On Friday, September 20, over 300 women entrepreneurs from around Connecticut gathered to attend the sold-out “Connecticut Celebrates Women Entrepreneurs” conference. Hosted by the UConn School of Business at UConn Stamford, the day featured networking opportunities, a business exhibit showcase, and a variety of educational and business-building workshops.
The first-ever statewide conference aimed at supporting female entrepreneurs began with casual networking over a continental breakfast and was quickly followed by opening remarks from Sharon White, director of the UConn Stamford campus and UConn Vice President of Economic Development Mary Holz-Clause.
“Women entrepreneurs often face unique challenges in growing their business,” commented Holz-Clause. “This conference provides a forum for discussion, support, and identifying resources for helping women-owned businesses to thrive in Connecticut.”
The conference then kicked into high gear with the Commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), Catherine Smith, reading a proclamation signed by Governor Dannel Malloy declaring the day as “Women’s Entrepreneur Day” in Connecticut.
The Twittersphere was abuzz with attendees connecting with one another and sharing their excitement about the event (#CTCelebratesWomen).
— Kate D Fitzpatrick (@KateDFitz) September 20, 2013
— Lucy (@LucyinBoston) September 20, 2013
“Women entrepreneurs are vitally important to the economy in the State of Connecticut,” said event co-founder Valarie Gelb, CEO and founder of TheBarnYardGroup. “This gathering of successful women gives us an opportunity to network and to celebrate our success.”
“The response to this event with over 300 attendees clearly affirmed our belief that women entrepreneurs are a vital economic force not only in Connecticut but throughout the world,” says event co-founder Brian Brady, director of the Stamford Learning Accelerator and instructor in residence. “We are proud that UConn Stamford and the UConn School of Business could provide a forum for women businesses in Connecticut at all stages of growth to network and take advantage of our educational workshops by other successful women entrepreneurs and industry experts,” adds Tim Dowding, associate director of the International Learning Accelerator and professor at the UConn School of Business, also a co-founder of the event.
Over 70 exhibitors showcased their ventures in the exhibit concourse throughout the day. The entrepreneurs also found many key takeaways from the mid-morning workshops, which spanned topics including Finding Funding for Your Business, Business/Entrepreneur Resources Available from the State of Connecticut, Digital/Social Media for Your Business, and Life/Work Balance for Women Entrepreneurs.
#Ctcelebrateswomen – LinkedIn a key channel, get recommendations one of the important aspects of a LinkedIn profile.
— Lucia (@Aschettino) September 20, 2013
— Donna Sweidan (@careerfolk) September 20, 2013
Concluding the event was an engaging dialogue between keynote speaker Cindi Bigelow, CEO of Bigelow Tea in Fairfield, Connecticut, and School of Business Dean John Elliott. Bigelow spoke on leadership and motivation, sharing key areas of focus for getting her motivated and effective teams all working together to drive the business forward. Bigelow stressed innovation as a key to entrepreneurship, and shared that entrepreneurs should consider failure to be a learning experience and not something to be resented. Many attendees turned to social media for sharing key takeaways from the talk.
— Rosalie Donlon (@RosalieDonlon) September 20, 2013
— Diane Parsons (@parsonsphoto) September 20, 2013
The event was presented by the UConn School of Business and co-hosted by the UConn School of Business Office of Alumni Relations, UConn Foundation, UConn Office of Economic Development, The Business Council of Fairfield County, Stamford Chamber of Commerce, Connecticut Small Business Development Center (SBDC), International Women’s Forum – Connecticut, Stamford Innovation Center, Connecticut Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CCEI), Stamford Downtown Special Services District, and Connecticut Innovations. Sponsors included Webster Bank as the Platinum Sponsor, TD Bank as a Gold Sponsor, and First County Bank as a Silver Sponsor. Bronze Sponsors included: People’s United Bank, Northwestern Mutual/The Bender Financial Group, Wells Fargo Advisors, Logicbroker, and LLBH Private Wealth Management of Westport, Connecticut. Hearst Media Services was the exclusive media sponsor. After covering expenses, all event revenue was used to help the UConn Foundation fund scholarships at the UConn School of Business.