Have you ever thought about starting your own company? Have you ever thought about being an entrepreneur or adding entrepreneurial values to anything you do? If so, you probably have also been afraid and nervous. To promote more entrepreneurship and business for girls, Beverly Wallenstein (ILR’16) started Girls Mean Business. In an exciting business camp, girls can participate, engage and prepare to be next-gen leaders. We at Entrepreneurship@Dyson recently caught up with Beverly to learn more about Girls Mean Business:
What’s the story behind Girls Mean Business?
When I was 13 years old, I attended a business camp meant for girls. It basically changed my life: I learned that I was really interested in entrepreneurship, and while I didn’t know what I wanted to do exactly, it gave me the confidence to take on risk and be able to make decisions for myself. The boot camp acted as a catalyst and helped me block out everything that was pulling me down. I was inspired by Girls Who Code and wanted to create something similar for girls in business.
What does Girls Mean Business do?
Girls Mean Business is an organization that allows girls to learn about business in a fun environment, hear from successful female entrepreneurs, and connect with other like-minded young women. We did two workshops over the summer, and now we’re running an 8-week program involving various leaders from the community, entrepreneurs sharing their life experiences, and group activities. It’s very easy to see that there is a legitimate problem that exists for Women in Business, even at an inclusive campus like Cornell; in the real world, many women still face problems. By getting girls interested in entrepreneurship at a young age, we can help to create the next wave of power women.
What are some of the activities that girls do at Girls Mean Business workshops?
One activity we run is to have the girls engage in an ideation workshop. This involves writing down a list of ideas for solving problems that they have encountered. They work in groups on creating solutions that would address these problems, discuss the various aspects of their plan, have a dialogue about the problems that they have encountered and at the end present a solution. So far, we have seen a lot of positive feedback; girls love it, and it gives them a chance to be able to apply their knowledge to come up with answers.
When did you start and was there any funding that you received?
I started Girls Mean Business this year after I applied to a business idea competition on a whim and was able to win. I have since been able to develop it through the help of LCL and BlackStone Launchpad. I also received the John Jaquette Award through Cornell. We also raised some money through other business plan competitions. While at Cornell, I had learned the importance of running a lean business and so we have been able to run an efficient business with minimal funding. Currently, we charge the participants a very low fee and also provide scholarship opportunities so that everyone who wants to attend has a way to do so.
Are there other Cornellians that you are working with?
I work with Julia Allen ‘19 (ILR), other volunteers from around Cornell, and leaders from within and around the community to help make each of the camps successful.
Were there any resources at Cornell that helped you build the business?
I received a lot of help through LCL and BlackStone Launchpad, and received a grant through the John Jaquette Fund. I also learned a lot from classes that Cornell has for entrepreneurship, especially Entrepreneurial Management and Women in Management Entrepreneurship. I also am grateful for the Cornellians who have helped me in running the workshops through volunteering, and marketing of the events.
Have you faced any challenges as you operate Girls Mean Business?
Many days can be challenging and can be a big struggle. There are so many problems and obstacles that I have to overcome when I am trying to run the business based on my vision for it. It can be frustrating to not have enough people sign up, but at the end of the day, it is also very rewarding to have the girls who do sign up become excited about business and end up wanting to be entrepreneurs. I always look forward to organizing more events and running more workshops for this reason.
What is your vision for success for Girls Mean Business?
I was inspired by Girls Who Code and really believe in its mission. I want Girls Mean Business to be the first stop for girls who are interested in anything business related, and to be able to help as many girls as possible through creating unique, innovative and challenging environments.
You can contact Girls Mean Business at firstname.lastname@example.org