics to talk about and there was a good discussion about brainstorming on those topics and finding what you are passionate about.”

The “Get It” panel included moderator and Innovation Women co-founder Betsy Dupre;   Maura Kolkmeyer, founder of Sitterly; Angela Lussier, from Speaking School for Women; and Linda Plano, coach and principal with Plano & Simple.

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The “Work It” panel included moderator  Colleen Bradley-MacArthur from Carlton PR & MarketingAmanda Hennessey from Boston Public Speaking; Catherine Storing, founder of Styling Faith; and Rita B. Allen, author of Personal Branding and Marketing Yourself as well as president of national career management firm Rita B. Allen Associates.

Corson says she found a diverse group of women from all backgrounds and experience levels in attendance—all with the singular goal of growing their businesses. “Boston is full of motivated people and gives a great environment for entrepreneurship,” she says. “We are all coming from a place of support and giving to each other.”

That sense of giving creates a bridge across age, culture—even language barriers—to unite female founders in tech, nonprofit, service-providing and consumer sectors, all in the name of parity, to take positions of leadership across the city.

“We want a larger group of women to … think about how they can contribute to events and conferences from the front of the room,” Carlton says. “No more all-male, all-pale panels.”

Where should you go to learn this week?

Lots happening, plus it’s WeBOS Week! Don’t miss an opportunity to get to know the nearly 20,000 women-owned businesses in Boston. Check out this week’s can’t-miss events in the area.


Today, Oct. 17: Boston Startup Job Fair at Microsoft NERD Center, Noon – 5 p.m., 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge. FREE. Register HERE.

Today, Oct. 17: Atlantic LEADERPRENEUR(sm) Panel Series, at the Newton Marriott, Salons AB, Grand Ballroom (left of lobby), 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton. $50. Register HERE.

Tuesday, Oct. 18: October Cafe Night @ RIC, Roxbury Innovation Center, 2300 Washington St., Boston. 5-9 p.m. FREERegister HERE.

Wednesday, Oct. 19: Women Innovators Night @ WeBOS Week, Impact Hub Boston, 50 Milk St., Boston. FREE. Register HERE.

Wednesday, Oct. 19: 2016 Massachusetts Community Voting and Third Presidential Debate Party, hosted by Voatz, 7:30-11 p..m., 120 Kingston St., 5th Floor Lounge, Boston. FREE. Register HERE.

Thursday, Oct. 20: Funding Options for Your Business, hosted by SheStarts, 6-8 p.m., Locke Lord, 111 Huntington Ave., Boston. FREE. Register HERE.

Thursday, Oct. 20: Managing Stress in Your Work Life, 6-8 p.m., at District Hall, 75 Northern Ave., Boston. Millennial executive coach and speaker Nell Daly, sponsored by Motus. FREE. Register HERE.

Friday, Oct. 21: Boston Renewable Energy Forum, 7:30-10 p.m., hosted by Patagonia’s Enviro-team, 346 Newbury St., Boston. Share proactive ways in which everyone can access local clean energy solutions in Massachusetts. FREE. Register HERE.


If you are hosting an event in Greater Boston and you think FoundersWire readers would be a positive addition to your audience, please let us know right HERE.

This week’s events for founders and fun

Check out this week’s can’t-miss events in the area. 

Monday, July 25: Business Sustainability Bootcamp, hosted by SkyLab Boston, 6-9 p.m., Bruce C. Bolling Municipal Building, 6th floor, 2300 Washington St., Roxbury. FREE. Register here.

Tuesday, July 26: Finance & Accounting for Startups Post-Investment, hosted by The Capital Network at MassChallenge, 21 Drydock Ave., Boston. 11:45 a.m.-2 p.m. Register here.

Wednesday, July 27: Annual Summer Reception, 5:30-7:30 p.m., members $75, non-members $150, hosted by the Boston Chamber of Commerce in the tent behind the New England Aquarium. Register here.

Green Card & Career Advice Q&A Session for Ph.Ds, 6-8 p.m., hosted by Casseus Law and Propel Careers at the Cambridge Innovation Center, 1 Broadway, 5th floor, Cambridge, $15. Register here.

Startup Showcase, 6-9 p.m., hosted by MassChallenge at the Innovation & Design Building, 21-25 Drydock Ave., Boston. FREE. Register here.

Thursday, July 28: SheStarts Networking Breakfast, 8:30-10 a.m., at WeWork Fort Point, 51 Melcher St., Boston. FREE. Register here.

Regatta for Entrepreneurship, noon-6 p.m., sponsored by The CFO Center, Gesmer Updegrove, FoundersWire, Telamon Insurance and Bowen Advisors, to benefit the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. At the Boston Sailing Center, 54 Lewis Wharf, Boston. Network and race for the NFTE Cup. Learn more here.

Hiring in Tech: What companies are really looking for, 6-8 p.m., hosted by ChickTech Boston at WorkBar Cambridge, 45 Prospect St., Cambridge. $10. Free business head shots first come, first served. Register here.

Friday, July 29: The White Party, 6-10 p.m., hosted by Boston Business Women on the patio at Society on High, 99 High St., Boston. $50. Each ticket purchase includes a plus one. Men welcome. Register here.


Do you have an event you want to promote? Let us know here. We choose the best events for our readers and publish every Monday

Meet the first Female founders of the week: SheStarts

Female Founder of the Week (FFoW) is a weekly celebration of the women who are building business in Boston. With this feature, FoundersWire acknowledges the challenges that are unique to women, hails the successes they achieve, and encourages those coming next, so they may learn from these exceptional, undeterred women founders.

SheStarts co-founders, above from left, Nancy Cremins and Liz O’Donnell, have been chosen for the inaugural feature, because not only are they female founders in their own right, they’ve dedicated their resources to being two of the most inspired and powerful advocates this community of female founders could have.


By SHELAGH BRALEY

BOSTON—Meeting the right person at the right time can turn a ripple into a tsunami. Using that logic, SheStarts co-founders Liz O’Donnell and Nancy Cremins are about to turn the tide for women building business in Boston.

“We met over Twitter,” said Cremins in an interview over lunch with FoundersWire. “We were both at an event, and I was live tweeting, and she messaged me, ‘hey, are you here?’ And then we finally met.”

When they did, it was obvious they had big work to accomplish together: the first initiative being SheStarts, a group that “supports the growing pipeline of women founders in Boston,” since its first event in 2014.

It’s definitely an undertaking that has a strong market mandate, with more than 130 people showing what Cremins called “some level of support” on their recently successful Kickstarter campaign, raising more than $15,000 to reach their goal.

What is their goal, exactly?

“We’re here to bust gender bias,” said Cremins simply.

“I think of busting gender bias as the top of a pyramid. And then we say, OK, how do we get there,” continued O’Donnell. She listed events, programming and education, and access to capital as the third piece.

“Then, it’s ‘How can we help sustain and grow? That’s the big issue. We look at the social programming that’s gone on, and we think, until you change the frame of reference, it (bias) doesn’t change,” she said.

The pain they’re addressing has been part of the unspoken startup life for women for more than a decade, with the rise in female founders and women-run startups hitting an all-time high. More than 200 startups with women at the helm have been cataloged in Boston, with countless more building in anonymity. But the fact is that few actually get funded. A 2014 Babson study concluded that fewer than 3 percent of venture-supported companies had a female founder. This same study, however, showed that businesses with women on the executive team were more likely to have higher valuations.

“The idea that it’s a meritocracy, it’s complete and total nonsense,” Cremins said.

“ ‘I’m willing to fund women, but I just don’t find any,’ ” O’Donnell intoned, pretending to be a male investor. “Call it swagger, but there’s a double bind. (As a woman), come in tooting your own horn, and you get knocked down.”

Being different and looking different from the groups you’re pitching, Cremins pointed out: “The very process creates a sense of anxiety,” she said. “The rules of the game weren’t written for you, so you have to navigate a very narrow path.”

“But it relates to: How do we step up to this without alienating men? You invite them in,” O’Donnell said.

The two are perfectly in sync, able to finish each other’s sentences, anecdotes and manifestos. They also share a spectrum of life experience and professional expertise: Cremins is a litigator with tech-focused law firm Gesmer Updegrove, who applies her prowess to solving employment issues and intellectual property disputes, and especially to supporting women-run startups. She is also a longtime board member of the Women’s Bar Association. O’Donnell is an author with a long list of published works, best known for “Mogul, Mom & Maid: The Balancing Act of the Modern Woman.” She’s simultaneously developing a social movement addressing the phenomenon of being a “Working Daughter,” balancing life amid the work and challenges of caring for an elderly or failing parent.

“I realized you have to take the lead,” O’Donnell said. “You can’t just talk about why there are no women leaders. You have to stand up. You can’t just write about it and preach about it, when you’re not doing anything about it.”

She gave an example of the female founder’s gambit, illustrating the stereotypical roles women play, and how they create unique challenges for entrepreneurs: “You’re a good daughter, good student, good worker. You take all the notes, clean up the parties, work through all the details. You’re a good wife, a good mother.

“Then you shift to being a founder, and it’s hard to break that mold,” she said.

In Boston, Cremins said, being a female entrepreneur should be an advantage by now.

“Why fit in when you were meant to stand out?”


Shelagh Braley is the editor of FoundersWire. Follow her @FoundersWire on Twitter. FoundersWire is actively seeking submissions for Female Founders of the Week to profile. Please share with any you know, and send inquiries to founderswire@gmail.com

Above board: SheStarts experts on choosing advisors

By SHELAGH BRALEY

BOSTON—As a founder, where do you turn when you need advice? If you’re truly innovating, there isn’t a single source—often you have to collect expertise from multiple sources to patch together a plan. If you’re lucky, those handpicked experts can become your advisory board, according to the SheStarts panelists who shared their thoughts Monday night.

Christopher Mirabile of Launchpad Venture Group, entrepreneurs Joyce Lonergan (CEO and co-founder of Mellitus LLC) and Helen Adeosun (CEO and founder of Care Academy) joined serial entrepreneur/moderator Tina Weber at WeWork South Station to share advice on choosing an advisory board. Here are the 5Ws you should know, plus a little extra:

SheStarts co-founder Nancy Cremins introduces the panelists at Building and Using an Advisory Board.

SheStarts co-founder Nancy Cremins introduces the panelists at Building and Using an Advisory Board.

WHO should be an advisor:

“Your advisory board is a group you’ve collected who are focused on helping you,” said Mirabile. “It’s people you can rely on … an industry expert, someone who might be in your slide deck. That’s on the more formal name-dropping spectrum.”

“They’re supposed to make your load lighter. You don’t want to bring on anyone that will make more work for you,” Lonergan said.

WHAT is the best way to work with an advisor:

“You say, ‘Here’s what I’m thinking, does that work for you?’ Then put them to work, give them homework, let them know that’s what you expect. Calling them up, saying ‘What do I do?’ is not the way to go, to give them confidence in you as a leader. Be explicit about whether they’re OK with you using their name, and make sure they know your story,” Mirabile said.

“There has to be enough connection, you don’t want to be forgotten. Each call has to be a transaction. And then ask yourself, ‘Did I get what I needed?’ It’s up to me to bring them along, their time is valuable,” Lonergan said.

“It happens organically. We like each other and how each other thinks,” said Weber. “Just don’t question yourself too much. Lay it out there, lay out your ideas.”

“Call them, but not to the point where it keeps you from moving your company forward. If I ask a question and they come back asking, ‘How did that go,” I latch on. It doesn’t have to feel so boisterous and sales-y. See who is really into it,” Adeosun said.

WHEN should you choose an advisor:

“If you need advice, you’re ready,” said Mirabile. “Do it as soon as you can use one.”

“If you need advice, you’re ready,” said Mirabile. “Do it as soon as you can use one.”

“You listen better if you create something first, and you get better feedback,” said Adeosun. “(One of my advisors) picked apart my crap like I don’t know what, but it was great. She’s now a valuable member of my advisory.”

WHERE can you find qualified advisors:

“I ask myself all the time, ‘Who do I know who does that? Sometimes it comes from LinkedIn, who does my group know? Through partnering and outside vendors, I’m always trying to find a thread of commonality,” said Lonergan.

“A lot of times I’m already working with someone, and they say, ‘Do you mind if I list you (on my slide deck).’ It starts out with networking, asking for advice, and good chemistry. (The entrepreneur says:) I’m picking your brain, you give me good answers, and then say, would you like to take this to the next level,” Mirabile said.

WHY choose to work with an advisory board:

“We are showing our customers, these are the people advising us every day, we’re being pushed forward,” said Adeosun. “And it keeps you accountable, right? You don’t want to mess up those relationships, so you work even harder.”

HOW should you work out compensation:

“As an entrepreneur, I never have enough money or time. I try to do everything as low cost as possible. But I’ve learned not to skimp when I need smarts,” Lonergan said. “If you can get the magic of your idea across, sometimes you can get them to help beyond a paycheck.”

“If you can get the magic of your idea across, sometimes you can get them to help beyond a paycheck.”

“If they’re putting in a ton of time, making intros or lending you a name with the halo of recognition, that could be a quarter of a percent to half,” said Mirabile, “or in exceptional circumstance, up to 1 percent of common stock options.”

Mirabile had special advice about this, and also covers it in his blog, “You can outgrow expertise early, so give them less (stock) maybe, but let it vest early so they aren’t hanging around when you don’t need them. Shoot for less stock and faster vesting.”

Adeosun referred to a resource that she has found valuable, a founder/advisor standard template: “The Founders Institute lays out the process by experience and cache, setting expectations, this work is worth x-amount.”

Best traits to look for in a quality advisor:

CM: Availability, willingness to help and super-networked is a key feature. A lot of people are hard to schedule with, they give you shallow answers.

JL: Master of their craft, give you great depth of answers, and trust is so important, for what I ask to be held in confidence and not twisted.

HA: Their ability to connect and work with people in our industry. Whenever I consider an advisor, I ask in passing, ‘What do you think of this person?’ People admire them for how much they are willing to give, and I look at how much people love them within the industry.

And Nancy Cremins, SheStarts co-founder and attorney with Gesmer Updegrove gave the final word: “When you do put together your advisory, make sure everyone doesn’t look the same or you won’t get that good diversity of thought.”

Good advice across the board.