Everything about Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards exceeded my expectations! – Ting Shih
It started with a straightforward application form prompting for an executive summary of a business plan. Then the finalists, selected among more than 1,000 applicants from around the world, were notified in June, with the formal press release in early July. Then the fun really starts, first with the Cartier-designated coach.
My coach, Kamm Kartchner, Managing Partner of Hollivine Partners private equity firm and graduate of INSEAD, provided spot-on insights that helped reshape my business plan. With his startup experiences, as well as investment activities through Hollivine Partners, he provided constructive feedback on the business plan, from an investment perspective. In my quest to tackle as vast as a market as global health, market segmentation and competitive strategy have been challenging areas as there are many different types of players in the global health landscape. Kamm helped with analyzing the market, through his own experiences and tools, to coach me through how best to position ClickMedix.
Then comes the long-awaited week of activities in France. Honestly, I have been watching TV shows such as The Apprentice and America’s Top Models in preparation for the worse of competition. But, the reality couldn’t have been further from TV shows.
Each of the finalists is an admirable individual and successful entrepreneur. Many of them started off with just an idea to a problem, or a passion, from healthcare, sanitation improvement, artisan-made products, disaster relief, to publishing.
Iba Masood created Gradberry with just $200 to provide jobs for newly graduated students in Dubai. Liana Gunawan simply just loves shoes so she started La Spina Collections to design her own lines of shoes with Indonesian materials. Jeannie Javelosa is a serial entrepreneur who created ECHOstore, ECHOmarket, and ECHOcafe to help rural Philippines artisans, farmers, etc. to brand, market, and sell their products at first-world standards. Gabriela Flores‘s Kirah Design turns Bolivian artisan work and recycled materials into high-end accessories. Rania Saddik‘s GebRaa markets fair-trade Egyptian handicrafts to link rural artisans with the global market. Lindsay Stratdley, fellow MIT 100K business plan competition winner, with her company Sanergy and its tagline, “Turn shit into gold!”, builds sanitary toilets, collects the wastes, and turns them into bio-fuel products. Julienne Ingabire & Elizabeth Scharpf‘s company, SHE, produces low-cost and eco-friendly sanitary pads with Rwanda’s local entreprenuers. Cécile Réal of Endodiag and Michèle Boisdron-Celle of Onco Drug Personalized Medicine each has a medical innovation that saves lives and reduces pain for patients. Elizabeth Ojeda Gómez‘s Almemories is improving the quality of life for Alzheimers patients and care givers. Mildred Mayr has developed a multi-million dollar hospital staffing company in Chile. Nermin Saad‘s Handasiyat.net provides jobs to female engineers in the Middle East. Sairee Chahal‘s Fleximoms helps mothers in India re-enter the workforce. Nthabi Sibanda launched Puo Educational Products to educate children, based on Africa’s language and culture. Valentine Van Der Lande‘s Ten Pages.com allows writers to crowd-fund their publications. Anna Stork gives light with LuminAID Lab and Patricia Compas-Markman gives clean water with DayOne Response’s water filtration system. You can meet all of them here on Cartier’s website.
I think I’ve never made so many like-minded new friends in just a week! With each finalist, I can see us collaborating together in the future, and launching our products and services across our respective regions. Throughout the week, we engaged in business development workshop sessions from ThousandSeeds and Women’s Forum events. It was an inspirational, educational, and, at times, emotional week altogether.
The competition certainly isn’t all just great friends, chocolates, French dining, and photo shoots. The pitch session was a grilling experience, where the juries pushed on critical parts of our business plans. I don’t recall any finalist coming out of the session with a winning smile. We were definitely put on edge.
But the most valuable part was the constructive feedback from the juries. I feel honored and fortunate to be in the same room with the North American juries, each of them a powerful and successful role-model for entrepreneurs. You can meet the North America jury members here: Virginia Littlejohn (CEO and Co-Founder of Quantum Leaps, Inc), Kimberlie Cerrone (CEO of Tiatros), Peggy Wallace (Managing Director of Golden Seeds), Shelly Porges (Director of Global Entrepreneurship Program, US Department of State), and Nell Merlino (Founder and President of Count Me In).
Then the award ceremony, a slew of excitement and anticipation:
And the night finished with an African themed celebration with other guests of Women’s Forum.
One of the best learning experiences was the in-depth jury feedback session where we brainstormed new ways to improve ClickMedix. Having such a stimulating discussion session with the esteemed group of North American juries is an experience money can’t buy. With their expertise, I am inspired and fueled-up to realize ClickMedix’s vision of providing affordable healthcare to the billions.
Thanks to the Cartier team: Olivia, Cécile, Maïté, Ada, Emilie, and others for putting together an amazing program. The entire finalist group and the Cartier team have since formed a Facebook group to continue our conversations and collaborations.
Last but not least, big thanks to the ClickMedix team, our advisors (Phil, Jodi, Ed, Dennis, Achiamah, Naana, Elmer), and supporters (Linda, Hung, Ryan, Tina, Mac, Joost, Carolyn, and the MITers) – we would not have the success of today without you!
For all women entrepreneurs interested in applying for Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, I’d be happy to share my experience with you. Please feel free to contact me via twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Application opens in Nov 12 2012, here’s how to apply and get started: http://www.cartierwomensinitiative.com/how-to-apply