Investors back women-owned businesses
‘Invest in She’ event distributes $40,000 to six Iowa-based businesses
By Molly Altorfer
CEDAR RAPIDS—Six Iowa women entrepreneurs netted a total of $40,000 from eight local investors at “Invest in She,” a new pitch event held Sept. 18 at the Paramount Theatre.
The event, sponsored by IWLC and Ascent Iowa, celebrated female entrepreneurism in Iowa – something that organizers intend to bolster with this event and others like it.
“This type of ‘pitch-and-grow’ competition has been done in many other settings,” said IWLC Executive Director Diane Ramsey, “but to my knowledge, this is the first time an event of this nature has focused on Iowa women entrepreneurs. We were very impressed by the caliber of businesses that were represented, as well as the knowledge, insight and commitment provided by our investors.”
The funding amounts included:
- $13,000 to Molly Clubb and Jaymie Feldmann of Hired Hand Software (Cedar Falls)
- $12,000 to Nikki Hynek of Dollup Beauty (Cedar Rapids)
- $6,000 to Dr. Stephanie Gray of Integrated Health and Hormone Clinic (Cedar Rapids)
- $5,000 to Andrea Hansen of VenueFox (Des Moines)
- $2,000 to Jean Wenisch of John Holladay Graphics (Cedar Rapids)
- $2,000 to Laurie Moritz of Sweet Raw Joy (Cedar Rapids)
Ms. Clubb, partner at Hired Hand Software, was pleased with the results following the competition.
“The investors had some tough questions and we had to be on our toes,” Ms. Clubb recalled. “I was surprised by the outpouring of support from our community and the women in attendance.”
Hired Hand Software, founded in 2005, has grown to serve hundreds of agriculture operations and businesses across the nation, providing custom-developed website software and an animal marketing system (AMS). The AMS is a custom-built tool for the Texas longhorn cattle, whitetail deer and quarter horse markets, allowing breeders to easily manage their own website content while showcasing animals online.
With guidance from Ascent Iowa, Ms. Clubb and Ms. Feldmann hope to “leverage the funds to assist with future expansion into new breeds, as well as increasing our market share in current breeds including whitetail deer and horses.”
The night’s other big winner, Ms. Hynek of Dollup Beauty, had the idea to create her own cosmetic case in 2013 after a frustrating morning trying to locate all of her makeup supplies. A makeup artist and aesthetician, Ms. Hynek knew from experience what her perfect makeup case would look like – so she created it. The Dollup Case has officially launched on www.ShopHQ.com, where it sells for $45.
“I plan to use the funds I received to boost Dollup Beauty’s marketing campaign and to expand distribution,” Ms. Hynek said. “Specifically, I would like to exhibit at upcoming trade shows to get the Dollup Case in front of key buyers and retailers.”
In addition to pitching her business to the eight investors, Ms. Hynek also relished the opportunity to learn more about women-owned businesses in Iowa and to network with other entrepreneurs.
“I am still in awe and surprised by the generosity of the investors and by the organizations that put the event on,” Ms. Hynek said. “This event was an amazing opportunity and their generosity has already helped my business gain incredible momentum.”
Invest in She investors included:
- Susan Corrigan, president and treasurer of the St. Martin Land Company
- Tara Cronbaugh, president and owner of Java House
- Bruce Lehrman, CEO and founder of Involta
- Lura McBride, COO, Van Meter Industrial
- Heidi Parkhurst, first vice-president — wealth management and senior resident director at Merrill Lynch
- Ravi Patel, principal and president, Hawkeye Hotels
- Chuck Peters, president and CEO of The Gazette Company
- Randy Portz, president of Industrial Energy Applications
Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA), served as keynote speaker. She lauded the program and encouraged women who have considered starting their own business to reach out to groups like IWLC and Ascent Iowa, the latter of which was founded to help women-owned businesses grow.
Ms. Ramsey said the organizations are planning to host similar events in the future to continue advancing women in business and leadership.