I had the privilege of visiting New York City the past two days to attend Springboard Enterprises' trade mark event, The Dolphin Tank. While it's exciting enough to be in the city of all cities, the Dolphin Tank event exceeded all of my already high expectations. I think it's generally a good sign to come out of an event and walk down 5th Ave. with such optimism that you don't even bother to notice the Louis Vuitton and Cartier boutiques on either side of you. So, if you haven't heard of Springboard Enterprises or this event and you're a budding entrepreneur, do yourself a favor and check it out. In the meantime, here's the low-down: the Dolphin Tank is a unique and incredibly positive approach to a Dragon's Den-esque style program for women-led businesses to access funding opportunities and investment advice. The majority of women involved in today's Dolphin Tank led technology/digital media businesses.
This is how it basically works: the group of 11 women chosen to participate in the program are allowed only two minutes to pitch their product or service to an audience of investors, former Dolphin Tank alumni, and fellow budding/serial entrepreneurs. The Dolphin Tank has successfully formed an ecosystem of female entrepreneurs who build their businesses, their networks, and certainly their confidence, with the positive and constructive feedback from their peers. The session offered moment after moment of entrepreneurial empowerment as one woman stated, "I am not an engineer, I am a transformer." Another participant would exclaim, "I get to make my own rules!" Instead of providing time for a ten minute pitch, the program pushes participants to focus on the core differentiators that will make their businesses successful.
After the two minute pitches are up, members of the audience provide feedback to the presenters. With constructive criticism and positive reinforcement to narrow down the best parts of their businesses, the presenters then ask for their wish lists. Some women wished for connections with PR firms, CFOs, or personal lawyers. Regardless of the wish, hands from investors and alumni alike flew-up in the air offering assistance and networking opportunities. It was specifically at this point when my eyes widened with surprise at the willingness of the group to provide so much guidance and with the obvious realization that we should launch this program in Canada. I'm incredibly lucky within my role at CanWIT to meet a number of technology entrepreneurs. Today, as I sat (or metaphorically swam) with the dolphins, I thought of the Canadian women in technology that I know (and those I have yet to meet) and the positive impact this kind of program could have on them. Opportunities abound with such a collaborative approach to business development. I think guest speaker and Springboard coach Melinda Wolfe said it best, "a deep connection is made when women help other help women."
Stay tuned as we confirm dates for Canada's introduction to the Dolphin Tank with a new partnership between CanWIT and Springboard Enterprises!
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