Four Canadian women named to EY's prestigious 2015 class of Entrepreneurial Winning Women™

Program helps women-owned businesses scale

TORONTO, Nov. 13, 2015 /CNW/ - For the past eight years, through its Entrepreneurial Winning Women™ program, EY has taken aim at the gender gap that exists in high-growth business. While women-owned businesses are growing in volume and revenue at a faster pace than ever before, too few reach the same economic scale as business started by men. EY's Entrepreneurial Winning Women program acts as an accelerator to help successful women entrepreneurs gain knowhow, mentorship and resources to grow their business, access capital, and develop the networks necessary to become a formidable force in their industries.

Yesterday, at its Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs, EY announced the 12 newest members of its 2015 class of Entrepreneurial Winning Women including four Canadians:

"These four Canadian women are inspirational entrepreneurs," says Carrie Marchitto, EY's Entrepreneurial Winning Women leader in Canada. "We are proud to have them in the Entrepreneurial Winning Women program, and are excited to see them take their businesses through critical growth periods, and reach their full potential."

This year's winners faced more competition to join the program than ever. EY received record numbers of qualified applications and nominations. The diverse class comprises some of the most promising women in business today. As a group, they average $11.3 million in revenue, with combined proceeds of $136 million. Their three-year combined growth rate is 164%, and their companies have, on average, 116 employees.

Additionally, this year marked a sharp rise in applicants in STEM-related fields. Twenty-eight percent of this year's applicants were in the technology sector, compared to 9% in 2014.These entrepreneurs break the mold of stereotypical female-run businesses, some creating market disruptors that effectively compete against established ways of working or enable today's most innovative technologies.

"EY's Entrepreneurial Winning Women program believed in me before I believed in myself," says Canadian Entrepreneurial Winning Women class of 2014 participant Kathy Cheng, President of Redwood Classics Apparel. "Since my induction into this sisterhood, I've been given access to 200,000+ EY global family members who are all in my corner. Entrepreneurial Winning Women has redefined the way I view myself; it has torn down personal walls and inspired me to think big and be bold. I am a better leader. I am a stronger mentor. I am a catalyst for change."

Launched in North America in 2008, Entrepreneurial Winning Women is a national competition and executive education program that identifies a select group of high-potential women entrepreneurs from the United States and Canada. Since inception, the program has helped more than 80 participants grow their companies.

Participants are specifically coached on five foundational steps that can help scale their companies:

  1. Thinking big and being bold
  2. Building a public profile
  3. Working on the business, rather than in it
  4. Finding and establishing the right network
  5. Evaluating financing for expansion

The program continues to help the entrepreneurs in the years that follow their initial selection. Many past winners stay engaged in this community where they find like-minded peers with common values, purpose and entrepreneurial ambition.

The members of the EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women Class of 2015 are:

Canada:

Aneela Zaib
emergiTEL Inc.
Richmond Hill, Ontario
emergiTEL is a full-solution provider for staffing, outsourcing, consulting and training services in the Canadian telecom and IT marketplace. The company operates as an extension of its clients' human resources structure by sourcing hard-to-find IT personnel and partnering with clients for the entire life cycle of a hire. In a short period of time, the company has become a market leader and, with projected job growth in the IT sector and among independent contractors, emergiTEL is well placed to continue its expansion.

Rachel Mielke
Hillberg & Berk
Regina, Saskatchewan

Since its founding in 2007, Hillberg & Berk has grown into one of Canada's foremost luxury jewelry brands, sold at 25 retailers across the country, online and in their two stores in Regina. Its designs have been spotted on Michelle Obama, Carrie Underwood and Celine Dion, and in 2013 Mielke was commissioned to design a brooch for Queen Elizabeth II. The company differentiates itself by being a female-driven and female-focused company, giving a minimum 2.5% of profits to charities that benefit women around the world.

Ariel Garten
InteraXon Inc.
Toronto, Ontario

InteraXon launched in 2009 as a service-oriented company, producing brain-sensing experiences for companies like Microsoft. In 2014, the company's signature product Muse, a brain-fitness headband that measures the electrical activity of the brain using EEG sensors, entered the market. Muse sends the information to smartphones or tablets, where an app can be used to promote relaxation and focus. To date, over 75 institutions are using Muse as a tool to work with PTSD, ADHD, pain management and anxiety.

Leah Garrad-Cole
Love Child Organics
Whistler, British Columbia

Love Child Organics was founded in 2011 to offer parents an organic and nutritious alternative to the ready-made food for babies and young children commonly available in stores. The company's mission is not only to leave out the "bad stuff" (preservatives, fillers and sugars), but also to include as many nutritionally-dense ingredients as possible. Love Child Organics started selling in Canada in 2013, and a year later in the US. Its products are currently available in over 2,000 stores in Canada and 1,500 in the US.

U.S.:

Claudia Mirza
Akorbi
Plano, TX

Since it was founded a decade ago, Akorbi has evolved from a home-based translation business into a multi-million dollar company providing language, technology and staffing services around the world. Its success has been in leveraging technology and developing business processes to simplify the translation system, reduce costs and increase speed-to-market. The company has been growing aggressively in the past few years, and counts among its clients the US Department of Agriculture, the US Department of Homeland Security and many Fortune 500 companies.

Nikki Barua
BeyondCurious
Los Angeles, CA
BeyondCurious, an innovation agency specializing in mobile experiences, aims "to help market leaders and disrupters innovate better and faster than their competition." In the few years since it was founded, BeyondCurious has established itself as a significant force in Los Angeles, with a premier, recognizable client roster that spans the market. It was recently voted Boutique Agency of the Year by marketing collaborative thinkLA. BeyondCurious' philosophy is "Innovation @ Speed," employing Silicon Valley techniques for rapid results.

Jody Greenstone Miller
Business Talent Group
Pacific Palisades, CA

Business Talent Group is a marketplace that brings businesses and top talent together outside of the traditional full-time framework. The company, with its roster of over 4,000 professionals, has now served 25% of the Fortune 1000 as well as top equity firms and major non-profits. Business Talent Group was recently named by Forbes as one of the most promising companies in America. In this high-growth emerging market, the company has grown over 60% annually for the last three years.

Susan Catalano
Cognition Therapeutics (CogRx)
Pittsburgh, PA

CogRx is a small molecule therapeutics company focused on the discovery and development of drugs for neurodegenerative diseases. Its research into blocking the toxic soluble amyloid beta oligomer proteins that cause progressive memory loss has resulted in a lead program in Alzheimer's disease set to begin clinical trials by the end of 2015. There are currently no drugs on the market that halt the progression of the disease, and the company is poised to become a market leader.

Alissa Bayer
milk + honey
Austin, TX
milk + honey is an award-winning day spa and salon, with five Texas locations and another under construction. It is also a brand of organic bath and body products, sold in its salons and at retailers such as Whole Foods Market, with whom it also has one in-store co-branded spa. The company's focus is on creating a relaxing, design-forward environment, with passionate staff and all natural, organic ingredients. It was recently voted Best Spa in The Austin Chronicle Best of Austin Readers Poll.

Lisa Falzone
Revel Systems
San Francisco, CA

Revel Systems has created a point of sale platform using Cloud-based iPad technology to replace the clunky, inefficient cash registers of the past. Extending beyond the customer transaction, the Revel POS platform acts as "central nervous system" for businesses, offering a full suite of features from payment processing to personnel scheduling and inventory management. The system can be tailored across industries, and its 10,000 terminals so far deployed are with companies such as Goodwill, Little Caesars Pizza and the San Jose Giants.

Michelle Vondrasek
Von Technologies, LLC
Oakbrook, IL

Von Technologies is an information technology services corporation focused on network infrastructure, unified communications, wireless networks and cabling. Its services portfolio encompasses the network lifecycle from planning and consultation to design and deployment, to optimization and support. The company prides itself on being creative, nimble and flexible based on customer needs. Clients include AT&T, Hilton Hotels and Ford Motor Company. It was recognized in 2015 by the Women Presidents' Organization as one of the 50 Fastest-Growing Women-Owned/Led Companies in America.

Anne Wagner
WaveStrike, LLC
Crownsville, MD
WaveStrike provides custom software application development services to the intelligence community and the Department of Defense. Its software analytics, cloud solutions and cyber security applications aid its clients in the defense of national security. The company was conceived in part to bridge a gender gap in a predominantly male industry and, since it was founded four years ago, it has already made an impact and experienced significant growth.

The 12 members of the Entrepreneurial Winning Women class of 2015 received an all-expenses paid trip to the EY Strategic Growth Forum® 2015, a CEO invitation-only gathering of more than 2,000 high-growth, business leaders held this week in Palm Springs, CA. The conference presents a one-of-a-kind platform for Entrepreneurial Winning Women to introduce their companies and integrate into a community of EY Entrepreneur Of The Year® winners, top executives, prospective investors and business advisors. The 2015 class members were introduced and honored today at a celebratory luncheon hosted by Steve Howe, Chairman of Ernst & Young LLP and EY Americas Managing Partner at EY Strategic Growth Forum.

The entrepreneurs were selected for the 2015 program by a panel of independent judges:

  • Mike Cohen, Managing General Partner, VG Partners
  • Sarah Kauss, Founder and CEO, S'well (and a member of the 2014 Class of EY Entrepreneurial Winning Women)
  • Christina Lampe-Onnerud, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Cadenza Innovation, LLC (formerly Founder and CEO, Boston-Power)
  • Steve Streit, Founder, Chairman and CEO, Green Dot Corporation

An investment in the advancement of women that now spans more than 30 countries worldwide, the Entrepreneurial Winning Women program is part of EY Women. Fast forward, a global platform designed to accelerate the achievement of global gender parity.

"Women's advancement and leadership are central to business performance and economic prosperity," says Lisa Schiffman, EY Director and Global Co-lead, Women. Fast forward. "Through this accelerator and programs such as Entrepreneurial Winning Women, we are using our influence and resources to catalyse opportunities for women in the workforce and advance their interests around the world."

Entrepreneurial Winning Women is conducted in collaboration with several organizations that encourage the development of women-owned businesses, including the Women Presidents' Organization (WPO), the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), The Committee of 200 (C200), Golden Seeds, the Kauffman Foundation and Babson College's Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership. For more information on the program, visit ey.com/winningwomen.

About EY's Strategic Growth Markets Network
EY's worldwide Strategic Growth Markets Network is dedicated to serving the changing needs of high-growth companies. For more than 30 years, we've helped many of the world's most dynamic and ambitious companies grow into market leaders. Whether working with international mid-cap companies or early-stage venture-backed businesses, our professionals draw upon their extensive experience, insight and global resources to help your business succeed.

For more information, please visit ey.com/ca/Entrepreneurs.

About EY
EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. For 150 years in Canada, we've delivered the insights and quality services that help build trust and confidence in capital markets here and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities. For more information, please visit ey.com/ca. Follow us on Twitter @EYCanada

EY refers to the global organization and may refer to one or more of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

SOURCE EY (Ernst & Young)

For further information: Sasha Anopina, sasha.anopina@ca.ey.com, 416 943 2637; Leigh Kjekstad, leigh.kjekstad@ca.ey.com, 604 648 3807; Julie Fournier, julie.fournier@ca.ey.com, 514 874 4308

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