By Nancy Dahlberg
Patricia Siman already knew she wanted to start her own fashion company, but her specific startup idea came to her in the middle of the night, as she struggled to get comfortable in less than comfy nightwear. Siman, a vegan and a conscious consumer, found the options for eco-friendly sleepwear disappointing and saw an opportunity.
Siman launched her sustainable fashion company, Half Asleep, in April. Half Asleep offers two pant sets, two short sets, a romper, a robe and some accessories, all made from recycled or compostable, plant-based fibers and all-natural dyes.
Siman is also one of the 21 female entrepreneurs from 18 startups selected to be part of Babson College’s Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab Miami. WIN Lab Miami is a five-month accelerator designed for women entrepreneurs by women entrepreneurs in order to empower them to build scalable businesses. WIN Lab Miami announced the fourth cohort today, which is Women’s Equality Day.
“The entrepreneurial journey can get lonely and I am looking forward to being part of this community of entrepreneurs who are going through similar milestones,” said Siman, who moved from New York back home to Miami to launch her business. “I also want to make sure I am prepared to get in front of investors when the time is right. I know WIN Lab has a great mentor program and mentors have been a huge part of my life – I really think this will help me grow my business.”
Along with the Babson-created curriculum, the mentor network is a huge benefit of the accelerator program, said Michelle Abbs, director of WIN Lab Miami. “There is literally this community of people who hear about you and your businesses and say I want to help,” Abbs told the new members at an introductory event this month.
WIN Lab Miami has already graduated more than 50 alumni from its accelerator. Having first reported on the severe gender inequities in venture capital in The Diana Project, Babson College launched its accelerator in Boston in 2013, and in 2016 expanded to Miami, thanks to the support of the Knight Foundation. This year, WIN Lab announced a special partnership with The Emery, a co-working center for women that is providing free office space for the growing WIN Lab alumni network.
"Our community of female founders grows not only in size but in strength,” Abbs said about the 18 new companies. “The companies selected this year have impressive traction and are poised to scale into large markets. I'm proud to be part of this work alongside such incredible women on a mission to achieve inspiring growth goals."
Maria Esther Martinez Barreiro, an engineer who founded a tech company, Aerosens, to provide IoT and RFID solutions for the aviation industry in order to make the industry safer and smarter – recently profiled here – is part of the new cohort, which is pictured above. Other startups in the cohort span the worlds of food and travel, as well as wellness products and health-tech solutions. Many of them, like Half Asleep, have a social mission as well.
That’s also the case with Annette King’s Muuchit. King says her company is like “Airbnb for venue space meets Amazon Smile, in that we have integrated social impact elements into our marketplace.”
Muuchit, based in Fort Lauderdale, launched its web app last year after first testing a low-tech MVP in the market for product-market fit, King said. Muuchit's platform already hosts about 50 venues in South Florida, and is beginning to onboard venues in other cities, starting with Austin, with plans for more national expansion in 2020. It supports the community by generating awareness – and valuable proceeds – for local charitable causes.
“The goal of participating in WIN Lab is for mutual benefit by sharing my sales and tech experience with the cohort participants, while also gaining access to advisors who can help Muuchit as we scale and seek to raise startup capital,” King said. “What we are looking for is help in scaling our business and tapping into valuable resources in the community.”
The WIN Lab’s curriculum is backed by research-based insights on the challenges uniquely faced by women entrepreneurs.
“Each year WIN Lab Miami continues to embed new research findings on the challenges faced by women entrepreneurs, and corresponding solutions, into its programming. It’s this kind of practical curriculum components, backed by the thought leadership and expertise of the number one school in entrepreneurship education worldwide, that makes the program one-of-a-kind,” Abbs said.
Here are details about all 18 companies announced today, as provided by WIN Lab Miami:
WIN LAB MIAMI COHORT 4
Taylor Cohen, Co-Founder & Creator
Adashah is on a mission to create access to transparent, clean, healthy and delicious vegan protein and total health through nutrition through our one-of-a-kind lentil based, soy-free, gluten-free protein, Adashah, that is disrupting the market as we know it for the better!
Maria Esther Martinez Barreiro, CEO & Co-Founder
AEROSENS aims to develop technology solutions making the aviation industry more transparent, smarter and cost efficient. Today, they provide solutions that transform the way information about parts, products, equipment and even people is gathered and analyzed.
Company Combo, LLC
Eva Palatinsky, Co-Founder & COO
Our goal is to make developing global businesses, through the United States, easier and accessible for entrepreneurs all over the world.
Patricia Siman, Founder & CEO
Half Asleep is a direct-to-consumer women’s sleepwear brand that creates comfortable and versatile sleepwear using sustainably sourced materials and plant-based natural dyes. In addition to creating eco-friendly products, our mission is to give back to the community by planting a tree for every item sold and donating a percentage of sales to local homeless shelters.
Lifetime Omics, Inc.
Patricia Buendia, CEO
Lifetime Omics empowers people to become aware of their health trends and prevent disease by helping them navigate available omics profiling options and interpret the data generated by omics services such as genome sequencing and microbiome testing.
Looky Looky Pictures
Ani Mercedes, Founder, CEO & Impact Producer
Looky Looky Pictures helps connect powerful documentary films with the audiences and organizations who can best use them as tools to change the world.
Annette King, Founder
Muuchit [Moo-chit] is a social enterprise marketplace enabling anyone to list and monetize their venue space while generating donations for charities. We help event and meeting hosts discover and book unique venues from locals who support a cause.
D Marie Thompson, CEO
MyRA is an on-demand healthcare staffing platform that directly connects pre-credentialed healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities to service their staffing needs, thereby avoiding the need for a staffing agency.
Dolores Perez, CEO
Susan Thompson, Co-Founder
SaniGirl disposable sanitary “pee” funnels revolutionize the use of a bathroom away from home. Our products take feminine personal hygiene to the next level. SaniGirl funnels are practical, easy to use, clean, discreet, and eco-friendly. A perfect companion to carry when away from home.
Nicole LeDoux, Founder & CEO
Shimmy's your well-traveled friend who will guide you through your next destination. We're a new way for you to enjoy the cities you're visiting, whether it’s through a travel agent, the hotel you’re staying at, or right in your Instagram feed.
Serena Berra, Founder & CEO
Kerstin Krall Walz, COO
Tasteland is a new social media platform to share & access food content with our most trusted curators.
Ana Rodriguez, Founder & CEO
An action, adventure, mystery multi-platform children media franchise that promotes diversity, inclusion and girl empowerment. Tinker Crew focuses on creating fun, research-based, STEM-focused, entertaining storytelling with a strong educational component that presents audiences with different types of role models.
Adrienne McWilliams, Co-Founder & CEO
Travelspective is building a video-first, search and experience marketplace to connect you to what’s happening now and near you called BRIDGE. Our platform creates networks by location by broadcasting what’s around you to connect people locally – around the world.
Marina Ganopolsky, Co-Founder & COO
Jessica Primavera, Co-Founder
Unbound is a marketplace that connects travelers that desire transformative travel with hosts who lead small-group transformative trips. Our product uses technology to predict what each traveler cares most about, and matches them with a trip they'll love.
Unified Health Information Notification and Tracking System Corporation
Renae Patterson, RN, BSN, Founder & CEO
A secure web application designed to easily store health information and important documents all in one location.
Areeya Lila, Founder & CEO
AI-driven customer data platform for B2C marketers and agencies.
Caroline Peyre, Founder
Weepea is an online Children's Marketplace for parents to buy and sell the best brands of gently used baby gear and kids furniture.
Alexandra Fuente, Founder & CEO
Empowering intimates for women. Engineered for maximum comfort, style, & every day wear.
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