October 21, 2016 Written By Tanya Yatzeck
Since the Spring of 2015, the Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) Startup Accelerator has invested in women-led startups from across the globe with a focus on technology, healthcare technology, and consumer products. Entrepreneurs entered the four total cohorts to-date (two per year) with diverse needs and expectations, but they exit the accelerator with some common takeaways, lessons learned and advice for prospective PWE companies. We checked in with seven PWE grads on the most valuable lesson learned in the accelerator, advice they would give potential applicants and how they experienced St. Louis as a community during their participation.
Note: Applications close today, October 21, for the Spring 2017 cohort–apply today!
Craft Strong Messaging
The clarity and perspective gained during the PWE accelerator will aid RippleNami as we tell the story about our innovative mapping solution that currently is like no other available in the marketplace. This is a message that will now come through loud and clear in our communications tools. Meeting and connecting with like-minded, highly driven, intelligent women has been extremely inspiring. The Midwest hospitality I was exposed to was warm, welcoming and motivating. I was introduced to a new community culture that I didn’t know existed in this area. The people of St. Louis and PWE were very hospitable, and I was fortunate to be introduced to nearly 50 potential investors–truly a robust group.
– Jaye Connolly-Labelle, President and CEO of RippleNami
Work on Your Company–Distraction free!
The PWE Startup Accelerator offers a different model than other business accelerators. The mentors and leadership team give a lot of their time–side by side with the CEOs, making introductions and providing expertise on anything that you might need. They are hands on every step of the way, while also giving you the space to run your business. The value of this accelerator is the mentors’ help, guidance and connections…the investment dollar amount should be the fourth or fifth priority for anyone looking to apply. Of course, it was tough being in St. Louis (being from Romania) and having a team back home, but you are truly participating to WORK on your company. You have an opportunity to stand out (in STL) to be unique…people will be transparent and discuss specifics to help you succeed.
– Alexandra Anghel, CTO of Appticles
Build on What You Have
We aren’t a new company and we thought Business Development was something that we had nailed down, but PWE helped us hone in on WHO our target customer is and WHAT their persona (buying) is. We have a large inbound customer and PWE helped us to focus on how to strategically grow and go after our target customer. If you can answer the questions on the application, you’re ready to participate in the program! But, be ready to have your foot on the pedal and work to grow your business… Things are in high gear but if you are ready to grow and gain traction, APPLY! St. Louis is a great community! The location was a big part of the reason we wanted PWE. We received so many valuable introductions, and these introductions will help our business grow and prosper.
– Amanda Greenberg, Co-founder and CEO of Baloonr
Expose Yourself to Success
You have the opportunity to work with entrepreneurs with mega-successful business ventures. You get real life advice and insights to propel your business forward. You walk away with much more than just funding. The programming, advice and life-long relationships provide guidance now and in the future. This is a transformative experience. If you are unsure if you have an investable business model, start the application. You learn from the application; and you don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t apply.
– Pam Cooper, CEO of Boosterville
Leverage the Power of Being a Woman CEO
The spirit of PWE is the one of collaboration, support and encouragement. The mentorship and networking are exceptional. You have an opportunity to learn from a team of industry leaders (men and women) who see you as a strong, business professional. I was told multiple times before doing the program that if I wanted to succeed I needed to hire a white Caucasian male to run the company. PWE not only helped with the hard business decisions, they also ensured me that I was making the right choices for my company.
– Alexandra “Sasha” Goodwin, CEO of Janus Choice
Prepare a Solid Pitch
I received tremendous support and mentorship from many members of the PWE team for preparing a solid pitch. The experience is like a business boot camp to learn, grow and thrive.
– Aarti Parikh, Co-Founder/CEO of Kitereaders
Improve Your Leadership and Communication Style
The input on how to present Precision Image Analysis to both investors and potential customers has been invaluable. This is CEO school. Just like parenting, where there is no school, there is also no formal process to learn to be a CEO. PWE’s accelerator is a unique environment to learn how to be a better CEO from others who have succeeded in the role, especially women. I’ve been impressed with the caliber of support from the St. Louis community. I had never been to St. Louis before and have enjoyed getting to learn the St. Louis startup ecosystem/culture.
– Mary-Pierre Waiss, Cofounder/CEO of PIA Medical
Applications close today, October 21, for the Spring 2017 cohort–apply today!
This story was created in partnership with the organization listed in the label at the top of this post. We work with a curated list of partners we feel are aligned with EQ’s mission to raise the visibility of and increase connectivity within St. Louis’ startup ecosystem. Read more about partner content here.