Meet Our Founders Fund Pitch Competition Fund Recipients

Meet Our Founders Fund Pitch Competition Fund Recipients

This year we celebrated our first ever pitch competition where 10 exceptional women entrepreneurs pitched their businesses with confidence, passion and skill to a panel of 5 highly esteemed judges.

In the end the judges had the challenging task of deliberating and choosing the first, second and third place recipients who won $10k, $7k and $3k respectively. 

We want to thank our finalists, our judges, our selection committee, our pitch coaches, our sponsors (BDC, Voltage, NoIssue) and our audience for making our first ever pitch competition a memorable day of celebration.


Meet Carla Smith - Co-Founder of Rolla Skate Club

First Place $10k Funding Recipient 

Carla Smith

Who is Carla Smith?

Being active has been Carla’s passion since her days of ballet and field hockey as a child. “At University I tried out for the rowing team on a whim. Turns out I loved the camaraderie of the team, and how we had to overcome our physical barriers every single day at practice, together.” But eventually a serious back injury and demanding course load in architecture school meant the end of rowing.

Jump ahead to living in Boston in her twenties. Carla saw a flyer for the Team In Training running charity. “I like a challenge…” she thought, and (not a natural runner) soon found herself training for a marathon, just to see if she could. “Along the way I fell in with a kick-ass group of like-minded women who were also trying something new. Hundreds of hours pounding the pavement meant we got to know each other very well!”

Next stop: Vancouver. New to the city and looking to connect and continue to challenge herself, Carla found the Terminal City Rollergirls in 2007. A decade-plus later, she’s still coaching and playing the sport. She even gave up an award-winning career as an architect to focus on fitness training for derby athletes. “I’m obviously drawn to the team aspect of sports. The bonds between friends are always strongest when you’ve had to overcome physical and mental challenges together. Roller Derby has never stopped challenging me, and it has forged a community of confident, inspiring women who are family to me. I’ve made the friendships of a lifetime.”

What Does Being Selected as a Funding Recipient Mean to You, Carla?

"Being selected as a finalist for the competition validated my ability to tell the story of Rolla Skate Club. Being selected as the grand prize winner gave me a huge boost of confidence that the panel of judges would understand our vision and see its potential! The pandemic has been devastating to our industry (events and indoor group fitness!) so it feels so incredible to get a win like this. Wind in our sails as we look to the next stage of growth for Rolla Skate Club! I'm so thankful to the Founders Fund for the meaningful and thoughtful support you've provided along the way."


Meet Lucy Cullen - Founder of EarthPup

Second Place $7k Funding Recipient 

Lucy Cullen Earth Pup

Who is Lucy Cullen? 

Founder of EarthPup, Lucy Cullen is an animal lover, sustainability expert and award-winning environmentalist. Ever since she could remember, she has been obsessed with dogs. At the age of 7, Lucy convinced her parents to let her get a puppy, who she named Winnie. With her new best friend at her side, Lucy had dreams of one day becoming a vet and helping all the dogs in need around the world.
As an adult, Lucy's passion for the environment brought her into a successful career in food sustainability, where she co-founded her first company Terus, a social enterprise that reduces waste in restaurants. Terus helped divert over 200,000 pounds of waste from landfill.
In 2019, Lucy decided to get back to her childhood dream of helping animals. Combining her passion for sustainability and dedication to helping dogs, Lucy founded EarthPup™ with her partner Adam Alguire, an acclaimed Toronto chef. Adam brought his dedication to animal welfare and delicious food to EarthPup, where he and Lucy work closely with animal nutritionists to create eco-friendly treats that give back.

What Does Being Selected as a Funding Recipient Mean to You, Lucy? 

"This funding means we can get new printed packaging for our products and do our first production run with a manufacturer! We are so excited about this, because it opens up the opportunity for us to start selling to bigger retailers, new markets like Quebec and ultimately increase our impact in addressing the food waste problem in Canada. We are so grateful for this funding from Founders Fund and can't wait to get EarthPup to the next level!" 


Meet Rachel Nicks - Founder of Birth Queen

Third Place $3k Funding Recipient 

Rachel Nicks Birth Queen

Who is Rachel Nicks?

Rachel was born in Oakland, CA. Her passion for movement began at age 2 when she began gymnastics. She continued to grow as an athlete adding soccer, basketball, and volleyball to her roster. After graduating from The Juilliard School with a BFA in drama she began a dedicated Hatha yoga practice. Her curiosity about the philosophy led her to taking a 500 hour Hatha yoga training. When she began teaching it unlocked Pandora’s box!
Rachel continued to train in a variety of disciplines to meet the needs of all of her students. She craved more education to support her pregnant and postpartum students and became certified in pre/postnatal fitness as well as a certified doula and lactation counselor.
Rachel is a mother of two beautiful sons and resides in Harlem, NY. She is fiercely committed to her community and was a member of the Dallas and New York Junior League for over ten years. The wisdom and tools she gained from those experiences will lay as the foundation of her nonprofit. Rachel founded Birth Queen to combat the Black maternal health crisis. Birth Queen is a resource that Black women and birthing people can trust. They can be confident knowing there is someone advocating for them and breathing new life into the birth world with funding, education, and support.

What Does Being Selected as a Funding Recipient Mean to You, Rachel?

"This funding provides me validation of hope of more to come. I just launched in March 2021 and it proves that others believe in my work as much as I do. This funding will enrich a birth experience and protect and save lives."



This has been our list of our exceptional funding recipients

Congratulations to our 3 funding recipients who will also be taking home goodies from our sponsors Noissue and Voltage New Media.

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