Meet the Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program’s Class of 2012 Entrepreneurs & Mentors
By Leanne Pittsford, Co-Chair of the Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program and StartOut Board Member.
In July 2012, we announced StartOut’s Lesbian Entrepreneur Mentoring Program – the first-ever program of its kind.
We were thrilled to receive 60 applications for the inaugural class of new entrepreneurs, from which we selected 11 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 first class of mentors and new entrepreneurs in the 2012 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. The program was featured in Curve Magazine and The Advocate, with more press to come. 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.
We’re launching our 2013 program soon, and we’re looking for investors, senior level executives and seasoned entrepreneurs from any industry. Whether you’re well into your success or have only been doing it for a short time, you have valuable knowledge and experience that ‘newbies’ can benefit from. If you would like to learn more about being a mentor, please visit the program page. To recommend yourself or others for the program, visit this link or email email@example.com.
The New Entrepreneurs
Tanene is the founder of TownSquaredTV, an alternative media platform for public debate. TownSquaredTV is founded on the idea that the political debate in mainstream media doesn’t reflect the true opinion or demographic makeup of America. TownSquaredTV brings to light the true political debate happening every day, by curating the voices and videos of the diverse people who are sharing beliefs and ideas, and who truly care about the future of the country.
Dahna Goldstein is the founder of PhilanTech, a web-based suite of grants management, proposal, and reporting tools for the nonprofit sector. The PhilanTrack online grants management system helps both funders and nonprofits streamline the grants management process and maximize social impact.
Ember Harker founded LaunchSnap, which makes companies look good for a fraction of the time and cost of creating a professional brand. LaunchSnap’s turnkey branding solutions encompass all the materials a small business needs to present a consistent, professional brand and compete in today’s modern business landscape.
Bronwyn Ruby Heaps
Bronwyn is the founder of QueerSay.com, a review website for LGBTQI people to find queer friendly businesses and services. The first site of its kind, QueerSay’s goal is to help LGBTQI people find safe & welcoming places, and to help businesses provide queer friendly services.
Carlyn Lamia is the founder of NewCo, which enables consumers to incorporate their values into their buying decisions. Most people want to be enlightened consumers, but they don’t have the time and energy it takes to feel confident about their choices. NewCo makes information accessible to enable consumers to quickly and easily know where their dollars are going.
DrinkChick and GrapeMe
Carla is the founder of DrinkChick, a wine consulting firm and GrapeMe, a social wine mobile application. GrapeMe improves your wine drinking by taking the guess work out of wine and making it easy to track, search and share recommendations with your friends and networks on social media.
Melissa Millan founded Androgyny, a fit solution company offering premium button down shirts to queer women. Focusing on fit, Androgyny’s mission is to inspire personal confidence by providing clothes that fit as true as your own skin.
Solar Network Solutions
Lois Schonberger is the founder of Solar Network Solutions, which provides data management tools for the solar industry. The company is building software platforms that help commercial and industrial solar players manage the huge amounts of performance and asset data they view every day, for improved efficiency and energy capture and reduced costs.
Emily Stein founded Sevident, making molecular diagnostics available to more people around the world for rapid, low cost clinical disease testing. Sevident’s powerful and simple molecular capture technology platform aims to meet developed and developing world needs for rapid, personalized and affordable diagnostic evidence in hospitals, clinics and wherever timely testing can improve health and reduce costs.
Lin Tam is the founder of SpazzMania, which helps mobile game developers stand out in the crowded game app marketplace. Bringing together videos, reviews, research, latest game updates, and social networking in one place, SpazzMania lets developers promote their games and lets gamers find games they’ll want to play.
Shannon Wentworth is the CEO and founder of Sweet, a lesbian travel company with a twist. Merging the best of lesbian travel with social and environmental awareness, Sweet aims to make the world a better place while having a blast in it.
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.
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.
Anne has served as Consulting CFO to venture backed companies since 1986. Early in her career, Anne founded three successful companies before joining Arthur & Young (predecessor to Ernst & Young) and was a member of the founding team for the firm’s Entrepreneurial Services Group. In addition to advising high growth companies, Anne runs a small business tax and consulting practice.
General Partner, Maveron
Amy Errett is a General Partner at venture capital firm Maveron, and was previously an Entrepreneur in Residence at Trinity Ventures. Amy is an experienced leader, having grown and expanded Olivia travel company; grown and led The Spectrem Group to sale to IPG; and led E*Trade into major growth areas. In 2006, Amy was named Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Northern California.
Consummate advisor to entrepreneurs, startups and technology companies ranging in size from the garage to Fortune 100. Kim has built businesses from the ground up and through a mix of internal innovation, mergers & acquisitions, strategic alliances and fundraising. With her broad executive and technology expertise, Kim has identified and negotiated more than 60 acquisitions and alliances ranging from $2M to $5B.
Gina Gatta is the CEO of Damron Company, the leading website for gay and lesbian travel information. Starting her career in Damron’s Mail Order Operations, Gina quickly became the Editor in Chief, and President one year later. Since then, she has not only expanded the company’s portfolio of best-selling titles but has grown Damron to be the most up-to-date, comprehensive source of information for the gay and lesbian traveller.
Timeless Earth Wisdom
As the CEO of Timeless Earth Wisdom, Lana Holmes is dedicated to growing emerging economy and Earth-conscious businesses. Lana’s career has included roles as Founder & CEO of three start-ups in business consulting services, manufacturing and outdoor adventure. She was the CEO of two privately funded start-ups and has held COO and VP assignments in operations, organizational development, sales and business development in corporate and private businesses and consulting firms.
Esther Orioli is Founder, President and CEO of Essi Systems, Inc. An accomplished innovator, author, consultant, researcher, speaker and radio show host, she is a leader in organizational leadership, emotional intelligence, stress, resiliency and behavior change. Esther has created a number of emotional intelligence and behavior change tools used in companies from 3M to the U.S. Army.
Ramona Pierson is an entrepreneur, neuroscientist and educator, and TED speaker. Ramona was the Founder & CEO of SynapticMash, the venture-backed educational and learning innovation company behind LearningQube, which was acquired by Promethean. Now as CEO of Pierson Labs, Ramona and her team are developing next generation Big Data innovation R & D Platforms and algorithms for open analytics and automation, intelligent learning designs and the Learning Genome.
Chris is the co-founder and CEO of Guidewire Labs, Inc., which provides software and services that enable the Innovation Ecosystem to work better for everyone. Best known as the executive producer of the DEMO Conferences, Chris identified the potential in companies such as WebEx, VMWare, Salesforce.com, and more than 1500 others, and introduced them to her audience of executives, investors, and media.
A serial entrepreneur, Cheryl Traverse served as CEO of 5 start up companies. She secured funding, set the strategic direction, delivered market-leading products, built revenue traction and created successful exits for 4 of her venture funded technology companies. Previous to this, Ms. Traverse ran and grew large divisions for public corporations in telecommunications and media. In the course of her career Ms. Traverse has consulted with over 60 companies in a variety of capacities.