We're excited to announce the 2013 cohort for StartOut’s Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program – the first-ever program of its kind.
We received over 120 applications from around the country, from which we selected 15 promising entrepreneurs and businesses. We then paired them with seasoned entrepreneurs, investors and senior level executives to provide support and guidance.
We’re happy to share our second class of mentors and new entrepreneurs in the 2013 Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program.
Over the course of this program, we've seen some incredible successes. Some of our new entrepreneurs have received funding as a result of the program; others have identified potential partnerships. More importantly, we've made steps towards fulfilling StartOut’s commitment to create wealth and opportunity in the LGBT community by supporting entrepreneurs and serving the immediate and long-term needs of growing businesses.
The New Entrepreneurs
Li Han Chan over 10 years of experience in technology commercialization, business development and strategy consulting. Li Han cut her teeth at ST Engineering, Singapore's largest defense and engineering company, and successfully led sales and business development efforts while based in Singapore and London. Subsequently, she was a strategy consultant at Marakon Associates, a boutique top-tier management consulting firm in London, where she advised Fortune 500 clients in the oil and gas, energy and hospitality industries. Most recently, she was Vice President of Operations at NIREC, a clean energy technology incubator where she worked with universities and research institutions to license and commercialize early stage technologies. Li Han is a graduate of Stanford University, a member of the Sierra Angels and an avid climber/skier/biker.
Elizabeth Keyser is the founder and CEO of Evoncea, a healthcare data provider. Evoncea's technology continuously tracks the market demand for each treatment and service for a condition at the zip-code level. Empowering healthcare executives with hyper-local consumer insights at a scale never possible before. Evoncea completed a highly selective startup accelerator, Blueprint Health, in 2013 and a has strategic partnership with a national health media company.
After more than 20 years in Business Development and Sales positions for big corporations and startups, coupled with eight years of toiling on the weekends for a winery in Sonoma, Carla made the leap to the wine industry by creating the Drink Chick consulting firm in 2011. Carla is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Greystone School of Wine and a Certified Wine Professional, and is—at this very moment—studying for the Certified Sommelier exam. As an avid bicyclist, you might catch sight of Carla toting wine on her bike to clients and friends throughout the Bay Area.
Andrea is an entrepreneur, event guru and change maker. She is currently the Co-founder of MINKERMAN, a technology company with the backbone for making event management smarter. Her unique cloud based software, CE2, helps your favorite events increase efficiency, develop new revenue streams, cut costs and use their data to deliver a better attendee and sponsor experience. Prior to her role as Co-founder Andrea served as a Director of Event Production and New Business for Eventage an award winning event production company. She was known for creating and implementing large-scale public events that attract the media, weave branding and marketing strategy through conception and execution. Andrea helped global and national clients bring products to life, execute galas that thrill and produce walks, runs, and rides that inspire. From SAP Brazil, to the X Games to the Chicago Olympic bid, to NYC Fashion Week Andrea’s clients succeed. She cut her teeth in national policy and politics. Andrea has served as a National Domestic Policy Coordinator for the Dean for America Campaign, the Deputy Director of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee in the United States Senate for Senators Harry Reid and Hillary Rodham Clinton and as a Senior Advisor to the Speaker of the New York City Council. Andrea holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Vermont and a Master’s Degree from Columbia University. She is a passionate sailor, water-skier and snowboarder who lives in Manhattan with her poodle Reuben.
Meg Omainsky, innovative educator from Palo Alto, founded June Labs to connect exceptional teachers with schools and startups anytime, anywhere. Through its revolutionary edtech virtual desk, the company empowers educators to easily share and monetize their expertise while improving education tools and programs for students worldwide.
Christina Saint-Laurent is a social entrepreneur, educator and anthropologist. She is Founder and Executive Director of Calliope Academic Mentoring in San Francisco, a firm dedicated to supporting all types of learners while creating a personally meaningful context for the acquisition of knowledge. When teaching any academic skill, Calliope starts by asking its students: “Who are you?” “What makes you happy?” and “What is the relevance of this knowledge to you and the world?” Christina now seeks to expand her impact on education and the empowerment of girls by translating the experience of academic mentorship into the virtual world of Anthrodollogy. Anthrodollogy’s first project is an on-line universe where girls learn academic skills, wrestle with real world social and environmental issues, and connect with other girls around the globe in exciting multi-player video adventures. Anthrodollogy is a B Corp whose mission includes the fiscal support of girl survivors of rape, incest and human trafficking.
Jen Snook is developing a household consumer device for the coffee market. Supporting this effort, she is a lead contributor to the blog Iced Coffee Revolution, which pontificates on iced coffee in San Francisco and related discourse. Prior to this venture, Jen was a Strategy & Operations Senior Consultant at Deloitte Consulting. She holds an MBA, Master of Environmental Management, and a BA in Economics from Duke University.
Sativa is the founder of Whooz?, a product based company that turns your boring white iDevice chargers into little characters with spunk and personality. Whooz started as a Kickstarter project in the fall of 2012 and is slowly infiltrating the world with fun. As a brand, Whooz allow you to personalize your iGoods so that you know Whooz is Whooz. As a company, Whooz is about bringing simple, fun solutions to ease the gripes and groans in our daily lives (like having someone steal your charger!).
Rebecca founded Objective Integration to make transformational improvements to Systems Engineering available to the satellite acquisition community. Objective Integration brings the Systems Engineering discipline into the digital age by applying cutting-edge model-based techniques to complex system design, ensuring space acquisitions are affordable, reliable, and on-schedule.
Donna is co-founder and Chief Visionary Officer of D2S Games, where she provides strategic vision and leadership in the development of the innovative new approach to mobile and social gaming. Prior to D2S Games, Donna co-founded GENUUS, an AI software company. A gaming and software industry veteran, Donna’s experience has spanned all aspects of media and technology businesses, and included leadership positions at Disney and Broderbund Living Books.
Deanna Brown is Byliner's President and is responsible for overseeing all strategic business goals and day-to-day operations for the company. Prior, Brown was FMP’s chief executive officer. Prior to joining FMP in 2009, she served as President at Scripps Networks Digital, where she led the charge on bringing Scripps more fully into the digital space. In 1995 she co-founded CondeNet, the digital division of publisher CondeNast.
She has also held VP and General Manager titles at Yahoo and AOL, and founded other successful media companies including Powerful Media/Inside.com (acquired by Primedia) and Gaming Industry News (acquired by Ziff Davis).
Brown began her career as a founding member of a small L.A. advertising agency upon graduation from the University of Southern California. She has more than twenty-five years experience as a seasoned media executive, entrepreneur and Fortune 500 executive.
A seasoned entrepreneur, Ms. Cannon was the CEO and co-founder of PetsMD.com, the leading online pet health resource. (acquired in 2011) She is also the co-founder of Book-a-Vet, a B2B veterinary appointment application. Ms. Cannon has been a featured presenter at various technology events and has mentored numerous start-up businesses. Ms. Cannon is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Texas State University and has been a guest blogger for CBS (BNET.com). Ms. Cannon is the Co-Founder of PreAccelerate, a pre-seed stage startup bootcamp. Prior to her entrepreneur experience, she was a financial auditor and business consultant in the private sector. Cannon graduated from Texas State University with a Bachelors degree in Accounting.
A seasoned entrepreneur, Cynthia Dai has co-founded several high technology start-ups and served on the executive team of both early-stage and public ventures including Sun Microsystems, HP, WebMoney and others. Leveraging her experience for Dainamic Consulting, Cynthia works with high growth companies on all aspects of marketing from product strategy and strategic alliances to branding and positioning.
Experienced, hands-on and strategic Go to Market executive with over 100 product and company launches in her career. Specialized in helping early and mid stage companies articulate and execute on their value proposition. Lisa is a expert in launch planning including positioning, pricing, service packaging and RTM. She also has extensive experience in online and SaaS revenue generation, branding, demand generation, marketing communications, product management, database optimization, business development, web operations (front and backend upgrades), selling strategy and partnership marketing.
Early/founding team member of three companies that were acquired and currently has two companies in market. Executive experience includes top and early stage companies from mokafive (award winning virutalization), Polkast, eBay, Infectious, Symantec, Yahoo!, McAfee and Amazon.
Action oriented leader in high growth markets such as cloud based services, mobile applications, virtualization, green tech and social film & entertainment media platforms.
Titles held include CMO, COO, GM, CEO and VP of Marketing and Product Marketing.
Heidi E. Lehmann
Heidi E. Lehmann is a NYC based social /digital media and influencer marketing strategist who consults with brands, agencies, venture capital firms and start-ups as well as founder and CEO of MoxieQ, a cross-media network of influential lifestyle celebrity experts.
Recent clients have included a fashion blogger network in partnership with Hearst Digital Media, a social gaming platform for professional athletes, their fans, and their charities, a Mobile Digital Assistant that deployed celebrity lifestyle experts to engage their female skewing audience of 7 million, a wearable-tech, high-style accessory that insures no important call is ever missed, and a social engagement platform that connects the physical world to the digital.
Heidi’s previous endeavors include Co-Founder of Third Screen Media, a mobile ad network and ad delivery platform that was acquired by AOL in 2007. She has led business development at venture-backed Kaon Interactive, Artificial Life; and head of ad sales at AutoSite.com, which sold to Autoweb in 2001.
Heidi was also a partner at Emerging Interest, an NYC marketing accelerator that brought together Ad Agencies with Emerging Technology companies in a “speed dating” like format (over 500 events were produced).
Heidi has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Ad Age, Adweek, Mediapost, ClickZ, SheWired and in multiple Mobile Marketing publications and spoken on and moderated panels at events such as CTIA, AdTech, OMMA, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, New York Economic Development Council, Reuters Media Day, Start-Out, iMedia Summit and Digital Hollywood.
Heidi was voted a 2011 Female Founder to Watch by Women 2.0, a 2011 Most Influential Woman in Wireless by Fierce Wireless, and a 2010 Woman to Watch by Mobile Marketer. Heidi is on the advisory board of Women in Wireless, Level9 Advisors, and a mentor to LGBT entrepreneurial organization StartOut.
She is a contributor to The Huffington Post and Curve Magazine. Heidi splits time between her work hub in New York City and Kansas City, loves Jeeps, BBQ, Travel, and her two French bulldogs.
Helen Russell is Co-founder and CEO of Equator Coffees & Teas® in San Rafael, CA. Under her direction, Equator has earned a reputation as a quality-oriented, customer-focused business that takes the lead on issues of social and environmental responsibility.
Helen is responsible for company strategy and growth. She has defined competitive advantage to include social responsibility and sustainable choices. She strives to deliver innovations in procuring, roasting, brewing, and sales and business practices. These initiatives tangibly support the company’s commitment to sustainability and social responsibility and they also enhance the bottom line. Under her direction, Equator has recently become Certified B Corporation.
Under Helen’s strategic guidance, Equator has achieved 10-15 % annual growth over the past 18 years. She has done this by remaining focused on developing strong, lasting partnerships with Equator’s customers and helping them execute their vision and business plans.
Sonia Sousa is a senior business development, corporate strategy, and strategic marketing, executive, who has led and directed organizations from product concept to commercialization with a passion for innovation and track record in synthetic biology, mobile and wireless technologies and life science.
She has successfully created, grown and shaped companies, expanded and opened markets, and developed new business across the Americas and Europe with global 1000 and fortune 50 partners and customers. Sonia has held positions in business development, commercialization, strategic marketing, and corporate development for Solazyme, Agilent, ThermoFisher and DuPont. She was the CEO and founder of SpectroScape Inc., a start-up company with offices in the US and Switzerland.
She is investor in early stage startups, currently a member of Silicon Valley Angels, and serves as adviser and consultant for start-up companies, Sevident and gDiapers as well as having served on the advisory boards of Power Self, and GlamStarLife in addition to hands-on experience in IPOs and M&As.
Sonia is a named inventor on over 15 issued and pending patents, in the US and worldwide. She has an MBA from Pepperdine University, a PhD in Photonics and Neural Networks from Utah State University, and BS Industrial Chemistry from University of Sao Paulo.
Sonia volunteers at Taproot Foundation, and NESsT. Sonia invests in Kiva, supporting microloans for women in business.
Sonia grew up in Brazil where she developed a love for music and exotic foods. She has a passion for travel, photography, and digital storytelling.
Ms. Traverse has been CEO of 5 technology companies. She secured funding, set the strategic direction, delivered market-leading products, built revenue traction and created successful exits for 5 companies. Acquirers included: Novell, Symbol, Macromedia, PeopleSoft and SCT.
Her serial entrepreneur endeavors spanned multiple technologies and markets and utilized a skill set that blends technology expertise, market timing, and the ability to create customer traction. Technologies include: SaaS, Enterprise Hardware/Software, Mobile and Applications. Ms. Traverse is an active advisor to CEO’s in the social media, enterprise application software, education, B to B and consumer markets.
In addition to her 5 acquisition transactions, Ms. Traverse is skilled in creating and closing revenue producing partnerships and large enterprise deals such as: a $30M single source deal with the DOD, multi million dollar partnerships and OEM deals. Ms. Traverse has raised over $50M in funding and ran or consulted for over 60+ companies during her high tech career. Previous to her start up experience, Ms. Traverse managed and grew revenue for large divisions in public corporations. These roles included building a $600 M division for Sprint, a $120M division for MCI and a $25 million business for Gupta Corporation, a manufacturer of development tools and databases.
She has served on 6 for profit and 2 non-profit boards.
Currently Ms. Traverse is on the advisory board of Astia, Start Out and on the Board of Directors for Openhouse.