The 2nd annual She Leads pitch event returns April 13, 2023. She Leads is an event that pairs women entrepreneurs with a small group of local experts who give instant feedback for your business.
As a current or aspiring entrepreneur, you’ll walk away with ideas, encouragement, and new perspectives about how to solve a business problem or take your business to the next level.
She Leads is a non-competitive, no-pressure event for women entrepreneurs in our region. Present your ideas to a panel of supportive, local business experts who in turn will ask thoughtful questions and give you immediate feedback.
There are 2 ways to participate:
Pitch! Pitch your business idea + attend keynote panel + networking (Waitlist open)
General Admission. Join for keynote panel + networking
The registration deadline for entrepreneurs wishing to present is Friday, March 24.
*You don’t have to pitch your idea to participate in She Leads. General admission tickets to the keynote panel discussion includes admission to the Table Talks and networking opportunities.Confirmed She Leads pitch presenters do not need to buy a general admission ticket.This session is included in your registration.The registration deadline for entrepreneurs wishing to present is Friday, March 24.
Keynote Panel Discussion: Elevate Your Business With Less
During a time when it’s challenging to hire and business owners are seemingly needing to do more themselves in all aspects of their business, it’s time to think about how you can operate more efficiently and do more with less. Hear from three expert panelists on how to best utilize your time, people, equipment and money to better serve you and your business.
Elevate your finances: Nadene Kruize, Senior Vice President/Senior Loan Officer at Minnesota Business Finance Corporation (MBFC)
As Senior Vice President/Senior Loan Officer of MBFC, Nadene brings 24 years of SBA 504 Loan experience to the table and is responsible for business development, overseeing the credit function of MBFC and managing the staff. She has been with MBFC since 1999. MBFC is a non-profit Certified Development Company, regulated by the SBA, whose purpose is to deliver the SBA 504 Loan Program throughout the State of MN, ND, and additional border counties into WI, SD, and IA. MBFC is the No. 1 SBA 504 Loan provider in MN based on volume.
Elevate your marketing: Clare Richards, co-founder and co-owner at Impacks
Clare is co-founder of a Saint Cloud-based startup that supports parents and educators in accessing critical school supplies. She is a creative by trade with a strong love for building vibrancy through action and storytelling. She is known for her ability to kickstart initiatives, engage emerging leaders, and lead passionate teams to accomplish ambitious goals. Prior to starting Impacks, Clare spent a decade in the marketing and advertising field. She served in nearly every role at a marketing agency called Vye, from graphic designer to marketing strategist.
Elevate your business management: Kristi Westbrock, CEO at Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC)
Kristi Westbrock has been with CTC since 2007 and has over 25-years of experience in the telecommunications industry. She is a recognized leader within the rural broadband industry for creating unique partnerships to deploy fiber broadband deployments with electric cooperatives, county, municipals, and township projects along with Tribal projects on reservation lands. Since 2012, Kristi and the team at CTC have secured over $40 million dollars in broadband grant programs through county, state, and federal programs.
Moderator: Sandi Larson, Entrepreneur Fund’s Women Business Alliance North Director
*Tickets to the keynote panel discussion include admission to the Table Talks and networking opportunities. Confirmed She Leads pitch presenters do not need to buy a general admission ticket. This session is included in your registration.
Thank you to our generous sponsors for making She Leads possible!
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
Who should attend She Leads?
Women business owners
Aspiring small business owners
Those who want to connect with and support local women-owned businesses
What’s the value in presenting my idea at She Leads?
You’ll receive thoughtful feedback on your business idea or challenge
Get a spark of support to turn your plan into a reality
Gain valuable practice presenting to a panel of supportive, local experts
Free admission to the main panel discussion and Table Talks
Space is limited to 18 presenters. If you’re an entrepreneur or small-business leader who needs feedback about a challenge or opportunity with your business, register today.
At She Leads, you will have 6 minutes to present. To get the most out of your time, we recommend briefly describing your business, present your idea and then ask the panel a specific question about your challenge or opportunity. Practice your presentation!Registered presenters will receive an email with tips from our team and past participants on how to make the most out of your presentation.
Come with an open mind and heart as panelists ask questions and give 15 minutes of feedback after your presentation.
Think about other advice or discussions you want to have and seek out the experts at the Table Talks. There, you can meet and get advice from women with a range of backgrounds and expertise.
Some equipment will be provided during the event including, a computer, a projector and a clicker. You will need to submit your presentation slides ahead of time. Specifics to come once you register.
Who are the pitch experts?*
Each expert panel will have legal, marketing, finance, and general business advising expertise represented.
*We understand that presenting about your business may include sensitive or proprietary information. Therefore, all panelists will sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).
What else should I know about She Leads?
We have a limited number of spaces for presentations. Based on 2022 registration numbers, we recommend registering early!
A waitlist is available once all the presentation spots are filled. Email Kristi Ackley at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to be put on the waitlist.
Scholarships are available to pitch presenters. Contact Kristi Ackley at email@example.com, if seeking assistance with the pitch fee.
Can people who don’t identify as women attend the event?
Yes! The She Leads is open to anyone who would like to attend. Keep in mind that the topics and discussions were chosen with women-owned businesses in mind.
Who hosts She Leads?
She Leads is hosted by the Women’s Business Alliance, which is a program of the Entrepreneur Fund and a certified Women’s Business Center of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Women’s Leadership Fund, and the Initiative Foundation.
The event is in partnership with Minnesota Small Business Development Centers, Greater St. Cloud Development Center, and SCORE. The planning committee for She Leads is made up of Jill Casper (MMFCU), Kristi Ackley (Women’s Leadership Fund), Barb Downs (Women’s Leadership Fund), Julie Anderholm (North Central SBDC), Katherine Heppner (North Central SBDC), Lisa Lindgren (SCORE), Jess Schilling (Women’s Leadership Fund), Maria Surma Manka (Women’s Leadership Fund), Sandi Larson (Women’s Business Alliance), Sandy Voigt (Women’s Business Alliance), Leslie Dingmann (GSDC), LaRae Ross (Central SBDC), Brigid Brew (Central SBDC), Vicki Hagberg (Northland SBDC), Samantha Erkkila (Entrepreneur Fund), Char Conger (Entrepreneur Fund), and Carly Viegut (Entrepreneur Fund).
The Women’s Business Alliance Central and North are both certified Women’s Business Centers through the U.S. Small Business Administration. Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) represent a successful public-private partnership between the SBA and non-profit entrepreneurial development organizations across the country.