A marketing major who launched an app to connect underrepresented consumers with local stylists has won first place in a prestigious national entrepreneurship program sponsored by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
Carrisa Anderson, who will graduate in December, was one of just 20 young women selected for the WBENC Student Entrepreneurship Program, which offers a week of classes in various aspects of small business management and entrepreneurship, as well as mentoring from executives of such Fortune 500 companies as Dell Technologies, Exxon Mobile Corporation, Macy’s Inc., Office Depot, Inc., Pfizer, Inc., Walmart Stores, Inc., Ericsson North America, Bristol-Meyers Squibb and the U.S. Postal Service.
The week culminated in a pitch competition in which the student entrepreneurs competed for a total of $10,000 in seed capital. The program is part of the WBENC annual National Business Fair and Conference in Las Vegas June 18-23.
Anderson is a co-founder of Flare, a booking, scheduling and payment app that helps customers find and book appointments with local barbers and stylists who cater to their hair or skin types. The idea was sparked by a conversation she had with a friend who said he had trouble finding a stylist while he was away at school.
“We realized this is a big issue that a lot of African Americans deal with, and thought ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could create a platform for them to connect with professionals and shops that cater to their hair type’, ” she said earlier this year.
She developed her idea and honed her business plan at Hofstra’s Center for Entrepreneurship, which has worked with hundreds of student entrepreneurs to help launch their start-ups. Anderson and Flare took top honors in several Hofstra entrepreneurship competitions during the 2016-17 academic year, including first place in the Lion’s Den pitch contest and an honorable mention in the Hofstra-Digital Remedy Venture Challenge.
“Carrisa is one of our stars,” said Mark Lesko, vice president of Economic Development and executive dean of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “She has persistence, passion and creativity – traits every aspiring entrepreneur must possess. Her future is limitless.”
Since inception in 2008, more than 150 students from 50 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from WBENC Student Entrepreneurship Program. To celebrate WBENC’s 20th anniversary, Student Entrepreneurship Program welcomed ten alumnae from prior years as mentors to the current participants throughout the week and beyond.
“We must be proactive about encouraging future women business enterprises of all backgrounds to see the possibilities in opening their own businesses,” says Pamela Prince-Eason, WBENC President and CEO. “The SEP (Student Entrepreneurship Program) does this by bringing students from across the country, in different fields and with diverse backgrounds.”