Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The anti-'Shark Tank' Innovating Now lab is rigorous but also supportive and collaborative.

From BizWomen:

When Heatherjean MacNeil launched her fashion startup, Proxy Apparel, several years ago, she applied to a prominent accelerator program.

Two years in a row, she was accepted as a finalist. And two years in a row, she found herself pitching her business to the same room of older white men.

The men had money to give, which was good. But there were misunderstandings about market opportunity, the vision behind the potential consumer demand and avenues for growth.

“I think that [more broadly] represents the fact that, particularly in investment circles, there’s such a strong absence of women, so you feel as if you’re the other,” MacNeil told me recently. “And I think it’s harder to understand how to build relationship capital in that context.”

Now, she’s part of a team of women working to create an alternate experience for other female entrepreneurs. MacNeil co-founded with Susan Duffy and Sharon Kan the Babson College Women Innovating Now Lab— or WIN Lab — an eight-month accelerator program focused on female entrepreneurs. It launched three years ago in Boston, and in September, as a testament to the concept’s success, Babson took the program off-campus for the first time, bringing the WIN Lab to Miami.

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