Denver Hutt (center) surrounded by entrepreneurs. (photo: Facebook)
We’ve got some great news to report this Friday morning! Indianapolis bad ass startup chick Denver Hutt says she’s feeling up to speaking in a couple of weeks at Everywhere Else Cincinnati.
Hutt is a true startup champion. She’s a connector, an entrepreneur, and a startup junkee. The native of Santa Monica, California moved to Indianapolis for college and by choice stayed there to start pursuing her entrepreneurial career, which includes running the Speak Easy startup and coworking space.
She’s been a hustler all of her life right up until, and now through, the point where she was diagnosed with cancer. When (with her permission) we first reported the news back in May the startup world was devastated. Hutt is a person who’s known to go to as many events as she can. She’s a networking machine, and she really gets things done. Her story also became a lesson for entrepreneurs with the go-go-go lifestyle to take a minute to take care of ourselves.
Prior to this news Hutt was one of the first women featured in our Bad Ass Startup Chicks spotlight.
While Denver is putting up a tremendous fight, the way only a die hard entrepreneur could, she’s unfortunately not out of the woods just yet. Fortunately for us though she’s well enough to make the trek from Indianapolis to Cincinnati for Everywhere Else! She is looking forward to reconnecting with many people that she met at our Memphis conference back in February.
We ran a follow up piece in August and challenged Denver to make it to the conference.We’re so glad she’s accepting the challenge!
What? You don’t have your Startup Avenue booth or Attendee ticket yet? Get them below.
Stacey Ferreira is a bad ass startup chick, and quite frankly has one of the most bad ass stories we’ve ever heard. That story starts when she was a student at an all girls Catholic high school in Phoenix, Arizona. When you hear about entrepreneurs starting out as developers in high school, a lot of times those stories are about boys.
Well Ferreira was lonely and missing all of her public school friends who were about 40 miles away. Looking for something to do to pass the time she turned to her brother Scott. He had just begun teaching himself how to program, so the two of them decided they would learn how to become game developers.
Through the rest of her time in high school, Ferreira spent her free time creating and developing different projects with her brother. Then the time came to graduate high school and their parents insisted that they had just one more summer left before they had to go get real internships like everyone else. The Ferreira siblings decided to go all in and move to Los Angeles to build out one of the projects that they had worked on in high school. That project became MySocialCloud.
During that summer Richard Branson held a fundraiser contest of sorts that said if you could donate $2,000 to his charity you could have cocktails with Branson in Miami. Stacey wasn’t even old enough to drink, but quickly realized the value in spending time with Branson. Oh, the other problem was they didn’t have the money. To make matters worse, when they called and talked with someone in Branson’s office they discovered the two of them would need $4,000 not $2000.
Scott and Stacey now had the daunting task of selling their dad on getting a loan. Dad wanted a business plan, Stacey told the standing room-only crowd at a startup event Tuesday in Chattanooga. So she and Scott developed a business plan. Almost reluctantly their dad said yes, but they had to return the money in 3 months.
That ended up not being too tough because that meeting in Miami ended up with a million dollar investment.
Stacey, who is also involved with the Young Entrepreneur’s Council, told her story during FireSide Talks, which featured Thiel Fellows and other entrepreneurs 20 and under. Stacey talked about her entrepreneurial journey from that private school in Arizona, to living in almost the slums of Los Angeles, meeting Branson, getting $1 million dollar investment, and eventually getting acquired. Oh, and that was in less than two years.
Denver Hutt (center) surrounded by entrepreneurs. (photo: Facebook)
Just yesterday our managing editor Monica Selby penned this piece about taking some downtime. It’s good for you, your mental sanity, your health, and even your business. As I read her post, it made me think of the very important lesson we all learned back in May when Bad Ass Startup Chick Denver Hutt revealed she had the “c” word.
Hutt is the Executive Director at Indianapolis co-working and event space The Speak Easy. She also travels around the world learning and helping startups. She is a networking goddess, a strong advocate for startups of any kind and flavor, and a lover of Indianapolis and its startups (although not born there).
Back in May a bad cough that went untreated got worse and worse. Even after the cough was treated, it never got better. It was eventually revealed that she had cancer. Nowadays, in between treatments and doctor’s appointments, Hutt is making sure she sees the world, friends, favorite things, and startups. A true inspiration for everyone in the startup community and elsewhere.
Hut is a tell-it-like-it-is girl and has always believed in transparency, so she started a blog 418stories.com. She’s not looking for sympathy. She wants to share her lessons and keep people updated. I had to make sure we were plenty stocked up on chocolate, tape, and wine when I read this post from Tuesday where Hutt revealed she’s not responding to chemo. No worries though; she’s an entrepreneur, and this is just a minor setback
She’s going to Chicago to meet with doctors at the University of Chicago, and of course she’s making a trip to 1871 and a Cubs game while she’s in town. Then she’s going to do some more discovery (ok get a third opinion) at Sloan Kettering in New York in two weeks. Rest assured she’ll also stop in on startups there as well.
You can keep up with Denver’s journey here, and you can get a #TeamDenver shirt. You know we’re going to.
Oh, and Denver, we’ve got a little challenge for you. Make it to Everywhere Else Cincinnati, or we’ll come down to Indy and get you!
Monica Selby (r) our Managing Editor and employee #1
You may have noticed that my grammar, spelling, and story flow have improved over the last two months.
First, thank you.
Second, that’s not by accident.
As an entrepreneur with two successful exits under my belt, I’ve always been a bit headstrong. I’ve also, for the most part, been a one man show. On my previous blog, we had writers, but no one above that or between me and the writers.
However, as Nibletz continued to grow I realized two things: I couldn’t do it all by myself, and people actually wanted to help me.
Most of you know Nick Tippmann joined me on the founding team late last year.
Well two months ago, we got our “employee #1.” This is a huge milestone and a celebration of any startup’s growth. For us though, we didn’t just got an employee #1. We got a bad ass startup chick, like a boss.
Monica Selby has been writing since the 2nd grade. She was the girl that was always writing stories and organizing writing clubs in middle school with her friends. Even while she was in the “real” work force, writing was always a passion for her, and 3-4 years ago she started looking at writing as a serious career path again.
I met Monica at the Upstart 48 Hour Launch in Memphis, where she had pitched her own startup. Unfortunately her startup wasn’t picked, but rather than go home, she spent the entire weekend helping Danielle Inez and Pink Robin Avenue. Inez won the 48 hour launch competition. Monica continued to stick with it, and with Inez, helping her with her Everywhere Else: The Startup Conference booth.
Monica stayed involved with LaunchMemphis (now Start Co), the organization and startup community in Memphis. She had first become aware of LaunchMemphis through her family friend (and our investor*) Patrick Woods. Monica originally thought Patrick was crazy when he asked her if she ever had business ideas of her own. As I prepared this story, Monica told me how she got involved:
Years ago Patrick encouraged me to let him know if I ever had a business idea. At the time, I had 3 kids under 5, so the last thing I was thinking about was starting a business. But, I got involved with some education stuff here in Memphis and had an idea for a education accelerator for teachers. So, Patrick put me in touch with Eric [Mathews, co-president of LaunchMemphis]. I very quickly learned that idea wouldn’t work in this particular educational climate, but I was hooked into the startup scene here in Memphis.
Monica’s title at Nibletz Media Inc is “Managing Editor.” But, like at any startup, that means she wears a ton of hats. She keeps our team organized; she makes sure Nick and I don’t kill each other; she works to grow her personal networks to help create new content and new content categories. Monica is also an integral part of planning next year’s Everywhere Else: The Startup Conference in Memphis and something else really big being announced next week.
On Monica’s personal blog she writes about issues important to her and her audience, including entrepreneurship, women in entrepreneurship, working women, and of course the coveted work-life balance. With 3 boys–a 7-year-old and 2 5-year-olds–that issue definitely hits home. Monica’s husband Austin is a high school teacher and cross country/track coach, which makes “normal” afternoons nonexistent in the Selby house.
Even with all this going on in her life, Monica is dedicated to Nibletz and the Nibletz mission, spending late nights and weekend hours working on ideas, compiling stories, and making new friends in the startup world. Monica has some exciting ideas she’ll be debuting soon, including a contributor network and several regular series. Make sure to check out her first investor spotlight with Carla Valdes.
So, we at Nibletz are excited to have Monica on board. Reach out and say hi through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or on Twitter.
Denver Hutt (center) surrounded by entrepreneurs. (photo: Facebook)
Back in March, Executive Director of the Speak Easy co-working and startup event space in Indianapolis, Denver Hutt, was our Bad Ass Startup Chick here at Nibletz. We chose Hutt because she’s an Indy lover by choice, deciding to stick around Indianapolis after college. She’s a native of Santa Monica, and who gives up the gorgeous weather, sandy beaches and west coast lifestyle for the middle of the country?
A woman who is uber passionate about startups, entrepreneurs and community, that’s who.
Well like many of us Hutt lives the entrepreneur lifestyle. We originally met her last year on the sneaker strapped road trip when we stopped at a Verge Indy event held at the SpeakEasy. She then came and visited us in Memphis in February for everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference, and a month later we spent most of the week with her at SXSW.
Hutt’s been shoulder deep in running Indy’s awesome coworking space, finding mentors to help the Indy startup scene and working on the next big thing for Indianapolis startups. With a plate that full she lives the round the clock pace that we’re all accustomed to. She’s the kind of person you can ping at 3am on a random Tuesday to fact check a story or 8am on a Saturday morning to confirm details of events. She, like many entrepreneurs, goes round the clock.
That’s why when she came down with a cough over a month and a half ago, she just kept going. The cough became pneumonia. The pneumonia became double pneumonia and she ended up with two fractured ribs from coughing so much.
“I have had a cough for quite some time. More than simply being annoying, after weeks of coughing I developed pneumonia, and because I don’t like to give things just 50%, my pneumonia turned into double pneumonia. And two fractured ribs. (How’s that for commitment?!) As my cough continued despite multiple antibiotics, my doctor and I decided to begin more serious testing to determine the underlying cause.” Hutt said in an email to her community members at the Speak Easy which she shared with Nibletz today.
It was determined that the 26 year old bad ass startup chick was staring down the barrel of cancer.
On May 17th Denver began treatment at the IU Simon Cancer Center. She says she’s in good hands at her alma mater. She seemed in very good spirits when we talked with her today, and she is determined to continue to grow the Speak Easy while undergoing treatment.
There’s no exact prognosis just yet. Treatment has just started and her doctors are still determining exactly what kind of cancer it is. Denver is obviously a fighter and she will attack this cancer with the same vigor she’s been leading the Indianapolis startup community with.
When we spoke with her this morning we didn’t want to tell the, “oh my god Denver Hutt has cancer story,” instead her and I decided the story that should be told is that no matter how fast you’re moving, what you’re working on or how close you are to closing that round, you need to take care of your health and your body. That $1 million dollar series A round isn’t going to do you a bit of good if you’re not around to enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Denver had previously committed to being on the “Bad Ass Startup Chicks” panel at the next everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference. She assured me today that she will still make that appearance next February.
Community service and helping people have been what Brittany Fitzpatrick’s life’s work have been about. But what makes this Memphian even more amazing is that she left a position with one of the most prestigious, well known brands in the non-profit space, Ronald McDonald House Charities, to start something of her own, again in community service.
As the communications coordinator for Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis, Brittany took the passion and drive she’s had since high school and through college at Howard University and Memphis University, and combined it with the tools available in recent day to double the groups social media reach. Ronald McDonald House Charities of Memphis works with the most well known children’s research facility in the world, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Over the last six years, Brittany has been a mentor and helped other mentor’s in a variety of programs. Through her work with Ronald McDonald House Charities and other stops along the way, she found that mentorship was a great thing, but flawed in many ways.
(Brittany’s first pitch at 48 Hour Launch)
When she first pitched the idea for her startup “Mentor Me” back in December at a women focused 48 Hour Launch, she revealed that most mentor orgranizations spend more money re-placing mentors and mentees than they do setting up original pairs. Brittanny quickly realized if someone could fix the initial matching proces than these programs could focus on their original goals and save a lot of money.
That’s where her startup Mentor Me comes in. Mentor Me is a mentor and mentee online matching service that uses a variety of information given from both parties and an algorithm to make more successful matches. While Brittany is hesitant about using the verbage “e-harmony for mentor”, at the core that’s what it is and that’s why it’s going to be so successful.
(Here’s Brittany’s second pitch from 48 Hour Launch)
But the biggest factor in the success of Mentor Me is going to be a combination of the technology and the founder. Brittany is a dynamic young woman. Back in December, the prize for the 48 Hour Launch competition was a startup village booth at everywherelse.co. When Brittany came in second place she decided to crowdfund the people in the audience so that she too could have a booth for her startup. Within minutes her mission was successful.
We got to interview Brittany as she prepares for demo day at SeedHatchery, where she tells us about her latest venture into crowdfunding and what she’s learning at the Memphis startup accelerator:
So tell us what is Mentor Me?
There are 3 million kids in the U.S. being mentored. Yet, there are another 15 million waiting for mentors. Sadly, half of all matches between mentors and youth end within months – which does more harm than no mentoring at all. One of the top reasons for these pairs falling apart is poor matching.
Mentor Me provides cloud-based mentor matching and management tools that make mentoring more efficient and effective for both programs and mentors.
How did you come up with the idea?
The idea came from my own experiences as a mentor. I’ve been mentoring for 6 years now and have been through the process of getting matched with a mentee several times. Through these experiences, I’ve learned just how much of an impact mentoring can have for both the kids who are being mentored and for the mentors themselves. But, as with any process, there are things that can be improved and there are ways to use technology to make the process better for everyone.
Who else is on the team?
My Co-Founder and CTO is Sean Lissner.
Sean has a Bachelor’s Degree in both Mathematical and Computer Science from the University of Memphis. Sean’s specialties include: mobile applications, web applications, web services, distributed computing, embedded systems, cloud architecture, machine learning, and wireless sensor networks.
Before joining the Mentor Me team, Sean worked with large-scale, enterprise level application development projects, including FedEx’s Android mobile application. In addition to his passion for improving communities, Sean brings more than a decade of coding experience and a usability-centered design focus to the Mentor Me team.
Our advisors are: Austin Baker, President and Chairman of the Board of HRO Partners and Co-Founder of the University of Memphis MILE Mentoring Program; Jenny Koltnow, Executive Director of the Memphis Grizzlies Charitable Foundation; Emily Yellin, Customer Experience Consultant
What made you decide to apply for an accelerator?
I knew that going through Seed Hatchery would give me the best chance for success. With accelerators, you’re given a strong network of support through the staff and through the network of entrepreneurs who have gone through the program before you. The support of one’s fellow cohort-members is also invaluable. And of course the fact that they are mentor-driven is also innately appealing to me.
What have been your three biggest take-aways so far from Seed Hatchery?
My three biggest take-aways from Seed Hatchery thus far have been:
The importance of investing in yourself: I left my job right before Seed Hatchery to go all-in on my startup
You have to practice how you play.
Iteration trumps perfection
While some accelerator startups just sit around and wait for investor day, you’re out there fundraising now, tell us a little bit about your crowdfunding?
We kicked off a crowdfunding campaign to match our $15,000 investment by May 16. We’re about 10% of the way there. Our crowdfunding page is at www.gofundme.com/MentorMe.
What’s the reaction to Mentor Me been so far?
The reaction thus far has been positive. We already have our first paying customer and we’re in the process of getting more organizations on board for our beta test this summer.
One thing you learned about yourself in the accelerator?
I’ve learned so much about myself through this process. I think above all I’ve learned how to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I actually look for those types of opportunities now.
What happens May 17th?
The grind continues. Investor Day is just the beginning.
The sunny skies of Hollywood California, celebrities, and power events, with a startup, that would be the ultimate goal for many people who love startups and working for them. Well for Cara VonderBruegge, who worked in that exact position at the Los Angeles office of Living Social, that wasn’t enough.
VonderBruegge (don’t even try and pronounce it), was looking for something more and wanted to move back to St. Louis, closer to her family. From a distance, off in Los Angeles, VonderBruegge saw the explosion of growth that St. Louis’ startup scene was having and she wanted to be there.
While the world knows that Living Social hasn’t been in the best financial place lately, after a series of layoffs it looked like VonderBruegge and her LA based position had survived, and it had. However in a by-chance meeting with Ray Gobberg, co-founder of Bonfyre, they struck up a good conversation. Gobberg explained that he worked at a startup in St. Louis and VonderBruegge told him that she worked for Living Social, itself still a startup.
By chance VonderBruegge called Gobberg just to catch up right when they had a project manager opening, and boom, the job was hers. So she did the reverse, packed up her car and moved to St. Louis.
While an official events coordinator may be in the works down the road for BonFyre, VonderBruegge has her hands full with several other “top secret” projects for the BonFyre crew, and she’s instrumental on their events side too.
VonderBruegge has been on the job for about six weeks and we got a chance to catch up with her at OneSpark in Jacksonville. VonderBruegge knows her stuff, startups, events, networking and Bonfyre. Her bright personality is definitely a perk for the mostly male dominated Bonfyre team.
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We first met Denver Hutt in person when the first leg of the nibletz nationwide startup roadtrip went through Indiana. We were at Verge Indy that particular night and the co-working space for startups was packed. That’s because Executive Director Denver Hutt plays an integral role in the Indianapolis startup community.
Hutt oversees the SpeakEasy coworking space, plans events and mentors startup. She is also working on developing the first ever nationwide network for coworking spaces.
Hutt is in tune with the startup community in Indianapolis and wears many hats. She also loves to check out what works and doesn’t work for co-working spaces and like any true founder, she knows that iteration gets to perfection.
One of the main reasons she’s a bad ass startup chick is because she doesn’t just stay in Indianapolis, she likes to go to where the action is and help startups wherever she can. She was one of over 1200 attendees at Everywhereelse.co The Startup Conference, 2013.
Check out our video interview with Hutt below and for more info on SpeakEasy, visit speakeasyindy.com
One of those bad ass startup chicks that was in the audience and networking all conference long was Jeannette Balleza the director of Ark Challenge, Arkansas’ premiere startup accelerator, and member of the Global Accelerator Network.
Balleza is no stranger to startups. After college she went straight to startup life launching her own company, Scribe Marketing. She is also the co-founding archivist of the award winning family history website DeadFred.
Balleza is a busy busy woman but always finds time to strengthen the Arkansas startup community every chance she gets.
She serves as a Board Member of the Northwest Arkansas Entrepreneurship Alliance, advises a number of small businesses and non-profit organizations and is part of the team spearheading the region’s first co-working space, The Iceberg. She is a member of The CEO Forums of Northwest Arkansas, and she coordinates the Professional Women’s Network Washington County. She was honored as one of Northwest Arkansas Business Journal‘s “40 Under 40” in 2008, and in 2009 she was selected as one of 135 U.S. entrepreneurs by British Airways to attend The Face of Opportunity Global Business Summit Conference in London.
We caught up with her, not in NorthWest Arkansas but rather in Central Arkansas for the ThinkBig Arkansas event and the kick off of Startup Arkansas. She provided a quick speech to attendees with an update about Ark Challenge and the exciting new Iceberg coworking space. Check out our interview below, the first of many to come in our series Bad Ass Startup Chicks.