Five female entrepreneurs at Cornell spoke about women’s empowerment, community development and innovative granola at a panel presentation Wednesday afternoon.
At a Herstory event hosted by Forte Campus at Cornell along with [email protected], the students participated in a “storyslam” to discuss the inspiration, hard work and challenges behind pioneering their startups and non-profits.
The speakers spoke passionately about their projects, and each was eager to discuss what pushed them to form their organization and the progress made so far.
Jamie Kim ’19, head of the granola company Bumble & Butter, spoke about what she took away from working at Eleven Madison Park in New York City. This experience taught Kim more about the food industry and the joy that comes from working in it.
“Serving someone food is really a shared experience. So what I mean by that, is that when I serve someone food, I get so much joy and excitement out of it that it is the same amount of joy, if not more, that [the consumer] feels when they’re receiving food,” she said.
However, many confirmed that the process of launching their organizations from a thought among friends to reality as full-fledged organization was no simple feat. Garnering support specifically was one such challenge for Jennifer Mandelbatt ’17, founder of Platform, an organization that works to ensure young women have a voice in government policy.
“I’ll be honest with you, for every one ‘yes’ I got, I got thirty ‘no’s.’ But it’s that one yes that kept me going,” Mandelblatt said about getting sponsors and support for her organization.
“It can be really hard to ask people for help, it feels sleazy and schemey, but it works, because there are people who want to support you,” she added.
Other projects were designed to help people connect with one another and enable them to feed off each other’s efforts. One such group, the Raw Expo and Medium Design Collective, has worked to do this type of connecting among groups at Cornell.
The collective was created to bring a variety of project teams and clubs together to share ideas and design processes.
Pamela Chueh ’17, one of the founders of Raw Expo, said that she and her project partner would observe the various work processes and projects of Cornell’s project teams and competitive clubs to understand how to create successful products.
“Those [meetings] created opportunities for understanding. And by having everyone in the same space [at Raw Expo], we saw, or we got to see 500 people basically come to this space and really, really, really, respond to this missed opportunity to have these conversations,” she said.
When asked about advice for potential innovators, the most common tip the speakers suggested was to utilize teamwork and forge supportive networks.
“Finding a mentor, I think is really important, find multiple mentors … you need people with different backgrounds, and I would also say that that’s useful in any area, not only as entrepreneurs.” said Tiffany St. Bernard, grad.