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Women in Entrepreneurship gain first-hand look at success

Michigan State University’s Women in Entrepreneurship (WE) network recently rewarded its most active members with an eye-opening and possibly career-altering experience.

Ten members from WE, a university group that provides opportunities for women to develop entrepreneurial skills, met with professionals in Seattle March 20-24 during an annual trip to sharpen business skills and refine careers goals. The group toured corporate offices and incubators and also met with MSU alumni working in the area.

The trip began with students taking part in a Q&A panel with several Seattle-area founders including Jim Xiao, of Mason America, a mobile ecosystem designer; Sharon Pope, of Kids on 45th, a children’s clothing supplier; and Stefan Kalb, of Shelf Engine, which helps perishable food distributors and grocery stores fine-tune their item order patterns to save money and reduce waste.

Later, WE met with Kristi Growdon, executive director at E8 Angels, an investor in clean technologies, followed by a social function with the Female Founders Alliance, a group celebrating venture-scale female founders.

On the second day, the group toured the Starbucks Reserve’s Seattle roastery, led by MSU alumnus Jeremy Burek, and had a lunch meeting with Meeka Charles, a banker at JP Morgan and board member of CleanTech Alliance, which represents 300 companies and organizations across the U.S. and Canada. WE also toured Amazon’s headquarters with MSU alumna Christin Burek. To cap the day, the group met with another MSU alumna — Kim Karrick, co-founder of Scratch Distillery.

Lori Fischer, events and student program manager with the MSU Innovation Center, has been a WE adviser since its inception in 2016. She said the group’s diverse interests and the support they show for one another enable them to grow into leaders and models for others.

“The biggest takeaway is the connections — learning about other people’s journeys, their advice and gaining a connection to reach out to in the future,” Fischer said.

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