InnoVentures 2021: Meet the Finalists!
Celina Romera

April 22, 2021

InnoVentures 2021 is almost here! Three months ago, this bracket-style small business pitch competition started with 36 contestants. Only six entrepreneurs remain. On April 29th you can watch as these finalists pitch their business innovations to our judge panel and hundreds of other community members like you. There will only be one winner, but each finalist walks away with prizes and cash to grow their business. Register here.

Now let’s meet our finalists!


Meet InnoVentures 2021 finalist: Sarah Henderson, owner of Food Forethought

Sarah helps clients build better habits and gain kitchen confidence through simple food prep coaching. She creates custom meal plans that fit each client’s unique needs and challenges and guides them through the process of how to prepare their meals, ensuring that it feels manageable, sustainable and never overwhelming.
“I was inspired to start at the beginning of the pandemic when I discovered that a few of my friends lacked food routines and were extremely disorganized in the kitchen,” says Sarah. “Some would skip meals or snack on junk food all day, and some would buy way too many groceries and let them go bad in the fridge. I offered them help with meal planning, meal prep, basic nutrition, and general food-life organization.”

If she wins, Sarah will use the grand prize money to improve the Food Forethought website and advertising campaigns so she can reach more people in need of sustainable meal prep guidance.

 

 

Meet InnoVentures 2021 finalist: Lisa Latendresse, owner of getGOODNESS, LLC

Lisa has been baking since she was 8 years old.  For years she mailed treats to friends and family.  In 2019, an old friend reached out on Facebook and marveled over the cookies Lisa had sent her back in 1987. At the time, Lisa didn’t take the suggestion to sell cookies seriously.  During the pandemic, Lisa been shared baked treats with neighbors and received such positive feedback that she took the plunge into starting a baking business. Lisa researched resource platforms and bakery products, but noticed there wasn’t an all-in-one, off-the-shelf software especially for microentrepreneurs.  “I seized the opportunity in this untapped market and created a white labelled product that will empower other aspiring artisan bakers as they start-up,” says Lisa. “The getGOODNESS platform fulfills our mission to help other entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.
If Lisa wins the grand prize, 60% of the monies will be used to fund the first three months of the software subscriptions needed to complete the platform and AI-powered profitability tool.  The remaining 40% will fund her Go To Market and Adoption strategies.
“I am so appreciative of this experience and the opportunity to work with, and get to know, the other entrepreneurs, Coaches and Judges.  It has provided me with the skills to effectively bring getGOODNESS to fruition so we may help launch and grow entrepreneurs.”

 

Meet InnoVentures 2021 finalist: Sofia Babaeva, owner of The Small Potato

“I grew up in St. Petersburg, Russia, home to one of the most famous porcelain companies in the world, the Lomonosov Imperial Porcelain Factory,” says Sofia. “My grandmother had a china cabinet that proudly displayed her collection of Lomonosov porcelain tea sets, serving dishes, and statuettes. I remember pressing my face against the glass to get a closer look at the near-translucent bone china coffee cups, the luster on the rims, and the intricate line work in the patterns. From an early age, I was obsessed with how beautiful clay could be.”
Years later, this same interest in porcelain sparked Sofia’s decision to pursue Ceramics in her Bachelors of Fine Art education. The idea of The Small Potato followed shortly after when Sofia was experimenting with different surfaces on porcelain and noticed how durable, yet beautiful it could be. 
The Small Potato is now a collection of hand-made porcelain jewelry inspired by the Pacific Northwest lifestyle. For the brand’s next steps, Sofia would like to launch the Small Potato’s online store and shift from a commission-based model to a collection-based direct selling model. 

 

 

Meet InnoVentures 2021 finalist: Sherryl DeVries, owner of Relax Therapy

Ive always considered myself a late bloomer; and thankfully I am still blooming.  Naturally, I have worn a lot of different hats to get here…I have been a burger flipper, coffee slinger, secretary, clothing peddler, fitness instructor and a student.
Now, Sheryl is a physical therapist for an ‘actively aging’ population. She helps her patients keep their bodies moving with ease and grace, while having them engage in new activities that challenge both the mind and the body. “I want to know what moves them and keeps them moving,” says Sheryl. “Once that desire is discovered, we can work together to keep their body moving, easing pain, building strength and blooming into their next experience.”
Introducing self-care products and out-of-the office classes would allow Sheryl to extend her impact by not being tied to the service and medical model. She hopes to bring this plan to life with new equipment like a biofeedback machine and an electrical stimulation machine to her clinic. The prize money would go to covering these expenses as well as hiring marketing specialists for further reach.

 

 

Meet InnoVentures 2021 finalist: Shaun Glaze, owner of Inclusive Data

“My name is Shaun Glaze. I am the Chief Consulting Officer for my market research firm, Inclusive Data. I’m a
researcher through-and-though. I am currently facilitating the world’s largest Black community-led research project- and we’re doing it to discover how to make a healthier, safer, and better world where everyone can thrive. Our team includes over 100 community members who come from all walks of life- elders, youth, and people in between. Immigrants, refugees, indigenous community members, and people who have been in the US for generations. Professionals, advocates, incarcerated people, childcare providers, stay-at-home parents, first responders, and more. We funded this research from divestments from the policing system that were then reinvested into Black and Brown community research. With it, we’re building a democratic process where the people from the community get to decide how those funds are spent- it’s called participatory budgeting. I love helping people do research that really changes the material conditions of people’s lives. If you know me from this work, you might think that’s all we do! But you’d be wrong. I founded Inclusive Data with a strong belief that there is a seat at the table for everyone- we just need to build a better table together. I believe the best path forward in life is with a strong connection to community and a willingness to help others rise together along the way.”
Shaun has set big goals for the future of Inclusive Data including: generating over $1M in grants for Black and Brown owned businesses in 2021, as well as providing full-time employment and health insurance to 10 people by 2025. 

 

Meet InnoVentures 2021 finalist: Diana Llanes, owner of Once Upon a Time Early Childhood Daycare

Diana is a mother of five children and an educator in her own family home daycare. She has been working in early childhood education for 12 years. As a parent, Diana knows the need for high-quality childcare. At Once Upon a Time, she provides have bilingual planning for the children to learn every day. Diana focuses on all areas of development and monitors each child’s individual progress.
The greatest inspiration was my children,” says Diana. “As a mother I understood the need for good quality child care. It is important for one as a parent to have the confidence to leave our children and be able to work with peace of mind.
Diana has put together a sustainable plan for the future of Once Upon a Time which she hopes to accomplish with the grand prize money.

 

Join us April 29th to see the culmination of our entrepreneurs’ hard work.