Fuel for women-led ventures

Wash U senior Jolijt Tamanaha is one of six women to receive a $50,000 equity investment grant and support from the new St. Louis-based Prosper Accelerator. The entrepreneurs selected for the inaugural class will take part in a three-month program that includes training, mentoring, and a curriculum designed specifically to help women scale their businesses and raise follow-on capital.

Olin alumni, professors, and lecturers are playing important roles in the Prosper organization that was created in 2012 to address the entrepreneur gender gap in the St. Louis region.

  • Dr. Mary Jo Gorman, EMBA’ 96, is overseeing the accelerator program as a Prosper Capital Managing Partner.
  • Kasey Joyce Grelle, MBA’14, Prosper Capital Venture Partner and Principal at Cultivation Capital, will be a mentor to the new accelerator entrepreneurs.
  • Maxine Clark is a Prosper Capital Managing Partner and mentor. The founder and former Chief Executive Bear, Build-A-Bear Workshop, is a frequent lecturer at Olin and co-taught a course last semester on women and leadership with Prof. Michelle Duguid.
  • St. Louis-based venture capital firm Cultivation Capital, co-founded by Cliff Holekamp, senior lecturer in entrepreneurship, provides back-office support to the Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator.
  • Peter Finley, Former CFO at Observable Networks and Pulse Therapeutics, Co-founder, Thompson Street Capital Partners, is a an adjunct professor of entrepreneurship at Olin and will serve as an accelerator mentor.
Farmlicipty co-founders Joljit Tamanaha and Drew Koch

Farmlicipty co-founders Joljit Tamanaha and Drew Koch

Jolijt Tamanaha exited from her first venture, Farmplicity last year. (Farmplicity was launched in Olin’s Hatchery class.) Her new startup, Champio is a platform on which a company’s employees compete to share the best/most relevant social media posts about the business.

Applications for the Spring 2015 Prosper Accelerator class came from over nine countries on four continents and represented a variety of industries. In addition to Champio, the members of the class include:

prosper accelerator

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