For the EVOLution of Business

Changing the Odds for Female Entrepreneurs at The Entrepreneurs Network

Episode Summary

Once reliant on the "Big Three" employers of Kodak, Xerox and Bausch & Lomb, Rochester's "entrepreneurship by necessity" leveraged the talent and infrastructure of the region to EVOLve its economy to be both more diversified and resilient. A key to that EVOLution has been programs like The Entrepreneur's Network (TEN), which trains entrepreneurs and helps to cultivate an ecosystem that can support their growth. Despite that success, Rochester was reflective of the broader entrepreneurial community with inadequate support and access to funding for female entrepreneurs, with less than 5% of venture capital funding going to women-led tech companies. Thanks to a partnership with Chloe Capital, a female-led fund investing in female-led startups, TEN had their first class focused exclusively on female entrepreneurs. Now, they're doubling down with another all-female cohort! Tune in to hear more about how TEN is beating the typical startup success rate, and get an application in for the next cohort by 8/31! Jean Kase plays a strategic role for Monroe County and NextCorps, connecting people and resources in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. She has recruited and served more than 300 founders and senior managers of startups and small businesses throughout Upstate New York. Rooted in the Rochester community, she previously served as vice president of public affairs for the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, representing 2,100 member firms in government matters affecting the regional business climate. In this capacity, she advised CEO’s on legislative and political issues. Jean is an active investor in the Rochester Angel Network (RAN,) comprised of 85 accredited investors and serves as a judge for several regional business plan competitions. She provides clients with advocacy, business development and project management services. She earned her undergraduate degree at St. John Fisher College and an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology.

Episode Notes

[1:45] The need for The Entrepreneur's Network (TEN) to help entrepreneurs get ready to pitch for funding
[3:30] Partnerships with Monroe County, Rochester Angel Network, SCORE, Urban League to build the entrepreneurial ecosystem
[5:45] How Jean got involved in TEN, expanded the program beyond just tech startups
[8:45] What types of companies qualify? Tech startups ready to pitch to investors, Established companies focused on growing and selling to customers outside the region
[10:15] Measuring success for TEN and its graduates - jobs created, increasing the success rate of startups
[12:30] Giving the entrepreneurs coaches with real world experience as entrepreneurs and business owners
[13:45] The structure and curriculum of the TEN program
[15:45] The rise of Shark Tank and "entrepreneurship by necessity" growing an interest in entrepreneurship in the region
[17:30] Changing the mindset around lifelong employment
[20:45] The strengths of Rochester's entrepreneurial ecosystem and the opportunities to engage more local investors to invest locally
[25:45] Addressing the challenges for female entrepreneurs with Chloe Capital
[29:45] The first TEN class focused on female-led startups:
-"Name it, claim it and overcome it."
-Accomplished women who had a lack of confidence
[35:45] Funding for women, minority and LGBTQ led businesses
[39:20] Creating a diverse team and leveraging their experience and strengths by creating an inclusive culture
[42:50] An upcoming cohort for female-led startups - Apply by 8/31/19!
[44:45] Success Stories - Ken Rosenfeld from eHealth Technologies and Michele Liddle from Perfect Granola
Listen to Michelle's episode here:
[47:30] Helping startups build purpose and culture
Boss Documentary on PBS:
[54:40] The future of entrepreneurship in Rochester and changing education to create a mindset of lifelong learners