June 9, 2016 | Des Moines, Iowa

Invest in She - Des Moines

This event has already occurred
Buy Tickets

Featured Sponsors

View all the amazing sponsors who helped make this event possible.

The Investors

Becky Gibson

Becky Gibson

Becky Gibson is Vice President, Senior Relationship Manager at Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. She is a seasoned professional with more than 25 years of experience in the banking industry. She is a key member of the commercial banking group and provides trusted insight and advice to senior management teams. Becky received her Bachelor’s degree in finance from The University of Iowa and is a graduate of the Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. She serves on the Board of Trustees for the Des Moines Symphony, is an active volunteer with the Women’s Leadership Connection Book Buddy program through the United Way of Central Iowa, and is a former board member of the Neighborhood Finance Corporation. An Iowa native, Becky lives in Ankeny with her family. 

Brian Day

Brian Day

Brian Day is the Director of Digital Payments Strategy for TMG. In this role, Brian is responsible for overseeing TMG’s online and mobile initiatives. He brings a diverse background in the financial services industry.

Brian developed and managed TMG’s relationship with Dwolla, a mobile and person-to-person payment product. Through that experience, he was exposed to the mobile payment landscape from the perspectives of financial institutions, consumers and merchants. Today, Brian uses that experience to help guide TMG’s financial institution clients in the development of mobile payments strategies. Brian was instrumental in organizing and launching the Client Advisory Panel program, a key strategic initiative for TMG to collaborate with clients to conceptualize innovation efforts and help shape the future of financial services. As an advisor and past participant in the Iowa Innovation Group, Brian works with Iowa credit union leaders to address gaps in financial services through innovative solutions.

Prior to working in financial services, Brian held product support roles focused on market analysis, market research and forecasting for organizations in the manufacturing sector. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa.

Camille Urban

Camille Urban

Camille L. Urban is a member of BrownWinick and Chairs the firm's Intellectual Property practice group.

Camille practices in the areas of patents, trademarks and copyrights. Because most aspects of these areas of the law are federal or even international in nature, Camille's clients range from individuals to large companies located regionally as well as throughout the globe. Her practice includes engineering and negotiating international and domestic licenses and technology agreements, participating in due diligence and transfer activities relating to mergers and acquisitions and assisting clients in preparing private and public placement documents in addition to preparing and prosecuting patent and trademark applications and registering copyrights. She assists clients in creating strategies to protect and increase the value of their intellectual property both domestically and internationally, and helps clients devise and develop coherent intellectual property portfolios. 

Jay Larsen

Jay Larsen

Jay Larsen is currently the Regional Vice President for Nationwide’s Midwest Regional Office, serving the states of Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin and manages $2 Billion in direct written premium. He joined Nationwide Insurance in 1997 and spent the first decade of his career in commercial and farm underwriting. He then moved from California to Florida as a sales leader and advanced his career to Vice President of Sales for Nationwide’s independent channel operations in Des Moines.  Jay also played a key role during the review and acquisition of Harleysville Insurance and subsequently became Vice President and Chief Underwriting Officer of Harleysville Insurance in Pennsylvania.  Jay eventually returned to Florida as the Regional Vice President prior to relocating back to Des Moines, Iowa in 2015 to lead the Midwest Region.  Jay holds a Bachelor of Science degree from California State University of Sacramento, and has his Associate in Loss Control Management (ALCM) and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designations.

Lynn Schreder - NAWBO Iowa

Lynn Schreder - NAWBO Iowa

Lynn Schreder is past president of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Iowa chapter (NAWBO Iowa), the state’s largest organization supporting women business owners. NAWBO’s mission is to “propel women entrepreneurs into economic, social and political spheres of power worldwide. Lynn joined NAWBO in February of 2009 after she purchased Kingsgate Heath Insurance, now KHI Solutions. She served as chair of NAWBO Iowa’s Women Mean Business Summit (an annual event aimed at educating, networking and energizing WBOs) for three years and held the role of co-president for four years. During Lynn’s tenure, NAWBO Iowa, formerly NAWBO Central Iowa, became the fastest growing NAWBO chapter of its size for two consecutive years. 

Melissa Ness

Melissa Ness

Melissa Ness has been in finance and operations for 18 years. She is the COO for Aureon HR and has been with the Company since 2007.  In this role, she oversees  a broad range of departments and activities including finance, accounting, acquisitions, compliance, board reporting and governance, operations, client experience, business systems and risk management. Prior to Aureon HR, Melissa served in various roles in accounting, operations and finance in the SMB market in both helping to build, finance, audit and run those companies.  Melissa holds her degree in Accounting from Iowa State University and has served on several boards and finance committees.

Additional Information

Explore all the conference has to offer


For the second year, IWLC will convene Invest in She - Des Moines, offering female entrepreneurs and business owners the opportunity to pitch their business ventures to a group of power investors.

Since its creation, IWLC and investors have awarded more than $110,000 to 18 female entrepreneurs across the state. Winners at each of the Invest in She by IWLC events are then eligible to compete in the national Small Business Association InnovateHER competitions, thus increasing their potential investor reach. 

Tickets for the Invest in She pitch competition are $55. 

5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

Cocktails and Reception

6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

Invest in She - Des Moines Pitch Competition

Round 1

Contestant 1
- 3 minute pitch
- Investor Q&A

Contestant 2
- 3 minute pitch
- Investor Q&A

Contestant 3
- 3 minute pitch
- Investor Q&A

15-minute Break

Round 2

Contestant 4
- 3 minute pitch
- Investor Q&A

Contestant 5
- 3 minute pitch
- Investor Q&A

Contestant 6
- 3 minute pitch
- Investor Q&A

15-minute Break

Investor Awards

Closing Remarks

The 2016 Invest in She - Des Moines female entrepreneurs include:

Steph Jessen - Mo' Goodness Foods
Mo’ Rub was created in 2006, when Steph Jessen first offered the special blend of spices to friends and family  as Christmas gifts. Steph officially launched Mo’ Goodness Foods five years later in a born again steel truck. Steph and her husband are now on a mission to spread Mo’ Goodness across the state, starting with an amazing all-natural spice rub with amazing versatility like nothing Iowa has ever seen before.

Becky Herman - Iowa Cricket Farmer
While watching CNN Student News in her classroom, high school social studies teacher Rebecca Herman was inspired by the idea of raising insects for protein. Rebecca has always had an interest in sustainable agriculture and soon after the idea sparked, she bought an old restaurant in Keystone that she, her husband and their family friend, Jared Van Hamme, have turned into a cricket farm where they produce and sell human-edible crickets.

Allison Davidson Motoyama - Dona Bela Shreds
Allison founded Dona Bela Shreds in 2010 and started her business by exhibiting at various Junior League holiday events and selling her Shreds neckwear directly to consumers. In 2013, Allison moved to her first brick-and-mortar location in Historic Valley Junction in Des Moines and she officially launched the Dona Bela Shreds wholesale division a year later. Dona Bela Shreds can currently be found in over 600 retail locations nationwide. 

Susan Brown - TreePans.com, Inc. 
Susan Brown is President of TreePans.com, Inc. located in Akron, Iowa and specializing in innovative agricultural tree care products. Susan leans on the work ethic she developed growing up on the family farm near Ruthven, Iowa before graduating from the University of Northern Iowa majoring in International Economics. Susan held various sales and management positions in the financial and insurance industries before recently steering Sioux City, Iowa towards their Blue Zones certification. Susan continues her active community volunteer work with the Sioux City Blue Zones Project, Iowa State Extension Master Gardeners, on the board of Siouxland Youth Chorus as well as a past American Heart Association board member and a Plymouth County 4-H volunteer.

Lyssa Wade - Veggie Thumper
In 2008 Unforeseen circumstances led Lyssa to drastic lifestyle changes. Upon her discovery that not all food was created equal, creating dishes with whole foods became more than a daily affair, it birthed a way of life known as Veggie thumpin’. Into a pan went her garden produce to become boldly flavored palate pleasing veggie dishes. Lyssa lives in a world where mushrooms become “bacon” and carrots become “hotdogs.” Random thoughts become a meal. Veggie Thumper started making organic deodorant and skin care products which led to the next adventure, a food bus to share the love of food and Veggie Thumper products with the masses.

Heather Hassebroek - Bublins, LLC
Heather Hassebroek is Founder and Chief Tastemaker at Bublins.  As a little girl, Heather’s Mother frequently let her host dinner parties for her friends in the formal dining room.  That fostered Heather’s keen eye for the small and simple details of a home that has led to a lifelong passion for linens, decor and entertaining. Heather graduated from Augustana University with a Bachelors Degree in Business Communications. She has spent over ten years in various capacities focusing on change management, Agile coaching, leadership, project management and speaking on a global level. She has developed and led several teams and projects with budgets in the tens of millions of dollars. It all started in March of 2016 when Bublins officially launched creating an entirely new way to quickly update one’s home decor. Debuting with throw pillows and blankets, Bublins creates a simple online shopping experience through a brief style assessment, curated decor matched to the assessment results, and a style guide. Bublins aims to inspire a fresh, modern sensibility and light-hearted way of living through our curated decor collections and simple shopping experience. 

How Invest in She - Des Moines Works

  • Together, eight local investors donate $40,000 to be distributed among six Iowa women entrepreneurs, carefully selected from a pool of statewide applicants.
  • The entrepreneurs give a 3-minute “pitch” to the investors. 
  • The investors then decide which entrepreneurs are most viable, ready to scale and move to the next level in business.
  • The investors DO NOT receive equity on the entrepreneur’s venture. They do, however, offer advice to the entrepreneur on how best to use their donation (for example: refining business plan, creating a prototype, developing a marketing plan, etc.).
  • Entrepreneurs DO NOT receive cash, they receive their winnings in the form of services. Entrepreneurs identify Iowa vendors for services and IWLC pays the vendors.  

Of the six women-owned businesses, investors chose to distribute $30,000 of support in the following denominations:

The big winner of Invest in She – Des Moines was Megan McKay of Peace Tree Brewing Company. She believes that the Invest in She – Des Moines competition will enable her to further grow her business. “This process gave validation to me as an entrepreneur,” said Ms. McKay. “And it is validation to an industry [brewing] that has not been historically strong in Iowa. It shows me that if you have a compelling story and product, you can succeed.”

“Invest in She – Des Moines has been a great process,” says Ms. McKay. “It was good to spend so much time inside your business. It really forced me to delegate and to focus on our vision, which enabled me to communicate a clear path to our employees.”

2016 Invest in She - Des Moines Steering Committee

Jayne Armstrong – SBA

Michelle Bartusek – Iowa Center for Economic Success 

Sheree Clark – Fork In The Road 

Pam Clearwater-Lovell – Next Gen CFO

Elizabeth Caven – UpCraft Club

Jayme Fry – West Bank

Andrea Hansen – VenueFox/Unity Point Des Moines

Cyndi Harmeyer-Fisher – Greater Des Moines Partnership

Kristin Hurd – Hurd Real Estate

Jackie Johanson – R & R Realty 

Amy Kuhlers – IEDA

Liz Lidgett – Adore Your Walls

Jess Lundquist - Iowa Center for Economic Success

Mary Mendenhall-Core – ABI

Ciji Mitrisian – ReCycle Me

Christina Moffat – SBDC

Carrie Naig - Pella Corporation

Lynn Schreder – KHI Financial/NAWBO Iowa

Julie Woline 

“Invest in She – Des Moines has been a great process. It was good to spend so much time inside your business. It really forced me to delegate and to focus on our vision, which enabled me to communicate a clear path to our employees.”

-Megan McKay, owner of Peace Tree Brewing | 2015 Invest in She - Des Moines winner

“The support of the Invest in She – Des Moines investors will enable us to dramatically change our business. We will be able to advance our company four months in our goals.”

-Helen Adeosun, founder of CareAcademy.co, Inc. | 2015 Invest in She - Des Moines Audience Choice Award winner

“There are very few opportunities to truly participate in a small way with an early stage company. Invest in She provides a unique process that allows a contributor to get to know the entrepreneur and her business. For me, it presented a way to, hopefully, make a positive difference early in the business’s development by using my own experience to advise how the contributed funds might be best used.”

-Camille Urban, BrownWinick Law Firm | 2015 Invest in She - Des Moines Investor

"Invest in She is a 'shark tank' type of investment competition for women business owners on the surface. Underneath, it’s a network of leadership, experience, connections, knowledge, expertise, education and stories that provide inspiration, encouragement and support. A combination of women and men in our community who believe in sharing their knowledge. Not only am I still getting value out of my Invest in She experience, it’s helped take me to a new professional level. There are no more excuses, just hurdles to jump over. I was and still am unbelievably grateful for the experience, the connections and most importantly, for the fire that reignited my soul to keep moving my business forward."

-Ciji Mitrisin | Founder, RecycleMe Iowa | 2015 Invest in She Des Moines contestant

Don't Miss Out

Stay up to date with all the latest conference news.