Women on the Rise: Aviatra cultivates female businesses

Aviatra is an accelerator for small, women-owned businesses, with hubs in the Cincinnati and Cleveland areas. Formerly known as Bad Girl Ventures, the nonprofit has proved an important resource to female founders in the community, serving more than 1,500 women since 2010.

Through Aviatra, emerging entrepreneurs get connected to a community that supports, advises, encourages, and educates during critical phases of business development. Whether exploring a concept, launching a venture, or nourishing growth in an existing business, participants benefit from expertise tailored to their needs, as well as assistance connecting to funding.

Their tagline, “women on the rise” suggests the shifting landscape of entrepreneurship, where women-owned businesses are indeed growing, amidst a continuous push to close the gender gap and to help underserved entrepreneurs overcome proven barriers to capital.

All three of Aviatra’s programs — Explore, Launch, and Grow — leverage the expertise of the surrounding business community. With local professionals serving as the programs’ workshop instructors and advisors, a small-group, in-person format allows for real connections to be made. In this way, participants walk away from the program with a network to draw upon for information and resources in every area of business, including accounting, finance, marketing, law, and real estate.

According to Aviatra’s Cincinnati program manager, Tori Schoettmer, one of the most recurring, and critical, gaps for those entering the accelerator is financial expertise. By the time they exit the Launch program, graduates are equipped with three years of financial projections as well as connections to finance professionals within the community.

The Grow program is the most informal of the three, with workshops throughout the year that are open to anyone. Topics vary, but the goal is to help entrepreneurs stay relevant and up-to-date in their business operations.

The Launch program unfolds each summer. In this phase, mentorship is essential, and classes delve deeper into developing processes and strategies for marketing, sales, and social media, while also extending into financial projections, legal topics, talent management, and culture. By the end of the summer, cohort members have the opportunity to publicly present their concept and compete for funding at Pitch night.

The current cohort's pitch night takes place on August 29th. Concepts include DYI fashion design kits for kids, a family meal prep and delivery service, a distillery poised to join the Kentucky Craft Bourbon Trail, a custom floral design business, and nonprofit housing for women overcoming addiction.

The Explore program unfolds over nine weeks every spring and fall. Weekly three-hour classes guide participants toward success in refining their vision, creating a business plan, establishing partnerships, budgeting, marketing, branding, and social media. In this program women also have the opportunity to receive a mentor.

Aviatra is currently in an open application period for fall 2018. Any woman with a business idea is encouraged to apply. The next Flight Night for current Launch participants is August 29th at 5:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Innovation Network. It's free and open to the public. For more information, check here.


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