Elon’s women and entrepreneurship conference focuses on resiliency

The W.E. Do! Conference, hosted virtually by the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, featured Kara Goldin of Hint Water, Anne Morrissey of Alydia Health, and Anna Podvalkova of A3Ventures.

The Elon W.E. Do! Conference, an event dedicated to empowering women entrepreneurs, was hosted virtually by the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship on May 1.

W.E. Do! Conference - A day of inspiration, conversation, and stories of resilience from women entrepreneurs
A flyer created by the Doherty Center Scholar Interns for the 2020 W.E. Do! Conference.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the fourth annual conference was moved online.

“Hosting this conference virtually allowed us to continue our tradition of celebrating women entrepreneurs,” said Alyssa Martina, director of the Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “The conference met an important need to focus a spotlight on the role that women – including our female students – play in the world of innovation.”

“Women entrepreneurs have never backed down from a challenge,” added Lilly Rothschild ’22, student chair for the W.E. Do! conference. “When things don’t go as planned, you move to plan B. I rallied the Doherty Center Scholar Interns to help with marketing materials and recruitment, and pulled together a student committee of Meghan Murray ’21, Elizabeth Vitulli ’21, Haley Brengartner ’20, Mallory Trapani ’23, Zoe Kurtz ’22 and Claire Morrissey ’23, who each helped in recruitment and planning every breakout session question so that our event would run smoothly.”

More than 80 participants heard stories of resiliency and advice from Anne Morrissey P’23, CEO and president of Alydia Health, Anna Podvalkova, product marketing manager at A3Ventures, and Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint Water.

Morrissey discussed how she views entrepreneurship, noting an entrepreneur is someone who brings a product or service into existence to solve a current problem.

“The spirit of entrepreneurship is about solving big problems and I think that is a new skillset we are all going to need in this new world and reality that we are living in,” Morrissey said.

She also discussed failure and how she thinks “failure is such an incredible learning and rich ground if you accept it as such.”

Morrissey’s tips for success included remaining focused and resilient, being able to pivot one’s focus when necessary, keeping persistent, and finding mentors.

Podvalkova shared how she has been able to remain resilient and maintain focus through challenges. Her first piece of advice was to build a network. She explained, “Jobs come and go, but your network will always be with you.”

In order to build one’s network, it is more than just connecting on LinkedIn, she elaborated. It is important to invest in the relationships.

Picture of video conference participants.
Image shared by Kara Goldin on May 1 on Twitter.

Podvalkova also encouraged participants to choose change and to get out of one’s comfort zone. She advised doing regular check-ups on one’s mind in order to manage stress and remain mindful, and noted that happiness takes discipline. You can be happy if you stay focused and choose to be, she said.

Goldin reviewed what it takes to be an entrepreneur, relating it to the pandemic. She said beginning a start-up “takes a lot of resilience and episodes like the one we are in right now. You just have to be able to continue moving forward and pivot when things are not necessarily going in the direction you anticipated and figure out what you can do to ultimately make the business grow.”

She also pointed out that most of the time people get in their own way. “We often have the answers but we believe that we can’t do something, so we don’t try,” Goldin said.

She urged participants to try and see what happens because one never knows what the outcome could be. “The most exciting thing is when you can actually run a product or service or be a part of something that helps people,” Goldin explained.

The conference also included breakout sessions, which allowed for participants to discuss in smaller groups resiliency and maintaining focus through times of challenge as well as the power of mentorship. The discussions were facilitated by Sarah Keach Baucom, Girl Tribe Co.; Kya Jognson, RainbowMe; Jordan Lacenski, SheWolf Collaborative; Zitty Nxumalo, Deftable; and Jennifer Trapani P’23, The Redwoods Group.

The Doherty Center for Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship focuses on experiential education that encourages creative and design thinking, opportunity recognition, and plan formulation and implementation. Throughout the year, the center sponsors entrepreneurship-themed co-curricular activities for those interested in developing their entrepreneurial mindset and skillset.