By Nancy Dahlberg
For Babson WIN Lab Miami Director Michelle Abbs, this week’s evening finale was more than a celebration of Cohort 4’s completion of the intensive 5-month accelerator for women entrepreneurs. It was also more than big checks awarded at the finale pitch competition, though there were those, too.
For Abbs and the WIN Lab team’s mentors and supporters, the 20 female founders who were being celebrated on Wednesday night had test marketed ideas, prepared growth strategies, and worked on sales, marketing, finance and building their social capital. Most had launched their startups or were in beta testing, some were generating revenue, and a few had raised some angel funding.
“They stand in defiance of the odds that are stacked against them,” she said. “We are our great grandmothers’ wildest dreams.”
The 20 female founders were celebrated in a finale attended by about 200 people, including Babson College leaders, the program’s sponsors, mentors and alumni, and community supporters, at the Block Building in downtown Miami Wednesday night. For five months, the cohort met weekly “and were surrounded with an incredible community of supporters,” Abbs said.
“WIN Lab has pushed me out of my comfort zone of presenting my business and our full vision,” said Adrienne McWilliams, one of the founders in the cohort. “I think sometimes it’s hard to go out there and tell people how big your vision is, but if you truly believe in it and put in the work, women should be sharing their big visions for the future.”
McWilliams and two others founders were pre-selected as finalists to pitch to the audience – and a panel of judges – for a share of $8,500 in prizes. Each founder gave a 5 minute pitch and took questions from the judges. The other founders in the cohort each gave a rocket pitch for the audience. [Meet them here]
And the winners are…
Travelspective was the grand prize winner, taking home the big check -- $5,000.
“We provide a window into destinations and experiences around the world through video,” said McWilliams, co-founder and CEO of Travelspective, in her pitch. “All the content does exist, it’s just not visible at the time you actually need it. Travelspective allows you to search, see and experience what is happening around you and around the world.”
For its curated platform for video, the travel-tech startup is currently building the Travelspective 2.0 mobile and TV apps, and plans to launch the mobile apps on iOS and Android this summer and the TV apps -- Apple TV, Roku & Firestick – in the next year, McWilliams said. The company, intends to make money through subscriptions and its marketplace for experiences.
“We are currently seeking investment to support our launch of the new platform that will have a window into 50 destinations from around the world. We’ll be focusing on cultivating a strong Miami presence and putting Miami businesses on the map to broadcast both locally and globally. We want to be Miami residents 'go-to local channel’ and video search for what’s happening in Miami,” she said in an interview.
Taking second place – and $2,500 – was Company Combo co-founder and COO Eva Palatinsky.
Company Combo, a growth stage company, is a one stop shop solution for global companies doing business here, focused on ecommerce and online businesses. Company combo allows entrepreneurs to focus on their core business while Company Combo takes care of bookkeeping, taxes, warehousing and fulfillment services.
Company Combo provides information, services, and platforms focused on foreign entrepreneurs doing business in or through the US,” Palatinsky pitched. “We can help them manage their business here while still living abroad and manage their business there. That is our specific niche.”
Alexandra Fuente, founder and CEO of Woxer, took third place, winning $1,000. Woxer makes comfortable and functional boxer briefs for women.
Woxer, which launched last March, sells subscriptions as well as single purchases, and has made a lot of traction in a short time. “In eight months, we made $1 million in sales. We did this with only $6,000 in ad spend per month,” said Fuente. Revenues are growing 37% monthly, and revenue has tripled since Woxer joined Win LAB.
The company hit profitability in five months, Fuente pitched. “There has never been a better time for our brand to disrupt the undergarment industry. Our only job is to empower women through comfort.”
For Abbs, the night was also about empowerment -- empowering female entrepreneurs and leveling the playing field for women. We all know the sad statistics.
“I think about our daughters all the time,” she said, in her remarks at the event. “I imagine them waking up with a dream one day and having equal opportunity to turn that idea into reality without unconscious bias, with fair access to capital and with a thriving network no matter their gender.”
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