Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit
More than 475 College of Charleston students, faculty, staff and members of the business community filed into the Sottile Theatre on March 18 to attend the inaugural Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit. The event was organized in an effort to inspire entrepreneurs and raise awareness of the potential for innovation and economic expansion for women and by women.
The Summit, presented by the School of Business’ Center for Entrepreneurship and the Office of Economic Development, featured a panel of female entrepreneurs who have secured funding, found mentors and cultivated the elements needed to launch and grow their businesses.
“I was thrilled to see the turnout at the Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs,” said Alan T. Shao, dean of the School of Business. “The event was a huge success, spotlighting an impressive lineup of accomplished and creative women entrepreneurs, while providing students with tremendous learning opportunities.”
Amy Love, director of the Office of Innovation at the S.C. Department of Commerce, served as master of ceremonies for the Summit, and Erin Andrew, director of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the U.S. Small Business Administration, presented a keynote speech on “Trending Now: Sparking New Opportunities for Women Entrepreneurs.”
“Understand your power. Own your power. Use your power,” said Andrew in her keynote address. “Use the power you have as a woman business owner to help your community.”
A panel of female entrepreneurs spoke on creativity in business, including:
- Jeni Britton Bauer, founder and CEO of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams,
- Natalia Castillo, founder and CEO of Escapada Living,
- Carolyn Hunter, president and owner of several South Carolina McDonald’s franchises,
- Krissa Watry, co-founder and CEO of Dynepic, Inc.,
- and Nina Sossamon-Pogue, vice president of media for Benefitfocus.
Anita Zucker, chairperson and CEO of The InterTech Group closed the summit with a keynote speech entitled “Love the Journey,” in which she offered the following advice: “Take a risk and network. Let your passions drive you.”
“It was exciting to hear accomplished entrepreneurs, especially women entrepreneurs, tell their stories and share ideas with others. Their stories, advice, and insight will, no doubt, serve to inspire our students to follow their dreams,” said Bobby Marlowe, senior vice president for economic development at the College of Charleston. “The College of Charleston was honored to be the host of the inaugural Summit and will continue to support and enhance the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
In addition to the keynote and panel presentations, the Student Entrepreneur of the Year and winner of the Innovator Games were announced at the Summit, and the featured CofC Alumna Entrepreneur Spotlight also took the stage.
Carlie Christenson, sophomore, was honored as the Student Entrepreneur of the Year and awarded $1,000. Christenson is the founder of Boob-eez, an undergarment product that offers an invisible barrier between breasts and clothing.
Senior Grace Neil, computer information systems major, won the Innovator Games – a competition based event by Summit sponsor Think Ideally, intended to inspire and activate innovation for student and community entrepreneurs – and was also awarded $1,000. Neil is currently developing an app called “Hey W8R,” which serves as a tool to get your waiter’s attention when dining out.
Allison Gilmore ’81, co-founder of DuMore Improv, was featured as the CofC Alumna Entrepreneur Spotlight. Gilmore facilitated an improv session in which she advised using a “yes, and…” approach to professional challenges.
The Summit was sponsored by Think Ideally, an organization dedicated to solving problems, facilitating innovation, and cultivating entrepreneurial skills. Additional sponsors for the event included the S.C. Department of Commerce, The McNair Center for Entrepreneurship at Columbia College, Skirt magazine, and the Town of Mount Pleasant.
“There is something about a gathering of strong, spirited women that lights a fire under you, starts conversations and gets ideas flowing that wouldn’t otherwise happen,” said alumna Harriett Lee ’08, entrepreneur and owner of Whisper & Roar.
“The Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit provided exactly this environment for organic networking to happen. I loved hearing all the fearless women sharing their entrepreneurship stories about owning your power, not being afraid to negotiate, and having the gumption to say ‘No, I think you can handle taking the notes’.”
See photos from the Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs Summit here.
*Editorial content Provided By
Student Entrepreneur of the Year Finalists
Summit Sponsored By:
Networking Lunch Sponsors:
This program would not be possible without the support of the Charleston entrepreneur community and the Summit planning and advisory committees.
Planning Committee Members