It was Madeleine Albright who said there was a special place in hell for women who didn’t help other women. We must all help each other fly and today we talk about what it takes to lift as we climb.
I’m Melinda Wittstock and today on Wings of Inspired Business we meet an inspiring entrepreneur who has made it her mission to help women and girls live up to their full potential in business and in life.
Heather Wentler is the co-founder of Doyenne – a network of women who are in each other’s corner no matter what. Doyenne helps women entrepreneurs connect with each other, collaborate on creating a better community for everyone, and works to empower others to live their dreams.
We’re going to talk about what it takes for women to get out of a scarcity mindset and truly collaborate to help each other – and of course that is a mission I share with Heather. At Wings we lift as we climb and foster an ecosystem where women buy from each other, promote each other, mentor each other and invest in each other.
And did I mention with the Retreat and Mastermind you get membership in a year-long mastermind for support, accountability and ongoing teaching? Make sure you apply!
As long as she could remember Heather always wanted to be an educator and started teaching Pre-K at daycares during college, graduating with a BA in elementary education. Over time, as she taught math at Middle school and got frustrated by the inequities faced by low-income and minority families, Heather sought another path to realize the change she wanted to see – that is, practical lessons outside the traditional curriculum, more hands on and based on life experiences.
The answer came with entrepreneurship.
She founded Fractal in 2011 – providing STEAM enrichment programming for school-aged participants through participant-guided learning activities – and more than 2,000 have attended to date.
Heather didn’t stop there.
Inspired by the Sunday SOUP Network and its hosting of local events and microgrants for community projects, Heather created Madison SOUP in Wisconsin – and members of the community now pool their dollars to support a local programs, projects, entrepreneurial endeavors or non-profits. The community votes on the most deserving pitch and awards the micro-grant.
But it wasn’t long before her growing involvement in the Madison startup scene frustrated her – there were rarely any other women in the room.
She says she felt like a token female invited to help boost “diversity” numbers. She was hit on, not taken seriously, told her startups weren’t “real startups” because they didn’t fit into what others saw as startup endeavors. Then she met Amy Gannon, and the two of them founded Doyenne to solve the problems they were both experiencing as women entrepreneurs.
Fast forward and Heather has received multiple awards for her work supporting women including Madison Magazine’s M-List for 2013 “Person of the Year”, In Business Magazine’s “40 Under 40” in 2017 and was listed as a Top Women Entrepreneur to Follow by RantChick media.
She’s also spoken at SXSW, Disrupt Madison, Startup Grind and 1 Million Cups, various panels discussing STEM and women entrepreneurship across Wisconsin.
So are you ready for Heather Wentler? I am. Let’s fly!
Melinda Wittstock: Heather, welcome to WINGS.
Heather Wentler: Thanks so much for having me.
Melinda Wittstock: I’m so excited to talk to you because we share a really important mission, and that’s lifting women in business. I’m always curious about the founder story, what was the spark that made you want to found Doyenne?
Heather Wentler: Yeah, it’s an interesting story. My husband actually is an entrepreneur. He went to school for mechanical engineering. I was like, “What do you mean you’re not going to use your degree? You’re going to start your own business instead?” We were both just graduating from college. I’m like, “Oh, what’s another couple years of living like college students. Sure, go ahead. Go pursue your dream.”
At that time, I was teaching within the school district here in Madison, Wisconsin, and was just starting to feel like this is not something I want to do for the next 25 to 35, or, 25 to 35 years of my life, and started to think about, what do I want to do next? I was getting more and more involved in the entrepreneurial space here in Madison and just feeling like it’s such a bro scene of, we were reading all this stuff about what was happening in Silicon Valley around how women were treated. This was back in 2011. I’m like, “It’s the same stuff going on here in Madison.”
My husband actually was co-organizing a Startup Weekend event here in Madison with a woman named Amy Gannon. I was like, “No way. I’m not going. There’s going to be no women there. I don’t want to sit, and pretend I know what I’m doing, and then just also be deflected too and be like, ‘Oh, great idea. We’re moving on. Ooh, let me tell you this great idea,’ and say the same thing that I just said five seconds ago,” because I’d already had too many experiences like that. Apparently at the event, Amy was sitting and talking to my husband, Chris, and saying the exact same thing of like, “There’s a 100 people in this room. Only five are women. This is ridiculous.” Chris just texted me. He’s like, “Please come. There’s someone you need to meet here.”
Melinda Wittstock: That’s great.
Heather Wentler: I went over there. I was grumpy. I was like, “I don’t want to be here.” I’m totally putting on my stubborn, little temper tantrum. I’m showing up. I met Amy. I was just like, “We can change this. How are we going to do that?” We tell people that we were, we’re a success story of Startup Weekends. We launched at Startup Weekend in 2012. We spent six months dating and really seeing, is this something we want to move forward with? Do we feel like we can work together, let alone run a business together? We also said this is just going to be a side hustle. Both of us had careers. We weren’t really looking to add another job on. We were just like, “Let’s just figure out how we can work with what already exists within our community and make it more gender equitable.”
Then it kind of snowballed and blossomed into what Doyenne is today. We’ve listened to a lot of our female peers from across the state. We’ve looked at a lot of other models that are going on across the nation as far as, how do you really implement change within an ecosystem to make it more gender balanced? It starts with, let’s look what’s going on right outside my backdoor, and then how do we reach out beyond that? Then how do we support the entrepreneurs who need it the most? How do we support women directly? That’s where we really focused on.
What else is going on? There’s a ton of mentoring and coaching going on. Well, it’s all done by men mostly, is what we were seeing within our community. Oh, guess what? That’s a national thing. That’s something we can begin to work on. We do one-on-one coaching within Doyenne. All of our coaches are females. We have had a couple male coaches, but all of our coaches go through a coaching training of how to work with entrepreneurs, and how to work with women entrepreneurs specifically because the language of how men and women talk is so different sometimes. How do you come in and be supportive of those entrepreneurs and not just “should” all over them. What you should do and don’t come back to me until you go do exactly what I tell you to do, even though the entrepreneurs are like, “I don’t want to do that. That’s not what this is trying, what my business is supposed to be.” They feel like they get gridlocked into, if I want to get support, then I have to do what these men are telling me I have to do.
Doyenne really creates a space of, “Nope, we accept you. We understand that. Life happens around building your business, not a separate thing, and that there’s nothing wrong with you. There’s a lot wrong within our ecosystem, and how can we fix that?” Along with the coaching, we do other professional development to help build that strategic plan for your business but then also, how do you develop as the CEO or the leader that your company needs to be able to take it to the level that you’re trying to get it to be at. That might be, I just want to be able to have a business that provides supplemental income, or enough for a full-time salary for myself, but I can still be able to be done at 3 o’clock, and take my kids to soccer, or baseball practice, or whatever that may be, or I want to sell this, so I need to be able to build it big really fast, be able to get in front of investors, and sell this as quick as possible to be able to move onto my next idea or project.
We have the full gamut that we work with within our professional development opportunities. Then really going back to how do we bring that to the greater community of, Doyenne does public events where we highlight our women entrepreneurs up on the stage. Then we have a lot of collaborations within the communities that we work in so that we can become a resource to those other organizations who are looking to create more opportunities to highlight, not just the same dudes in hoodies, is what we typically we see, up on stage but be able to highlight women doing amazing things within our communities and building businesses that aren’t just supporting a niche market, but they are building up our entire communities with their products that they’re building.
Melinda Wittstock: It struck me, Heather, for a long time that women are succeeding in silence, right. We literally don’t fit the stereotype of the entrepreneur. We’re not in a garage generally. We’re not eating ramen noodles. They have too many carbs. We didn’t drop out of Stanford, MIT, or Harvard. We’re more likely to actually graduate, and go on, and do things, hire, and fire, try, and disrupt within a large organization, get lots of credentials, do a lot of that kind of stuff, and come into entrepreneurship a little bit later in life. We don’t really fit the stereotype, wearing a hoodie, this kind of thing. What that’s meant, it seems to me is that there’s been a kind of invisibility that we’ve been succeeding despite, not because of.
I think that’s really changing and shifting. I think from your origin story in around 2011, 2012, 2011, I remember I was trying to raise money for a tech startup. It was so difficult. I was the only woman in the room. It was so, so hard to raise money in technology as a female. Even now, it’s maybe 2 to 3% of venture capital money. What do you think is changing most? Is it just finally now that there are enough of us and we’re just being noisy enough that, because it feels to me like something is shifting.
Heather Wentler: Yeah, I think that’s part of it. I think that there’s finally, we’re like a united force saying we’re not going to tolerate this anymore. I think that a lot of the invisibility that was going on to date was just, women got sick of trying to bring their chairs to the tables or knocking on doors just to be unanswered. We said, “Fine. I’m just going to go put my head down and do my work.” There’s also, there’s a ton of research that shows women just exited the workforce in huge, huge numbers in the early 2000s through 2010, 2012 range.
When we start seeing this uptick of women coming back to the workforce, and then also because we’re saying “no more, enough is enough,” I think that’s really put a lot of people on just, it’s brought attention to it a lot more. It’s put more people under the spotlight of, you better get on board, or figure out how you’re going to work with us, or we’re going to leave you behind. We’re going to call out your inappropriate behavior as well. When you think of movements like the Me Too movement, but then also the I Believe Her or I Stand With Her, and the other huge national movements that we’ve seen going on within the last couple of years, it’s really time. That hashtag #TimesUp lives true.
Melinda Wittstock: It does. It does. Yet, there’s been sort of a chilling thing too. In Silicon Valley, a lot of women report not getting meetings anymore because the guys are so apparently afraid of being, of the Me Too movement.
Heather Wentler: Well, yeah.
Melinda Wittstock: That they just don’t take meetings at all. What?
Heather Wentler: We’re told often by our male counterparts or just men who claim they’re supporters of women in our community. They will look at us and say, “You pull the gender card too much. Stop pulling your ‘women’ card.” I just look at them. I’m like, “I don’t even know what that means. For you to stand in front of me and say you’re a supporter of women, but then tell me to not pull my gender card, is a huge slap in the face. It also shows that you don’t really stand with us or you’re unwilling to even see where I’m coming from. If I can’t have a constructive conversation with you about this is what you’re doing to me and it needs to stop.”
Heather Wentler: I think that, we’re seeing that more and more everywhere. How do we continue every single day to stand up and do that? I think that there’s a, that’s on, women have to keep doing, we got to keep fighting that fight. It is hard. It feels like for every teeny tiny step that we take forward, it sometimes feel like we get knocked back five steps.
Then also, we need to, how do we bring men along on this journey as well? I think that’s the part we’re still looking at of, how do we do that? Then I think women need to support women more. When I think about some of the cattiest or most mean things that have ever been said to me, have been by other women. They’ve actually not been said to me by men. How do we support other women constructively as well? When we all come from so different backgrounds, and upbringings, and just lived experiences, how do we create a space where we can all accept each other for what we bring? I know that’s totally talking in some utopia place. Just, how do we start to look at each other from each other’s viewpoint?
Melinda Wittstock: Going back a little bit in time to that first meeting that you walked in and you met Amy, your partner in all of this, and you didn’t really want to be there. Do you think that feeling is still stopping women from taking the first step into entrepreneurship that we almost stop before we even start because we assume that’s the case? I mean, how many women do you think that kind of thing actually holds back?
Heather Wentler: I think that a lot of women will, that holds them back. When we think about the stereotypical gender roles, women are still supposed to be looked at as, I’m the full-time parent, but I’m also need to be a full-time income provider within my family. The national ratio that more women bring insurance and other benefits to the family than their male counterparts, so how do I say, and how do I tell my family I’m going to take this leap. I need you to believe in me. Things are going to be rough for a while. I can’t tell you how long it’s going to be rough for. I need you to just do this with me because this is what I need to do for myself, is really, really, hard.
We also, women internalize things so much more, I think, sometimes than our male counterparts, which I think partially goes into why the ecosystems are built currently the way they are of, we put all this pressure on ourselves. Then we have all this external pressure, unknowingly put on us or sometimes knowingly put on us, around what being a good partner, a good person in the community, a good employee, or leader within a company looks like, that it becomes even more daunting of taking that leap into entrepreneurship.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it really does. We have to get past it though. What advice do you give a woman who is walking into a scenario where everybody that’s going to train her is a guy and from a guy’s perspective? Because all I know, and I’m sure you know this too, we are very different in business. When we try, and pretend to be guys, or think we have to be guys, it doesn’t really work so well for us.
Heather Wentler: No, no, it’s used against us even more.
Melinda Wittstock: Well, I think that’s how we end up with the, tagged with the B word, right. Or we, when, and I wonder, I’m curious your thought on this. I wonder if it just seems inauthentic and that when we’re actually leveraging, what I’ll call our authentic feminine power, that is the assets that we naturally have, brains that really connect the dots in a way that is very strategic, the intuition, and the ability to make good relationships, and leverage them. Those things are such huge, huge assets in a business. They used to be called the sort of soft skills like somehow that they weren’t as important because they were soft or something but they’re vital. I see more and more men trying to emulate those things as corporate culture changes to what I’d say is, it’s much more of an archetypically feminine model. I’m talking archetypes here. Do you think women make the mistake of just not really fully embracing or stepping into their feminine power?
Heather Wentler: Yeah, I think so. I think that, there was … Pixar released earlier this year in 2019 a little short film about male toxicity in the workplace. I loved it. I love, love, loved it. I don’t know how many times I made my husband watch it. He’s like, “We’re watching this again?” It’s, they emulate the woman as a ball of pink yarn. I’m like, “Oh my gosh.” I mean, I just remember watching the first few seconds and kind of cringing. What is this going to turn into? This is toxic, making the female this soft little ball of yarn. There’s so many stereotypes and ideas around this. Then you see throughout it, she progresses into try to fit in as all the other guys in the company. Then they hire another woman. She has to choose. Do I want to keep acting like this or do, and excluding the other woman. Do I keep acting like the guys and exclude the other woman or do we figure out how to work together as a team and really highlight what everybody brings to the team? I won’t tell you how it ends. It is a Disney film.
Melinda Wittstock: It’s interesting. I do another podcast as well as WINGS called “10XTogether,” where I have women and men who are both entrepreneurs. In fact, you and your hubby should come on, you qualify, to really talk about the masculine and the feminine role within business, within relationships, how you balance all these things. It’s fascinating because when you have two entrepreneurs, and by definition, entrepreneurs are problem solvers. We’re really working this out together across romance, business, parenting, just the life.
A theme has really emerged that is just as simple as this. Everybody’s in their highest of all state when we’re leveraging the best of both masculine and feminine within ourselves.
Heather Wentler: I think, when I think about mine and Chris, my husband, Chris’s relationship, there are definitely, we are both problem solvers. Anytime I’m like, “Guess what happened today?” Or, “I’m working through this problem right now.” He does the same thing and we both go to the, how do we fix this problem? We now have code where we say, “I need to rant. I’m not looking for feedback. I’m not looking for you to fix my problem. I just need to talk this out for five minutes.” It’s so, so hard for us to just sit, and listen to each other, and not say, “Well, you could do this and it would all be solved.” It’s made our relationship stronger because otherwise, we both felt like we can’t talk about work with each other. I’m like, “This is so crucial and part of our lives that for me to not be able to come home and celebrate with you but then also talk about what I’m struggling with causes huge problems within our relationship.”
It goes, any partnership. Amy and I are the same way of, we have a once a week meeting that we always start it off with just checking in with each other. Just say, “Hey, how was your weekend? What’s going on?” Because when we know what’s going on outside of work, and then also what we’re dealing with within each of our jobs, we can figure out how best to move forward, and how to accomplish the big tasks that are in front of us, how to overcome the challenges that are facing in front of us. Then how do we build a stronger partnership to be able to continue to work together?
Melinda Wittstock: That is so beautiful what you just said. I think of all the women who are navigating entrepreneurship in business with men at varying degrees of consciousness, right, because it’s such an uneven playing field. I think there are a lot of men, who genuinely really do want to help women, are really showing up in that way. I also think a lot of men are a little bit confused. They don’t really know who they should be. They also get mixed signals from women who are also at varying degrees of consciousness. It’s a kind of mixed bag. It’s hard to be absolute. It’s hard to be really … How best to navigate that just on a daily practical level for a woman who’s just thinking of making the entrepreneurial leap, or just in the early stages, almost startup sticky floor, or beginning to grow, and even scale her business. How to navigate that uneven playing field?
Heather Wentler: Unfortunately there’s no magic bullet that we can really figure this out. I think that part of it is just, if you really understand yourself but then also really understand what you are building within your business, and stick to that, it makes it a lot easier for when you go into those situations where you’re feeling uncomfortable or how do I, even just how do I move through this? I don’t know how many networking events that I’ve been to that I’m just like, “I just need to move through this room. How do I do that?” Or even been to workshops where I’m like, “How do I even figure out how I fit into this room when what the person’s talking about doesn’t resonate with me at all?”
It’s really hard. I mean, my personal thing is, when I went to college, I went to this school for, to be a elementary school teacher. They taught us how to be reflective practitioners. It seems so interesting. They want you to be thinking about, how did your experiences in front of your students, take time to think back, how did that go? How can you make it better? I really embody that of, I move through it. Sometimes it’s really hard to be like, “Oh, why did I say that? I sound like such an idiot.” Then I’m also thinking about, how could I make it better next time? When I was talking to people about what Doyenne does, where did I start to see either their eyes glaze over or they have that look on their face like, “What? I have no idea, understanding the words that are coming out of your mouth right now.”
Then I can figure out, how can I do better next time? Then also just calling it out. I do not, I don’t hug. I don’t really like to be touched. I always, I figured out. The hand goes out when you meet someone. You don’t give them that opportunity to come in for a hug. Sometimes I do have to arm out and other arm bracing on the forearm of the arm that’s out to shake the hand so that people see this is a barrier for me. Please do not encroach. Or just calling it out and be like, “I really don’t like it when you rub my shoulder or you say stuff like that.” Or, “It sounds really dismissive when you call me ‘sweetie’ and you’re like, ‘Oh, sweetie.’ You’re trying to use it as a positive thing. All it does is, it feels like I’m being diminished for the work that I, in the, or in the ideas that I’m contributing to the team that we’re working on right now.”
It doesn’t need to happen in the middle of the meeting. I don’t, never, I’ve never gotten mad enough in a meeting where I’m like, “You need to stop right now.” It always has happened afterwards where I will do a follow-up phone call or an email saying, “Can we get together and just have coffee?” Be like, “I just want to let you know that when you did X, Y, Z, it made me react this way. I want to be able to continue working with you. Can we figure out how to move through this?” I do think that 95% of the time, we’re all just the doing the best we can. We are doing what we think is how to be supportive of each other and how to be the best people that other people want to work with. Unless we know that that’s rubbing me the wrong way, or that’s causing conflict or tension, how do we, then we’re going to continue to see some of these problems, or we’re going to start seeing either women leaving, again, and just putting their heads back down.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s true. We’ve been told, we’ve been taught by everything around us that we have to fight for every little scrap. We end up undervaluing ourselves. Then we end up kind of competing with other women rather than lifting other women. I think that’s changing but there’s still a little bit of “queen bee,” there’s still a little bit of scarcity in that sense.
I think it really starts to shift when we really step up and support each other, when we promote each other, when we mentor each other, when we buy from each other, when we invest in each other. Any women out there who are having exits from their startup rather than just keeping it all, invest some in a sister, right. Buy from other women. Don’t penny pinch with women and not with men. I mean, I see behaviors like that. I don’t know. I doubt they’re conscious. I think they’re, for the most part, just in the way we’ve been grown up. They’re just a collective unconscious or something. To become aware of that and really consciously create more of an abundance ecosystem where we’re lifting each other, we all do better. I mean, that’s one of the reasons why the Me Too movement had such resonance because it was really women supporting other women. When we do that, we’re unstoppable, I believe.
Heather Wentler: Oh, yeah. Totally agree. When you think about, there’s, only 4% of all VC investors in the country are women, that’s a problem.
Melinda Wittstock: It is. Actually, this is true. This is a big moonshot of mine. I just put it out there to the universe that when company number five exits, and before, as it starts to spin off more and more, my goal over the next 10 years, is to invest $10 million period.
Heather Wentler: That’s awesome.
Melinda Wittstock: You put it out there as an intention. Then everything, all your actions start to align. I just think play bigger. Then with that came the realization when I looked around, when I saw that there’s so many women who are successful entrepreneurs but didn’t really know very much about investing.
Heather Wentler: That’s the other problem. That’s what, only 4% are women but how do we even move into that circle? Women are much more likely to give a philanthropic donation than invest. We still, even with our philanthropic donations, our thinking to ourselves, and I’ve heard it many times. “I need to ask my husband,” or, “I need to ask my partner if it’s okay if I write this check or make this donation first.” I’m like, “I’m going to challenge you to think about it. Is this your money? If this is your money that you are bringing in, how much of it do you, would your husband or your partner do the same thing? Would they come to you because that’s a double standard within our genders right there of even though we’re contributing to the capital within our relationships, we still have to ask for permission to use it?” I don’t understand that. Maybe I’m crazy for thinking that.
Heather Wentler: How do we start getting more women to be investors? We’ve started looking at, Doyenne has started looking at, how do we start growing women investors? There’s a lot of, we’re starting to see more funds blooming up around the country that are focused on supporting specifically women, and women being the investors in those funds, and then targeting all those dollars that they put out towards women entrepreneurs. How do we change the already established firms to get them to bring on more women as investors but then also investing in women-owned businesses because we still see a lot of deals happening on the golf course. I’m going to use some really big stereotypes. Deals happening on the golf courses, or over cocktails late at night when women are normally not invited, or at those things, or we still see a lot of, oh, I see him. When I look at him, I see myself in him. That’s who I wish I would’ve been when I was his age. I’m like, “Well, that’s what you’re using as the bar. I’m out no matter what.” How do we start changing that and then raising them up?
We’ve been looking at, how do we teach women about becoming investors. We know that there’s been some programming around just how, we’ve had some of our male friends have said, “Well, we’ve done it. We’ve tried to get women to become investors. They just leave the meetings. They’re like, ‘What? This is scary. I can’t do this.'” I’m like, “Well, how did you talk to them?” They’re like, “Well, we just came in. We laid down all the facts.” I’m like, “That’s really intimidating of, you just threw a ton of jargon in their face, didn’t really say what any of it means, and then walked out. You’re like, ‘Go figure it out yourself.'” That’s another barrier because now you’ve given me so little information. I have to go home. I’m going to make sure that I know everything that you said before I even make that phone call to you to have another conversation. Is it worth my time to invest into that to be able to have the next meeting?
Melinda Wittstock: This is so true. Just value bombs all over the place, Heather. Tell me a little bit about what’s next for Doyenne, and your vision, and where you see it going, and the impact that you see it having across all this. I mean, there’s so much potential. I’m so excited for anyone out there who shares this mission to really elevate women. I believe that as we do that, women are going to solve, use entrepreneurship to solve some of the world’s biggest kind of challenges, whether it’s environment, or health, or education, or whatever, and already seeing evidence of this. Where do you see Doyenne being in five years, 10 years, 20 years, in the impact that you think that you will have?
Heather Wentler: I mean, our next, our five year vision is really, how do we branch outside of Wisconsin? Currently we operate in Madison and Milwaukee within Wisconsin. How do we bring the Doyenne movement to communities across the nation? We’ve had women from, already women from across the nation reach out saying, “Is there a Doyenne in my community? How can I be part of this?” Or, “Is there ways for me to bring Doyenne to my community?” At first, we were kind of like, “I don’t know. Is that something we want to do?” Now we’re really saying, “Yes, this is something we really want to do.”
Within the next five years, we want to be in 10 cities outside of Wisconsin. We’re really creating an application for people from different cities to, quote, unquote, “apply,” but then also creating an accelerator program for those cities that we do on-board. How do we get, we work with them for a full year to get them up and going within their community so that they have higher chance of success rates within their communities already, just right out of the gate. Then how do we leverage all of those connections? If we are in 10 cities and we have over 3,000 members across the nation, how do we leverage all that experience, all that knowledge, and all of those ways to connect and build each other’s companies, not, it’s stuff that we can’t even think of, what might come out of this. How do we do that?
Those are kind of the next steps that we’re working on of, that leverage piece is the huge one. How do we leverage this? Then how do we start finding out more of what women really need within our nation to be able to rise up more as entrepreneurs? We know what the big ones are of lack of access to capital, lack of access to resources, and then just that, the network of other women to support them. Those are our big three. What else is missing? There’s got to be more. How do we figure out what’s going on? How do we start to work with the other organizations that are complementary to Doyenne to say, “Here’s how we can work with you and help you more,” so that we can create more equitable ecosystems and then close this gender gap way faster than what is currently being predicted.”
That’s where we’re really looking towards. Then we have an evergreen fund that we launched last year. We fundraise. It’s only, see how I … It’s a $1.2 million fund going out to women-led business, women and people of color-led businesses based in Wisconsin. Our next big goal is we’d love to raise a $50 million fund for women-led businesses across the nation, and bring in these new investor women that we help raise into the investor level, and move them into becoming those investors for these companies. Really doing that knowledge base of, what does it mean to be an investor? Also, hand-in-hand, working with the companies of, what does it mean to take on investment dollars? because I think that’s another one that there’s sort of a disconnect. If everybody says, “I need investors.” I’m like, “Well, what do you want from your investors? Do you know what you’re going to have to give to be able to get these investors?” That’s kind of the things we’re continuing to work on within the organization as well.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s fantastic. Well, I just wish you the best. I’d love to have you come on the podcast again and again. We must talk offline about ways that WINGS and Doyenne can collaborate because we’re so aligned on mission. Again, do that thing about lifting each other up. That’s fantastic. Heather, how can people find you and work with you?
Heather Wentler: If you go to our website, it’s WWW dot Doyenne Group dot org. On the website, there should be a pop-up that pops up right away asking you to join our mailing list for our, we do a monthly digital publication called “Audacity in Action,” that anyone can join. Then you get a monthly email that has some curated content around, talking around women entrepreneurship, and big topics that we’re seeing at a national level, and with a Doyenne perspective on them. Then we also have some curated guest articles. Melinda, you were one of our featured guests in the “Audacity in Action” recently. That was a great article to put out there.
Melinda Wittstock: It was such an honor. Thank you so much for featuring me. It’s interesting. This year, I’ve got to go do another raise. That article in talking about it took me back to how hard it is, and the kind of mindset shift too, that we have to take on as females. When we go into it thinking it’s going to be hard, we can often be on the defensive. I had to kind of change that mindset around. When I gear up to do a round this year, it’s coming at it in a different way. It was really fun to talk about all of that with you.
Heather Wentler: Cool. Good. I’m glad that you had that experience with it. I know we had a lot of positive feedback of, a lot of our followers really resonated with what you said in that article. It was an honor to highlight you in there. Thank you for that as well.
Melinda Wittstock: Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this with our listeners. Thank you for putting on your WINGS and flying with us today.
Heather Wentler: Thank you so much.