Northeast Indiana Entrepreneurs to Compete in InnovateHER Competition—Public Invited to Pitch Competition

April 18, 2017, Fort Wayne, Ind. – Six Northeast Indiana entrepreneurs are competing in InnovateHER 2017: Innovating for Women Business Challenge Competition on April 26, 2017, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at The NIIC Cole Auditorium in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The public is invited to attend the pitch competition and can register through Event Brite (click here). “Competitions like InnovateHER spotlight the incredible entrepreneurial talent we have in our community. Inclusive entrepreneurship is essential to our community and the state of Indiana realizing its full entrepreneurial potential,” stated Karl R. LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC.

InnovateHER is a cross-cutting prize competition to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. Through the competition, the U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) is seeking to amplify products or services that fill a need in the marketplace and have the potential for commercialization.

One venture will be selected for consideration of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership for one of ten potential spots in the national, final competition in Washington D.C. on July 27, 2017. Total award is $70,000, including $40,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place $10,000 for third place.  Local entrepreneurs competing in this year’s competition include:

  • Mary Huser Briscoe, Gretchen Dahm, Maria Sweizy Krach, Helen Huser Nill and Laura Rao, Co-owners, Live On Goods. This company provides innovative goods and services to allow seniors and those living with special needs a more social, enjoyable lifestyle.
  • Susan Hickok and Marna Pacheco, Co-owners, CapeAble Sensory Products LLC. This company manufactures and sells weighted blankets, weighted wearables and sensory enrichment tools.
  • Teresa Smith, Owner, The Cutter Company. Smith is the inventor of a multi-pill cutting device, the primary offering of The Cutter Company.
  • Lorelei VerLee, Founder and Executive Director, Creative Women of the World. This nonprofit organization provides business training and retail distribution for women here and around the world through the power of their own creativity.
  • Gayle Wisner, Founder, Conscious Community Inc. This company helps people escape poverty and provides quality employees to local businesses.
  • One finalist has elected to remain unidentified at this time.

Fort Wayne SCORE Chapter, is serving as the host organization for the competition, with The NIIC providing the venue for the event. The Northeast Indiana competition is made possible through collaboration among Fort Wayne SCORE, BrightPoint, Community Development Corporation of Fort Wayne, Northeast Indiana Small Business Development Center, The NIIC and Women’s Economic Opportunity Center. “It is a pleasure and honor for our organizations to lead the competition to help feature these local businesses and play a small role to help them reach the next plateau of success through this competitive event,” said Steve Rinehart, SCORE Mentor and 2017 InnovateHER Committee Chair.

“Consistent with the first two years of the Northeast Indiana InnovateHER Challenge, this year highlights accomplished and amazing women from our community and their businesses that not only contribute to the local economy but also contribute to the social welfare of the community as well,” said Rinehart.

About The NIIC

The NIIC is a non-profit, community-based entrepreneurial community. We assist business builders and entrepreneurs to launch, expand, or re-invent successful businesses and ventures in Northeast Indiana. 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: www.TheNIIC.org.


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