The Own It Ventures Story begins with fostering the entrepreneurial spirit within women. We believe that fostering and helping women entrepreneurs, the United states, (and the world), will experience long-term, real economic growth.
Helping women entrepreneurs build scalable companies is the BEST strategy and recent research on entrepreneurship showcases the reasons. Research reveals missed opportunities for real growth by overlooking the impact women have on the economy and their potential.
Women start companies 2 - 1 compared to men, yet less than 2% reach the million dollar revenue mark.
Women owned firms show on average of 27% less revenues than men owned firms.
We account for creating over 7.7 million jobs nationally
Yet less than 2% of businesses that receive funding from Venture Capitalists are women-owned firms.
Women-owned companies accounted for 11% of the entrepreneurs that are seeking angel capital and 14% of these women entrepreneurs received angel investment in Q1,2 2010.
Women Angels represented 18% of the angel market.
Women start companies with 8% less funding available than their male counterparts, and have a lower revenue growth rate (53% vs 71%).
In 2009, Entrepreneur Expose’ was launched and showcased real options to help women start and grow a business, including many franchise companies available in the New Jersey area. The highlights included the gubernatorial candidates speaking about the importance of small business for New Jersey and the pitching rooms to Angel Investors and the Media in “Behind the Curtain.”
The “Pitching” opportunity was instituted to address two of the biggest obstacles holding women back: lack of capital funding and real marketing/media exposure. Attendees pitched their business in hopes of making it into the “Sharkette Tank” and in front of several Angel Investors. In 2010, two rooms were added: Retail Buyers for the product-based entrepreneur and for the Start-Up businesses, pitching to resource organizations like SCORE, UCEDC, IFEL, SBDC and the NJSBA.
The Entrepreneur Expose' conferences evolved into Own It Ventures; an online community for women in business who want to connect virtually, face-to-face, and everything inbetween with the goal to grow scalable, sustainable companies.
Since launching in 2011, the Own It Ventures' mission and work immediately gained traction and attention. In March 2011, the New Jersey General Assembly recognized Own It Ventures with a Formal Resolution for it's efforts to help women entrepreneurs.
The Own It Ventures’ system is a multi-pronged approach to help women plan and execute their business dreams. The focus is to break the barriers that hold many women back, including:
Weeding out the fears, misconceptions and lack of knowledge that hold many women back from reaching their fullest potential
Connecting women entrepreneurs to Angel Investors and/or Lending Institutions who can provide financing options and mentorship
Preparing to connect with retailers for distribution points to sell their products and services
Opening doors to various media outlets for exposure and PR
Nurturing aspiring entrepreneurs through small groups, webinars, and live events
Growing new and existing businesses through the online marketplace that broaden the exposure and customer base for each member
Melissa Gasnick Cloeter
is President of Own It Ventures and Co-Founder of Entrepreneur Expose´. In 2007, Ms. Cloeter launched her entrepreneurial path by creating WINC: The Women’s Initiative Network & Connection, LLC, where her focus was on Workforce Diversity & Marketing Strategies. She created and presented programs designed to train and educate management and women on the importance of Women’s Initiatives and the ROI associated with a Diverse Workforce.
Ms. Cloeter’s career history includes Sales, Management and Business Development for Kellogg’s, M&M/MARS and Span America, a Medical Supply Company. She also vetted and facilitated a new category market for a family-owned business that included the creation, growth and subsequent sale of a Home Decorating Catalog. Prior to starting WINC, Ms. Cloeter was the VP-Business Development & Sales for a professional woman’s media and events company, Garden State Woman.
In 2010, Ms. Cloeter was named as one of the Best 50 Women in Business in New Jersey by NJBIZ. She is a frequent speaker for organizations and professional women's events including College of NJ-School of Business, Warren County Community College-Business Students, The 2010 Governor’s Conference for Women in NJ, The Women of AT&T, The Women’s Fund of New Jersey, Jersey Battered Women’s Shelter, and the United Way- Women’s Leadership Counsel of Somerset County. She has served on numerous Board of Directors for Non-Profits, is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and currently resides in New Jersey. The mother of two boys, a college football fan, (or fanatic), she loves the outdoors and is an avid golfer.