Jun 13, 2019
By Nancy Birnbaum
Last month, something special happened right in our back yard. Over 450 women, from all 50 states, and as far away as New Zealand and the UK, came to Sonoma County to participate in the Circular Summit. They came to connect top female founders, investors, media, policymakers and enterprise partners, and to enjoy all of what makes Sonoma County the perfect destination.
Only 1.7 percent of women-owned businesses make more than $1 million in annual revenue and only two percent of venture capital goes to female-founded companies. Alice, the company behind the Circular Summit, aims to change those statistics to create a new playing field that works for all entrepreneurs, not just the lucky few.
The Circular Summit is a retreat style event for female entrepreneurs and takes place annually. The first launched the event in 2016 in Houston, Texas, and also hosted in Houston in 2017. Last year, Circular Summit was held in Washington, D.C. This years’ event was the first in California.
What’s so special about the Circular Summit? Well, to begin with, the creators: Led by HelloAlice.com, Amazon, Jackson Family Wines and Dell, women founders come from all over the world to be connected to venture capitalists, bankers, enterprise companies, media and policy makers looking to invest and engage with women, while participating in mentor-led experiential “adventures,” including horseback riding, hiking in the Redwoods, cheese making, garden tours, paddling on the Russian River, creating gourmet food and wine making, that highlights the natural beauty of Sonoma County, all while surrounded by agents of change.
This year, the event attracted around 450 high-growth women entrepreneurs, investors, enterprise partners and ecosystem builders who participated in a dazzling array of visionary talks, workshops, intimate breakout adventures, mentorship and network building, to accelerate growth and close the gap for women entrepreneurs.
Alice's founders Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, started Circular Summit “to create measurable change for women entrepreneurs so that more of us have opportunities to succeed in business and become the next unicorn companies," said Elizabeth Gore, president and chairwoman, Alice.
"Following these two days, we all walk away with tangible ideas for how to grow our companies, the tools to execute those ideas, a global community of support and a heavy dose of inspiration to power us through the journey."
If her name rings a bell, it is because she is the wife of Sonoma County Supervisor James Gore. Elizabeth serves as the President and Chairwoman of the Board for Alice and was named by People as one of the “Top 100 Extraordinary Women,” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Women to Watch.” She is also the Chairwoman of Rebuild North Bay, a nonprofit leading fire recovery and the rebuild of Northern California following the devastating 2017 fires.
• Around 450 high growth women entrepreneurs, investors, enterprise partners and ecosystem builders.
• Circular Summit attendees came from as far away as New Zealand and the UK and from nearly all 50 states.
• Alice’s mission is to support “New Majority” business owners, and that includes not just women, but also people of color, people with disabilities, people identifying as LGBTQ+ and the military community. So, we make a concerted effort to ensure that the Circular Summit audience reflects that mission. Around 60% of Circular Summit attendees identify with an ethnicity other than white, and many also identify as LGBTQ+, having a disability and/or as military-affiliated.
• All Circular Summit attendees have access to Alice, a free AI-powered platform to help business owners find their unique path to start and grow their companies. Alice learns about the individual business owner and curates recommended resources and opportunities that are just right for them at every stage of growth. All of these incredible founders are also part of a Community on Alice, so they can continue to connect with each other, find support, and collaborate.
Check out the website for more information: https://circularsummit2019.events.helloalice.com/.
"Circular Summit brings me back to the roots of why we started Alice in the first place: to create measurable change for women entrepreneurs so that more of us have opportunities to succeed in business and become the next unicorn companies," said Elizabeth Gore, president and chairwoman, Alice. "Following these two days, we all walk away with tangible ideas for how to grow our companies, the tools to execute those ideas, a global community of support and a heavy dose of inspiration to power us through the journey."
The action-packed event will feature visionary talks, workshops, intimate breakout adventures, mentorship and network building to accelerate growth and close the gap for women entrepreneurs. And with Circular Summit's location in the heart of California wine country, there will be opportunities to experience the natural beauty of Sonoma County and sample wine and spirits from some of the industry's biggest innovators, all while surrounded by agents of change.
"I am proud to collaborate with Circular Summit and host this year's event at La Crema Estate at Saralee's Vineyard," said Barbara Banke, chairman and proprietor of Jackson Family Wines. "As a family business with a legacy of female leadership, we are strong advocates for opportunities that advance women in leadership and resources that empower women entrepreneurs to grow sustainable businesses. We're looking forward to sharing our stories and our fine wines at the Circular Summit."
Since Alice's inception, diversity and inclusion have been core aspects of the company's mission. Alice strives to enable all entrepreneurs, regardless of gender, ethnicity, location or sexual orientation, to access quality resources, opportunities, tools and communities that will help their businesses succeed. In support of this mission, Alice and partners are working to make Circular Summit 2019 more accessible than ever by offering scholarship tickets to business owners that need them.
"Women play a key role in driving global economic growth," said Erik Day, VP and GM of North America Small Business at Dell. "Dell is committed to strengthening and supporting the women entrepreneurship community and women-owned small businesses through a number of initiatives, such as the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network (DWEN). We are thrilled to, once again, be part of the Circular Summit and take part in Alice's movement to assist women entrepreneurs in their pursuit of building incredible ventures that change the world."
Founded by Carolyn Rodz and Elizabeth Gore, Alice is a free website that helps business owners find the right path to start and grow their companies by matching them with resources and opportunities. As a social enterprise, Alice supports equal access and opportunity for all business owners, no matter where they come from or who they know.www.helloalice.com
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