A few weeks ago I was invited to speak on a panel at Startup Scaleup titled Being A Mom & An Entrepreneur. I was thrilled at the opportunity to speak because as a blogger, I don’t fit in the same box as most startup businesses. Besides that, the invitation alone showed me the GROWTH that has taken place at this event.
For those who have never heard of Startup Scaleup, (description taken right from the website) it’s an annual event celebrating the growth of Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and showcasing the full array of local resources available to help entrepreneurs succeed. The full-day, festival-style event was held in Cleveland’s booming Flats East Bank neighborhood. Over the course of the day, more than 50 different workshops, panels, sessions and networking events occur in 13 different spaces throughout the area.
In my former life at a local nonprofit, I had the pleasure of attending Startup Scaleup in its early years. All I can remember is how male dominated it was and centered on tech. Now before you jump on my back, I will admit that might not be accurate of past events but those are my personal feelings. Fast-forward to this year and WOW what a difference. I actually noticed the change when I saw more minorities speaking on panels last year, but I couldn’t attend. So this year, speaking from first hand experience, I really appreciated all the diversity! The diversity in attendance, the diversity on the panels, and the diverse subjects being talked about. I knew from the website alone, before I ever stepped foot in the Flats that day, that the event was going to be a huge success.
My day started on air at Ideastream’s Sound of Ideas. I was invited to speak about my panel for the day during the first segment of the show with Women Talk Tech & Being a Mother and an Entrepreneur with president of JumpStart Cathy Belk, CoFounder at Founder and Black Women Talk Tech Lauren Washington and my panel moderator Kate Volzer. It was awesome and a clear indication of how exciting the day would be. We talked about being SUPERMOM and how that doesn’t really exist for me.. how it’s really about trying to balance, and relying on your support system. If you missed hearing me on air LISTEN HERE!
So, I left the radio station and went straight to the Flats. I pulled up and there were literally people everywhere! I arrived around 10:30am and valet was already full to put things into perspective. That to me was a sign that people really came out for this event. I ended up in the parking lot by Margaritaville and thanks to the beautiful day we had, enjoyed my walk to the Aloft where my panel would take place. This is a great time to say the location for this event was SUPERB! Like the walkability around the flats the option to explore and see all that’s been done and all the new restaurants and businesses was just amazing. Nicely spread out but close enough to walk in between panels. For those who didn’t want to walk there were also trolleys available.
Anywho, my panel was truly truly AMAZING! Very honest and interactive. We talked about EVERYTHING that comes along with being a mom and working for yourself and working for other companies. We covered topics from not having a place to pump breastmilk, to knowing how to speak to a room full of males when pitching for money. We discussed if it’s okay to bring your kids along to business meetings when you don’t have a sitter, the best way to ask for help from your spouse or a coworker and how to put your foot down and demand respect when you work in a male dominated industry. I left this room feeling so fulfilled, and even though I was on the panel, I feel like I learned from everyone who sat on that panel with me. Quick shoutout to them: Kate Volzer (Cofounder and CEO Wisr), Karen Volzer (Founder & Owner The Hair Shoppe and Spa) Laura Bennett (Principal, Gosling’s Leap_ and Lindsay Watson (Augment Therapy). I think one thing we all have in common is that we are all passionate about our work and that’s what keeps us going!
Throughout the afternoon (and shall I say evening, because I stayed until the BLK Hack Cleveland Afterparty which was from 6-8pm) I had the opportunity to network galore, to attend workshops and to actually speak with people who knew how to help me properly start grow my business. I wasn’t talking to people with experience, people who have been in my shoes or who have helped people in my shoes. There was literally a panel for EVERYTHING… and my only regret was that I couldn’t attend EVERYTHING! lol… seriously a lot of great panels overlapped with mine or with others. Here’s a list of some of the great ones:
Cash is King: Understanding your financials
Digital Marketing in the Morning
Mischief Managed: How to Avoid Common Startup Pitfalls
How Women Entrepreneurs Are Getting Found and Funded
Diversity and Inclusion: Why Every Organization Needs Both
How to Get Bank Ready: Preparing to Fund Your Small Buisness
Making the Leap: How to Launch a Business while Holding a Day Job
Meet the Investors
There were soooo many great topics being discussed I truly believe if you are serious about starting a business or operating a successful business you need to attend this event every year. I am literally blown away with the amount of information and contacts I walked away with. For those who know me, lol I’m really not easily impressed by much but this conference, is hands down one of the BEST events in Cleveland. Not just for entrepreneurs but for those interested in business in general.
So major thank you goes to Jumpstart for putting this together. The event was absolutely amazing and next year I would love to help partner to spread the word! For those who aren’t aware JumpStart is a venture development organization, combining the principles of (private) venture capital and (non-profit) economic development to help entrepreneurs start and grow companies—from venture capital-backed startups to traditional small businesses.
Their work is focused on three core areas:
Making Investments: They fund tech entrepreneurs with the capital they need to grow their startup businesses quickly.
Delivering Services: They provide technical assistance to help high-potential businesses solve problems, drive growth and create jobs.
Acting as a Value-Added Intermediary: They work on behalf of private, public and philanthropic funders who want to assist entrepreneurs—making grants and convening networks to turn their vision and resources into action and impact.
For more information visit: https://www.jumpstartinc.org/