WEC In Review! : Here’s A Review Of How Our latest Conference Went
Welcome to WEC
First of all, we would like to thank everyone who made it to our very first #WECNYC. For all of you who couldn’t make it, we would like to bring the conference to you through the power of the internet! We opened up the conference with complimentary breakfast, notebooks, one on one speed mentoring, and a stunning kickoff video to inspire our entrepreneurs for the program!
Lights. Camera. Action!
Our lovely MC Diane Lempert gave us a great opening introduction to our Never Too Late to Start Founders, Joseph Sprung, and Richard Fink. She also did a great job introducing our speakers, starting with our finance expert; Monica Mehta.
Monica prepared two speeches and was featured on our finance panel. Her first speech, ‘Unlocking your Entrepreneurial Spirit’, dived into the idea of turning on that “green light” in your mind and beginning to think in a more entrepreneurial sense by taking more risks for your business. In Monica’s second speech, ‘Show Me The Money’, she talks about the struggles that come with being a woman in business and how to overcome obstacles when being your own boss and managing your own money. She goes on to explain that once you begin to become comfortable with taking risks and managing your own finances, the easier it becomes to bring your plan to life. While being the most featured speaker, with two speeches and her participation on our funding panel, she has definitely been a huge help and a financing wizard when it comes to all things business!
Up next we had Gisele Stolz, and all-time fan favorite, who started out in corporate banking and has now moved onto becoming the Director of the Mason Enterprise Center at George Mason University. Her speech, ‘Introduction To Customer Discovery: An Alternative To The Business Plan’, was inspiring and filled with information on how you can take a customer-centered approach to your product or service to increase your chance of success. She describes this approach as “building the plane as it’s flying”; constantly revisiting your audience and asking what you could improve on helps you decide which direction to take your product or service. Although this is not the approach the traditional business plan takes, it is a successful and viable method to use when putting together your product or service.
As Co-Founder and head of production at Luminoustudios, Sania spoke on how to brand yourself in your media in “branding with video.” Having been at the start of an all-female video production company, Sania gave tips on how to get your message to your audience as well as how to produce a high-quality video with limited resources. She discussed the importance of marketing your message clearly and uniquely to your audience in order to stay relevant and keep your content circulating through the audience you want it in. After giving her speech she led us into our moderated panel ‘I Have An Idea – What Now?’
I Have An Idea – What Now?
Our panel “I Have An Idea – What Now?” was brought back to answer some of the most asked questions for those who are looking to start or have just started their own business ventures. Members of the panel include (from left to right in picture) Pauline Idogho, CEO of Mocktail Club, Denise Kelly, nutritionist and health expert, Rori Sassoon, CEO & Co-Founder of Platinum Poire, Erin McConlogue, global facilitator, coach and Founder of Lumiere Sciences, with Sania Jhankar Co-Founder & head of production, Luminoustudios, moderating. Sania first invited all panelists to explain the inspiration behind their businesses and how they began to pursue them. She then moved on to ask about the challenges they faced and how they resolved them; Pauline talked about the struggles of taking a niche product and making it more versatile to have an expanding audience. Rori discussed her struggle of creating a business from scratch and wanting to maintain the integrity of it by keeping quality over quantity. Erin brought up her personal struggle of trying to keep her business organized with such an active and creative mind which is difficult to maintain. Following up by asking questions on how to expand and grow your business Rori, Denise, and Pauline all gave examples on the importance of collaborations with other companies and reaching out to your own customers as well to get your message and your product/service to expand your audience. Moving onto the subject of wellness, Sania asked how you stay sane in the hectic life of a business owner. The one thing everyone agreed with was the fact that you need to schedule our own free time and truly separate work from personal life. Finally, to wrap it up there was the big question of knowing when you’ve made it. Again, if there was one thing all these answers had in common, it was that you know you have made it when you are doing what you love.
Denise spoke of the importance of keeping up with your physical and mental health, which will reflect on the success of your business. This means maintaining your health at its best only makes sense! Your business will only run with the same energy that you bring. To truly take your business to the next level you need to move from simply surviving every day to thriving. How do you do that? The answer is a lot simpler than most people actually think it is. In order to have a productive day, you need to have a productive diet, which means skipping out on caffeine and cutting it out little by little. Instead of completely cutting out everything that you know is bad for you, Denise suggested adding healthier foods to your diet more and more until it completely replaces your previous diet. She also mentioned the overlooked problem of dehydration as the majority of people, especially entrepreneurs, tend to reach for a cup of coffee instead of water for that spike of energy. As a healthy alternative, Denise suggested a cup of water with a squeeze of lemon juice to clear your mind and avoid that midday fogginess.
As one of the speakers who has been with us since the beginning, it was an honor to have Cynthia come speak to us again. In a powerful and personal speech, she reminded everyone about the importance of physical and mental health. Cynthia shared her own ‘burn out’ story as she attempted to run 3 businesses all on her own! Despite eating healthy, and regularly exercising, the stress was literally killing her. Ending up in the hospital on bed rest, was the wake-up call she needed to take a new approach to self-care. She now specializes in coaching others on how to take care of themselves first in order to take care of their businesses.
Funding & What To Be Prepared For
Our panelists came together to give advice on how to find funding for your business. Focusing on the importance of funding our panel featured (from right to left) moderator Geri Stengel, president of Ventureneer, Marcy Borofsky, founder and executive vice chair of Smile America Partners, Pauline Idogho, CEO of Mocktail Club, Monica Mehta, author of The Entrepreneurial Instinct, and Carolyn Katz, venture capital investor/ banker and consultant. They began with the biggest mistake most startups make, which is trading equity for investments. They stressed the fact that the best thing you can do for your business, by taking out loans or using credit cards, is to keep ownership. This doesn’t necessarily mean looking for investors is bad, it just means you should be extra careful when looking for investors, making sure that your potential partner is willing to work and contribute to the company. Overall, the amazing panel aimed to provide the best advice on how to look for and handle investors when seeking financial backing.
30 Second Pitch™ Competition
First, a big thank you to all who submitted a pitch! We had so many amazing pitches to choose from, that we had to add another $2,000 in prizes! Ultimately, the grand prize of $5,000 went to Casey Golden and her company Luxlock. In second place came Bramble at $3,000. Third place with $2,000 went to The Suite I Do and last but not least there were three winners, Happy Glow, The Knee Keeper, and LeaderEsq with $1,000 each. We always love being able to provide any support we can to aspiring entrepreneurs and still look forward to hearing more great pitches.
We topped off another great conference with our signature Drink Up & Link Up cocktail party. This is another fan-favorite for our attendees as it allows them to meet and speak with all our speakers, panelists, and featured experts! Our experts were set up around the room in stations, where they were available to answer any and all of our guests’ questions. We even invited some entrepreneurs to sell their products in our marketplace!
That’s All Folks
Now that’s a recap on everything that happened at our most recent and amazing conference yet! All in all, it was so wonderful to be able to put together an event that brought together a line of support for women at all stages of building their business.