Tag: gender gap

A team of researchers has been studying the St. Louis startup community for clues to why there is a lack of diversity and if there are some ways to improve inclusion of women and minority business founders. Olin alumna Karren Watkins, BSME’09, MBA’13, who is currently pursuing her PhD at Wharton and fellow researchers presented their case study of St. Louis on best practices for inclusion within innovation communities at a recent Venture Cafe session at CIC in the Cortex district.

The research team, with support from the Kauffman Foundation, based their study on more than 80 interviews and observations throughout the St. Louis startup community including support organizations such as accelerators, incubators, co-working spaces, and networking groups.

They found while there are many good practices for recruiting entrepreneurs in general to the innovation community, “invisible barriers” are keeping women and minorities segregated. The study proposes some best practices to improve diversity and shares the concerns and reactions of women small business owners who feel marginalized from the city’s main support organizations.

Image: Karren Watkins at Venture Cafe presentation

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

KiteReaders designs, develops and distributes e-books and apps for children ages 3 to 8.

Wondermento is building a new way to track your dog’s activity and to know what they are up to at all times digitally and through their hardware design.

Bookalokal is a marketplace for food entrepreneurs to list their services available for sale (out of their home) and to connect with customers looking for a unique dining experience.

HealthyMe platform design has five key elements to address the non- compliance issue and patients’ lack of resources to effectively manage their disease on a daily basis, the key problems of patients who have chronic disease.

Smart Monitor
SmartMonitor created SmartWatch®, an intelligent wristwatch that continuously monitors movement, developed for people prone to epilepsy and seizure disorders.