Launch NJ: Women Entrepreneurs Hub Kicks Off With Networking Advice and Inspiration


Photo: Elizabeth Gearhart hosted the new meetup for women entrepreneurs. Photo Credit: Andrew Hines
Elizabeth Gearhart hosted the new meetup for women entrepreneurs. | Andrew Hines

Inspiration was on the agenda at the inaugural Launch NJ: Women Entrepreneurs Hub meetup August 13, 2014, at Gearhart Law, a patent law firm in Summit. 

The overarching theme of the evening: entrepreneurs have to be committed to a vision, believe in the integrity of the services or products they provide and understand the value of networking.

The event started with a successful networking session that included delicious food provided by Gearhart Law. Formal presentations began with remarks by Elizabeth Gearhart, and by Carlos Abad, organizer of the Launch NJ hubs

Gearhart said the group’s goal is success, and anything that will make female entrepreneurs successful could be fodder for future meetings.

Abad discussed the need to create successful entrepreneurs. “You need the good developers, you need to have good professional service providers, you need universities who have programs and pump out students who can be … part of your team. You want local government [involved] so they will be a little bit friendlier,” he said. The object of Launch NJ is to actively create community, added Abad.

Photo: Judith Sheft spoke about networking at the meetup. Photo Credit: Andrew Hines
Judith Sheft spoke about networking at the meetup. | Andrew Hines

The first presenter was Judith Sheft, associate vice president of technology development at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). She discussed the key ingredients to success that build vitality in a community, including a willingness to network to create a culture and climate that result in others wanting to connect with you. 

Sheft provided examples that demonstrated how “people like to do business with people they like” and feel they can make a connection with. You need to be someone whom people want to work with, she said.

“At the end of the day, it doesn’t only come down to the dollars and cents between a couple of different proposals,” she said. Rather, she noted, the issues are, Do I like to work with these people? and, Are their behaviors and the way they work something I’m willing to take on? Sheft provided a host of resources available to female entrepreneurs for exploring the benefits of networking further.

The second presenter was Michelle Spell, CEO and founder of Rockaway-based Ava’s Cupcakes, the 2011 winner of the Food Network’s acclaimed “Cupcake Wars.” Spell’s journey to becoming an entrepreneur began during her teen years. She said her perseverance, passion and people skills had kept her on track.

Ava’s Cupcakes began in Spell’s home while she and her husband raised a family of four. She spoke about the many challenges she had faced along the way. 

At a pivotal juncture for her company, Spell sought out business support by contacting SCORE, one of many existing business-counseling teams that provide operational guidance to entrepreneurs. 

Spell said SCORE had helped her consider how to tailor her business model and operation for greater effectiveness and efficiency and to further her success. 

After the presentations ended, the attendees were invited to an in-depth taste testing, to “further their knowledge” about Ava’s Cupcakes. That part of the event was fully enjoyed by all.

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