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Investing in female entrepreneurs at Expo West 2019

In recognition of the lack of venture capital being awarded female startups, PepsiCo-owned Stacy’s announces two initiatives to reduce the funding gap for female-founded businesses.

As women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8 and Women’s History Month in March, there were many sobering facts being shared about women in the world and in the workplace. One such fact that caught people’s attention is the reality that just 2.2 percent of all venture capital in the U.S. goes to female founders. This fact was not lost on PepsiCo, who hosted the Stacy’s breakfast celebrating female founders on International Women’s Day to discuss new initiatives launched by Stacy’s to support female entrepreneurs seeking to raise capital.

Stacy Madison, co-founder of Stacy’s Pita Chips, is one of those standout female entrepreneurs who started with a food cart in Boston, but eventually successfully raised capital to grow her pita chip company. In 2006, she and her co-founder sold the company to PepsiCo for $250 million. Hence, as a brand founded by a female entrepreneur, Stacy's Pita Chips continues to believe in celebrating strong, hard-working women with entrepreneurial passions.

At Stacy’s breakfast to celebrate female entrepreneurs, Lisa Wang, former U.S. rhythmic gymnast and CEO and co-founder of She Worx, a platform for female entrepreneurs and startup funding, talked about pitch presentations. Addressing the challenges of being an entrepreneur and the tendency to buy into a negative thought pattern, she encouraged the female entrepreneurs in the audience to keep a gratitude journal. “Entrepreneurs are broken down by the fundraising process and all of the negative things investors focus on. Take the time to do self-love and focus on things you do really well,” she said to the audience. She reminded audience members, “You also have standards.”  

Wang’s presentation was followed by a fireside chat between Wang, Carolyn Rodz, CEO of Alice—a leading online resource for female entrepreneurs—and Michael Hammer, angel investor and managing director of Atomic Brand Labs. In this session, which was moderated by Ciara Dilley, vice president of marketing and innovation at Frito-Lay, PepsiCo, the panelists discussed the kind of leaders investors are looking for and asked the audience, “What would it take for you to match the energy of what they are expecting?” Whether it’s what you wear to an interview, showing up early or how you prepare, they encouraged entrepreneurs to think about the energy they bring to the negotiating table.

To culminate the event, Stacy’s announced its 2019 initiatives to support female entrepreneurs. First, the company aims to raise $200,000 to support United Way’s efforts to reduce the funding gap for female-founded businesses. Stacy’s has made a $100,000 commitment to United Way Worldwide to help fund microgrants for women entrepreneurs to open or grow their business. As part of the company’s initiative to double these funds, they are releasing a third collection of limited-edition pita-chip bags—designed by female artists, the bags depict the six key stages of female entrepreneurship: inspiration, courage, grit, nourishment, success and community. Interested buyers can donate $10 to purchase the bag of their choice and an 8x10 print of the artwork. To donate go to stacyssnacks.com.  

The company also announced its inaugural Rise Project, which will center around mentoring, supporting and funding female-founded businesses like Stacy’s. Working together with the free online resource Alice, the company will award $200,000 to help women grow their food-focused businesses. To do this, a team of leading business founders will serve as judges to select five female entrepreneur finalists who each will be awarded a $20,000 funding prize, along with entrepreneurial advice and network building support. One of these finalists will win an additional $100,000 grand prize award to help take their business to the next level.

Applications for the Stacy’s Rise Program will open on April 12, 2019. To learn more, sign up for the Alice community at StacysSnacks.com/RiseProject.

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