photographs by Jill Knight
Under twinkling lights in the beautiful setting of the Pavilion at the Angus Barn, nearly 200 people gathered on a mild September evening for our major fall event: WINnovation.
Presented by Bank of America and Walter, the event celebrated six of our area’s most accomplished and innovative women: Raleigh Mayor and MedPro RX founder Nancy McFarlane; Brooks Bell company founder Brooks Bell; Soar Triangle co-founder Lauren Whitehurst; Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption founder Molly Paul; The Green Chair project founder Jackie Craig; and LoMo Market founder Guenevere Abernathy.
Each honoree gave a five-minute “WIN” talk about her own entrepreneurial journey and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Representing a wide range of perspectives and life experiences, the speakers shared wisdom, insight, and humor. They talked about the spark that inspires them, the hurdles they’ve overcome, and the perseverance that’s seen them through.
The audience – a high-profile bunch of entrepreneurs, creators, and leaders themselves – say they came away informed and inspired, and with a broader network of fellow innovators. Our hope is that the stories shared, the connections made, and the conversations begun will serve to grow our already-thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem.
“If I think about advice or words of wisdom, it’s really ‘What are your priorities?’ And they’re going to change. They’re different when you’re 20, or 30, or 40, or 50; but fundamentally there’s something that really is important to you and I think that success in business and life comes from realizing that and building around that.”
-Nancy McFarlane, Raleigh Mayor and MedPro RX founder
“Leap. Don’t get stuck in the planning – go for it. But then also break it into something that you can manage and think about how to manage your ideas.”
-Guenevere Abernathy, LoMo Market founder
“If you look at the funding from venture capital firms to startups in the United States, 5-7 percent of that money goes to female-led businesses … that is an anomaly, and it is something that we needed to try and fix … this is not a women’s issue. This is an issue for our community, our country, for us to push forward.”
-Lauren Whitehurst, Soar Triangle co-founder
“We are a society that gives children one image of success, and that’s straight A’s and being a top varsity player. It’s a very hurtful message. My parents and my teachers have given me the room to be myself and to work as hard as I can, and that has allowed me to grow in ways I could have never imagined.”
-Molly Paul, Raleigh Aquatic Turtle Adoption founder
“It’s okay to feel uncomfortable. I believe that feeling uncomfortable is a sign of courage and of innovative thinking.”
-Brooks Bell, founder of Brooks Bell
“Women and men in this room, this community needs you, too. Every one of you has some quirky, unique talent to share, as well as time to give and stuff to give, too. Every good work being done in this community here in Raleigh needs human capital like yours. There will never be a good reason not to do it, not to share it, not to give of your time and your talent and your treasures.”
-Jackie Craig, co-founder of The Green Chair Project