Through WomenVenture's ScaleUp program, I have the great pleasure of working with these smart, driven women who are upping the game in their respective industries. It is an honor to feature their businesses below.
Owner, Navigate Forward
Navigate Forward provides highly customized support to senior executives who are currently in transition, planning change in the future or seeking board service, helping them find their passion, their path and their place in the business community. Since their inception in 2008, they’ve worked with more than 1,500 clients and 400 companies across the country and around the world.
Founder, Arubah Emotional Health
Arubah works to partner with agencies that are in need of mental health services for their clientele. They also seek to provide integrative services. Their professionals dedicate and invest time and energy into the holistic care of the client. They collaborate with other professionals and providers to ensure that their client’s needs are met. They also build a personalized treatment plan designed specifically for individual needs and then take them through the process at their own pace.
Founder, Fair Anita
Cute + ethical + affordable gifts and accessories, sustainably made by talented fair trade artisan partners around the globe. They’re on a mission to create a world where women feel safe, valued, and respected by investing in women and creating pieces you can be proud to wear.
President, Gateway Music Festivals & Tours,
Gateway World Tours and POMP!
For over 35 years, Gateway Music Festivals & Tours has led the music tour industry with seamless performance tours and special event management by providing customized group tours, offering excellence in arrangements, sightseeing, and safe, comfortable worldwide travel.
POMP!, the latest addition, provides creative services and merchandise to our clients.
Owner, Spence Specialties ANEW
ANEW provides sober housing for women AND children, as well as outpatient treatment for women with substance use disorders.
President, CEO & Dog Lover, Elevator Technical Consulting, Inc.
Elevator TCI is a fierce advocate for their client’s safety and code compliance in the Elevator Industry, providing effective results for any vertical transportation challenge. They have built a culture that ensures they do what is right, not what is easy.
Author’s note: This is a particularly fun story for me to share, as Kate is the COO/Integrator of my family’s 71-year-old commercial roofing company. I have been lucky to be one of its stewards for the last 26 years.
With the number one CliftonStrength of Learner and being raised in an entrepreneurial family, it’s not surprising that Kate has found her success at Mint Roofing.
“My passion for learning and all things business has served as motivation throughout my life,” says Kate. “Growing up, I had the opportunity to watch my parents start a variety of businesses. And as the ‘caboose’ of the family, I got hauled everywhere so I saw it all.”
Kate joined Mint Roofing (then Dalbec Roofing) in 2002 to replace her sister who worked at the front desk answering phones and providing general administrative support to the office. Kate had graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Parks and Recreation a few years prior, which made her a great fit for a roofing company where it often feels like a contact sport!
It became apparent rather quickly that she had the capacity to do a whole lot more. At the time, Mint was building a Preventative Maintenance Program that would (and does!) outshine ANY competitor. She jumped in and quickly took on the development and management of TopSite which would soon become a hallmark of the company.
“My dad passed away this past year, and I realize now more than ever that the real gift he gave me was the love of a challenge and hard work,” she says. Thanks, Mert. We owe you for that.
This was readily apparent as Kate saw even bigger things ahead for herself. Our long-time accounting/office manager was getting ready to retire, and Kate set her eyes on that position. She knew she didn’t have the right training or background for it, so she went back to school for her MBA. Remember...love of learning.
Upon completing her MBA, she moved into a corner office and became the new head of finance. And she hasn’t slowed down.
In 2012, Mint Roofing implemented EOS®. Within a few years, she had her sights set on becoming the Integrator (in more common terms, a Chief Operating Officer). Our goal of developing a smart and effective Leadership Team was working!
And in 2017, she did exactly what she set out to do: she became the Integrator. This allowed me to transition out of daily operations and begin my own EOS® consulting practice.
I have LOTS of stories I could share from the years of working with Kate, but she has lots of stories she could share, too, so it’s probably best to leave it at that. We’ve often joked about writing a book called something like, “You Can’t Make This SH*T Up.”
Some day, Kate. Some day.
The inspiration to start a business can come from a variety of places. In Caytie’s case, it was born of a desire to create a better life for herself and her kids.
As a single mother of two, she was trying to find a way to be an income earner, manage the kids and not go crazy. So start a business, right??
But that’s exactly what she did. The LaClare Group, a global meeting planning services company, started in 1997 in her basement working part-time, evenings, and weekends until she could let go of her day job. Caytie had held a variety of positions in sales for a conference center, as well as hotel and meeting planning.
“I was going crazy trying to get me ready, get kids out the door (then ages 4 and 6) and not be late for pick-up at daycare,” she said. “It was a constant race against the clock...and God forbid if one of the kids got sick!”
In her “desperate attempt to get control over my life,” she was able to quit her day job just six months in. Dang, girl. She was bringing in enough income and able to stay home with her kids.
“This past year, we’ve all become so accepting of the work-from-home situation. It became the norm. But back then you really had to keep it on the down-low. I had a P.O. box and prayed the dog didn’t bark when I was on the phone with a client.”
Caytie says she didn’t have a grand plan. But as the business began to grow she started taking the natural steps of hiring a part-time position, then a full-time, and a few more after that. Along the way, they carved out a few niche areas such as the medical device industry.
And while things definitely slowed down during the pandemic, they were able to pivot the business to virtual meeting productions which allowed them to broaden the scope of businesses they could serve.
The pandemic also allowed Caytie to focus on another long-time passion of hers: Better Smarter Stronger, a new concept that focuses on helping people evolve to become the best version of themselves. “I wanted to provide inspiration and a ‘community’ to support these efforts.” Click here to learn more: https://www.bettersmarterstronger.com
That’s the thing about entrepreneurs...they are almost never out of ideas!
Her advice for other women? “My advice is to Trust Yourself! There will be 100s of people telling what/how to do it. Trust yourself and bravely move forward.”
Agreed! Thank you, Caytie. It’s been a pleasure working with you.
Sometimes the path we start out on veers sharply in another direction because of circumstances beyond our control. Such is the case with Lisa, who started her career in elementary education in the mid-90s. But by 1998, not having much luck finding her dream teaching job, she joined her father at Superior Consulting Services as a PC support person.
By then she’d also gotten married and had a baby. “I think my dad was worried we wouldn’t be able to pay the bills,” Lisa recalls. Little did he realize he had actually just hired one of his successors.
Lisa soon realized that you get to wear LOTS of hats in a smaller firm. As she gravitated over to the administrative side of the business, she discovered she had a knack for systems and processes. With no background in HR, Finance, Marketing, Purchasing, or any of her other many roles, the former teacher learned how to teach herself.
The path eventually led to an ownership stake in the business followed by a full buy-out with two other partners (Paul and Brian) in 2014. Reflecting on her intended career, she thought that if she could teach kids to play nice in a sandbox, she could do the same in a business.
As the company’s only female executive in a predominantly male industry, Lisa says she has had to work harder to prove herself. “It’s definitely better than it was, but I still see people addressing the men at the table. But these challenges just made me bolder and more determined to be heard.”
(As someone who has known Lisa for a while, I can attest to this!)
She is quick to add that her partners are fabulous to work with and very supportive of her in her current role as Integrator. In the world of the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, that’s a big dang deal because they are the orchestrator that makes all the moving parts of a business play in harmony.
“I love Traction (EOS). It has helped us come together as a Leadership Team and as a company with one clear direction.” (And it helps to have a terrific coach. Wink, wink.)
Lisa’s advice to other women comes from Vanilla Beane, a 100-year-old hat maker in Washington DC: “Love many, trust few, learn to paddle your own canoe.”
Love it. Keep paddling, Lisa!
When I was younger, I worked as a Customer Service Representative, in the parts department, in accounting and spent time with technicians in homes. Since coming back to the business several years ago I’ve been a Sales Representative, the Customer Experience Manager, the Sales Manager, and now...President!
I knew I wanted to work here when I was 19. Really! The very first home I was in, we did a big replacement project where we pulled out an old gravity system and had to build all new ductwork and put in a new furnace and air conditioner. The customers were so happy when it was done. It was fascinating to see how the installers laid everything out, how they could visualize what the end product would look like before we even began and it was so satisfying to be a part of physically building something that would help people enjoy their home. I realized the work was part art and part science that required skill.
I remember going to my dad and uncle in my early 20s and saying, “I’m serious about this, so what do I need to do to make this happen?” It took a lot of focus from that point. I earned my technical degree from Dunwoody after my four-year degree and then chose work opportunities in other construction-related businesses, including a few years in the corporate and nonprofit world.
During that time, I was busy studying for certifications, seeking out mentors, and building my network. It’s been quite a journey!
I want people to know that the trades are such an awesome place to be and would love for more women (and men) to explore careers in our industry. There are opportunities to work independently, to be part of a team, to work directly with end-users or be more behind the scenes, and it’s pretty cool that many of the roles are a part of actually maintaining or fixing or literally building the community around us. I feel fortunate to have grown up around HVAC and now I want to spread the word and get more people to join in the fun!
Advice to other women: Don't wait until you feel perfectly prepared to take your next step, whether it's starting a business or going for a new role. I talk to too many women who doubt themselves because they haven't done something before or only check off 60% of the requirements for a role. Many of these women never feel ready, and the reality is they probably never will, but it shouldn't stop them! If you're inquisitive, hard working and you keep showing up, you've got a great shot at success whether you're perfectly prepared or not!