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Emerson Women to Offer Insight at Innovation Event

Four of Emerson’s women entrepreneurs will tell their stories at an informal event during HUBweek, Boston’s annual festival of art, science, and technology, happening through October 15.

Senior Executive-in-Residence Lu Ann Reeb, director of the Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship (E3) minor; Evy Tea founder Evy Chen ’10; Trish Fontanilla ’05, head of community and customer experience at Freight Farms and a startup veteran; and Lea LeBlanc ’17, winner of last year’s E3 Expo and a MassChallenge incubator spot for her line of reusable incontinence garments, Wunder, will speak at the Innovation Women Pop-Up Friday, October 13, at Cultivar at the Ames Hotel.  

The event is co-sponsored by online speakers’ bureau Innovation Women, MITRE, and Emerson College’s new Graduate Entrepreneurship Certificate Program.

“For anybody who might be considering [entrepreneurship] it can be a scary thing because [that means] giving up that paycheck that you know is going to be deposited into your account,” said Reeb, a former Emmy Award-winning television producer who ditched her own steady paycheck to start marketing and public relations firms. “When you hear about other people who have done it successfully…it’s not as creepy or as foreign an idea.”

It’s especially important for women innovators to hear tales from other founders who may have faced the same kinds of obstacles and issues that they’re facing, Reeb said.

A huge chunk of Boston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem consists of startups in the health care and technology sectors—industries that traditionally have been dominated by men. That’s slowly changing, Reeb said. This year, for the first time, the E3 cohort is three-quarters women. Typically, the makeup has been around 50-50, even though the student body of Emerson as a whole is about 65 percent female.

“I think we will see a shift in the next 10 years in terms of women not just being involved in tech and health care areas of innovation, but also other entrepreneurial endeavors,” Reeb said.

“Ten years ago there were no women coders…it just takes a while for us to make that shift,” she said.

Reeb said the Innovation Women event, which is free and will run throughout the day Friday, also is a great way for would-be founders to learn about Emerson’s Graduate Entrepreneurship Certificate Program, which offers graduate-level, transferrable credits as well as flexible online courses.

Chen, herself an E3 winner who went on to start a rapidly growing cold-brewed tea operation, said she’s happy to be representing her alma mater and showing off what Emerson has to offer to the Boston innovation scene.

“I believe it’s important to represent the diversity of what innovation can be—age, gender, industry, and culture,” Chen said in an email. “Being a part of HUBweek is a fantastic way to tell not only the Evy Tea story, but an Emersonian story as well. An unusual one, nonetheless a daring one.

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