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Women’s Business Center selects winner in Connecticut’s InnovateHER challenge

Inventor of Garbage-eez will compete in September for Sarah Blakely Foundation prize

Women make up more than half of the American workforce today, but for many of them, the demands of home and family remain at least as challenging as they ever were. Women face unique obstacles as they strive to meet the needs of children, job, aging parents, and home—and that is creating a demand for innovative products and services that can help.

The InnovateHER challenge was born from this idea. It is a prize competition meant to shine a spotlight on creative entrepreneurs who are developing products to empower women and families. It involves three basic entry criteria:

·         The product or service must have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families.

·         It must have the potential for commercialization.

·         It must fill a need in the marketplace.

The University of Hartford’s Women’s Business Center hosted a Connecticut InnovateHER Challenge earlier this summer. They received more than 20 business ideas, and 19 individuals, businesses, and/or teams submitted official entries. The Women’s Business Center selected Stacey Lokey and Carolyn Caplik of Newtown, co-owners of MOM-EEZ, as the winner for their product Garbage-eez®.

Garbage-eez stores and dispenses kitchen garbage bags from the bottom of a garbage pail. It reduces space and saves time, making the process of removal quick, easy, and sanitary. The product has been developed, patented, and trademarked, and manufacturing and distributor relationships are set. As winners of the state competition, Lokey and Caplik will now become semi-finalists in the next phase of the national competition. The Small Business Administration will select ten finalists to attend the national pitch competition in September, with a prize of up to $70,000 provided by the Sarah Blakely Foundation.

“We were excited to host the third local InnovateHER challenge,” said Milena Erwin, Program Manager at the Women’s Business Center. “We received great interest and many exciting submissions for products and services with great potential to improve the lives of women and families. Our winner, MOM-EEZ, LLC, has a great existing product and a solid plan for growth. We wish Stacey and Carolyn luck and congratulate all our participants.”

Additional finalists in the Connecticut InnovateHER Challenge include:

·         Marien Zanyk, W2 Designs – Producers of Freestyle Fitness Equipment for healthy urban living.

·         Sondra Dellaripa, Harvest Development Group – Affordable online leadership skills incubator for women currently working in or interested in working in the nonprofit sector.

·         Diane Hayden, Natural Nutmeg Magazine – Magazine that offers information on natural health, wellness, green living, fitness, and organic products. Looking to license the publication.

·         Rosemarie Day, Datatalk – Environmental analyzer for migraines.

·         Dametrice Brown, Pearl Development Group – Agricultural STEM company that plans to provide four-season greenhouses and use sustainable farming methods to provide continuous produce supply.

For more information about the InnovateHER Challenge, visit www.hartford.edu/innovateher-ct.

About The Women’s Business Center

The Women’s Business Center (WBC) is an initiative of the University of Hartford’s Entrepreneurial Center (EC), which provides hands-on coaching and business training for new and expanding small businesses, as well as aspiring entrepreneurs, throughout Connecticut. Part of the nationally-renowned Barney School of Business, the EC helps small business owners and employees to gain the business skills needed to succeed in the marketplace through business advising, technical assistance, educational programs, and networking events. The WBC specializes in serving women in business. For more information, visit www.hartford.edu/wbc.