Resources for ATL Female Founders
By Kara Smith Brown
I’m often asked to help female entrepreneurs find places to connect with other women who are hustling, so I put together a list.
The #ladyboss entrepreneurial community in Atlanta is strong. According to the American Express 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report, Georgia is the #2 State for Growth in Number of Women-Owned Firms and the Center for an Urban Future shows the city of Atlanta as the #3 highest-growth city for women-owned businesses. Bravo.
That’s a big deal — according to the same Amex report only 1.7% of all female-founded businesses will break $1M in annual revenue. And less than 10% of all female-founded businesses have more than 1 employee. So just by being a female entrepreneur in Atlanta, you’re already a step ahead — but it’s super risky.
Starting a business is daunting, exciting, stressful, and exhilarating. Spending time with and being accountable to a group of sharp like-minded entrepreneurs has been my most important source of both personal and professional growth.
Every entrepreneurial journey is different, and mine has not involved raising capital (yet), so these are not focused on tech incubators or fundraising. (The abysmal numbers of VC backed female-founded businesses is for another post.) This list is by no way exhaustive, but have been important in my personal entrepreneurial journey.
We are fortunate to live in a city that has so many resources for female entrepreneurs but time is a limited resource and we can only go to so many networking events, so these are listed in categories to help you identify which groups might be right for you today or in the future. Happy networking.
The Established Hustler (Revenue in the door)
LaunchPad2X — The godmother of female entrepreneurship in the Southeast, Bernie Dixon, founded and runs LaunchPad2X. Personally, I have gotten more incredible content and connection from the LaunchPad community than any other organization. Monthly mastermind classes are taught by real pros and the 3-day core program is life-changing. Bernie personally curates the class of women who go through it every year and it was pivotal to my personal and professional growth. On average 1.7% of women founders will break $1M in revenue. 25% of LaunchPad2X grads break the $1M mark. Bravo.
Entrepreneur Organization/Entrepreneur Organization Accelerator — EO is a national (gender-inclusive) organization. The key for me was the Accelerator program, you can apply with $250k in revenue and the whole goal is to get you to $1M ASAP. The content is real, the accountability intense, and the results speak for themselves — we hit $1M while an EOA member. The Atlanta Accelerator chapter is one of the largest in the country. Spending time with the EO community has been a game changer for my businesses.
The New or Solopreneur
Startup Sisters — Stefanie Jewett is the real deal. Founder of Activvley, she is passionate about both her own SaaS-based business as well as empowering other female founders. Her presence is enigmatic and she is doing GREAT things for the ATL female lady boss community. Startup Sisters events are usually sold-out.
Women Only Entrepreneurs (WOE) — Stefanie Diaz is the powerhouse behind WOE. She hosts regular events and “brings together a powerfully connected community of ambitious women who embody the spirit of collaboration over competition.” Stefanie is committed to supporting female leaders through the evolution of their career.
Mavenly + Co — Kate Gremillion and Tallia Deljou are the dynamic duo behind this brand. In 2019 they launched the Level Up Club, “A club for side hustlers, freelancers, aspirational entrepreneurs and business owners to grow and thrive in business together.” At $149 for the year with some incredible women speakers, (three of my favorites, Darrah Brustein, Shantel Khleif, and Karen Cahn) it’s an affordable way to connect and grow. I’m excited to see this incredible content come together.
Women’s Chamber of Commerce — Dating back to 1922, the first “Women’s Division” of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce was created to represent and promote women in commerce in Atlanta. Now a self-sustainable and reputable organization, the Women’s Chamber of Commerce works for the advancement of women in the workplace and promotes leadership development.
WEI — WEI is a 15-month incubator program for 15 Atlanta women entrepreneurs. These CEO’s (we’re a proud member of the 2018 cohort) are provided with resources for early-stage entrepreneurs and a network of other like-minded women out of the Flatiron building in the heart of the city. Keep an eye out for when applications open for the next cohort.
For the Corporate Gal
Women Who Code — If you’re in tech you already know about this incredible organization. We’re lucky to work in the same coworking space as these sheros who work tirelessly to inspire women to excel in technology careers. I love their vision statement, “We envision a world where women are proportionally represented as technical leaders, executives, founders, VCs, board members, and software engineers.”
Ellevate — Sallie Krawcheck, a leading advocate for financial and professional support for women in the workplace, added the Ellevate Network to her empire, “because she saw that tackling gender diversity issues in the workplace isn’t just a nice-to-do — it also makes great business sense.” Through Ellevate I got to meet my Shero herself — a real treat.
WIT — Women in Technology works to drive both young girls and women in the workforce to “excel in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and math (STEAM)”.
For Anyone Who Hustles
CloseHer — CloseHer is my personal favorite (Admittedly I’m biased). My friend and sales pro Jordan Arogeti was looking for a way to meet female sales leaders — so we started CloseHer, a quarterly networking group for empowering women in sales to connect, learn and grow. Join us for our next meeting in March.
The Lola — Founded by powerful duo Martine Resnick and Eileen Lee, The Lola is a network and space for empowered and driven women. They focus on providing experiences where women can collaborate, celebrate, and support other women in an environment that fosters growth, encouragement, and most importantly, hustle. I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Lola in 2019.
SheWolf Collective — Laura Holloway and Jordan Lacenski co-founded this network of empowered entrepreneurial women who are ready to “hunt”. SheWolf founders and CEO’s combine their expertise to enable growth and make big decisions. SheWolf has created virtual “dens” that connect women all over the country.
Ladies Get Paid — Claire Wasserman and Ashley Louise are the two terrific cofounders of Ladies Get Paid. They focus on reducing the wage gap and increasing power in the workplace by building a community of women that want equal pay and equal treatment. (Heck, yea!) They host conferences around the country where women can access tools and learn strategies to give themselves the boost they need to get ahead.