In fields from consulting to food delivery to Mediterranean catering, women business owners across Tompkins County have been running their companies with the help of Rev’s Passenger to Pilot program, a yearlong endeavor that provides support, accountability, and strategic development to women entrepreneurs in the community. Led by program director Ariana Blossom, members of the inaugural 2016 class have been working over the past year to grow their businesses with the help of mentors, motivation, and women founder power.
“My business is growing in new ways and I feel confident, supported, and excited for what comes next.”
-Erica VanEtten Marx
Now, one year later, the women are ready to graduate. “I joined the Passenger to Pilot program to ‘come out’ as a business owner in this community and to create a path to success for my business,” reflects Erica VanEtten Marx of Inspiration to Action. “Now, I am part of a powerful cohort of women supporting each other’s growth and success. My business is growing in new ways and I feel confident, supported, and excited for what comes next.”
Beyond providing the entrepreneurs with a network of like-minded women, the Passenger to Pilot program also offers mentors who work alongside members to create and achieve goals. Elisa Miller-Out, Co-Founder of a custom software consulting firm called Singlebrook, reports a great experience with the program. “The mentors and coaches are world-class,” says Miller-Out. “We’ve been able to test and launch new initiatives with lots of feedback and support from the Rev team.” She reports that Singlebrook has experienced its best year in revenue and profitability.
When Kelly White of Illume Projects, LLC, considers her past years’ efforts, she thinks about the program’s more tangible benefits. “Passenger to Pilot has afforded me numerous opportunities to expand my network into many different ‘pockets’ of Cornell,” she recalls, “and to meet other women entrepreneurs both locally and regionally.”
“Now, my sales numbers are up 35% over last year. I have been able to create a better place for my employees and myself to work. I feel proud of my accomplishments, to be part of this wonderful program.”
But perhaps the most endearing reflection is that of Emily Russell, whose business, The Frame Shop, has not seen growth since 2008 before joining the Passenger to Pilot program. “I felt uninspired,” Russell says. “I was tired of trying new things to draw customers in and not seeing results.” She explains that the program made her more accountable. “As a small business owner, it is so hard to wear so many hats, and it’s easy to push aside the parts of your business that you don’t feel like doing. I needed some pressure applied.” She reports being provided caring support through the program that helped her refocus her big picture and reorganize her business. “Now, my sales numbers are up 35% over last year. I have been able to create a better place for my employees and myself to work. I feel proud of my accomplishments, to be part of this wonderful program.”
And the other members of the 2016 graduates seem to echo her sentiments as they continue to launch their businesses to new heights. The 2015-2016 Passenger to Pilot graduation ceremony will be held May 18th from 6:00 to 9:00PM at Coltivare in Ithaca, and will feature several keynote speakers as well as pitches from all the graduates. For more information about the graduation, and to RSVP for free, visit the event page here.
With reports of positive long-term change from the inaugural class, the Passenger to Pilot program is looking forward to initiating a new group of women entrepreneurs!
Main Photo: Program lead, Arianna Blossom; P2P 2016 Graduate, Kelly White of Illume Projects
Credit: Tom Schryver