Gina Alagata, Women Inkorporated

Gina Alagata, Women Inkorporated

Gina Alagata of Wink, a women-only networking company, is co-hosting Aliza and Danielle’s book tour on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at HeraHub in San Diego, CA.

YOU CAN RSVP HERE! 

Married to her husband Alden for 18 years, Gina is the mother of four: McKenna, 15; Hailey, 13; Paige, 11; and Joshua, 10. Gina has been leading peer groups of all sorts since she was 15 — from church groups to school and business organizations. Says she, “I love my life and have been incredibly blessed!

MomIncorporated: What inspired you to start Wink?
Gina: Great question! As an entrepreneur for more than 15 years, I have seen firsthand how women struggle in their confidence to build a business. I had been involved in both mixed and women-only networking groups in the past and found the women really could thrive in better in a women-only environment. Although I did not like public speaking I felt that God was calling me to be a Moses (in a sense) and help be a voice for these women to grow in business. I still get nervous when required to speak but have been blessed by the outpouring of response from these incredible women.

MomIncorporated: How long did it take to go from conception to up-and-running?
Gina: Five to six months of sleepless nights, writing all of my ideas down in my notebooks, testing out the concept and name with other women. I don’t know that I was fully ready to launch when I did. But a good friend said just to do it — the rest will figure itself out — and he was right. Again, the response has been amazing, exactly what women were looking for in business.

MomIncorporated: How did you fund it?
Gina: I funded everything from personal savings. That is something most people don’t realize: This is not a hobby; it is my job. I invested around $10,000 the first year in business and have not taken any money from investors. I’m very proud of that fact.

MomIncorporated: Why did you aim the group specifically at women?
Gina: Women tend to be more comfortable in a familiar setting. We have an instinctive gift to want to help others, and this environment helps women grow as slow or as fast as they want to. I have seen women come through my doors shaking like a leaf, barely able to share their name, and within a matter of months their confidence in who they are and what they do is a 180-degree turn. I love to be a part of that transition in their confidence, which usually turns into growth in their business.

MomIncorporated: What were some of your initial challenges, and how did you overcome them? 
Gina: Finding quality, committed leaders is most important to me. They are representing WINK to other women, so it takes a certain type of women to be able to do that. We are currently working on getting more media exposure on a local and, soon, national level as we prepare to go nationwide in 2012. Another challenge is trying to balance work and home life. I am never in full balance; some days are better than others, but I have a very loving, supportive family.

MomIncorporated: What makes Wink different from so many other networking groups popping up everywhere?
Gina: I wish you could ask all of the Winkettes (that is what we call ourselves) these questions. Here are some responses I have received from these women: Wink women are very friendly and take genuine interest in each others’ success. If you need something, including a job, the women step up and make it happen. We have seen new businesses open for some, a nonprofit started and revenue increases for women — some by as much as 25 percent to 67 percent in a year’s time. We strive to greet every woman that comes to our events and introduce her right away to other women in business. There is no drama with us, just compassionate, hard-working, dedicated women in business.

We offer opportunities for women to grow professionally through workshops and local events as well as personally by encouraging them to connect with other women. We also like to see that the women are sharing their knowledge and expertise with each other, business tips, how they are doing things, what worked/what didn’t and more. We offer speaking opportunities for the women as well as bringing in high-quality speakers they might not normally be able to connect with in business. I feel that no businesswoman, no matter how successful, is out of our league — so we strive to bring the best to them at an affordable price.

MomIncorporated: What are your top networking tips for entrepreneurs?
Gina:

  1. Stick with what you love doing, and don’t give up no matter what others tell you.
  2. Be genuine in who you are and helping others grow; people can smell a fake a mile away.
  3. Be consistent. Don’t expect to attend an event one time and have your business explode. It takes consistency and getting to know others. I want to know someone will be around in the next six months or year, not some fly-by-night entrepreneur who has done it all but has nothing to show for it but burned bridges.
  4. Smile and be the first to reach out and welcome someone into your world. Drama mamas are a thing of the past; helping others up the ladder of success as we go is not only more fun, but then when we get to the top we have others there to enjoy it all with.

Felena Hanson, HeraHub

Felena Hanson of HeraHub

Felena Hanson of HeraHub, a co-working space for women, is our Mom Organizer for the Tuesday, Nov. 1, book event at HeraHub in San Diego, CA.

YOU CAN RSVP HERE! 

Mom Incorporated: What is Hera Hub?
Felena: Hera Hub is shared workspace for accomplished, like-minded entrepreneurial women.  It’s more professional than working from Starbucks, more focused than working from home, more collaborative than an executive suite, and more flexible and cost effective than full-time office space.  The concept boasts café-like co-working space for focused work, a community gathering area for ad-hoc collaboration, a modern conference room and private meeting rooms. Hera Hub offers scalable, month-to-month membership options for freelancers, independent consultants, entrepreneurs and authors.

Mom Incorporated: What inspired you to create HeraHub?
Felena: Hera Hub grew out of my personal need for flexible work, meeting and event space.  Pushed into entrepreneurship after being laid off from a marketing director position with a San Diego-based high-tech company in 2003, I launched a marketing strategy consulting firm, Perspective Marketing. Although it was convenient and cost-effective to work from home, it was also distracting and isolating.

I was turned on to the concept of co-working in 2008, when I hosted a networking event at San Diego’s first co-working space, the Hive Haus.  I began studying the model, visiting co-working spaces in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  It took approximately 12 months from the time I decided to launch my space to the point where I completed my business plan, secured financing (which came from my personal savings and a loan from a close family member) and solidified my first location.

I operated in a temporary location for several months while the space was being remodeled. The official launch was August 15, 2011.  I set aside my marketing clients and veteran teaching position at a local college and now run the business full-time.  I’m proud to say that Hera Hub is a huge success. I already have more than 80 women-owned companies utilizing the space.

Mom Incorporated: Who was Hera?
Felena: Significant thought went into developing the name and logo.  I wanted a name that had meaning but wasn’t overtly feminine.  After hours of research I was drawn to the Greek goddesses for their significance and historical meaning.  In ancient times, Hera — Greek goddess of women — was revered as the only goddess who accompanied a woman through every step of her life, blessing and protecting her family and financial security.  Being Zeus’ wife, Hera represents the fullness of life and affirms that women can use their wisdom in the pursuit of any goal they choose.

Mom Incorporated: Why did you aim HeraHub specifically at women?
Felena: My experience running several professional women’s organizations led me to build a workspace dedicated to serving women.  I believe that women interact differently and are instinctively more collaborative in their approach to business.  I felt it was important to create a space for female entrepreneurs that is beautiful comfortable, feminine and professional.

Mom Incorporated: What lessons have you learned?
Felena: The commercial real estate process was much more complex and challenging than I ever imagined. I had two strikes against me — new business and new concept — and no one wanted to take a risk.  After six months and two failed lease negotiations, I’m happy to say that the third time really is a charm.  Through the help of my network and my tenacious broker, Misty Moore from Jones Lang LaSalle, I finally secured nearly 5,000 square feet in a very desirable location.  It was double the size and twice the risk, but I felt confident that the gamble would pay off.

Mom Incorporated: What advice do you have for entrepreneurial women?

Felena:

  1. Be determined. Anything is possible — at least for those dedicated to making it happen.
  2. Be passionate. Nothing is worth doing if you don’t do it well.
  3. Be sincere. People see through right through you if you’re not.
  4. Trust your instinct. Your first reaction to something is always right.
  5. Take everything head on. Don’t be confrontational, but don’t avoid problems or challenges.
  6. Follow through. Your word is everything

Mom Incorporated: What are your plans for the future?
Felena: My vision for Hera Hub is to launch three locations in San Diego over the next few years and then package the concept (via a licensing agreement) for other markets across the United States.  My mission is to help well-connected women in other major cities launch a collaboration space for their community.  My goal is to have at least 40 additional Hera Hub locations across the U.S. by 2020.

Felena Hanson of HeraHub is the host of our book tour in San Diego on Nov. 1.

Maya Bisineer, Memetales

Maya is our Mom Organizer for the 11/3 Tuesday book event at Books, Inc. on Castro in Mountain View, CA.

YOU CAN RSVP HERE!

(This interview originally appeared on Entrepreneur Mom on WorkitMom.com)

Maya Bisineer is the founder of Memetales – a revolutionary marketplace for children’s picture books. Memetales opened doors March 2010 and has been growing steadily in both community and content. The site helps writers and illustrators collaborate through an online collaboration space, and they recently launched their mobile storytelling app for kids for iPod, iPhone and iPad.

Previously, Maya worked as a software developer, architect and consultant in bigger corporations for a number of years.

Entrepreneur Mom: Why did you start your biz? What were your intentions from the start? (lifestyle, income, growing or go big or go home)

Maya Bisineer: The idea for the original Memetales came about early 2009. A bunch of us set up a collaboration space to create children’s stories and books.

That original idea grew into the Memetales product as it is today – a platform to share children’s stories.

In the beginning Memetales was simply that – a collaborative community. It evolved mainly because I saw a real need to help people share their creations with a wider audience. Creating good children’s stories are hard work and good stories need a platform to be shared.

Entrepreneur Mom: You were based at home for a while-how long? How long before you began working with a team?

Maya: Memetales beta was launched mid 2010. We were based at home. We had two members on the founding team and hired out some of the dev work. So, we were a team from Day 1.
Today we work in a team of five and have two interns.

Entrepreneur Mom:  Then you moved into a space outside of your home?

Maya: I had an official office space for Memetales. It was shared by a few different companies and individuals who were a part of the winning team at StartupWeekend Redmond.

I pitched an idea at StartupWeekend Redmond and about 7 of us worked together to build DoodleADoodle – an ipad app to teach kids drawing in under 15 minutes a day. At the end of 48 hours, we won top place (out of 13 companies) and as a result won office space at Thinkspace (a co-working space).

We won a few different things and shared the goodies amongst the DoodleADoodle team and I was lucky enough to get office space that some of us share and I also use for the Memetales work.

Entrepreneur Mom:  What is the best way to describe your business?

Memetales is like a curated YouTube for children’s stories.

Memetales consists of a mobile app and a web platform where kids can read stories and engage in a number ways around stories. Approved publishers can publish their books on Memetales will incredible ease.

Our mission is to continuously innovate at the intersection of great stories, passionate individuals (authors and artists) and creative children. Good stories/books will go away if we do not find ways to reinvent them in the most interesting, valuable and scalable ways.

Entrepreneur Mom: You recently moved to Silicon Valley from Seattle. How has relocating affected your business?

Moving is hard. Period. Moving with kids and family means lost work time for sure. The Silicon Valley is really great, however. I have already met  several startup folk and made a lot of progress on the fundraising end. It really is the best place to be for a startup to be.

Entrepreneur Mom: You also recently presented at the VentureBeat event DEMO. How did that go?

Yes, thanks to the Kauffman Foundation, we got invited to pitch at DEMO on a scholarship.DEMO was a great experience. We got great press and met some amazing companies. Here is a recap on our blog with our video –

http://blog.memetales.com/2011/09/memetales-at-demo-fall-2011/

Entrepreneur Mom: As the techie mom of two little girls, what advice would you give to other moms about letting their children use mobile devices?

I strongly believe in moderation. Digital is yet another way to learn and interact with the world, it is not the only way. With that belief, we, as a family are very conscious of or device time. My kids certainly use my devices but not for more than 20 minutes at a time and mostly only on the weekends. My belief is that as long as device use is in moderation and does not come at the cost of outside activity/playtime or family time it is fine. The onus is on us as parents to handle that. It is not very different from the role that TV played in our early years.

Know a mom entrepreneur we should feature on our site? Tell us about her. Or YOU!

Mom, Incorporated Is Available on Kindle

The answer is YES….as in ‘YES’, Mom, Incorporated is now available on Kindle.

We’ve been waiting and are thrilled to announce that today is the day.

The move to add the electronic version of our book was expedited after we made the request to our Publisher, Sellers Publishing.  They had been planning to add  electronic versions for all of their books, but knew it was going to take some time.  However, at the request of readers like you?  They made it happen in just weeks instead of the months they had originally planned.

Every day someone asks if Mom, Incorporated is available on Kindle.  Until now, I had to smile and say, “it is coming soon….”  But now, a simple ‘yes’ takes care of the whole thing.

We know so many of you are on the go – and we are delighted to now offer the ease of being able to take Mom, Incorporated with you as you plan the beginnings of your new business!

Get the Kindle version of Mom, Incorporated!