A Pinch of Passion and Brilliant Idea
Jacquee Kurdas

April 4, 2019

“A pinch of passion and brilliant idea, a teaspoon of training, 3 tablespoons of coaching, 2 ½ cups of incubation and 4 bags of capital.”

It’s been one week since InnoVentures and we are still buzzing about the amazing success of this event. While each year sparks similar emotions, this year’s event was truly something special.

InnoVentures began three years ago with the mission to help our entrepreneurs gain exposure while learning the essentials of a five-minute pitch. Now, it is the culmination of a three-month-long incubation and training program that helps build confidence in public speaking and presenting. InnoVentures has transformed from a get together at a brewery to a bilingual event that literally puts our entrepreneurs in the spotlight.

This was the first year we opened up the program to our Spanish-speaking business owners who make up 30% of our entrepreneurs. The audience was captivated when Viviana Lopez, owner of VR Seeds and Stones, pitched her innovation in Spanish. Viviana’s pitch made Ventures history.

Lady O, our Master of Ceremonies and board member, started InnoVentures with the energy to match the nearly 250 attendees inside Columbia City Theater. She introduced Ventures’ secret sauce, our recipe for success: “A pinch of passion and brilliant idea, a teaspoon of training, 3 tablespoons of coaching, 2 ½ cups of incubation and 4 bags of capital.”

And it’s true. Each of our finalists received a combination of Ventures’ secret recipe—it has helped their businesses get to where they are today.

  • Training & Coaching. Volunteer business coaches worked one-on-one with contestants as they refined their financial projections, scaling strategies, and presentations. Contestants also received feedback after each round from the
  • Incubation. Connections made through InnoVentures helped businesses reach new customers and exposed their brands. Through the competition, they networked with other small business owners and leaders.
  • Capital. Contestants competed for cash awards and prizes to grow their businesses. The pitch they created also meets the requirements to apply for a Ventures loan.

We gave each of our finalists a combination of Ventures’ secret recipe.

Our InnoVenutures 2019 winner was Francine Moo-Young, owner of Moo-Young.

We are so incredibly proud of Billy Méndez and Ana Ramírez, Viviana Lopez, Malia Peoples, Tiana Duncan, Lauren Anderson, and Francine Moo-Young, who all put so much hard work and passion into their pitches. In the end, Francine of Moo-Young won InnoVentures with her pitch to expand her business by making and distributing her unique leather sneakers to stores across the country. Congratulations, Francine!

We are so grateful to everyone that made this event possible. From our event sponsors to our volunteer coaches, panel of judges, thank you. You are the newest ingredient in Ventures’ secret recipe. You are one of the reasons we are able to do all that we do.

Last week, we invited you to join us in expanding our services to our community’s most economically vulnerable individuals: incarcerated women.

Ready for Release is our newly-created program that supports women during and after incarceration. Just like InnoVentures, Ready for Release is structured to increase participants’ confidence and competence as small business owners. Participants complete a 6-page Business Feasibility Plan and participate in a three-week pitch clinic to refine their five-minute business pitches. The first class of 13 Ready for Release participants completed our pilot program at the Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women in Belfair, WA in December 2018.

At InnoVentures, we launched our spring peer-to-peer campaign to raise $40,000 in 40 days to provide business training for 40 more incarcerated women in 2019. So far, we have raised $16,306!

You can help us reach our goal by making a gift right now, creating your own fundraising page, or sharing our campaign on social media.

With your support, women at Mission Creek Corrections Center will be ready to start their own small businesses. After release from prison, our goal is that they will support themselves, their families, and enrich their communities through small business ownership. Ultimately, your investment will reduce recidivism and create economic opportunity for all.