In March of 2024, a tenacious cohort of 34 student entrepreneurs convened in the heart of the Rocky Mountains as participants of the 2024 WBENC Collegiate Accelerator (CA), a multifaceted entrepreneurial program, focused on the advancement of collegiate female founders. While in Denver, the cohort engaged in five full days of programming focused on the fundamentals of growth for early-stage ventures, and also attended the robust 2024 WBENC National Conference, the largest event of its kind for women business owners across the nation.

The 2024 CA cohort was selected in early January from a pool of talented applicants, representing a promising future for the next generation of women-owned businesses. In the months prior to arriving in Denver, the 2024 cohort met virtually to connect with peers and learn more about Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), as well as its network of more than 20,000 Certified Women’s Business Enterprises, 550+ Corporate Members, and 14 Regional Partner Organizations.

During this time, students were also introduced to their individual mentors through the CA Mentorship Program, in which seasoned women business owners and Corporate professionals are paired with student mentees in a 2:1 mentorship model. Equipped with guidance from WBENC and support from their mentors, the cohort prepared to delve into the world of professional networking with cross-industry entrepreneurs and corporate supplier diversity professionals who would represent more than 4,500 attendees at the 2024 WBENC National Conference.



Upon arriving in Denver, the cohort gathered at a locally owned Italian restaurant for a welcoming meal and an introductory conversation to set the tone for the week ahead. The days following were packed with educational curriculum designed to empower and equip students with the tools needed to grow their emerging ventures. The cohort began with a signature CA training entitled Business Strategy for Growth, facilitated by WBENC-Certified WBE, Marianne Ellis, CEO & Co-Founder of CEO Success Community. Marianne, a recognized business coach with 25+ years of experience advocating for the success of her clients, guided the cohort through an interactive roadmap outlining key elements and strategies needed to increase sales as an early-stage startup venture.

Kicking off Day 2 of the CA program, WBENC was thrilled to partner with Kat Weaver, CEO & Co-Founder of Power to Pitch, to facilitate a pitch training ahead of the 2024 Collegiate Accelerator Pitch Competition taking place later in the week and awarding $20,000 in total seed capital to the top three student winners! As a 2019 alumna of the program and former first-place CA pitch winner, Kat traveled to Denver to lead the cohort through an immersive coaching session outlining the art of storytelling as a startup entrepreneur, as well as the do’s and don’ts of pitching to corporations. Kat’s training was interactive as she answered questions and shared tips and tricks from her successful experiences, having won 22 out of 23 pitch competitions to date.

The cohort prepared for their debut at the WBENC National Conference with an intimate, conversational panel focused on Entrepreneurial Leadership. The panel featured Nedra Dickson, WBENC Board Chair and Global Supplier Diversity & Sustainability Director at Accenture as well as other advocates for the next generation of women business owners. The room was electric as panelists shared their professional insights and leadership perspectives, leaving the students feeling more confident and empowered to take up space within the WBENC network and the greater entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Barb Smith | Journey Steel, Inc.
Barbara Bosha | Bosha Design+Communications
Bev Jennings | SEE Company
Beverly Barnes | SGW Integrated Marketing
Brooke Foley | The Jayne Agency
Cathy Koch | K-Tec Systems Inc
Cindy Towers | JURISolutions
Connie Reuther | Bay Corrugated Container
Dr. Pamela Ellis | Compass College Advisory
Dr. Renette Dallas | Life by Dallas Inc (Dallas’ True Pop Popcorn)

Heather Cox | Certify My Company
Hetal Parikh | Rangam Consultants
Jennifer Schaumburg | FUSE SOLUTIONS INC
Jennifer Willey | Wet Cement
Judith Maloy | Polaris Direct
Karen Rellar | DBA RPI Graphic Data Solutions
Katrin Hillner | PCN (PC Network Inc)
Kelly Ruddo | One Call Concepts Locating Service
Kittie Watson, Ph.D | Innolect
Kristin Harper | Driven to Succeed LLC

Lisa Riggs | Spirit Sox USA, LLC.
Liz Whitehead | 12PointFive
LuzElena Rivers | Amera Medical Transportation
Mellissa Tong | DuckPunk Productions, Inc.
Michelle Jones | BPT Staffing
Nikki O’Dell | Talentology
Sabina Bhatia | Rose International, Inc.
Sharon Evans | CFJ Manufacturing
Sharon Reynolds | DevMar
Sherril Mosee | MinkeeBlue

During the morning of Tuesday, March 19, the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center was buzzing with excitement as thousands gathered in the mile-high city for the first day of the 2024 WBENC National Conference. The support around the room was palpable as the CA cohort gathered early to meet their WBE mentors over breakfast before joining the larger WBENC network for kickoff programming and networking opportunities. Later that evening, students met their WBENC Corporate mentors in-person as they attended the Welcome Reception.

Wednesday arrived and the cohort was eager to kick off the first half of the CA Pitch Competition. Fifteen emerging female founders took the stage for Part 1, showcasing the culmination of months of hard work and practice. These students had been meeting with their mentors and peers, refining their pitches and honing their presentation skills.

Brimming with talent and confidence, each student took center stage as they delivered a 3-minute elevator pitch to an audience of 250+ attendees including a panel of esteemed judges. With their sharp analytical skills, strategic thinking, and ability to effectively communicate their venture’s plan for growth, this cohort was well-equipped to deliver winning pitches that captivated the judges and made for a dynamic and unforgettable event.

While their peers competed onstage, the remaining half of the cohort was hard at work setting up their exhibits outside of the Expo Hall for the CA Interactive Showcase, generously sponsored by JPMorgan Chase & Co. Adorned with examples of their products and services, each founder carefully crafted an interactive tabling experience for the inquisitive attendees who sauntered by, wanting to learn more about the students and their businesses.


By Thursday afternoon, hundreds of attendees gathered to cheer on the students for Part 2 of the CA Pitch Competition. The crowd erupted with a standing ovation as the final student concluded the competition and anticipation heightened as the time neared to announce the top three winners and recipients of $20K in total seed capital. The judges expressed their best wishes and praised the innovation that arose throughout the competition, acknowledging renewed hope for the future of equitable entrepreneurship and leadership. At last, the time had come to invite representatives from the Title Sponsors of the WBENC Collegiate Accelerator, FedEx & Walmart, to deliver the much-anticipated news!

  • Aalliyeh Clinton, Founder of Monneah’s Engineered Materials, whose mission is to provide sustainable PPE in combination with comfort and style for scientists, placed third and was awarded $4k to further foster her venture’s goals for growth! Learn more about Monneah’s Engineered Materials by visiting their website.
  • Jonaie Johnson, Founder of Interplay, emerged as the second-place winner for her startup venture combining pet care and innovative technology, securing $6K to invest in strategy and development. To learn more and Interplay’s patent-pending technology, visit their website.
  • Finally, the coveted first place winner of the 2024 WBENC Collegiate Accelerator Pitch Competition has been awarded to Emily Untermeyer, Founder of RUBY, whose exceptional pitch left a lasting impression the judges. Learn more about RUBY, the only supplement brand that supports female athletes at critical moments in their menstrual cycles, by visiting their website.

The young women comprising the 2024 CA cohort are on a mission to positively impact their communities through their entrepreneurial goals, all while remaining dedicated to their collegiate careers. WBENC extends a heartfelt congratulations to all participants of the 2024 Collegiate Accelerator for their ingenuity, passion, and dedication to growing their ventures; we look forward to supporting each student’s entrepreneurial journey towards success. WBENC is proud to engage, empower, and inspire the next generation of women owned businesses through the support of WBENC Corporate & Government Members, such as the Collegiate Accelerator Title Sponsors, FedEx & Walmart.

2024 Collegiate Accelerator Winners

1st Place

Emily Untermeyer

Founder, RUBY

2nd Place

Jonaie Johnson

Founder, Interplay

3rd Place

Aalliyeh Clinton

Founder, Monneah’s Engineered Materials 

Congratulations to all the students in the cohort for their outstanding performance in the pitch competition and their enthusiastic participation in the Collegiate Accelerator Program.

Thank you to the Collegiate Accelerator Title Sponsors, FedEx and Walmart, for their commitment to empowering and investing in young talent and making this program possible.

If you are a WBENC-Certified WBE and are interested in participating in the WBENC Collegiate Accelerator as a WBE Mentor, please complete the WBE Mentor Interest Form linked HERE. WBENC Corporate Members interested in sponsoring the WBENC Collegiate Accelerator as a Corporate Supporter are encouraged to reach out to Avery Trump at, or Vaughn Farris at