Students, faculty, alumni and entrepreneurs joined the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation on Wednesday, October 19 for Women Entrepreneurship Week – a global celebration that began at Montclair State University nine years ago to recognize women business founders.
The event featured numerous business founders, from money managers and career coaches to publishers and authors, including Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, Ashley Stoyanov Ojeda, Arielle Loren, Joan Zief, Petia Morozov, Leah Apgar, Bianca Benedetti-Fang and Montclair student entrepreneur Stevanie Rhim.
“Over the past nine years, we’ve been truly committed to not only supporting student entrepreneurs here on campus but also entrepreneurs in our communities,” Liz Rich, director of the Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation, told the gathering at the School of Communication and Media’s Presentation Hall.
While addressing the enthusiastic audience, President Jonathan Koppell said the pandemic highlighted the importance of having women leaders, recognizing that many institutions that thrived were led by women, noting that “women entrepreneurs and women leaders have been pivoting and multitasking for many decades longer than their male contemporaries.” He also lauded the event and the University’s long-standing support of women founders and leaders.
“What a great opportunity to embrace this aspect of the work of the University and its support for women entrepreneurs, to really specify what those advantages are, and to figure out what we can do as a university to be more supportive of women entrepreneurs,” Koppell said. “So we’re very excited to have this program, and that we have a center for entrepreneurship that is doing really great, really powerful, important work as part of the Feliciano School of Business.”
The event included a panel discussion between several business experts and founders to provide advice on planning exit and pivoting strategies as well as ways to develop creative funding alternatives.
Montclair State alumna Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche ’02, a successful author and personal finance educator who was recently featured in a new Netflix documentary, Get Smart with Money urged students and would-be entrepreneurs to go for what they want and not limit themselves.
“The message that I want to share with everyone today is to not be afraid to pivot outside of the norm and that there are lessons learned from every aspect of your life that you will find and collect to create the life you want if you have the courage,” Aliche said. “What I hope students get out of it is that they have way more potential they don’t even realize and it doesn’t matter how humble your beginnings are, the sky truly is the limit.”
Arielle Touaboy, a senior studying Business Administration, is a creative and aspiring entrepreneur who wants to open up her own digital marketing agency someday. She attended the event for the purpose of staying involved with the Entrepreneurship Center and networking.
“It’s really cool to hear how small businesses get funded and see other women who look just like me succeed,” Touaboy said. “I hope to learn more about creativity and what it means to be creative and passionate about something. So I’m really grateful I came.”
Taylor Montalto, a junior studying Accounting, attended the event seeking advice from women entrepreneurs she’s seen on social media.
“I always wanted to come to the women’s entrepreneurship events because I really do love women empowerment and especially seeing women in business,” Montalto said. “Getting advice from women is very beneficial and impactful, and I have followed everybody’s LinkedIn so I’m hoping to keep in contact and reach out as opportunities arise for myself.”
Check out the full livestream of the event on YouTube.
Story by Rosaria Lo Presti and photos by John LaRosa.