Women’s entrepreneurship fair celebrates innovation

“Celebrate, Empower, and Support Women Innovators” was the mission for this year’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Day (WED) here at Cal Poly Pomona.

WED is a day that is celebrated globally during this time of November, but has Nov. 19 set aside as the official day to celebrate the work of women as innovators and to encourage motivation.

Three years ago, CPP’s Student Innovation Idea Lab (iLab), decided to join this global movement and organized a day-long event to do just that. This year, the event was held on Nov. 7 at the Bronco Student Center.

“I think the students, faculty and staff really do get a lot out of it,” said Ericka Olguin, analyst for the iLab. “Hearing the journeys of the speakers and hearing what they have been through, the struggles they went through and their successes, really encourages us to keep moving as women and entrepreneurs and to not give up.”

Nastaran Simarasi led a panel of three women entrepreneurs. (Sarah Madrigal | The Poly Post)

Olguin states that there is actually a women’s entrepreneurship committee, which meets all year long. They will start planning for next year’s event next month. The committee meets monthly, then as it gets closer to the date, they meet biweekly and then weekly.

There were many campus affiliations that joined together with the iLab to make WED a success, including the Women’s Resource Center, Kappa Delta, Makers Club and the University Library. The College of Business Administration and its Management and Human Resources Department also contributed.

Approximately 207 guests attended the event that included lunch, guest speakers, seminars and a question and answer panel of women entrepreneurs.

Dr. Laura Massa, who serves as CPP’s associate vice president for academic programs and the accreditation liaison officer, delivered the opening remarks.

As the guest of honor for this event, Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, spoke. Jessica Resendiz, creator and owner of Raggedy Tiff, was the keynote speaker.

One of the more popular events was the question and answer panel of entrepreneurs that was led by Nastaran Simarasi, who is an assistant professor for Strategic Management here at CPP.

This panel consisted of Kaycie Beltran, owner and creator of Kinetik Performance fitness studio; Berlyn Gallardo, founder of startup Gwlgtv.com, the website for LGBTQ+ womxn to be seen and heard through media; and Jennifer Fong, owner and creator of Jennifer Fong Interior Design.

As attendees began to take notes of their own, these female entrepreneurs spoke about how they overcame challenges and struggles to get to where they are today.

Gallardo, a CPP alumna, spoke about the importance of using your resources as a student, such as the iLab on campus. Being a student can get you a lot of connections that can help you succeed.

Beltran, another CPP alumna, talked about how the gender roles placed on society have shifted and women’s empowerment is on the rise, and for women to be able to say they are their own boss shows that change, but declared it is a tough road and something you have to strive for.

These women filled with inspiration made an impact on the attendees as they gave their undivided attention, and the audience wasn’t just women.

Another event that was popular was an effective negotiation seminar ran by Zeynep G. Aytug. She taught the key tools to be a successful negotiator through a lecture and a hands-on activity.

There was also a poster contest that was filled with different idea boards for start-ups.

When thinking about the importance of the overall event and the potential impact WED will have on guests, Olguin said:

“I hope that this event can motivate or inspire that one person or student to follow their dream and to pursue that start-up they were thinking about and whatever they might have in mind but are too scared to take that step. I hope that coming to WED and hearing our speakers [motivates] them to reach for it, because it is possible.”

This is an event that the iLab hopes to continue each November, and the iLab hopes to see it grow and make a bigger impact over time.

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