Worldwide, cervical cancer is the fourth most frequent type of cancer among women, according to the World Health Organization. It was no surprise then that a business that aims to reduce its occurrence found a receptive audience and won the Power Pitch competition at Forté’s 2017 MBA Women’s Leadership Conference on June 17 in Seattle.
Sue Kim and Arshiya Fazal, two of 4Women’s four co-founders, presented their business idea for a new healthcare product to 700 businesswomen and MBA students and four esteemed judges, and they won both awards offered – a judges’ selection and audience favorite.
Along with co-founders Courtney Burrows and Camille Emma, Sue and Arshiya came up with the concept for 4Women while MBA students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Their product seeks to reduce the occurrence of cervical cancer through early detection of the virus that causes it – the human papilloma virus (HPV). The product is an in-home self-collection kit that tests for the presence of HPV before a patient even walks into the doctor’s office, allowing her physician to know her HPV status and make a decision on next steps at the point of care.
4Women’s vision is that access to an effective and user-friendly alternative for screening could potentially increase compliance and make the process comfortable and easy for all women.
4Women was one of 48 total entries, and one of four finalists that were selected to compete live in the final round of the competition in Seattle. The three other finalists were:
|Name of business||Representative(s)||Business school||Product/service|
|Brandefy||Meg Greenhalgh||University of Virginia Darden School of Business||Consumer information database|
|HomeSlice||Shapri Generette||MIT Sloan School of Management||Mortgage alternative|
|ParentCollab||Diane Le||UCLA Anderson School of Management||Schedule management app|
“We competed against very talented teams and ideas, so we’re incredibly grateful to have won,” said Sue Kim. “It was a different experience for us to pitch to a room full of women, and because the audience was essentially our target market, it was great validation to hear that our idea resonated with them.”
Kim added, “So many audience members came up to us afterward and urged us to make our idea a reality. For our team, this win is empowering and it has invigorated us with new energy to keep moving forward to improve women’s health.”
4Women received $10,000 for winning both awards. Winners and finalists also received a Microsoft Surface Book laptop. The 4Women team plans to use their award funds to hire legal help to conduct an in-depth patent search and freedom to operate analysis. They will also use it to begin manufacturing a small batch of their prototype for an initial feasibility test.
Judges evaluated each team based on how convincingly they presented their business concept as if they were potential investors. According to Arrion Rathsack, Director of Forté’s MBA and Professional Programs and the competition’s founder, “The judges determined that 4Women had the best overall presentation of their business concept and were thorough in their description of how their business will work. They also recognized the social impact of the product they were developing.”
Judges for the 2017 Power Pitch competition were:
- Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder com Homepay and Author of All In: How Women Entrepreneurs Can Think Bigger, Build Sustainable Business, and Change the World.
- Elaine Hagan, Executive Director, Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, University of California Los Angeles (Anderson School of Management) (semi-final judge)
- Nicole Irvin, Vice President, Goldman Sachs
- Diane Legg, Entrepreneurship Faculty, University of Washington, Michael G. Foster School of Business
- Jiayi Liang, Senior Product Manager/Entrepreneur-in-Resident, Amazon
- Lisa Tsou, Founder, The Winning Pitch (semi-final judge)
About the Forté Power Pitch competition:
The purpose of the Forté Power Pitch competition is to encourage and support aspiring women entrepreneurs by offering a high-profile, real-world challenge at the Forté MBA Women’s Leadership Conference, now in its 10th year. The spirit of the competition is to focus on ideas that are conceived and/or further developed as part of the business school experience.
Statistics reflect the urgent need for increased focus on women-founded/owned businesses in the U.S. Only 17 percent of companies are founded by women and in 2016 women received just 2.19% of venture capital funding.
The Forté Power Pitch competition provides an opportunity to grow the ranks of women entrepreneurs by demonstrating to women at top MBA programs – some of whom are aspiring entrepreneurs – how it can be done.