Writer / Kara Reibel
Inspired by chance interactions with a small number of women in the entrepreneurial co-working space Launch Fishers, Sticksnleaves’ VP of Corporate Development and Operations Kristen Cooper founded a movement committed to identifying, educating and connecting women entrepreneurs. The Launch Ladies are turning one in August, and they certainly have something to celebrate.
“When I started working with Sticksnleaves, I wanted to get to know as many people as possible,” shares Cooper. “Never would have guessed that I would meet so many awesome women while putting on lip gloss in the ladies room. One day when I was literally negotiating a contract in the bathroom, I decided that we should be more purposeful about meeting instead of just waiting to bump into each other. So I put lunch on our calendars and decided to invite a few friends.”
The first Launch Ladies luncheon was held in August 2014 – three people attended. Cooper tapped into her vCards and reached out to other women she knew, opening the circle of influence outside of Launch Fishers. Each month the group grew steadily, fueling connections and leading to new business.
“Budding and seasoned entrepreneurs sit next to one another, so the conversations are really interesting,” says Cooper. “Several of our attendees are noodling on ideas for a new product or service. We’ve worked really hard to create an atmosphere that is inclusive and welcoming to new people.”
This past February, Scott Jones and Eleven Fifty hosted The Launch Ladies for lunch, which sold over capacity. ”Discussions around how to launch a business while working full-time, supporting a spouse, being a mom and volunteering in the community are a common theme,” shares Cooper. “The monthly luncheons have been a great platform to build meaningful relationships; however, it became clear that more could be done to support aspiring first-time entrepreneurs.”
“These incredibly talented women needed the structure, consistency and accountability to launch a successful business,” said Cooper. “Startup Study Halls will provide students with an opportunity to learn from C-level executives [C stands for chief] and provide the dedicated time to focus on a single challenge related to the student’s business.” Julie Warnecke, Owner of Found Search + Marketing, served as the inaugural speaker on July 29. Startup Study Halls are free; however, registration is required.
On Tuesday, August 25, The Launch Ladies will hold their monthly luncheon at Tilly’s in Fishers. “Sharon Moore [owner of Tilly’s] does a gorgeous high tea. We love supporting women-owned businesses, and a great birthday party is just icing on the cake!” said Cooper. Both men and women are invited to attend all of The Launch Ladies events.
Learn more and register at TheLaunchLadies.org.