Business Women Who Lead

15 Women Entrepreneurs You Should Know About

Pitch for the Purse

Women entrepreneurs are no less ambitious than their male counterparts, yet they’re often underfunded. Pitch for the Purse aims to change that, all while putting women entrepreneurs on the main stage.

Hosted by Forum for Women Entrepreneurs (FWE), Pitch for the Purse is an annual competition that showcases women entrepreneurs and offers them the chance to win money to put towards continuing their success. Former participants include Tara Bosch of SmartSweets and Valerie Song of AVA Technologies. The winner of this year’s competition will take home $50,000 and the two runner-ups will each be receiving $5,000.

This year, Pitch for the Purse saw 466 applicants, ranging from 18 to 69 years old, and nearly 50% of whom were Black, Indigenous and Women of Colour. Though the competition was fierce, the judging panel was able to narrow down 12 semi-finalists.

Paulina Cameron, CEO of Forum for Women Entrepreneurs

CEO of FWE, Paulina Cameron said that they were originally only supposed to choose 10 semi-finalists, but they couldn’t decide on who to cut, because the remaining 12 were all so good. She said she’s proud to watch all of these women entrepreneurs on their journeys to success.

“Pitch for the Purse wants to share the stories of these incredible women. We want to showcase these women growing businesses that are integrating things like sustainable development goals and balancing families while they’re doing it,” said Cameron.

The semi-finalists have all received feedback from their initial pitches and are working with coaches to perfect them for the upcoming round. You can watch them take the virtual stage from the comfort of your home on Dec. 1, 2020. On that day, an esteemed and diverse Community Panel will choose three founders to move on to the final portion of the competition.

While only one person can walk away with the grand prize of $50,000, Cameron highlights that consumers have the ability to make a huge impact on women entrepreneurs’ lives. Being able to bring attention to the women-founded companies is one of her favourite parts of the competition.

“I want everyone to buy products from them! That’s another way that you can support. You can be a customer, you can post about them on social media… there’s so much we can do to support women entrepreneurs beyond investing in them.”

For this week’s Women Who Lead, Bay Street Bull spoke with the 12 semi-finalists for Pitch for the Purse about how they’re disrupting their industries and why they should win this year’s competition.

Alisha McFetridge

Co-Founder and CEO of RainStick Shower

Alisha McFetridge-Headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?

Our mission is to combat climate change and build a circular economy in Canada by transforming the way we live with water. RainStick Shower saves 80% water and energy by reusing, re-circulating, and filtering water before it is released back into our ecosystems, resulting in reduced carbon emissions and lower household costs.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

For me, it means being conscious of how I lead, while at the same time advocating for others to help them find their voice.

For many partners, they are most often dealing with men so some find dealing with me refreshing, but others don’t take me seriously. I’ve had to learn to be confident in my belief system, come prepared and know when to push back. If I had to say one thing to an aspiring female leader – treat others with kindness and trust yourself.

People need to invest in female-led companies and we need more female leaders. I’m just one of the examples.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

Everyone here deserves to win Pitch for the Purse.

I firmly believe RainStick is the right product at the right time. As the world comes out of the pandemic, climate change is here and we are not there yet to hit our climate targets. People know they need to be doing more – we’ve spoken with over 500 people who have validated they want to live a sustainable lifestyle, but don’t want compromise.

RainStick offers an irresistible solution that provides a better experience than the status quo, but also allows the ability to live a sustainable lifestyle.

Ashleigh Kennedy

Founder of Neurovine INC.

ashleigh_kennedy headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?

At Neurovine we envision a world in which brain health is visible and accessible – empowering everyone to reach their full potential for health and wellbeing. Our mission is to connect concussion patients with their own brain data so they can take control of their recovery.

2. What does being a woman who leads mean to you?

Being a woman in leadership in a male dominated sector gives me the opportunity to redefine leadership. In my leadership I am the support system tying the company together and allowing people to flourish. I will never dominate a meeting or silence an employee. Neurovine is a place of wellbeing for our patients and our staff. If I miss this mark I am not doing my job as a leader.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

Neurovine should win Pitch for the Purse because we are changing the world. We are empowering a huge population of people who leave in fear to take hold of their brain health.

Connie Stacey

Founder and President of Growing Greener Innovations

Connie Stacey Headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?

Our mission is to end energy poverty. For good.

But more than that, we are a social enterprise so that we could use the profit from sales to large corporations and governments to fund projects for those less fortunate. Studies have shown that economic growth is directly correlated to access to energy, to end energy poverty, we must first end energy poverty. And that’s just what we are going to do.

Our team believes deeply that we can change the world. We believe in equity and inclusion. That technology and business can help us achieve those goals. And that we have the people and technology to do it.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

To be a successful entrepreneur you need to lead. To introduce new deep tech, you must be a great leader. To do both as a woman is exponentially more difficult. It is also exponentially more important. There are so few women in deep tech, taking initiative, and bringing their unique skills to the marketplace; I consider being a role model to young women considering entering the STEM fields or becoming an entrepreneur to be one of the single most important roles I fill.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

This competition is meant to foster the growth of women owned enterprises through support, mentorship and access to funding. At the end of the day, ventures are funded by their ultimate ability to generate revenue. Our business not only is in the valuable and fast-growing market of battery energy storage, but our technology is patented internationally. We already have an innovation award from the US Department of Defense and our first contract with the Canadian Department of Defense. We anticipate exceeding $50 Million USD in sales within the next five years.

Delphine Marinaro

Founder and President of The Latte Co.

Delphine Headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?

To help mothers offer the best possible nutrition to their children, which is, at the same time, sustainable for the planet where they will be living on. We offer plant-based nutritional products that are reassuringly healthy and made with organic whole foods that people can trust.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

I want my daughters to not even have the smallest doubt that being a woman can be a barrier to anything they want to achieve in their life. I want them to believe that gender does not matter and by being an entrepreneur and seeing more and more female led businesses, we definitely are on the right path!

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

We should win Pitch for the Purse to help us make our products available to EVERYONE. We believe that access to healthy nutrition is a human right and we aim to keep growing with no compromises to our core values of providing the highest quality food ingredients at the most affordable price.

Karen Danudjaja

Founder of Blume Supply Inc.

Karen Danudjaja, Head Shot

1. What is your company’s mission?

We take proven, nutrient dense ingredients and make nourishing blends that don’t compromise on taste. All our blends are micro-ground to increase versatility and availability of nutrients. Our mission is to create plant-based superfood blends that support wellness journeys, whatever they look like.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

I think a lot of our stereotypes about leadership are templated off of male leaders. The imbalance of women in leadership positions means it can be difficult for many women entrepreneurs to find good role models and mentors. I personally believe that women make amazing leaders because of their focus on the team, ability to listen and empathize. Being a woman who leads today means being brave, because you are carving out your own definition of what a good leader is and paving the path for the women who follow.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

We are living in a time with record stress, anxiety and insomnia. At the same time consumers are growing their awareness of the mind body connection and how your wellness rituals can influence your sleep and mental health. We need less syrup and more ingredient transparency. Products that are designed to not just be delicious but to support your immune system and well being. I believe Blume is perfectly posed to meet this need and that with Pitch for the Purse we will be able to meaningfully carve out a place in a market that needs changing.

Libi Berenson

Founder of Geenees

Libi Berenson Headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?

We are on a mission to elevate the lives of those who need it most. We create true, emotional connection between donors and families in need while giving nonprofits a better way to engage and retain new donors.

Geenees is a social gifting platform for families in need. We work with nonprofit organizations across Canada and invite their families to create anonymous wishlists of the essentials they truly need. This could be anything from household items to groceries to dental services. Donors can then donate any item they choose and it’ll be delivered directly to the organization or the family.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

I’ve spent 15 years in leadership positions often as one of the only female leaders on the team. For me, being a woman leader means:
• Inspire for change. Inspire for good. Inspire for impact.
• Lead with compassion, passion and a strong sense of purpose.
• See your team as an asset that is appreciated, valuable and integral to the overall success.
• Manage operations effectively while keeping the future vision in mind.
• Find harmony between working on your passion and spending important quality time with those you love.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

Impact, trust, community.

Geenees is needed now more than ever with the recent impacts of COVID-19. Our local communities need support in finding new ways to engage donors to anonymously and directly help families receive basic products and services. Winning Pitch for the Purse would mean we could support more organizations and onboard many new families as well as engage more donors with an easier and smoother donation flow. It would also allow us to have a wider reach and impact throughout Canada and beyond.

Melodie Reynolds

Founder of Eluma Beauty Inc.

Melodie Reynolds Headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?
We are a B-Corp certified company committed to our communities and the world. We create safe, effective beauty products for everyone using exceptional ingredients, ethical marketing and innovative and sustainable practices to solve the problem of waste in the beauty industry.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?
I believe in leadership as a service to others. To the people I lead, the customers we serve and the industry as a whole.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?
My success will allow us to further our efforts to solve the problem of waste in the beauty industry, signaling to other companies that we must be responsible for the life cycle of the products we produce.

Mikayla Wujec and Naomi Blackman

Co-Founders of alder apparel

ALDER_Founders-001

1. What is your company’s mission?

alder is on a mission to transform the outdoor industry to be centred on fun, not performance. We believe that outdoor recreation = happiness and that the outdoors should be safe, accessible and welcoming to all womxn, not just the select few.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

Naomi: To me, being a woman who leads means that hopefully the next generation won’t face the same inequities, particularly around access to capital, that female founders face today. It’s important to me that I not only show that female leadership is financially promising, but that female leaders don’t have to conform to an outdated archetype of “leadership” in order to be successful.

Mikayla: Right now only 16% of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses are owned by women, yet the data shows that women-led startups, on average, have better ROI, performance and satisfaction levels. Being a women in leadership means working hard to get more women into leadership, and to show there are many different equally valuable ways to lead.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

We’re so impressed by all the semi-finalist companies—it’s truly an honour to be among these incredible teams led by Canadian womxn. For alder, we’re creating a brand that breaks out of the traditional hyper-performance, male focused outdoor industry to create a more inclusive, welcoming environment for more womxn of varying sizes, ethnicities and abilities. At a time where getting outside is even more vital for people’s minds, bodies and souls, alder’s mission has never been so timely.

Myra Arshad

Founder of ALT TEX

Myra Arshad Headshot

1. What is your company’s mission?

ALT TEX aims to lead fashion’s low carbon revolution by engineering sustainable, biodegradable and carbon neutral textiles chemically re-engineered from food waste. The polyester-like fabric offers durability and comfort while diverting 1kg of food waste from landfills, 9kg of carbon emissions from the air and 4kg of microplastic pollutants from the ocean, all with a single shirt.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

As a woman of colour, I’ve always been hyper-aware of the systemic barriers faced by women – especially from the part of the world I come from, that boasts some of the most powerful and brightest women I have met. Being a female leader means breaking the systems that have prevented women who look like them and I from reaching the top, so more of us can rise up together.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

Without a doubt, any one of the trailblazing semi-finalists will create positive and impactful change through Pitch for the Purse. Specifically for ALT TEX, we’re here to create highly scalable and massively disruptive impact on a global scale. We think it’s about time that the industry that touches all of us each day – fashion – gives up its spot as one of the most polluting industries on the planet. Our highly scalable sustainable fabric innovation has the potential to divert over 130 million kilograms of carbon emissions that the fabrics we wear today otherwise accelerate. That’s impact and that’s why we should win.

Paige Whitehead and Yamila Franco

Co-Founders of Nyoka Design Labs

Yamila Franco

1. What is your company’s mission?

Our mission is to leverage advances in sustainable biotechnology, material sciences and Land-based knowledge to build inspiring & innovative technology, processes and education to engage with the world. Starting with the world’s first sustainable, non-toxic, bioluminescent glow stick (the Nyoka Light Wand), Nyoka is designing products following the circular economy model. These products are aimed at advancing climate justice and equitable access to STEM as an empowering tool to lead in sustainability and entrepreneurship.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

I think a lot of our stereotypes about leadership are templated off of male leaders. The imbalance of women in leadership positions means it can be difficult for many women entrepreneurs to find good role models and mentors. I personally believe that women make amazing leaders because of their focus on the team, ability to listen and empathize. Being a woman who leads today means being brave, because you are carving out your own definition of what a good leader is and paving the path for the women who follow.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

We are living in a time with record stress, anxiety and insomnia. At the same time consumers are growing their awareness of the mind body connection and how your wellness rituals can influence your sleep and mental health. We need less syrup and more ingredient transparency. Products that are designed to not just be delicious but to support your immune system and well being. I believe Blume is perfectly posed to meet this need and that with Pitch for the Purse we will be able to meaningfully carve out a place in a market that needs changing.

Rachel Bartholomew

Founder of Hyivy Health

Rachel Bartholomew_Hyivy Health

1. What is your company’s mission?

Hyivy Health is on a mission to provide a better quality of life for the 1 in 3 women who deal with pelvic health related diseases and cancers to rehabilitate them back to a happier, healthier pelvic floor.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads?

It is all about paying it forward. I am the creation of many amazing women who have supported and lead me to where I am now and being a leader is about reaching out to others, supporting them through their journeys and passing on wisdom so we can all succeed.

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

I want to change the way pelvic health is researched, treated and cared for, for all women globally. As women, we deserve better than what has been provided to us in the form of evidence-based research, treatment options and follow on care. Pitch for the Purse allows us to yell from the rooftops across Canada advocating for better pelvic health and the potential to work with industry thought leaders in women’s health.

Sarah Cartwright and Eve Laird

Co-Founders of Eve's Crackers

Eve + Sarah

1. What is your company’s mission?

We are on a mission to make snacking healthily taste better.

2. What does it mean to you to be a woman who leads

It means leading by example, supporting your peers and using your unique perspective to drive growth and innovation in your role

3. Why should you win Pitch for the Purse?

There is still so much more opportunity for growth and in order to take advantage of that opportunity we need to increase our production efficiency. We would use the prize money to invest in R&D and process improvement. We want to grow and share our delicious product with as many people as possible because it has made snacking healthily easy and enjoyable for us, and we know it will do the same for others.