How to Impact a Community with a Crowdsourced Festival

Last week, Women’s Entrepreneurship Week (WEW) reached over 700 students, business leaders, entrepreneurs and creators throughout Fargo, making it the most active WEW in the country .

We captured some of the voices from the week to share how to best support female founders. Listen here to learn how to keep supporting female founders.

The success of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week should not be limited to Fargo. Here’s how it happened and how you can do the same in your community.

Identify a Need

Shortly after The Nice Center opened, we noticed a glaring hole in our outreach efforts. Female students made up only 25% of our upper level entrepreneurship courses.

A quick glance at entrepreneurial events in the community made it apparent that there was a lack of representation in and out of the classroom for students and professionals. This is not surprising considering there are more chief executives at Fortune 500 companies named John than there are female executives at the same companies.

We knew that we could do better as a community. Plus, if we want to have a dynamic entrepreneurial ecosystem, we need to live up to The Nice Center’s goal of “Entrepreneurship for All” — and all definitely includes women!

Engage the Community

To address this important challenge, we knew we couldn’t do it alone. While we have discussed the issue, we decided to challenge the community to help us create a more dynamic ecosystem for female entrepreneurs.

Kodee Furst of Annie Capital led the charge with support from The Nice Center and Emerging Prairie. She invited community businesses and organizations to host events, provide mentorship and join meetups to address key issues facing all entrepreneurs and business owners.

The community responded.

Thanks to the crowd-sourced model, where anyone was invited to participate and everyone was promoted together, we reached more people than we could ever hope to reach alone. Plus, we were able to connect with different networks throughout the community.

The other benefit of this open-invite model was that it was done with limited resources. Overall, we spent less than $3,000 to make the event happen. We were able to do that because:

  • Our talented female speakers were willing to donate their time and expertise to the community. Thank you! I believe they were willing to do this because they understood the need to encourage female entrepreneurs and believed in the importance of solving it.
  • Each community host covered the cost for their own events, which helped us scale the event without scaling the cost.
  • Gate City Bank stepped up and sponsored the food at the Growth Summit, one of the larger events of the week.
  • The Nice Center was able to provide a financial guarantee on any outstanding expenses while Annie Capital and Emerging Prairie donated their time to make the event happen.

The community came together to make this happen. The collaboration meant we created a large impact in a short amount of time.

Measure the Results

The results of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week are truly eye-popping:

  • Women’s Entrepreneurship Week reached more people (700+) — the majority of which were women — than The Nice Center reached the entire spring semester.
  • 15 different organizations participated by hosting events and joining panels. This included local businesses like Dash + White and EHP Crossfit, large corporations like Microsoft, RDO, and Eide Bailly, and resource providers like ND Women’s Business Center.
  • Over 35 women presented, spoke, and led sessions throughout the community — including 18 at the Growth Summit for Female Founders. These are women who can, and should, be hired, celebrated, and promoted throughout our region.

Most importantly, true connections were made, and anyone thinking of starting a business or idea found new mentors and resources to help them take the first step.

Plan the Next Step

Our work isn’t done. We are starting the difficult work of making North Dakota the best place for anyone to start a business or project. But, we need your help.

  • Visit our website and subscribe to learn more about next year’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Week and to make sure you get involved.
  • Listen to the important ideas from some of our speakers on how you can help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem for everyone.
  • Contact us at The Nice Center if you are interested in mentoring, speaking at a class, hiring our students or donating to events like Women’s Entrepreneurship Week.

Thank you for your support of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week and for making North Dakota the best place in the country for anyone to start their dream business or project.

Take a moment to hear the voices of Women’s Entrepreneurship Week and join us as we support all entrepreneurs and creators in our community.

Posted on November 2nd, 2019 by Emily in Ideas