An idea launched on March 3 at Ignite, a night of presentations with a twist, where 14 presenters each get 5 minutes to talk about a subject over 20 slides, Bad Girl Ventures has truly come to fruition. Their first inaugural class has graduated and their first loan has been awarded.
Candace Klein, a female entrepreneur in Cincinnati, realized that traditional banks had frozen in the recent economy and her girlfriends were struggling to obtain finances to move forward with plans for start up companies. After spending the winter and spring researching and developing her concept to help fund women-owned starts ups and tailoring it to fit the Cincinnati region, Klein attended a conference in San Francisco looking for a plan to model her venture after. But there was no one doing anything like it, anywhere else.
"Cincinnati is a highly innovative city with a great deal of talent and we didn't have the resources to nurture that in the past, with all the tools provided," said Klein.
So she created Bad Girl Ventures, a 501c3 non-profit organization that is ultimately a highly localized micro-lending organization focused on women owned start ups in Greater Cincinnati. BGV invites women with entrepreneurial dreams to fill out a simple one page application about their start up idea with the opportunity to win a $25,000 zero percent interest loan that they will be obligated to pay back over a three year period.
On October 12, Bad Girl Ventures announced their first winner, Pet Wants, an urban feed market that opened in Findlay Market around six months ago. The 8 women who applied for the loan went through a six-week program of classroom curriculum that taught them skills for running a start up, from drafting a business plan to learning legal structure and product pricing. The candidates then pitch their business to the board of advisors.
"Pets Wants: was clearly well versed on their market and products; they were heads and shoulders above their competition. Michele Hobbs, owner of Pet Wants, was constantly working on this, emailing us at 4:00 a.m.," said Klein.
Their goal was to provide one loan; they were able to get six out the door. By partnering with Fifth Third Bank, BGV has been able to leverage with traditional lenders to offer loans to other women start-ups. The organization plans to grant ten loans every year and leverage twenty to thirty more through other banks.
"We're vetting for these women to ensure they understand the financial aspects of creating a start up and the bank sees us as a benefit to them as well," said Klein.
The next class for bad girls to venture into entrepreneurialism begins on January 1, 2011. Interested candidates can obtain more information here
. Learn more about Pet Wants here
or visit them at Findlay Market.
Writer: Rene Brunelle