What a great event ZINO Society hosted yesterday at Bellevue City Hall! It was the 6th annual ZINO Life & Wellness Investment Forum. Emma Landis, ZINO Dealflow Manager, did a superlative job of sourcing 15 great companies that are in just the right place for angel investing and the Coach/Mentor members successfully helped them each be the best they could be. Every single ZINOpreneur Selectpresenting member was spot on with his or her presentation. And Claire Dillow, Events & Marketing Manager and our crackerjack intern, Jillian Tyack, handled the myriad details that are required to produce such an event from registration to name tags, to programs, to ballots to food to featured libations to . . . and we even ended on time as promised.
One of my favorite parts of the program which brought tears to his eyes along with others in the audience was when Monty Montoya, CEO of SightLife, talked about how emotionally challenging it was for him when he visited China for the first time and was holding an 18 month old boy in his arms who needed corneal transplants and realized that he would not be one of the recipients of the 8 corneas they had available for transplant for the over 150 people who were waiting in line in the hopes of receiving the gift of sight. That was really one of the turning points for him in putting SightLife on an entrepreneurial path to increase the availability of corneas available for transplant.
ZINO Woman Intentional Investment Forum this past week at the Columbia Tower Club was a big success with 200 angel investors, entrepreneurs and business professionals attending including 24 Judges, 13 Elevator Pitchers, 8 Volunteers, 7 Business PItchers, 6 Panelists, 5 ZINO Team Members, 4 Winemakers, 2 Event Sponsors, 2 Dealflow Flight Facilitators, 1 ZINO Annual Angel Fund $100,000 check presented and 1 Traction Updater. Surprisingly however, there was not a partridge in a pear tree.
The big “Triple Crown” winner of the evening was Lori Salow Marshall of BYNDLwith a brilliant business that provides a mobile transaction services platform, enabling companies to extend their own software or machines to transact with any mobile device. For example, it enables mobile payment and customer data collection at unmanned vending machines. She received the Judges’ Award for best investment opportunity, the ZINO Zenith Award for best investment opportunity and was also one of the 3 potential fund finalists selected for further consideration for an investment from the ZINO Annual Angel Investment Fund-2014. Runners up for both awards and also potential fund finalists were Justine Smith of Kids Go Co. and Mhairi Voelsgen of broVo Spirits.
One of the very early-stage ZINOpreneur members that pitched was 21 year old UW student, Zoe Mesnick-Greene of StartMark. Passion and enthusiasm for her lip care product which also supports cleft palate surgery for children in developing countries, was so abundant that we didn’t have a chance to hear enough of the business side of the business in the limited time she had available to pitch. She is definitely someone to watch. I personally look forward to watching her continue to grow her business and become more polished at sharing her message more succinctly.
Congratulations to all the entrepreneurs who pitched at ZINO Woman!
Though ZINO Society has included many women entrepreneurs over the past almost 9 years that we have been featuring pitches by entrepreneurs seeking funding, I am excited about the brand-new investment forum we are hosting on May 20th, ZINO Woman Intentional Investment Forum, which is strictly devoted to featuring only women entrepreneurs pitching. Though the audience will include men and women, this forum is our attempt to help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs seeking angel funding.
Just take a look at these statistics from the recent May 7, 2014 Newsweek article entitled “Women Entrepreneurs Fight for their Piece of the Pie”:
Startups with at least one woman on their founding team are roughly 18 percent less likely to attract equity investors than their all-male counterparts, according to 2013 data from an ongoing survey by Emory University. Yet they are almost 20 percent more likely to have generated revenue—and that’s no small distinction in a world where the vast majority of venture-backed startups fail.
Data collected by PitchBook found only 13 percent of all venture capital deals in the United States went to women in 2013, a significant increase from the firm’s 2004 data that put the figure at 4 percent. But that still means 87 percent of deals are being given to all-male teams.
Recently, a good friend of ours, Gordon Kuenster, passed away due to leukemia. Over the past 30 years or more, along with his wife, Diane, we have been good family friends spending time boating together, playing tennis, skiing, attending each other’s birthday parties, celebrating holidays and family milestones.
Watching a friend die has been hard for many of us who have known and loved Gordon Kuenster. Though Gordon had a brilliant career and was a pioneer in technology business, he was modest and never talked about it, so we have primarily seen him as a quiet and loving husband of our vivacious and beautiful friend, Diane. He was always there in the background supporting her and loving her. He leaves a big hole in the fabric of our many interwoven friendships.
One funny story I want to share was a time probably over 25 years ago now when Diane, Susan Neumann and I wanted to plan a surprise housewarming for our friends Susan & John Von Hagen. It was late November and they had just moved into their new home atop Clyde Hill. Somehow, one of us had gotten a key to the Von Hagen’s new home and shortly after they moved in, Diane, Susan and I were able to sneak into their house and ‘borrow” all their Christmas decorations.
Our plan was to show up at the surprise housewarming, scheduled to occur in just a few days, with a Christmas tree and have all their friends help decorate the tree. We took all the decorations to the Kuenster’s big yellow house in Medina and put them in the greenhouse next to the clock tower. Gordon’s job was to put the lights on the tree in advance so we could begin hanging ornaments once everyone arrived at the party. Gordon enlisted friend, John Fluke, to help him and because most of the lights appeared not to be working, they spent countless hours freezing in the greenhouse fixing all the light strings, replacing bulbs and getting them all working. If they had charged an hourly rate, that tree would have been the most expensive tree in the city!
The Von Hagen’s were suitably surprised when we all showed up at their door with a Christmas tree in tow, but the best part of the story was that we had “borrowed” the wrong lights. We had left behind the new lights and only taken the box of old Christmas lights that were not working anymore, which caused Gordon and John to invest so much time. Oh, well! The tree did look spectacular and the party was a success!
Within the last week or so, along with other good friends, I had the opportunity to help Diane write Gordon’s obituary for the newspaper and we were all so impressed as we read old articles and reports about all of his experience and background, much of which we had never known. Tom Alberg also wrote a beautiful article about Gordon in Geekwire which I want to share HERE.
Lucas Schenck, Brian Gawthrop, Cathi Hatch, Ed Brennan, Supida Sanders,Michael Roupp and Kate Holmes Last night, a group of ZINO Society members and guests got together at Marcus Charles’ Local 360 Cafe and Bar on First Avenue in Seattle for a ZINO Society Libations on Location! networking event. It was my first visit to Local… Continue Reading
Kate DesRosier, ZINO Society Dealflow & Operations Manager I am so pleased to welcome Kate DesRosier to the ZINO Society team as our new Dealflow and Operations Manager! Kate was selected after an extensive and laborious search of many qualified candidates. Kate will be working directly with all the entrepreneurs and our ZINO Society Screening and… Continue Reading
Kristie Lanum & Kate DesRosier Today the Social Venture Partners Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP) Quarter Finals Round was held in Paccar Hall at the University of Washington. Around 37 social entrepreneurs were on hand to make 5 minute pitches to a panel of judges in the hopes that they will be passed through to the Semi Finals… Continue Reading
ZINO Society is partnering with Social Venture Partners to produce the inaugural Social Innovation Fast Pitch (SIFP) forum coming up on October 3rd at Fisher Pavilion at the Seattle Center. We are expecting passionate supporters of social innovation and entrepreneurism creativity to join us for what will be an intellectually stimulating (and fun) event beginning at… Continue Reading
ZINO Team Christine Gilbert, Mary Holmes, Cathi Hatch, Kristie Lanum, Jamee Nunnelee This coming Tuesday is our biggest ZINO Society event of the year, ZINO Zillionaire Investment Forum. The ZINO Society team has been working VERY hard to get all the details ready so that everyone attending has a wonderful time! Kristie Lanum, our Chief… Continue Reading