Quinnipiac University

Panel delves into successes, lessons from women entrepreneurs

November 08, 2021

Four students participated in a women entrepreneur panel discussion

The word ‘boss’ took on new meaning during a recent panel featuring four Quinnipiac women student entrepreneurs as they explored what it really takes to launch and run a successful business.

The panel was held in honor of Women Entrepreneurship Week by the People’s United Center for Women & Business. Isabella Dias, MBA ’21; Dena Dupree ’22; McKenna Haz ’21; and Kallie Purdue ‘22 shared their development experiences as the People’s United Center for Women & Business Director Patrice Luoma moderated.

Panelists started from the beginning, as each shared the inspiration behind their current projects. Purdue cited her environmentally conscious California upbringing as motivation to launch Refashion, an app focused on upcycling clothing and educating others on fashion sustainability.

Haz’s vision for SEEAVV, an athletic clothing line derived from recycled plastic waste from the ocean, became clearer when she realized its ethical potential.

“A huge motivator was that I knew I could make a positive impact on the plastic waste problem. With each item that is manufactured, one pound of waste from the shoreline is eliminated,” said Haz. “I realized how I could become an ocean clean-up partner while embracing my love for ethical fashion.”

The origins of the showcased companies varied, but panelists agreed their time at Quinnipiac helped to endow their confidence and business sensibilities.

Dupree cited encouragement from David Tomczyk, associate professor of entrepreneurship and strategy, and Fred McKinney, former Carlton Highsmith Chair for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, to be particularly impactful.

“When someone else shows that you believe in you, that’s a different feeling. My professors made me feel that my voice was important,” said Dupree as she explained her development of NailTique, a software for nail technicians and their clients.

The panelists spoke about their experiences in the center’s pitch competition, held annually in April. Haz took second place in 2021’s event with SEAVV.

“It’s important to be your authentic self. I was part of the pitch competition my freshmen year when SEAVV was just an idea,” said Haz. “I prepared so hard I went blank on stage because I missed one word. I was robotic because I was so prepared.”

Purdue echoed this sentiment.

“I was a sophomore at my first pitch competition, and I was so nervous going through the rounds. It’s normal to be nervous but that potential and opportunity that comes with trying is too big to pass up,” she said.

Panelists reflected on getting comfortable presenting ideas and reaching out to like-minded individuals. For Dupree, this meant working on reaching out for help when needed. For Haz, this equates to seeking out the right audience.

“It’s important to align yourself with people who believe in you and your vision. It’s important to connect with a larger society,” Haz said.

Ultimately, the panelists agreed that a passion for your business is the most valuable asset an entrepreneur can propagate. Dias, who owns an inclusive beauty brand, cited it to be just as important as the business idea.

“Passion is what is going to drive you when you’re tired or when ideas aren’t turning out like you thought they would. If passion doesn’t drive you forward, nothing will,” said Dias.

Watch the recording 

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