Pitch Competition to Offer Investment and Support to Female Founders

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

The Women’s Economic Opportunity Center (WEOC) hosted by the Northeast Indiana Innovation Center (NIIC) announced today the Launch Women Pitch Competition, to support women entrepreneurs throughout the WEOC service area (see below). Women who have recently started or hope to start a business will have the opportunity to get input on their business plans, and potentially be selected to pitch their business at a public event where more than $15,000 will be awarded to the top three applicants.

“WEOC was founded to support women entrepreneurs at all stages of the entrepreneurial journey,” said Tania Vanderlaan, Interim Director, WEOC. “Time and time again we have heard that access to financial capital is a hurdle for female founders who are just starting their ventures. With the Launch Women Pitch Competition, we will award $5,000 each to three women to help them get started and also connect them to additional key resources.”

The pitch competition includes three categories: service business, innovative business or student venture. Applications will be accepted through September 11, with finalists being announced September 15. Applicants who are selected as finalists will be invited to pitch their company before a panel of esteemed judges during an event on September 23 at The NIIC. The top pitch in each category — service or innovation business — will each receive a $5,000 investment from WEOC along with other in-kind benefits to support their ventures. The top pitch in the student business category will receive a NIIC Student Venture Lab investment of $5,000 with an opportunity to earn an additional $1,500 upon completion of phase two of the program.

Additionally, all finalists will be invited to participate in a 6-week diverse entrepreneur accelerator program hosted by WEOC later this fall.

“We have seen that entrepreneurial activity among women is increasing, however, there is still a lot of work to be done,” said Karl LaPan, President & CEO, The NIIC. “By providing access to financial capital, mentorship, coaching and other critical growth resources, we are working hard to increase that momentum by opening the path for women to start and grow their own businesses.“

The pitch event will be open to the public, and attendees will have the opportunity to network with members of the local startup community. Additionally, the event will include workshops designed to help women entrepreneurs navigate key issues of starting a business, such as how to pitch their companies to investors or how to build strong company cultures as their businesses grow.

Criteria for applying for WEOC Launch Women Pitch Competition include:

  • Business located in the WEOC geographic service area—including Adams, Allen, Blackford, DeKalb, Delaware, Grant, Huntington, Jay, Kosciusko, Lagrange, Madison, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties in Indiana.
  • Business must be incorporated prior to receipt of the investment and have an incorporation date after 1/1/2013.
  • Investments in business entity type cannot be made in a sole proprietorship or an LLC with disregarded entity for tax purposes.
  • Business owned at least 20 percent or more by one or more women founders.
  • Business may not have more than $150,000 of annual revenue in the most recent fiscal year.
  • Businesses may only apply to one category in the competition (service business, innovative business or student business).
  • Business may not be a multi-level marketing business opportunity or franchise.
  • In the student category, submissions for either a service or innovative business concept will be acceptable.
  • Students must be enrolled in grade 9 or higher, or attending full-time accredited college, post-graduate studies or enrolled in a doctoral program. Parental consent is required for students under the age of 18 to apply. Home school students are also eligible to apply. The student must reside in the WEOC geographic service area.

Register for the WEOC Launch Women Pitch Competition at LaunchWomen.com.

About WEOC

The Women’s Economic Opportunity Center (WEOC) serves as a resource center and business growth accelerator for women and underserved entrepreneurs across the state of Indiana. 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 provides timely and comprehensive guidance to women at all stages of idea development and 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 NIIC

The NIIC is a non-profit, community-based 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: https://theniic.org.


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