Yes, a website for and about America's childless women was my idea, but without encouragement from other NotMoms, advertising and marketing pros, bloggers and others, I might never have uploaded the first post. Now, a group of anonymous investors has sent an even stronger message of support: $5,000.
Last February, The NotMom.com was selected as one of 10 finalists in a fabulous micro-lending program for Ohio's entrepreneurial women: Bad Girl Ventures (BGV). It started in Cincinnati several years ago and arrived in Cleveland last fall. Nine weeks of business development classes and coursework at Shaker LaunchHouse. I call it "Business School in less than 100 days."
Classes are open to the public at $25/class and free for finalists. Men are welcome, though few attend. (It might be just as well -- consensus among female students was that their openness to ask questions might be squashed with men in the class. Who said full-grown women are any different from 7th grade girls?)
At the end of the program, each finalist has a completed business plan, knows her way around funding options and can spit out a cheery 60-second "elevator speech" on command. A selection committee decides which woman will receive a $25,000 low-interest loan from BGV partner Keybank.
Luckily for me, the Spring 2012 BGV class was chosen to receive an additional $15,000 prize/loan from an anonymous giving circle called The Give Back Gang. A giving circle is a group of everyday people who each contribute a set amount of money to be donated to a nonprofit selected by the group. In this case, The Give Back Gang decided to make 3 awards instead of one or two. Yay!
At graduation ceremonies on May 16th, The NotMom.com received a $5,000 low-interest loan in the 3-way tie for Second Place. Translation? We're on to something here, ladies!
First Prize went to Alison Musser's Babies Travel Too. Yep. Babies & NotMoms, winners all.
Alison's company provides name-brand baby furniture at your home or hotel when little visitors are expected. The other $5,000 winners included Anne Harnett, owner of Cleveland's first sustainably run group cycling center, Harness Cycle Studio, and Kelley Hynds of Hyndsight Productions. Through a new venture, Kelley plans to produce short, informative online videos giving background to topics in the news.
If you think you have a Bad Girl inside you, applications for the Fall class will be open in June.