Thursday, April 28, 2011

Winning Women Competition Invites Applications

Are you a woman entrepreneur with big plans and the passion and vision to grow your company?  Ernst and Young invites you to apply to its fourth annual  Winning Women Competition. Winning candidates join an elite business network through a customized executive leadership program; it helps women ready to scale develop effective business strategies, identify potential partners and strategic alliances, strengthen their leadership skills and increase national and regional visibility for their companies. Entrepreneurial Winning Women receive an all-expense-paid trip to the Ernst & Young Strategic Growth Forum 2011, named by as one of its seven “get-ahead executive retreats.” Scheduled for November 9–13 in Palm Springs, California, the Forum convenes more than 1,700 leaders of the nation’s most successful high-growth companies, their investors and advisors to share growth strategies and discuss current marketplace opportunities and challenges. 

Eligibility criteria are women CEOs who have founded companies within the past 10 years with at least $1 million in revenue during each of the past two years.  Application deadline is June 30, 2011.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Newcomers Challenge the Barriers

Maria Lores-Browne, a Colombian immigrant, began dreaming about her own business during her years working as a laborer on construction sites, doing everything from pouring concrete to laying flooring. She asked herself, “How can I do this when I’m 45 or 55 years old?” So she went to school to learn how to operate heavy machinery though she was repeatedly advised “they don’t take girls.” After taking the requisite courses, she qualified to join the Operating Engineers Union, but “they were always reluctant,” she says, “to send out woman to operate equipment so they only assigned me to jobs as a watchman for construction sites.” Maria persisted because “I love running big equipment; I love the feel of the paint, the fittings, the tires, the same way many women love diamond rings.” Last fall she started Berma Construction Company. The harsh New York winter provided her with her first customer. JFK Airport hired her company to plow snow.
Like Maria, who now seeks funds to purchase equipment, the biggest problems most immigrants face is access to capital. What’s particularly hard for them, says Catalina Castano, Director of the Brooklyn Small Business Development Center is that “they are unfamiliar with credit rules. Many have no credit histories, though lenders insist on credit scores. And unlike native born entrepreneurs, they frequently can’t turn to their networks for a ‘friends and family’ first round; they often can’t find a co-signer on a micro loan.” Adds Elisa Balabram, who heads a government-funded Brooklyn Women’s Business Center , “other countries have more informal rules for doing business, so immigrants have to learn about requirements; their language problems can add to their difficulties understanding financial rules and regulations.”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

ACA Chooses Company of the Year

HarQen, a voice applications company, whose co-founder and CEO is Kelly Fitzsimmons, was honored as the “most outstanding and successful” company of the year by the Angel Capital Association (ACA) at its annual meeting in Boston last week. Recipient of the first Silvertip Price Waterhouse Cooper Entrepreneurship Award, HarQen has demonstrated its potential as a company “most likely to generate the most revenue growth over the next five years,” says Marianne Hudson, executive director of ACA, with its “powerful disruptive technology that makes voice content readily accessible.”  Its flagship product is Voice Advantage which captures phone interviews so that staffing professional and hiring managers can get a sense of a candidate in a 15-second “listen” instead of an hour-long live phone interview. This time saving tool was recently dubbed one of the “top human resource products for 2010” for its creation of the virtual interview. While other technologies capture voice, they often require special equipment and complex storage capability. By embedding voice back into data management applications, HarQen extracts new information and value from what was formerly disposable content.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

HIgh Quality Imports: Entrepreneurs!

 Overlooked in the recent raucous debate on illegal immigration is the powerful role of legal immigrants on both innovation and job creation.  A few years ago a study by the National Venture Capital Association estimated that nearly half of all private venture- backed companies, and 20 % of private ones, have had immigrant founders. Count among the immigrant-founded companies some of today’s corporate behemoths-- Google, Intel, Yahoo, Sun Microsystems and eBay.
        A regional analysis by the Center for an Urban Future, called A World of Opportunity, reported that “nowhere is the impact of immigrants on urban economies more visible than in New York City. Over the past 10 to 15 years, immigrant entrepreneurs fueled much of the overall growth in new businesses across the city and triggered dramatic turnarounds in neighborhoods all over the five boroughs.” While immigrants account for 39% of the total population, they represent about a half of all self-employed workers.  The same pattern prevails in most major cities.  Technology giants aside, on a local level the majority of businesses started by immigrants are mom and pop retail stores and restaurants. But immigrants also migrate into scalable businesses too, including biotechnology, media, apparel manufacturing, printing companies and food manufacturing.  
    The reasons why immigrants launch their own businesses are as many as the countries from which they come.  Some may be natural risk takers; other come for education, settle here and launch companies. Another group simply seeks a better lifestyle, especially if they have been stuck in minimum wage jobs which allow few opportunities for advancement, especially for women.
    One student who came and stayed was French-born Annie Vanrenterghem Raven who arrived with a civil