Statistics for women-owned startups is bleak.  According to the Wall Street Journal, only 7% of venture funding and only 4% of the total dollar value of all small-business loans go to women-owned businesses.  Yet the record 9.9 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. generate more than $1.6 trillion in revenues, employ 8.98 million people resulting in employee pay of $290.5 billion, and accounts for 36.2% of all enterprises.

The Indiana Conference for Women is accepting applications through September 15, 2015, for Springboard’s Dolphin Tank, a pitch session that provides women entrepreneurs with feedback, guidance and connections to accelerate their success.

“The biggest barrier that has held women entrepreneurs back is access to capital,” said Billie Dragoo, CEO of RepuCare and co-founder of the Indiana Conference for Women.  “The Dolphin Tank provides a supportive environment where women can learn the high-stakes art of pitching, along with the language of venture capital, that will help them achieve business growth.”

Conference co-founder Deborah Collins Stephens added, “Women-led businesses are on the rise, yet these firms are traditionally underserved by all sources of growth capital.   We are committed to providing programs such as these that help overcome hurdles to secure the funding these businesses deserve. ”

“Research shows that if a man and a woman submit the same application to a funding source, the male name is received more favorably,” said Kristen Cooper, Vice President of Operations & Corporate Development at Sticksnleaves, and founder of the Launch Ladies.  “We don’t believe this encapsulates the whole picture.  Men entered into the startup arena early.  One of the biggest challenges for women is simply not being as familiar with the process.  The Dolphin Tank provides the opportunity for women entrepreneurs to learn, while exposing their startup to influencers and investors, leading to their next stage of growth.”

“Indiana’s women entrepreneurs represent a strong supportive network committed to the success of other women,” stated Polina Feldman, Spin Up Associate at Indiana University’s Research and Technology Corporation.

Springboard’s Dolphin Tank program has raised over $6 billion in capital for women entrepreneurs, with 10 of their portfolio companies going into IPO.  Their portfolio has included ZipCar, iRobot, the Minute Clinics, and  Entrepreneurs and judges are coordinated by Kristen Cooper and Polina Feldman.

Since participating in the Dolphin Tank last year,  What Friends Do successfully raised $500,000, and garb2ART was listed in the Indiana Small Business Development Corporation’s top 50 companies in Indiana.   Other former participants include Pam Cooper of Boosterville, Dawn Andrews of garb2ART,  Cosmetics, Cheryl Watson of TEA unwrapped and more.

Applications for the Dolphin Tank, which takes place at the Indiana Conference for Women at the JW Marriott on November 12, can be submitted online here.

About the Indiana Conference for Women:

The Indiana Conference for Women is the Midwest’s largest women’s event, featuring internationally-acclaimed speakers, bestselling authors and business experts with strategies, advice and tools to ignite your career or business success. The conference takes place November 12, 2015 at the JW Marriott Indianapolis.

​Speakers include Kathy Ireland, Sallie Krawcheck, Caroline Dowd-Higgins, Maureen Hackett, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Amy Wilkinson and more.

The conference is produced by Invent Your Future Enterprises. To register and for more information, please visit

Featured Image photos by Tatyana Kanzaveli.