Women make up more than half of the American workforce today, but for many of them, the demands of home and family remain at least as challenging as they ever were. Women face unique obstacles as they strive to meet the needs of children, job, aging parents, and home—and that is creating a demand for innovative products and services that can help.
The InnovateHER challenge was born from this idea. It is a prize competition meant to shine a spotlight on creative entrepreneurs who are developing products to empower women and families. It involves three basic entry criteria:
The University of Hartford’s Women’s Business Center hosted a Connecticut InnovateHER Challenge earlier this summer. They received more than 20 business ideas, and 19 individuals, businesses, and/or teams submitted official entries. The Women’s Business Center selected Stacey Lokey and Carolyn Caplik of Newtown, co-owners of MOM-EEZ, as the winner for their product Garbage-eez®.
Garbage-eez stores and dispenses kitchen garbage bags from the bottom of a garbage pail. It reduces space and saves time, making the process of removal quick, easy, and sanitary. The product has been developed, patented, and trademarked, and manufacturing and distributor relationships are set. As winners of the state competition, Lokey and Caplik will now become semi-finalists in the next phase of the national competition. The Small Business Administration will select ten finalists to attend the national pitch competition in September, with a prize of up to $70,000 provided by the Sarah Blakely Foundation.
“We were excited to host the third local InnovateHER challenge,” said Milena Erwin, Program Manager at the Women’s Business Center. “We received great interest and many exciting submissions for products and services with great potential to improve the lives of women and families. Our winner, MOM-EEZ, LLC, has a great existing product and a solid plan for growth. We wish Stacey and Carolyn luck and congratulate all our participants.”
Additional finalists in the Connecticut InnovateHER Challenge include: