Local Women Accelerate Businesses through New Business Builder Program

Tammy Y. Allen, Director, Marketing & Programs, The NIIC

January 15, 2018—Three online/digital companies began the new Launch Women Business Builder Program to accelerate the launch and growth of their businesses. “We are impressed by the creativity in defining unmet business needs, the determination, ambition, and dedication of each of these companies to making their businesses happen,” said Tania D. Vanderlaan, Interim Director, Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) at The NIIC.

The companies are focused on transforming three traditional industries: wellness, interior design, and art.

Morgan Refakis and Alice Payne are Pilates instructors and know the time investment and expense of becoming successful instructors. Their innovative business concept is focused on a new online/digital model for instructors and clients. “We are passionate about Pilates and about making it accessible to more people. Everyone can benefit from Pilates,” said Refakis. “We enrolled in this program to gain expertise and learn how to develop our product, our business plan, and learn how to market it,” said Payne.

Melissa Hall, Simple Sample Solutions, is an interior designer and understands the rigor of ordering multiple material samples for multiple clients. She has developed a model to disrupt the interior design industry by offering an application for streamlined samples ordering and delivery. “The current system for ordering samples is time-consuming and inefficient. Leveraging technology, my app will bring this aspect of the interior design industry and the 60,000 interior designers in the United States into the 21st century,” said Hall.

Tricia Cavender and Hali Ruisard are preparing for their grand opening of Rhapsody Art Gallery LLC in Fort Wayne, Indiana. In addition to their storefront and offerings at the Fort Wayne location (grand opening January 19), they want to make artwork available for purchase online, on a national scale.

Through WEOC, program participants gain access to NIIC resources, including business coaching and education, shared work space, business and conference center assets. Virtual components of the program are offered through partnerships with Build Your Dream Business, for online/digital marketing of their businesses, and the Global Acceleration Network – GAN. Jen Petro, Owner of Build Your Dream Business and Fort Wayne native, said, “NOT starting my business would have been one of my biggest regrets in my life. Because of that, I’m passionate about equipping and supporting women as they do the same—like through this program.”

Phase one of the program is January 15 through April 6, 2018. Commencement will be included in the upcoming NIIC Ideas@Work Signature Event on April 17, 2018, at the Mirro Center for Research and Innovation.

About WEOC—The Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center (WEOC) serves as a resource center and business growth accelerator for women and underserved entrepreneurs in Northeast Indiana. In October 2017, the name changed to Women’s Entrepreneurial Opportunity Center to more accurately reflect what WEOC does. WEOC is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Host organization The NIIC also provides funding and supplemental and complementary resources for WEOC, an SBA designated Women’s Business Center—one of two in Indiana. WEOC serves women at all stages of their business ventures. WEOC responds to the unique needs of women entrepreneurs through business growth coaching, training and entrepreneurial education, connectivity and access to capital. For more information, visit www.inweoc.com.

About The NIICThe NIIC is a non-profit, vibrant entrepreneurial community. We help business builders and entrepreneurs launch and grow successful business ventures. Formed in 1999 by a consortium of community and government leaders and organizations in 2013, The NIIC was recognized by Entrepreneur magazine as one of the top four under-the-radar incubators in the country. This basically means Entrepreneur magazine, with the help of International Business Incubation Association, picked four U.S. incubators to highlight, and we were one of them. In their words, we “stand out in a state not always perceived as small business friendly.” The NIIC is the country’s only ISO9001: 2008 registered business incubation and acceleration program. For more information visit TheNIIC.Org.


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