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Meet the new leaders of sports business

Female entrepreneurs find the winning strategy, thanks to adidas and iFundWomen

Meet the new leaders of sports business

In January, adidas and iFundWomen brought together a select group of female sports entrepreneurs from around the world for a weekend that combined business mentorship and inspiration from sports luminaries. While the women in attendance focus on different athletic activities, they are united by a vision of the business of sports that is diverse and inclusive. Guest speakers, including Billie Jean King and Jackie Joyner-Kersee, emphasized the importance of creating systemic change and the power of perseverance in both sports and entrepreneurship. Here, the founders explain their business vision, the impact this new partnership will have on the future of sports business, and the key lessons they took away from the workshop. You’ll also find links to the respective crowdfunding pages that iFundWomen established for each founder’s business.

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NORTH AMERICA

Brittany Edwards & Khianna Lowe*

Cofounders, Incorp[HER]ated (New York City)

Khiana Lowe & Brittany Edwards

The business: Incorp[HER]ated is a diversity-inclusion agency focusing on sneakers, sport, music, and fashion that bridges the gap between communities and creative industries.

Impact of the initiative: It shows a huge sports brand taking the stance not just of, “We support women and diversity, and inclusion is important,” but also committing to creating change. This partnership showcases that it’s not just an issue that’s being spoken about, but that there’s action behind it.

Goal for the workshop [Edwards]: I want to take all of these words I wrote down on a piece of paper and create a pitch and a story around what Incorp[HER]ated does and what we’re trying to build.

Key takeaway [Edwards]: To see that [Billie Jean King and Jackie Joyner-Kersee] are still so committed to social action and sport is really inspirational. They were accomplished athletes, and then they took that passion and built something beautiful. They’re inspiring us to continue that work because we’re the next generation. It was like the baton being passed, in a way.

To fund this business: Click here.

*Lowe was unable to attend the workshop.

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Hélène Guillaume

Founder, WILD.AI (San Francisco)

Hélène Guillaume

The business: WILD.AI is an app for female athletes that helps them train, fuel, and recover based on their menstrual cycle.

Impact of the initiative: To get our message out in partnership with adidas and iFundWomen shows that people recognize that we are doing something important and commercially viable. They are allowing us to leverage the incredible brands they’ve built over many years to start something new.

Goal for the workshop: I want to hear the experience of professional athletes to learn how we can apply their lessons to entrepreneurship.

Key takeaway: How to be resilient. You have a lot of failures when you’re an athlete; it’s the same for entrepreneurs. You have to be grateful for these failures and learn from them as well.

To fund this business: Click here.

Marisa Hamamoto

Founder, CEO, and Artistic Director; Infinite Flow—An Inclusive Dance Company (Sherman Oaks, CA)

Marisa Hamamoto

The business: Infinite Flow is a nonprofit and professional dance company composed of dancers with and without disabilities that uses dance to inspire inclusion and innovation.

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Impact of the initiative: There are many passionate dancers, movers, and athletes out there…with great ideas, but unless you have a plan and guidance, that idea [remains] an idea. This partnership between adidas and iFundWomen is a perfect marriage. They are taking people like myself, who are passionate about movement, and giving us the tools to build a business that transforms the world.

Goal for the workshop: I want to learn about growing a personal brand and how that will support my company.

Key takeaway: Billie [Jean King] said something like, “Creating change became more important than winning.” That’s become the theme of my own career. It’s not about me anymore. It’s really about creating systemic change and creating a world where inclusion, diversity, and equal opportunity don’t have to be discussed anymore, because it’s already a given.”

To fund this business: Click here.

Susan Sullivan

Founder, Women Sports Film Festival (San Francisco)

Susan Sullivan

The business: The documentary festival curates and amplifies stories about female athletes from around the world.

Impact of the initiative: Projects like this can give entrepreneurs hope and inspiration. The chance to see examples of other people persevering and not trying to go it alone—how collaboration and working together leads to success—is really the key.

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Goal for the workshop: I wanted to hone my business pitch and concept. I have a lot of enthusiasm about what I’m doing, but I want to channel that excitement in a focused way.

Key takeaway: Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Billie Jean King were pretty much the ultimate in [terms of] inspiration. When I’m working on my business there are, inevitably, challenges that feel crushing, and I want to quit. To be in the presence of two legends who are the embodiment of perseverance—it’s priceless.

To fund this business: Click here.

Alex Taylor

Founder, Hoop York City (New York City)

Alex Taylor

The business: Hoop York City provides safe spaces for women to play basketball, while creating opportunities to network and feel celebrated.

Impact of the initiative: It’s empowering to have all of the tools to be able to succeed and move things forward. As a female entrepreneur, I think that there needs to be more opportunities like that, and I feel very lucky to even be a part of this small team of people. I hope one day I can pay it forward by organizing something on a smaller scale.

Goal for the workshop: I don’t have a cofounder, so I’m constantly bouncing ideas off of friends and family. And as much as I love them, not all of them are qualified to answer those questions

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Key takeaway: I learned to be really clear and concise in delivering what it means to be a part of Hoop York City, who we are, and what we stand for. My mentor was the founder and CEO of iFundWomen, so I couldn’t have asked for more. She was really straightforward, direct, and tough. I learn well when people just take out the fluff.

To fund this business: Click here.

GLOBAL

Kelly Bessis

Founder, Dada Club (Paris)

Kelly Bessis

The business: Dada Club is a boxing and fitness group for women that promotes wellness by providing the space for sports and access to a sports community.

Impact of the initiative: The support of female entrepreneurship from these two amazing businesses was truly inspirational. I loved being able to work together with other women from around the world. As we say in French, “unity is strength!”

Goal for the workshop: While I was very much looking forward to meeting the adidas and iFundWomen teams, I had no idea the workshop would be so rewarding and inspiring. I was surprised to see how hands-on and tactical the work was, and how much support adidas and IFW are really offering.

Key takeaway: My overwhelming takeaway is a feeling of gratitude for this opportunity. The chance to meet so many incredible women and the patience shown by all was really touching.

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To fund this business: Click here.

Francesca Brown

CEO, Managing Director; Goals4Girls (London)

Francesca Brown

The business: Goals4Girls is a soccer-development program that empowers disadvantaged young women aged 11-16 through sport and education.

Impact of the initiative: This was the ultimate learning experience. Adidas is a pioneer in leading and working with authentic individuals, and this partnership and event embody everything we are about as an organization in representing diversity.

Goal for the workshop: I hoped to gain a community of women who aspire to lift one another. Also, I wanted to discover methods and innovative ideas to take Goals4Girls to the next level, not just within our community but also globally.

Key takeaway: The future is bright for females in sports. But without a community who believes in our vision we are unable to create change. Being amongst a community of like-minded women provided insights into the tools I need to grow a meaningful and successful business.

To fund this business: Click here.

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Mariana Pajón

Founder, Pedaleando por un Sueño (Bogotá, Columbia)

Mariana Pajón

The business: Pedaleando por un Sueño (Pedaling for a Dream)/Fundación Mariana Pajón is an initiative that creates opportunities for children in need and teaches them the process for helping to make those dreams come true.

Impact of the initiative: I was very curious to see what was possible when large companies get involved in purpose-driven work. Now, I’m amazed at the impact they can have, and I want to be a part of these opportunities in the future.

Goal for the workshop: The most important thing is to get more and more people to believe that we can change their reality through sports.

Key takeaway: Women are already hard at work changing their own realities for the better. If those women are given the opportunity to work together, they can absolutely change the world.

To fund this business: Click here.

Jasmina Srna

Founder, Girls Inc. (Berlin)

Jasmina Srna

The business: Girls Inc., an initiative of Safe-Hub, is breaking down barriers by empowering young women to become role models in their communities and realize their full potential. The fusion of sports, personal development, education, and employability is at the heart of the coaching program.

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Impact of the initiative: To me, it was great to see that adidas uses its influence to initiate projects like these. I also found it very powerful that they worked with iFundWomen, a platform that is not necessarily associated with sports. Empowering women in complex structures is a challenge, and we can only overcome these obstacles by collaborating and supporting each other.

Goal for the workshop: I was looking forward to meeting strong women from different backgrounds who all share the idea that we, as female entrepreneurs, can empower women through sports. Additionally, I was hoping to learn how we can use our networks to raise funds for our projects so that we can turn our visions into reality.

Key takeaway: The best lesson for me was how to set up a crowdfunding campaign, which is new to me. So learning from experts in this field was really interesting. Also, it’s amazing to see how many bright minds are tackling the same issues!

To fund this business: Click here.


If youre a woman with an industry-changing idea, you too can receive financial support and expert business coaching from adidas and iFundWomen. To find out more about the program and apply, visit www.ifundwomen.com/adidas. Deadline is March 31.

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