It is often stated that it takes a village to raise a child. But the same is true when it comes to growing a business. Duquesne native Esther M. Franklin, the owner of Tri-State Paralegal Services, LLC. can attest to that fact.
A member of the National Association of Women Business Owners Greater Pittsburgh Chapter, the Women Empowered for Entrepreneurial Excellence and active with the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center, Franklin has received assistance that prepared her and gave her courage to participate in the recent 2014 Business Plan Competition. Sponsored by the Pennsylvania Commission for Women and the Pennsylvania Chapters of NAWBO, Franklin was a finalist in the competition in which a $10,000 cash prize was the reward.
The overall process and experience of being a part of the competition, Franklin considered as a great opportunity. “I have met a lot of people and now feel that I can accomplish anything,” she revealed.
“We were excited to provide the guidance and support to Esther as she prepared to pitch her business for the final competition,” said Donna Baxter, president of NAWBO Greater Pittsburgh. “Startups and fledgling entrepreneurs don’t realize that in addition to funding that mentorship and networking are critical to long-term business success.”
Franklin and two other women made their business pitches during the Women’s Mentorship Symposium. Judges for the event were Lori Greiner, from the entrepreneurial business show “Shark Tank”; Julia Hearthway, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry; and Renee Amoore, founder and president of The Amoore Group, Inc.
Jacqueline McDevitt the owner of the Phan Cave based in Philadelphia, winner of the competition described her business as a service that provides a hassle-free tailgating experience for sporting events, concerts and corporate functions.
Elizabeth Chang, representing NAWBO Northeast PA is the owner of Pretty Mama Breastfeeding, LLC. She defined her venture as providing a one-stop shopping experience for expectant women and provides empowerment, nurturing and support to mothers and babies by delivering quality products and services.
Franklin said since 2011, she has been filling a void in real estate legal services in the Pittsburgh market. She pitched her business as specializing in real estate, wireless telecommunications, title insurance, oil and gas title opinions and contact law. “Our staff consists of experienced paralegals and real estate professionals with experienced leadership in the profession for over 17 years,” she pointed out.
Utilizing the experience of being a finalist of the 2014 PA NAWBO Business Plan Competition to her advantage, Franklin has also applied for an opportunity to receive a $150,000 grant from Chase. The funding from the Mission Main Street Grants program she says will allow her business to access working capital and to hire at least two employees and to implement their strategic marketing plan.” In addition to submitting a questionnaire outlining a business plan that will result in growth of the business she needed at least 250 Internet votes to be eligible for the grant.
Twenty grant recipients will be selected by expert panelists and notified in January of their success.
A strong supporter and mentor to Franklin, Alice Williams the founder and executive director of WEEE said, “I respect the hustle, desire and determination Esther has to grow and take her business to the next level. Her goal is to expand into the oil and gas and cellular tower industry.”
She also pointed out that by participating in the business plan competition and Mission Main Street Grants program that Franklin is marketing her business on a national level.
WEEEs’ mission is to stimulate and support sustainable economic growth and prosperity for a diverse population of women by providing microenterprise businesses with strategies, resources and business incubation, and a trusted source for information and guidance.
NAWBO provides women entrepreneurs a variety of opportunities, products and services to help their business achieve greater visibility, credibility and profitability. The Greater Pittsburgh chapter, celebrating its 40th anniversary next year is the fifth oldest chapter.
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