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, 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.

For more information about IWLC, visit For more informa­tion about Ascent Iowa, visit www.Ascen­ CBJ