Indiana Conference for Women Turns the Tide for Women-Owned Businesses Writer / Kara Reibel Photos Provided The Dolphin Tank event held at the Indiana Conference for Women addresses the disparity of funding that women-owned businesses receive compared to male-owned. But thanks to events such as the Dolphin Tank, the tide is turning. Organizers Polina Feldman, a SpinUp Associate at IU Research and Technology Corporation, and Kristen Cooper, VP of Corp. Development and Operations for Sticksnleaves, have coordinated this year’s panel of judges and vetted the applicants. “The group of applicants was strong, making the selection process challenging,” says Cooper. “There are so many viable business ideas presented by women. All deserve to pitch to someone.” The panelists provide feedback in a friendly atmosphere, so that the entrepreneurs may take the next step with their business based on the recommendations. The presenters are at varying levels of development. Leading up to the Dolphin Tank were a series of events supporting female entrepreneurs, inspiring their confidence and motivating them to create an effective pitch. The local entrepreneurial community is very supportive, allowing women-owned businesses the resources and connections to be successful. The idea is to not swim in a cage to be protected from sharks. The Launch Ladies networking group, lead by Cooper, held two Startup Study Hall events specifically to coach for a compelling pitch. “If a woman-owned business wants to find a supportive community, they don’t have to look far to find it,” shares Lisa Mitchell, Founder of Power Body Language. “Launch Ladies, NAWBO, Verge, Sparks Talks and Launch Fishers as well as others are very welcoming organizations.” Three companies will pitch to a panel of three judges. Pitches are five minutes in length with a feedback time of 10 minutes from the judges. This year’s panelists include: Dima Elissa, CEO and Founder, VisMed-3D; Danielle Hughes, CEO of Divine Capital Markets; Aimee Kandrac, Founder of What Friends Do; Danielle McDowell, Executive Director of The Speak Easy; Kelly Pfledderer, CEO, Apparatus and Chairman of TechPoint; and John Qualls, President of Eleven Fifty Academy. “At Eleven Fifty Academy, we believe that the coding profession lacks diversity, so we are reaching deep into communities to encourage diversity in coding including females, minorities and the underserved,” says Qualls. “Because females are so important to the Academy’s success, we want to make sure we are doing all we can to encourage women in all aspects of their professional lives. “Participating in the Dolphin Tank will be a chance to encourage, connect and network with female business owners who may be interested in what we do, and I may learn about a business idea or two that will help us as we head into year two of teaching code.” The keynote speaker for the conference is Kathy Ireland, the former model and CEO of a $2 billion business empire. For more information on the conference, please visit www.indianaconferenceforwomen.com.