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Women-led companies eligible for Westport business-growth program

Published 11:27 am, Monday, June 9, 2014
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Applications are being accepted from women-led Westport businesses for a 12-week program that aims to transform startups and early-stage ventures into businesses capable of expanding into multiple locations and markets.

The Westport Library's Maker in Residence Series will accept 10 companies for the program, which is scheduled to start in September, program officials said. A series of six business-accelerator workshops are planned at two-week intervals.

The application deadline is Sunday, June 15.

There is no application fee, and the only fee for companies accepted for the program will be $300 to cover meals during workshops, organizers said.

The business accelerator -- called The Refinery -- is funded by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, plus the Westport Sunrise Rotary and the Stamford Innovation Center, according to the release.

To qualify, organizers said, companies must:

Have at least one woman in a leadership role (either by management, funding or product/service focus).

Have launched or be ready to launch a product or digital service by end of 2014.

Have the potential to grow to more than $10 million in revenues.

Be focused on creating an exit potential in four to six years and be capital efficient.

In-person and phone interviews will be completed by early July, and selected companies will be notified by Tuesday, July 15, organizers said.

The accelerator will culminate in a "pitch night" at which teams will present their companies to the community, pitch to potential investors for funding and compete for cash awards.

The program was devised by Janis Collins, co-founder of The Refinery, who has 25 years experience helping companies expand, according to the release. The program also will feature Jennifer Gabler, co-founder of The Refinery and a former chief financial officer who has taught and done research in the business schools of Harvard University and Dartmouth College.

Workshops at the library will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. every other Wednesday. On weeks in between, companies will meet with mentors and advisers at the library or Stamford Innovation Center, organizers said.

Workshop panelists will include Vince D'Agostino, entrepreneur and angels investor; Kathleen Warner, former chief operating officer of Startup America; Bill Gordon, entrepreneur, angel investor and original founder of the Stamford Innovation Center; entrepreneur Steve Obsitnik and others.

Online applications are available at www.refineryct.com and must be filed by Sunday, June 15.