A group of women founders shared their pitches with an esteemed panel of women in business during the recent Haltech Power Panel presented in partnership with WeTech, Tech Alliance and Innovation Guelph. Founders: Melissa Maloney (Go Fog It), Christian Zhang (Menur), Jennifer Mulholland (UR Concierge) and Maureen Martin (BlaqApp) each had five minutes to present their companies followed by an opportunity to avail themselves of the panel’s advice and wisdom.
The panel featured Danielle Graham (Sandpiper Ventures), Debbie Landers (Georgian Partners), Brooke Gordon (BDC), Sherry Shannon-Vanstone (Profound Impact) and Julie Ellis (Mabel’s Labels).
The top concerns the founders explored with the panel were:
- Maintaining quality control over proprietary information when service is delivered by partners
- Recruiting new service delivery team members to keep content delivery fresh and prevent burnout
- Developing a concise elevator pitch and clarity around business finances
- Maintaining competitive advantage
- Performing competitive research
- Having a plan to scale
- Protecting the data security of customers
The panel’s desire was to make the most of their time with founders and help in a direct, impactful way. The key to successfully making the most of opportunities like access to a panel of women entrepreneurs having a clear ask. When a founder has a well-defined understanding of her current challenge and identifies what she would most like to know, it pays off.
Asks can be an introduction request, validation of a concept or approach, ideas for new or adjacent markets or advice on how to handle a specific business challenge. The reality is that growing a business takes a variety of experts, experiences and networks. No one is successful alone. Women founders should be prepared to capitalize on meeting with a broader network of others by asking for help.
To best prepare for making an ask related to their businesses, prepare by:
- Identify where the current challenges are in the business and their impact. This is the answer to ‘what keeps you up at night’?
- Summarize and be concise. The more clearly you can articulate what you need, the easier it is for people to help.
- Do the leg work. When you’re asking for help, make it easy for your helper.
- Be gracious and take advice and feedback.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength.
The diverse panel provided suggestions for the founders. In fact, panelist Danielle Graham told one presenter, “your differentiator and how you position it is going to be critical. See if you can define and separate your company within the market. This will allow you to maintain your competitive advantage.”
The Power Panels aims to expand mentorship and strategic connection opportunities for women owned technology and innovation companies in Southwestern Ontario. Participating companies will have the opportunity to accelerate their skills development and be able to leverage high powered, influential mentors from outside of their usual networks. If you take the to invest in relationships, you will find many people who have gone through similar experiences. Many of the power panel advisors have gone through the trials and tribulations of starting and successfully running a business and see this as an opportunity to give back.
The power panels further empathize that you should never stop learning. Take time to find and invest in relationships. There are plenty of people who have gone through similar experiences, have had others help them and would love to pay it forward by helping you.
All you have to do is ask.