By Nancy Dahlberg
FedEx contributed an additional $500,000 to support Babson College’s Miami Women Innovating Now (WIN) Lab, an accelerator program for women-led startups founded to attack dismal statistics like this one: Just 2 percent of all venture capital goes to female founders. FedEx, along with the John S. and James L Knight Foundation, was a founding funder of the program launched in Miami in 2016.
Today, Miami WIN Lab has launched its third cohort, kicking it off in Boston with a goal-setting weekend. Director Michelle Abbs says the program has made some pivots to better fit with the Miami market’s needs. After surveying and lots of conversations with founders, alumni, stakeholders, mentors and others, Win LAB Miami changed the program to five months, from eight months, and put a larger focus on the application of its Babson content by roping in about 50 business and industry experts to dig in and help the entrepreneurs meet their traction goals, she said. For instance, a weekly content session may be on customer acquisition and sales and the following week the founders present to their industry experts their customer acquisition strategy and what tests they may be doing and get their feedback.
The 15 cohort companies (13 from the Miami are and the other two from Orlando and Atlanta) participate in weekly content sessions, follow up meetings and a full day once a month, and receive access to strategic networks and co-working space.
The WIN Lab is now headquartered at the Babson Miami campus at 1200 Brickell Ave. and cohort members also have access to co-working space at WeWork in Brickell City Centre.
On Thursday, WIN Lab showcased its current cohort with its annual Demo Night, a business showcase and pitch contest. The event, at the W Miami in Brickell, began with more than a dozen startups showcasing their products to the public, followed by three top teams pitching to a panel of judges, all competing for a package of services valued at more than $22,000. More than 150 attended.
And the winners were:
Judges’ choice: WIN Lab pre-selected 3 companies to pitch to judges Carol Faber of Akerman Law, Pam Johnson from FedEx and Alan Kleber from JLL. Winner: Chase Simmering from Nestnotes, creator of memory keepsakes designed to be cherished and shared across generations.
Fan Favorite: Everyone was asked to vote for their favorite company after visiting the demo tables. Jodi Darren with Apple Playa, maker of an apple-cider-cinamon liquor, won. I’m sure the samples won the crowd over.
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