e51 hosts Chelsea Clinton in Women & Innovation Dialogue @ HQ Raleigh

Raleigh female entrepreneurs and Chelsea Clinton discuss the importance of Women & Innovation

Our entrepreneurial ecosystem, powered by more than 780 female entrepreneurs and innovators in the Triangle, hosted Chelsea Clinton, Brooks Bell, Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Katie Wyatt, and Isa Watson for an engaging discussion with a packed house at HQ Raleigh.

More than one hundred women and men gathered before work this morning to engage in a robust conversation about the important issues that women innovators face, including STEM opportunities, deferred student loans for entrepreneurs, and support systems for emerging entrepreneurs.

Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy, President of Shaw University said, “Little girls need role models who look like them. You can’t be what you can’t see.”  Her point highlighted the need to bring more visibility to the triangle’s diverse female entrepreneurs and leaders. President Dubroy also called for the need to expand the general conversation to include the needs of talented students at lesser-known HBCUs, such as Shaw University.

Little girls need role models who look like them. You can’t be what you can’t see.
— Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy
For us as parents, having our young daughters see these strong smart women from diverse backgrounds in leadership roles shows them they can do anything they want to do.
— Karl Rectanus, Lea(R)n.
What struck me was Chelsea’s authenticity and ability to engage the entire crowd — from the young children with simple questions to the seasoned citizen asking the tough questions we’re all thinking.
— Sophia Hyder, Founder & CEO of Papilia.
The palpable energy and enthusiasm from the panelists and participants truly ignited the crowd. We’re proud to showcase the amazing members in our community. For our female innovators, innovation spans a wide variety of sectors. Ages 17-78, e51 members are as young as high school and as seasoned as Venture Capitalists. Together we are building a vibrant ecosystem and strong talent pipeline.
— Heather McDougall, Co-Founder of e51
Speaking of talented community, Heather presented Chelsea a gift bag filled with goodes from local entrepreneurs:   @RaleighDenim     @viderichocolate     @bobble     @hollyaiken

Speaking of talented community, Heather presented Chelsea a gift bag filled with goodes from local entrepreneurs: @RaleighDenim @viderichocolate @bobble @hollyaiken

The featured panel included:

  • Brooks Bell, moderator (Founder Brooks Bell,  the premier firm focused exclusively on enterprise-level testing, personalization and optimization services. / Co-Founder HQ Raleigh, a co-working space for high-growth, high-impact startups),
  • Chelsea Clinton,
  • Isa Watson (Founder Envested, a social network giving platform created so that you can do your part to transform your community.
  • Dr. Tashni-Ann Dubroy (President Shaw University / Co-Founder Tea & Honey Blends),
  • Katie Wyatt (Founder Kidznotes)


About e51

e51 is building the pipeline of women innovators. Upcoming programming by e51 includes a  1-week Kăt′ l- īz′ er  for university and early stage entrepreneurs & intrapreneurs in partnership with Leadership exCHANGE & HQ Raleigh.  In October, e51 with CapTrust is launching a 6-week afterschool Design Thinking and Mentoring training program for Raleigh female high school students.  Such programming is a springboard for Kăt′ l- īz′ er alumna Becky Holmes, who has been selected for the 2016-17 SoarTriangle mentorship program. www.e51community.com    

Why e51?  e51 stands for an entrepreneurial ecosystem powered by women! The “51” signifies that women are 51% of the population and we want this community movement to spread to all 50 states, plus D.C.!   


MISS IT?   Tune in here to see the periscope stream!

To learn more e51 or the Chelsea Clinton event contact:

Heather McDougall, Ph.D., e51 Co-Founder, 812.219.1660, director@globalleaders.info

Sheryl Waddell, e51 Co-Founder, 610.573.3211, sheryl@unc.edu



Phenomenal Women

Me, outside my home base, HQ!

Me, outside my home base, HQ!

After interviewing 30 women about their experiences as female entrepreneurs, I feel like I have a new perspective on what it’s like to be an entrepreneur, a female, and a female entrepreneur. How can I possibly express my gratitude to the women I’ve gotten to meet during my internship this summer? I was so amazed by the wisdom, strength, and determination that these women had. I have no doubt that they will change the world in their own ways.


Having this new understanding of the Raleigh female entrepreneurial scene, I felt it would be selfish not to share it with my community. I got the chance to speak to women all the way from high schoolers to seasoned angel investors. There were artists, accidental entrepreneurs, start-up queens, and lawyers, and everything in between. There were international travellers, feminist manifestos, and tech nerds.

I’ll be sharing each of their stories with you, but here are some themes that I noticed:

  • Many women are accidental entrepreneurs. They did not seek to become entrepreneurs, but the chance came, and they seized it. There is so much power in this, but I’d also like to see more purposeful entrepreneurship in the scene.
  • There’s a huge divide between ‘entrepreneurship-focused’ women versus small business owners (shops, restaurants, etc). There’s two separate worlds, and I think they have a lot to learn from each other. I’d love to find some way for these worlds to communicate.
  • There’s vast resources for Raleigh, but they aren’t necessarily accessible to all women and all kinds of women. Raleigh is a hidden gem for entrepreneurship. There’s an open-mindedness, a community, and so many resources. Share them with everyone.
  • Some women strongly identify with being female entrepreneurs, and some don’t. There was a stark contrast in these two different identities, and I’m not sure how to reconcile them, or which is the right way to approach getting women ahead.
  • Most women agreed that all-female spaces were helpful (to some extent), and that it was important for women to network, share experiences, and most importantly, lift each other up.
  • So many women left the corporate world either to have ownership, exit the traditional workplace, or have flexibility of their schedules.
  • Women struggle to get funding. They struggle to network. And many struggle to present themselves confidently and assertively. Change this. Go after what you want with confidence and grace and Own. Your. Strengths.
  • Each and every woman has a story to tell and something to offer to the world. Lift them up, see their power, and let their badassery shine.

Like I said, I feel changed by this experience. Some women have touched my heart in ways I will forever appreciate and remember. I truly think Raleigh female entrepreneurs are strong, smart, and determined. Their presence will continue to grow. I am proud to have been a part of this community of Raleigh female entrepreneurs, and I will always remember my experience at e51

Inspiring Capital: Women's Re-Inspiration Program

Are you a woman who left the workforce, but doesn’t know how to get back in? Look no further than Inspiring Capital’s Women Re-Inspiration Program, “an experiential learning program that furnishes women with skills, knowledge, and confidence to pursue careers within the social sector and use their experience for social impact.”

Program Associate Janet Hammond has been in your shoes. After moving from Canada to the U.S. for her husband’s job, Janet stayed at home with the kids. Twelve years later, she wanted to re-enter the workforce, but wasn’t quite sure how. After going back to work, and then losing her job, Janet looked into the Inspiring Capital Women’s Re-Inspiration Program in New York, but it just wasn’t possible for her to geographically join. That’s when Janet wanted the women of the Triangle to have this opportunity, and Inspiring Capital decided to expand the program to the Triangle, a place with a great network of entrepreneurship and huge support for B-Corps.

The program helps women who have had a career break step back in to the workplace by giving them a platform to re-engage in a purposeful way, through the social sector. The Women's Re-Inspiration Program uses personal development, ‘social sector 101’, and network connections to provide women the ability to get back into the workplace. ‘Social Sector 101 will partner with HQ Raleigh, United Way, and Burt’s Bees to show women how their businesses work. Many women are unaware that a lot of start-ups and non-profit companies actually need part-time flex-workers, which is what many women seek as an alternative to traditional work. This is a great alternative for so many women. 

Give this program some love and support! Interested? Attend the free online information session on July 28 and learn about this amazing program or sign up here!


Unlocking New Entrepreneurial Talent with DJ Michael English

Through these entrepreneurial endeavors, Michael found that it was difficult to reach out to minority development centers for support; there was little communication of information or resources. Through networking events, Michael found access to the resources, mentorship, and connections that he wasn’t previously aware of. This was Michael’s moment of obligation; he realized the network and resources available at most colleges and universities were lacking at HBCUs. With that, Michael’s dream of opening co-working spaces in HBCUs was born. 

Exacerbated by the small size of their community, black entrepreneurs face many challenges., and because of a There is a lack of physical spaces for entrepreneurial networks in HBCUs, and because of an historical lack of resources, the mentality in the Black community is that information is scarce, which prevents the sharing of information, hindering the entire community.Through sharing information and having a free flow of resources, the entire community would benefit.

While all women are few and far between in entrepreneurship, women of color are especially underrepresented. In an effort to address this intersection of marginalization, I sat down with Michael English, aspiring founder of co-working spaces in Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCUs), avid DJ, and project manager of Innovate Your Cool.

Michael is a millennial with a calm, driven, and lighthearted demeanor who started out at North Carolina Central University (an HBCU) pursuing physical therapy, which he described as a ‘safe choice.’ Michael's passion for entrepreneurship dates back to his college days: he made money by DJing and through his t-shirt company and fashion boutique, goldmined. For Michael, his love of music strongly coincides with his love for entrepreneurship. In many ways, entrepreneurship parallels with hip hop -- hustle mentality, self-branding, and ingenuity. Through his position at Innovate Your Cool, Michael is able to combine music, entrepreneurship, innovation, and culture.



Michael’s solution is not to “reinvent the wheel, just put nice rims on it.”  Through exposure and active engagement, Michael visualizes a cool, hip space that builds up an inclusive environment to facilitate entrepreneurial growth. Michael says that creating a space that empowers otherwise marginalized individuals eases their transitions into the community.

Many of the issues minorities face in entrepreneurship are similar to those that women experience. For Michael, he enjoys working with women because they are honest and straight-up in business. He says that his space will be welcoming and empowering for everyone, particularly black women, who make up just .04% of tech startups. He wants to change the narrative for black women entrepreneurs -- aside from encouraging inclusion of black women in existing job opportunities, they should be encouraged to start their own!

Look out for Michael’s coworking spaces soon -- the kids are eager to learn, so stop by, share a skill, and check it out! 

Contact Michael

Read more about the issues black female entrepreneurs face here

How We're Changing Tomorrow #StateOfWomen

Women are “The cause of my life,” remarked Joe Biden at the United State of Women Conference mid-June.

I can honestly say that no statement has ever tugged on my heartstrings more -- women are the cause of my life.

The United State of Women Conference, in my opinion, is one of the most amazing things this country has ever done. It validates my life work, my passions, and my goals.

Nominee & attendee of the USOW, Robbie Hardy, shared her experience with me. Some of the amazing things that happened:

  • As a result of the conference, over $50 million dollars was dedicated to various causes of women and girls, and the Equal Pay Pledge mandated signing companies close the pay gap.
  • Two of the most powerful people in the world sat on the stage at the USOW conference. And they were women of color (Michelle Obama & Oprah Winfrey).

  • Michelle Obama heralded women entrepreneurs as “smart, strong, determined.”

Remember, empowering female founders will pay dividends. Robbie shared Mckinsey’s Gender Parity report with me, and it supports this point (yes, gender parity helps women AND men!).

I found myself outwardly ecstatic watching the recaps of the conferences and talking to Robbie Hardy about her experiences. But then, I found myself getting angry:

  • Equal Pay was legally mandated by the Equal Pay Act in 1963. 53 years later, and we’re still talking about the pay gap?
  • It’s LGBT History Month and the USOW. But where are the queer women at the USOW?

    • It is still legal to be fired for being gay in North Carolina-- putting 159,000 unprotected gay workers at risk. While racial and ethnic diversity have started to become all women’s issues, why haven’t queer women received the same support?

  • 1 in 3 women experience some sort of sexual violence, which is only perpetuated by a legal system than inadequately punishes victims (though many, including Joe Biden & Mariska Hargitay dedicate their lives to this cause).

  • As per Mckinsey’s gender parity report, the US had high gender imparity in leadership representation and political representation. As Robbie said, we’ve lost ground in some respects, and we have a loooooong way to go. For real gender parity, we need changes in infrastructure and culture to become norm.

Watch the recap here.

Visit Robbie’s page here.

“If the first woman God ever made was strong enough to turn the world upside down all alone, these together ought to be able to turn it back and get it right side up again” -- Sojourner Truth



The #StateOfWomen

Hello e51 community!

First, a bit about me! I’m the new intern at e51, Cooper! I just graduated (a few weeks ago!) from my beloved alma mater, Sewanee: The University of the South, with a B.A. in Economics & Women’s and Gender Studies. I’m the first Women’s and Gender Studies graduate at my school, and most certainly, one of the very few (future) economists to focus on women’s issues. In undergrad my two independent senior theses topics were employment discrimination of lesbians and the productivity of women leaders at S&P 100 companies. Perhaps I haven’t yet joined the ranks of Claudia Goldin and Marilyn Waring, but there’s something to say for the intersection of my interests that gives me a unique perspective. Anyway, I’m excited to join the e51 team before I begin my Master’s in Economic Development (with a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies) at Vanderbilt in the fall, and I’ll be getting my hands dirty interacting face-to-face with the female entrepreneurs of Raleigh.

One of the biggest questions for me to tackle at e51 is… What is the state of women entrepreneurship in the U.S., and more specifically, Raleigh?

So what is the United State of Women?

The good news:

  1. We are certainly making strides! In 2012, nearly 29% of all business owners were women, and this number represents an increase of 27.5% since 2007. Additionally, the revenue of women-owned businesses increased 35% (from 1.2 to 1.6 trillion) over the same period.

  2. The Small Business Association (SBA) is dedicated to aiding female entrepreneurship, providing over 2.5 million women with services from over 900 Small Business Development Centers, one of which is housed right here in Raleigh.

  3. SBA loans are the best bet for women in entrepreneurship. From FY2014 to FY2015, funding for women-led enterprises from the SBA increased by 19.2%.

The not-so-good news:

  1. Though the percentage of women-owned businesses has increased, women-led businesses still only comprise 29% of businesses, while women are 51% of the population and nearly 58% of college graduates.

  2. The White House touted that 5% of contracts are going to women-owned small businesses. On second look, this is not a cause for celebration; only 5% of government contracts go to women.

  3. Though women venture capitalists are more likely to invest in women-led companies, women only make up 3% of venture capitalists. This is part of why women have trouble getting capital. We need to create a pipeline that supports women all the way from investment to sole proprietorships.

(See the United State of Women for more information)

But what about the Raleigh State of Women?

The good news:

  1. The Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Program (MWBE) in Raleigh is designed to help growth in minority and women-owned businesses. These resources, alongside mandates that MWB’s be utilized in all parts of a city’s contracting, are crucial to helping MWB’s in Raleigh. The goal is to hold 7% of non-minority females and 8% of minorities (15%) of contracts. This is significantly higher than the 5% goal the White House holds.

  2. According to NerdWallet.Inc, Raleigh ranks as the 8th best city for female entrepreneurship because of the low unemployment rate, the high number of businesses per person, and available resources such as Business and Professional Women (BPW) and MWBE.

  3. Women-owned businesses in NC contributed nearly $32 billion in revenue in 2007 and $35 billion in 2012.

  4. The number of women-owned businesses in NC increased by 83% in the past 15 years, making it one of the top-growth states in the country.

The not-so-good news:

  1. While Raleigh is generally a good place to do business, it’s not necessarily good for specifically women in business. Women were severely lacking in incubator participation in the Triangle-area, and no incubators were specifically aimed at women, both of which are indicators of a positive business climate for women.

  2. As of 2007 (the latest available data), only 11.8% of women-owned businesses in NC had employees, meaning that women-led enterprises are typically a sole proprietorship.

  3. Women-led firms had 75% less revenue than male firms in NC, which again indicates that women’s capacity has not yet been tapped into-- women entrepreneurs in NC have the potential to contribute further to the economy as well as employment.

Perhaps Raleigh is doing better than most of the country, but we still have a long way to go! I’ll be working towards creating a larger and deeper network of female entrepreneurs in the Triangle Area this summer-- which will only be possible with your help connecting and empowering the women entrepreneurs in the area.

Until next time!



A Millennial's Opinion on 'Upsetting the Table'

Hi! I'm Cooper Killen, e51's new intern. Contact me here with any remarks or questions!

As a female millennial who just graduated with a BA in Economics & Women’s and Gender Studies, last night’s panel of Robbie Hardy (who presented her new book and will be attending the United State of Women next week), Margaret Rosenfeld, Amy Smith, and Margot Lester, was one of my first opportunities to see my education in real-world practice.  

These four women discussed their experiences as a woman in their respective fields of business, what it takes to get to the top as a woman, and how to disrupt the standing gender roles in business to be successful.

Although women are gaining traction in the “real-world,” I believe that same-sex spaces have value and merit.  I relish in the empowerment I feel from places such as my sorority and this internship. As Hardy said during the panel last night, ‘The Girls Club’ has the power to bond, empower, and allow women to ask and say things they couldn’t otherwise.

Shared experiences and female solidarity are crucial for women’s success.

While there is certainly some power in being the odd woman out in the office (which Hardy suggested she cherished at points), without women mentoring women, nobody will teach women how they should act in the board room or at office lunches.

As a millennial, my generation has the power to enact change differently than the women who paved the way before us. My hope for the future is to shift the conversation from making space at the men’s table to redefining the institution of business. Women must utilize their strengths in leadership (collaborative, gritty, driven by social good) rather than adhering to the already existing standards.

Here are some of my favorite nuggets of wisdom from the night.

  • You are a strong, capable woman. Don’t shrink into your space. Take up as much space as you want.

  • Yes, we stand out as women, but slowly and surely we are becoming more of the norm. Go ahead. Be bold. Own the room, step into it. You’re there for a reason.

  • You can’t upset the table from the second row. Take your seat at the table.

Purchase Hardy’s book here

e51’s website, twitter, & facebook






                            COLLEGE GRADUATES            ENTREPRENEURIAL EXECUTIVES

Women may make up 51% of the human population, but we are still the minority in the business world. A mere 21 of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women. Being a woman in any business environment can be challenging, especially in the realm of entrepreneurship.

 someone who accelerates something desirable to happen, which otherwise might not have occurred at all.

We want to help YOU become a catalyzer to your own career.  


The 51 kăt′ l- īz′ er will help you to develop the skills, framework and female peer group in order to gain the knowledge and spirit to succeed in your venture.

This two-week bootcamp will take place in at HQ Raleigh in Raleigh, NC -- one of the best places in the country for female entrepreneurs.

Female students aged 18-30 will get startup training, learn the ins and outs of start-ups around the triangle area,  and receive mentoring from seasoned entrepreneurs.

After just two weeks, you will be a more connected, more confident, and more successful female entrepreneur.

Let's strengthen the female entrepreneurial ecosystem together. Apply today.   

Know someone who may be a good candidate?  Nominate her now.

Steve Case visits e51

Steve Case, co-founder and former CEO of American Online, went on a cross-country road trip, highlighting entrepreneurship for #RiseofRest.

He stopped at HQ Raleigh, home-base of the e51 community, and took note of how many female entrepreneurs are in the Triangle area.

Heather McDougall, co-founder of e51, takes the opportunity to meet with Case to discuss the power of women in entrepreneurship. 

Heather McDougall, co-founder of e51, takes the opportunity to meet with Case to discuss the power of women in entrepreneurship. 

Someone asked what action steps should be taken to increase diversity. Case responded that groups like ours, that focus on female entrepreneurs, are making great strides.