Archive for the ‘ Grant Recipients’ Category

February Amber Grant Winner Assists Children with Austism

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Congratulations to February’s WomensNet.net Amber Grant winner, Alexis Hiniker! Alexis is currently a grad student and researcher at the University of Washington in the Human Centered Design and Engineering program. Together with her team of two other women, Alexis has founded Go Go Games©, a suite of iPad games developed to assist children with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD).

Working closely with co-founders Joy Wong Daniels and Heidi Williamson, Alexis has seized the opportunity to create a truly unique product. After realizing that there was a strong market need for their concept, the trio raced to get started. They have already released their first product, and have received glowing feedback from customers and the media. We interviewed Alexis to discover more about her team’s incredible mission.
alexis
WNN: Alexis, congratulations on winning the February Amber Grant.

AH: Thank you so much — this absolutely made my day! In addition to being a great honor, this will enable us to take our research much further. Thank you again for supporting Go Go Games Studios in particular and women entrepreneurs broadly; we are proud to be associated with your great work!

WNN: Describe for us the basics of Go Go Games in a nutshell

AH: We translate evidence-based therapies for autism into video games that are engaging for our target users. Behavioral therapy is expensive and time consuming (on the order of 25-40 hours a week) and our supplemental therapy can help close the gap between the amount of therapy kids need and the amount they actually receive.

WNN: How did you meet the other women involved in the project?

AH: The three of us met as graduate students in the Learning, Design and Technology program at Stanford University. The program brings together educators, engineers, designers and other innovators who all share an interest in leveraging technology for educational purposes. Together we built a joint master’s project, which subsequently became the foundation of the business we co-founded.

WNN: What was the inspiration behind aiding children with ASD?

AH: I became interested in autism when I was pregnant with my first child and reading about warning signs of different developmental delays. I was surprised to learn how useful technology has been to this particular group. Given my background in computer science and software engineering, I saw potential for me to make a contribution in this space. Joy and Heidi’s backgrounds in interaction design and user research were the perfect complement to mine, and all three of us felt that together we had the necessary well-rounded skill-set to create innovative educational experiences. We all went back to graduate school with the goal of using our technical and design skills to support underserved audiences, and we saw Go Go Games as an opportunity to do just that. For each of us, our commitment to this community has been continually strengthened as we’ve worked with our inspiring user testers over the past year.

WNN: What are your long-term goals going forward with the project?

AH: We are excited to be working on our next product and to be planning out a long-term product line! These will all involve gaming and play-based learning, leveraging evidence-based practices, and supporting individuals with autism in leading rich and independent lives.

January 2013 Amber Grant Award Winner

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

A huge shout-out to Hannah Rivard of Stacy, Minnesota – and founder of Cambria Equine – for being chosen as the WomenNet.net January Amber Grant winner! Hanna has leveraged her passion and love of horses into a unique business model. Below is an interview with our latest winner. We hope you’ll be inspired. Also a quick reminder that we’re now taking Amber Grant applications for February’s grant, and would love to hear your story!

WNN: Please tell our WomensNet.net readers a little bit about Cambria Equine.

HR: I began developing it in 2010, when I was a freshman in college, focusing my entire college education around preparing for it. It officially launches this month, and the business has three main parts:

1. I developed a completely unique, unheard-of method of horse training that I teach through in-person services (ex., lessons, clinics, seminars) as well as online coaching. : (www.cambriaequine.com). This training is focused on empowering people to train horses intuitively, through beauty and joy, which is a far cry from most instructors, who give only techniques and never empower their students to truly follow their dreams.

2. As an actress and model, I market this method uniquely through photoshoots, films, and theatrical shows. Horses in film—from Shadowfax in “Lord of the Rings” to the Black Stallion to Seabiscuit—awaken people’s longing for a deeper horse-human connection, and such stories can inspire people on a different level than pure instruction can. Focusing on art and beauty make Cambria Equine stand out markedly from every other horse business on the market today.

3. Finally, through extensive college research as well as my own dreams and vision, I realized there is an opportunity in the equestrian world for marketing artistic, beautiful horse products, from fashionable clothing to embroidered saddle pads to home décor. While many small businesses do sell those products, they are scattered across the internet and world, with no central hub for people to purchase them. I have developed, what I call Shop Cambria, which is an “Amazon.com for the artistic equestrian.” There, third-party vendors can upload their products to my site and sell them while I make a commission. In this way, I can support their businesses and dreams while also expanding my own.

WNN: What was your inspiration to become a woman entrepreneur?

My entire life has been a preparation for my life in Cambria Equine. When I was two, my favorite color was brown—because obviously, all horses were brown. When I was a teenager, I was already internationally recognized for my horsemanship and was developing my own unheard-of horsemanship style. When I became an adult, I was told by professionals that few could make a living with horses—but that I could. When I entered college, I won a $25,000 horse-in-an-essay contest which launched me again to international recognition. While in college, I designed my own major of Entrepreneurial Business so as to be best prepared for life as an entrepreneur and became the first person in my college to graduate with that degree. After graduating, I received even more entrepreneurial experience by writing and publishing a book on college scholarships (after maintaining a 4.00 GPA and funding my $100,000 education entirely through scholarships) and teaching at schools and colleges across the state on that subject.

Up at 6a.m., to bed at midnight, I live and breathe horses Cambria Equine, because nothing is more energizing to me than combining all my passions of art, beauty, acting, dance, spirituality, horses, teaching, and entrepreneurial spirit into one all-consuming passion. Cambria Equine isn’t just a hobby or a business—it is my heart.

WNN: What will you do with the Amber Grant money?

HR: I have already launched the website, purchased compatible hosting, WordPress templates, and plugins, and am saving thousands of dollars by designing the Cambria Equine website myself. However, while through research, evaluation, and sales/coupons, I have minimized startup costs, there are still three large costs left associated with launching Cambria Equine – one of which is shopping cart software. While there are a few less expensive shopping cart softwares available, none compare to the functionality and ease of use of CS-Cart. Therefore, the $500 Amber Grant will be used to pay for half the cost of the CS-Cart software so that I can be better equipped to provide for the consumer shopping needs of my clients as well as give my vendors an elegant, straightforward place to sell their products and support their own small business.

WNN: We’ll be keeping on eye on you and your business venture, Hannah. We wish you well!

HR: Thanks so much for this much-needed grant. It’s great how you’re helping women entrepreneurs!

December 2013 Amber Grant Winner!

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Terry Smith-Glaser of Novi, Michigan – and owner of IQ Science, LLC (iqsciencellc.com) for being chosen as our December Amber Grant winner! Terry’s business idea is simple but innovative. She performs assemblies that teach science to elementary school kids – engaging students in entertaining ways to learn science. Below is an interview with our latest winner. We hope you’ll be inspired!

WNN: Please tell us about IQ Science in a nutshell.

TSG: My business offers interactive science assemblies that combine “wow” moments with “a-ha” moments. I get kids excited about science, demonstrating fundamental principles in a fun and crazy, but clear and unthreatening manner.

WNN: What is your typical day like?

TSG: I might spend the day helping 3rd graders lift their teacher with a lever, or help 4th graders make rockets using water and Alka-seltzer. I might help 2nd graders construct rare and exotic jellybean fruits (a lesson in seed dispersal). Some days, I teach classes of young wizards to wield their wands (PVC pipe) in a game of steal-the-soda-can (a lesson in induced static electricity). On days when I’m not performing, I’m dreaming up more of these crazy activities: I design all of my programs myself, aligning them with grade level curriculum expectations, but ensuring that while scientifically rigorous, my shows remain fun.

WNN: Tell us how you started IQ Science.

TSG: I created IQ Science after four years of donating time at my children’s schools and other elementary schools in the district. I was performing assemblies for free that I created myself, developing new ones along the way. I saw a need for quality programs that could clearly explain and demonstrate science concepts to lower elementary students. I devised my first show, “What’s the Solution,” as a result of having my then- 2nd-grade daughter at home for half-day homeschooling. My daughter enjoyed the science activities so much, she asked me to bring them in to school to share with the kids she had class with in the mornings. The ball has been rolling ever since, with new ideas for shows springing up as my own children progress through the school system and ask for more information and more hands-on experiences.

WNN: You’re the first Amber Grant winner with a Ph.D. Can you tell us a bit about your background?

TSG: Sure. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard University in 1989, and my Ph. D. in Ecology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996. I taught courses in general biology, environmental science, applied entomology, and animal behavior as adjunct professor in the Biology Department at Regis University in Denver from 1995-1999. I feel privileged to be able to share both my scientific knowledge and my passion for science with young school-aged children through my business. I’m ready to expand beyond the local school districts, to try and share my lessons with more and more students.

WNN: Where is your business heading in 2013?

TSG:After three years in business, I’m realizing that growing this business is severely limited by my own finite energy levels – it just is not possible to perform that many dynamic programs day after day and maintain the exuberance necessary to infect the students with my passion for science. I’m ready to take my business a new step forward, which requires seeking additional capital to support this next phase. I have little capital from the business to re-invest and pursue this new goal, as I make it a point to provide these programs at the lowest possible cost to my local schools, leaving me with a fairly small profit margin, despite great job satisfaction.

WNN: What are your specific plans?

TSG: Well, I can only perform so many live shows per school year. Producing videos would allow me to reach even greater audiences, increasing my exposure to more students, teachers, and homeschoolers; anyone curious about science. As the new science core curriculum rolls out to school in the upcoming year or two, the need for assistance in implementing these goals will be crucial. Teachers are already overburdened with large class sizes, high administrative demands, and frequent lack of adequate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training. Under such situations, many classrooms are already set up to fail.

The Hands-free / Hands-on Science program I hope to launch would be an answer to those teachers’ problems. The video would provide background information on the core concepts while the teacher sets up the materials for the experiments. During the hands-on instructions, the teacher would be free to move about the classroom and help students having difficulty without slowing down the entire class. The teacher would have a hands-free solution to science instruction – no loss of prep time PLUS the freedom to interact with the students who need assistance. My live assembly programs already consist of many short activities and demonstration segments that could be adapted into video segments, easily illustrating important core curriculum concepts that are the foundation for understanding the science of the world around us.

IQ Science, LLC (iqsciencellc.com) wins our December Amber Grant!

Thursday, January 31st, 2013

Congratulations to Dr. Terry Smith-Glaser of Novi, Michigan – and owner of IQ Science, LLC (iqsciencellc.com) for being chosen as our December Amber Grant winner! Terry’s business idea is simple but innovative.  She performs assemblies that teach science to elementary school kids – engaging students in entertaining ways to learn science.  Below is an interview with our latest winner. We hope you’ll be inspired!

WNN:  Please tell us about IQ Science in a nutshell.

TSG: My business offers interactive science assemblies that combine “wow” moments with “a-ha” moments. I get kids excited about science, demonstrating fundamental principles in a fun and crazy, but clear and unthreatening manner.

WNN: What is your typical day like?

TSG: I might spend the day helping 3rd graders lift their teacher with a lever, or help 4th graders make rockets using water and Alka-seltzer. I might help 2nd graders construct rare and exotic jellybean fruits (a lesson in seed dispersal). Some days, I teach classes of young wizards to wield their wands (PVC pipe) in a game of steal-the-soda-can (a lesson in induced static electricity). On days when I’m not performing, I’m dreaming up more of these crazy activities: I design all of my programs myself, aligning them with grade level curriculum expectations, but ensuring that while scientifically rigorous, my shows remain fun.

WNN:  Tell us how you started IQ Science.

TSG: I created IQ Science after four years of donating time at my children’s schools and other elementary schools in the district.  I was performing assemblies for free that I created myself, developing new ones along the way. I saw a need for quality programs that could clearly explain and demonstrate science concepts to lower elementary students. I devised my first show, “What’s the Solution,” as a result of having my then- 2nd-grade daughter at home for half-day homeschooling. My daughter enjoyed the science activities so much, she asked me to bring them in to school to share with the kids she had class with in the mornings. The ball has been rolling ever since, with new ideas for shows springing up as my own children progress through the school system and ask for more information and more hands-on experiences.

WNN:  You’re the first Amber Grant winner with a Ph.D.  Can you tell us a bit about your background?

TSG:  Sure. I earned my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Harvard University in 1989, and my Ph. D. in Ecology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1996. I taught courses in general biology, environmental science, applied entomology, and animal behavior as adjunct professor in the Biology Department at Regis University in Denver from 1995-1999. I feel privileged to be able to share both my scientific knowledge and my passion for science with young school-aged children through my business. I’m ready to expand beyond the local school districts, to try and share my lessons with more and more students.

WNN:  Where is your business heading in 2013?

TSG:  After three years in business, I’m realizing that growing this business is severely limited by my own finite energy levels – it just is not possible to perform that many dynamic programs day after day and maintain the exuberance necessary to infect the students with my passion for science. I’m ready to take my business a new step forward, which requires seeking additional capital to support this next phase. I have little capital from the business to re-invest and pursue this new goal, as I make it a point to provide these programs at the lowest possible cost to my local schools, leaving me with a fairly small profit margin, despite great job satisfaction.

WNN:  What are your specific plans?

TSG:  Well, I can only perform so many live shows per school year. Producing videos would allow me to reach even greater audiences, increasing my exposure to more students, teachers, and homeschoolers; anyone curious about science. As the new science core curriculum rolls out to school in the upcoming year or two, the need for assistance in implementing these goals will be crucial. Teachers are already overburdened with large class sizes, high administrative demands, and frequent lack of adequate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) training. Under such situations, many classrooms are already set up to fail.

The Hands-free / Hands-on Science program I hope to launch would be an answer to those teachers’ problems. The video would provide background information on the core concepts while the teacher sets up the materials for the experiments. During the hands-on instructions, the teacher would be free to move about the classroom and help students having difficulty without slowing down the entire class. The teacher would have a hands-free solution to science instruction – no loss of prep time PLUS the freedom to interact with the students who need assistance. My live assembly programs already consist of many short activities and demonstration segments that could be adapted into video segments, easily illustrating important core curriculum concepts that are the foundation for understanding the science of the world around us.

October Amber Grant Award Winner is Vegan Bakery

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

We’re excited to announce our WomensNet.net Amber Grant winner for October:  Bianca Blanco is the owner of Bella Savour, a bakery that does fantastic desserts – with a complete vegan menu.  Our judges were taken by Bianca’s business savvy, her website, her use of social media videos, and the way in which she has branded herself and her business.  Oh, and her cakes and cupcakes looked delicious!  Below is an interview with Bianca – and a quick reminder that we’re now accepting applications for the November Amber Grant.  We’d love to hear your story.   If you or your business could use a boost, please apply NOW!

 

WNN:  Congratulations on winning the Amber Grant!

BB: Wow! Thank you so much!I feel so honored to be recognized by WomensNet.net.

WNN: How did you come to be self-employed?
BB: First, I spent a lot of years working for other people — putting so much passion and energy into someone else’s vision only to find myself disposable when the economy took a turn. And secondly and most importantly, I have an amazing product. Not only do I want to produce delicious vegan baked goods but I also want to deliver a message of health and empowerment to know what we are consuming and how it is produced.

WNN: How long ago did you start up Bella Savour?

BB: Bella Savour was started in early 2011, but I previously had another company under a different name that was also a cake decorating company – but not vegan. After deciding to become vegan, I struggled with the idea of serving people something I didn’t believe in. It took a little while, but early 2011 I decided to start from scratch and take my business 100% vegan. Change the name, concept, everything.

WNN:  That must have been quite a risk.

BB: Many people advised against it from a business standpoint, but I had to follow my gut on this one. If people stopped buying cakes from me because they were vegan then I would be ok with that and do something else. Luckily that didn’t happen at all. It’s been embraced that I stood for my beliefs.  And this platform gives me an opportunity to do more than sell cakes. I really want to expand the educational side of the business where I teach workshops and cooking classes.

WNN: What was the key to changing your business model?

BB: My goal was to sell cakes that tasted as good or better than before.  After a year of troubleshooting recipes, I cracked the code! Bella Savour cakes are super moist, delicious, rich cakes that no one knows is vegan unless told. Bella Savour is one of the only vegan companies to make elegant custom designed cakes. Bella started with cakes but will be much more. I’m in the process of writing my first cookbook as well and I would like partial proceeds of this cookbook to go to other women starting plant based food companies.

WNN: What’s the most popular thing you bake?

BB: Cupcakes are super popular of course. My cookies are also extremely popular as well. The other surprise is our vegan chocolate mousse which uses avocado as its base. If I don’t tell people they have no idea. It just tastes like an incredible and decadent mousse but people are always blown away and pleasantly surprised at the taste and how healthy it actually is. Overall our products are popular because it makes people shake their head and say “No way is this vegan!” That’s my favorite thing.

WNN: Our judges loved your Vegan in the City video.  What inspired that and who helped you produce it?

BB:  Oh I’m so glad! Vegan in the City is my brainchild. A dear friend – a producer of Long Beach Voices – shot it and edited it for me. I would love to shoot one every week and for it to be picked up by a network tomorrow. It started because first of all I’ve always wanted a cooking show. I even pretend to be hosting a cooking show when I’m in my own kitchen. Haaha. But the other reason is that I find that people are so curious about my lifestyle. It’s interesting to some, scary to some, and I always get the question, “but what do you eat, just lettuce??” I also know that there is a certain stigma that comes with the word vegan. People expect a certain type of character for some reason and I knew I wanted to breakdown these stereotypes and fears of the word vegan. There is nothing like it yet on the Food Network and I think people are looking for more options for their diet. I would love to just be able to inspire people to have a meal each week that doesn’t include meat and I think people want that. It’s not necessarily an attempt to turn everyone vegan but just to inspire the idea that including more veggies doesn’t mean missing out on a great hearty meal. I mean who would complain about a braised wild mushroom and asparagus pasta with a white bean and basil crostini and a glass of white wine? Even our biggest meat eating friends would enjoy that!

WNN: What are your plans for the Amber Grant Money?

BB: We’ve just been accepted into Whole Foods Markets. This is great, but of course there are many expenses that come with this blessing. So we need help to get a couple permits that will allow us to sell wholesale now, as well as finish up the design of our packaging so we are ready to go! The Amber Grant will let that happen. Bella Savour has been through some challenges and finally getting such a win as being accepted into Whole Foods Markets is great – but of course without all the resources to make it happen it will be and “almost achieved” dream and I’m not willing to let this one pass.

WNN: Any plans for expanding nationally some day?

BB: Absolutely. We have major plans to expand nationally. Because I used to work in the natural food industry, I know what it takes to make that happen and know that for our Bella Savour products.  It’s just a matter of strategic planning to make sure we are set up for success. We will start in stores locally and expand strategically until we are in stores nationally. We think it’s great to go into stores.  But also more exciting news – we’ve decided on opening our first location by March 2013 in the Los Angeles area. Something we know will be well received because for as progressive as the Los Angeles area is for vegan, it still doesn’t have a vegan only cupcake/cake shop! So we are ready to fill that void. We think making these happen together will really help us build brand recognition. And within a couple years expanding to an east coast location as well.

September Amber Grant has a Secret

Friday, October 12th, 2012

We’re thrilled to announce the WomensNet.net Amber Grant winner for September, Frances Tang of Costa Mesa, California. Frances is the owner of The Secret Date Society. Below is her brief interview with WNN. We hope you’re inspired by her story. And a quick reminder that we’re now taking applications for the October WomensNet Grant!

WNN: Frances, congratulations on winning the WomensNet.net Amber Grant.

FT: Thank you so much! I’m very grateful and appreciative- this is definitely the boost I need right now.

WNN: How would you describe your business?

FT: The Secret Date Society is a pop-up date night for couples. It is an event that guarantees a nice meal, live entertainment, innovative venue and cash bar. The only information given to the attendees is the time, date and theme. The location isn’t disclosed until the day before the event – but attendees do not know the exact food or entertainment. They only have the theme. It’s meant to be a spontaneous, fun event for both partners to enjoy and embark on together. It’s catered towards people who don’t have time to plan out dates, don’t know how to, or would like to experience something completely different and spontaneous.

WNN: How did you come up with the idea for the Secret Date Society?

FT: I’ve always enjoyed helping my guy friends (and even some girlfriends!) come up with creative date ideas. I saw a need and basically merged that with my love of coordinating events and working with people. For me personally, it combines all aspects of what I love such as networking, food, entertainment and event planning. It opens up lots of opportunities to work with various caterers, restaurants, venues, local businesses and sponsors, many of which would not have an opportunity to have this kind of public exposure.

WNN: Can you tell us a little more about your business/work background?

FT: I went to UCSD for school and was launched into the workforce during a low point in the economy. It took me a long time to find a full-time job and when I did, I quickly found that it was great skills experience – but difficult to put my heart into what I was doing. Entrepreneurship seems to run in my family (my dad is an entrepreneur) so eventually I realized that it was something I definitely wanted to do, even if it meant beating the odds. I now currently have pulled together an eclectic but very awesome group of people who are all extremely smart, motivated and interested in entrepreneurship. We meet a few times a month to bounce around ideas, trade literature on the topic and just act as a support system for each other.

WNN: How did you find out about the WNN Amber Grant?

FT: I was searching for female, minority grants on the internet – starting a business comes with so many costs! Thankfully, I came across WomensNet.net and your Amber Grant for Women!
WNN: What have been the challenges as a minority female entrepreneur in finding money to help your business?

FT: I find that I’m not taken seriously (especially since my idea revolves around dating) and that my age is also a limiting factor (I’m in my 20s). Just gotta push through it!