By SBDC at FIU
Dawn Dickson may be donning flats, but she’s walking tall these days.
The Miami-based entrepreneur and founder of Flat Out of Heels won second place in the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, the Small Business Administration’s nationwide business competition. The prize: $20,000.
Now in its second year, the competition showcases women entrepreneurs and the innovative products and services many have created. The InnovateHER Business Challenge, which drew 2,000 competitors, began in August 2015 with regional competitions around the country.
Founded in 2012, Flat Out of Heels sells fashionable ballet-style flats that can be rolled up and fit into a purse. Since then, the company has sold 50,000 pairs of shoes, online and in vending machines placed in high traffic locations.
“Winning the money definitely helped my business,” said Dickson, who will invest the prize in building a new website for Flat Out of Heels. “Just the exposure was amazing.”
Dickson was one of 10 finalists in the live pitch competition before a panel of judges: media entrepreneur Nely Galan, MSNBC host JJ Ramberg, and haircare entrepreneur Lisa Price.
”The event was a great opportunity to focus on products geared toward women,” said Dickson. “It brings to the forefront the issues women entrepreneurs are facing.”
In addition to Flat Out of Heels, Dickson launched Solutions Vending International (SVI), an automated retail system of custom vending machines that today sell her signature shoes.
Dickson began working with SBDC at FIU, which provides no-cost expert business consulting to help small-and medium-sized businesses grow and succeed.
SBDC at FIU’s consultants offer assistance in developing a business plan, access to capital and business operations, marketing, communications, international business development, and government contracting.
Exposure is something Dickson getting plenty of lately. She was one of the speakers at eMerge Americas, the annual technology and innovation event in Miami. Dickson joined panelists discussing the resources entrepreneurs need to bolster their businesses. Furthermore, she said, conference organizers purchased 1,000 of the company’s shoes and distributed them to women at the Women, Innovation & Technology summit within eMerge Americas.
Brian Van Hook is associate director of the SBDC at FIU.
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