Time is Ripe for Rochester Female Entrepreneurs

Rochester Rising emerged from a need to tell the stories that nobody else in Rochester was telling and to chronicle the rise of entrepreneurism and innovation in the city. Rochester is certainly best known as a town for medical advancement, which drew in many of its current residents. But the city has so much more to offer than one industry and is starting to gain a critical mass of entrepreneurs.

Perhaps there has been no better time to be a female entrepreneur in Rochester, or Minnesota, than right now. The number of female-majority owned businesses has increased ten-fold since 1972, now accounting for 40% of all US companies. A total of 157,821 businesses in Minnesota are now owned by women, employing 182,229 people and bringing in $24.6B in annual revenue. While the total number of Minnesota companies decreased 1% between 2007-2012, the number of women-owned businesses increased by 18% during this time.

However, female entrepreneurs still have a long way to go. A 22% pay gap exists between men and women in the United States. In 2014, only 10% of US startups that received Series A funding contained female founders. Women-owned businesses make up only 32% of all Minnesota companies, accounting for only 8% of the state’s paid employees and generating only 4.4% of Minnesota’s annual business revenue.

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Rochester itself has over 100 women-owned businesses including: Rochester Rising, The Urban Studio, Rochester Home Infusion, Tinua, Area 10 Labs, Café Steam, White Space, Yoga Tribe, Studio on Third, Rochester MN Moms Blog, LegitB Marketing, Irie Kennels, Good Dog Camp, Shear Envy, North Star Bar, Sola Salon, Hesby Professional Services, EDGE FITNESS, TerraLoco, ERH Developing Inc., and Erin Young Portrait Design. Since the founding of Rochester Rising in July of last year, we’ve told the stories of 73 different emerging businesses in Rochester, 23 of which were women-led or had a woman as a founding member.

The number of women entrepreneurs in the city may be small, but they are strong and growing. Being a female business owner myself, we tried to fill a gap during Global Entrepreneurship Week held in Rochester last November and held a Women in Business Breakfast at Bleu Duck Kitchen (which has a female owner, by the way). The event brought out over 65 members of our female business community. The breakfast was such a success, we felt something like this had to happen again to supplement the needs of the city’s female entrepreneurs.

Tomorrow, Rochester Rising is bringing the first ever Demo Night to the city, talking about beer, babies, and biotechnology. Demo Nights are typically tech focused events, where entrepreneurs walk through how their product works to provide a distinct solution and are ways to demonstrate what’s going on within an entrepreneurial community. Our Demo Night tomorrow features four female entrepreneurs from a range of industry and expertise including: Shruti Naik from the biotech cancer startup Vyriad, Amanda Steele and Brittany Baker of MedCity Doulas, Alaa Koleilat of the Mayo Clinic healthtech startup GoAudio, and seasoned food and beverage entrepreneur Tessa Leung of Grand Rounds Brewing Company.

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We believe that this collection of female innovators exemplifies the diversity and versatility of Rochester’s growing entrepreneurial community right now. Demo Night is a way to share the stories of these women and start to bring to light the creativity and leadership occurring within our city.