Ready, set, pitch: New $50K competition for female founders

South Florida’s female founders already have an accelerator program  to call their own in WIN Lab Miami. Now they have their own pitch competition, too.
Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures announced that its inaugural HI-HERImpact Miami Pitch Competition will be March 24, 2020 (date updated) at The Idea Center at Miami Dade College. Three winners will be selected, sharing a $50K cash prize pool.
Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures announced the news On Tuesday at their all-day inaugural HI-HERImpact Miami Entrepreneurship Summit. At the event, which attracted about 100 entrepreneurs, speakers including Carolyn Aronson, founder, CEO and proud 100% owner of It’s a 10 Haircare, one of the only female-led professional haircare brands and it’s based in South Florida. A self-made entrepreneur, Aronson shared the ups and downs and her learnings from bootstrapping (by choice) her business into a global enterprise, in a discussion moderated by Miami investor Monique Idlett-Mosley. Other speakers included investors, experts in growth hacking and impact investing, and social entrepreneurs from the Miami community and beyond.
Aronson started It’s a 10 Haircare after failing miserably with the first company she tried to create. She credits her It’s a 10 success to really knowing her customer — she was a hairdresser  and also ran salons for 20 years before launching her venture. Surround yourself with smart people, take it slow and steady, build a nest egg to get over the humps, run a lean and mean business, and keep investing in your company is some of the advice  this entrepreneur that built the brand from nothing, without outside investors, shared at the summit.  Her product line is ever growing but her first one, Miracle Leave-In, which she created because she always wanted a product like it, is still her best seller; the company sells 13 million bottles a year. In 2020, It’s a 10 Haircare plans to enter 16 countries. 
 “I created the products that behind the chair I wish I had. Do that in your industry, raise the bar. It’s been a 15 year learning journey and that is what being an entrepreneur is all about. I’m still learning every day … When you love what you do that’s how it rolls. Find your passion and just put a different spin on it,” Aronson told the entrepreneurs in the room. (Read more about Aronson’s talk here)
The HI-HERImpact initiative, which moved to Miami from DC this year, is a joint venture between Ford Motor Company Fund and 1863 Ventures to help power women-led businesses to make an impact in their communities. As it has done in both Detroit and DC, it will stay in South Florida for two years, providing female entrepreneurs with educational opportunities, technical assistance, mentoring, coaching, and financial resources, said Yisel Cabrera, Community Manager for Ford Motor Company Fund, who was inspired to develop the initiative.
 “I am proud to be part of a growing initiative that is so committed to supporting social entrepreneurs and women in tech,” said Cabrera, in a statement. “HI-HERImpact recognizes the tangible and intangible impacts that women-powered businesses have on the communities around them.”
The competition details: The Miami Pitch Competition is open to women entrepreneurs from Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe Counties. Chosen local women social entrepreneurs will compete at the ‘Shark Tank’-style competition to win funding to help scale and grow their businesses. The call for papers is now open, and proposals are being accepted online via the 1863 Ventures Pitch Competition website. Apply here.
To be considered: Proposals must address three criteria: the business or social enterprise must exist to solve a real community problem; have a business model that will ultimately be sustainable; and focus on a product or service people will pay for.
The deadline to submit: February 21, 2020.
The prizes: First place will receive $25,000, Second Place will receive $20,000, and the audience recipient will receive $5,000. Since its inception in 2018, HI-HERImpact has awarded over $200,000 to women entrepreneurs.
 “We are thrilled to bring the excitement of our Pitch Competition to Miami and to encourage South Florida women entrepreneurs,” said Melissa Bradley, Managing Partner of 1863 Ventures, “We are proud to provide a platform that supports enterprising ideas from Miami’s women-in-tech community.”
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Nancy Dahlberg