As part of the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Business, the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship is designed to inspire, engage and support the entrepreneurial ecosystem within the University as well as in the greater northern Nevada community. One way of showing ongoing support has been the yearly Women’s Initiative, designed to support female entrepreneurs and create a more inclusive community. This year, for the first time, it will host a Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, March 12 in the Joe Crowley Student Union.
The symposium will feature keynote speakers, interactive sessions and panel discussions all addressing the same subject: the changing startup landscape and how entrepreneurs – and female entrepreneurs in particular – can best position themselves for success. Named “Growth in the Age of Unicorns and Zebras,” the symposium focuses on two different growth models in the context of entrepreneurship, Unicorns and Zebras.
“Characterized by high growth at almost any cost, the unicorn growth model, associated with tech giants such as Google and Facebook, has been prominent in the tech world over the last decade,” Kelly Northridge, adjunct professor of entrepreneurship and conference co-organizer, said. “However, that model is being challenged with the rise of zebra companies -- many of which are female-led.”
According to Northridge, the zebra growth model is characterized by focusing on sustainable growth, profitability and improving society. “Many female-owned companies are utilizing a zebra growth model,” Northridge said. “Given women start more than 40 percent of companies in the United States, there really is an opportunity to bring together women building companies, and those who support them, to discuss the next wave of business.”
Featured speakers for the event include:
- Astrid J. Scholz, chief executive officer of Sphaera, and co-founder of Zebras Unite.
- Justine Siegel, leadership consultant, performance coach and the first woman to coach for a major league baseball team.
- Angela Lee, chief innovation officer for Columbia Business School and Founder of 37 Angels.
Panel discussions will include:
- Funding growth in the age of unicorns and zebras
- Growing a business in the age of unicorns and zebras
- Support organizations in the age of unicorns and zebras
According to 2018 State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, commissioned by American Express, Women started an average of 1,821 new businesses per day in the U.S. between 2017 and 2018. However, there is still a lack of representation and education among the continually increasing segment of female entrepreneurs.
“Studying women’s entrepreneurship, unfortunately, is only a small niche within academia,” Northridge said. “Our hope is to highlight the importance of the topic through the engagement of female entrepreneurs with academics, support organizations and investors. In turn, we are excited to support female entrepreneurs with education, inspiration, and connections to pursue their aspirations.”
The idea for the Women's Entrepreneurship Symposium began with the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship’s Women’s Initiative. After managers of the Ozmen Center noticed that the five finalist teams were comprised of only men in the 2016 Sontag Entrepreneurship Competition, a program of the University's College of Business, the Women’s Initiative was born.
The Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium signature sponsors include U.S. Bank and Eren and Fatih Ozmen, owners of Sierra Nevada Corporation and founders of the Ozmen Center for Entrepreneurship. Additional sponsors include the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada Small Business Development Center, Girlmade, Fennemore Craig, Horse Power Strategies, EDAWN, Good Elephant, Thomas Lillie Ventures, BaniBands, and SqueezeIn.