The Tory Burch Foundation hosted a select group of women entrepreneurs Monday morning in New York City to present their for-profit social ventures to 11 angel investors for the 2013 NYC Pipeline Fellowship Pitch Summit.
Terri McCullough, Executive Director of the Tory Burch Foundation, kicked off activities by sharing an anecdote about Tory’s own difficulty pitching to male investors, who scolded the burgeoning entrepreneur for highlighting how philanthropy would play a pivotal role in her business. McCullough also stressed the importance and impact ofinvesting an array of resources in women.
“The Tory Burch Foundation and the PipelineFellowship share a common, critical goal investing in women-owned businesses. Through small business loans, mentoring, and entrepreneurial education, our Foundation supports the economic empowerment of women,” she said.
The Pipeline Fellowship, an angel investing boot camp for women philanthropists, works to increase diversity in the U.S. angel investing community and creates capital for women social entrepreneurs. The 11 companies are competing for $55,000 in funding. Pitching was a first for many of the entrepreneurs and for others, the all-female audience was a pleasant shock.
“I get blank stares two seconds into my presentation. This is so awesome,” commented Jennifer Lee, Founder of fashion company ClosetDash, on the rapt attention of the fellows as she delved into her presentation.
During the five-minute pitch, many of the entrepreneurs shared how their start ups were spawned from deeply personal experiences. Founder Melissa Thompson was inspired to start her venture TalkSession dubbed an “OkCupid for therapy” after watching a family member suffer needlessly from depression. Rhonda Smith created Breast Cancer Partner as a one-stop online resource platform for survivors after observing a gap in the marketplace as a survivor of the disease herself.
Natalia Oberti Noguera founded the Pipeline Fellowship in 2010 in New York City. The Pipeline Fellowship has trained fifty fellows and expanded to Boston and San Francisco. Pipeline Fellowship’s DC Program will launch spring of next year. Fellows commit to approximately two full days per month during a six-month period and commit to investing $5,000 in the same woman-led, for-profit social venture at the end of the program. In return, they receive education, mentoring and training. The current fellowship class — the program’s seventh — is composed of women with a variety of educational and professional backgrounds, including everything from law to broadcast journalism. Oberti Noguera is on a mission to not only promote gender diversity, but also stresses the importance of racial, ethnic, generational and geographic diversity within the program.