As Emily Wazlak consulted a bridal registry for a friend’s upcoming wedding, she wondered why it was so much easier to support a marriage than a startup. She established Shine Registry in 2018 to bridge this disconnect.
“Shine Registry enables women entrepreneurs to share profiles of their businesses and ask for contributions of equipment, services, mentorship — anything their companies may need to grow,” she explains.
While wedding registries have been around for a long time, information technology made them more accessible — to both marrying couples and the individuals who want to support them. Technology propels Shine Registry and many of the entrepreneurs who have registered there as well.
“I was thrilled to see Shine Registry taking this fresh approach to supporting women founders,” says Catherine Tsavalas, a marketing and operations strategy consultant who has fulfilled several registry requests. For women who have been systemically and culturally disadvantaged when it comes to starting technology and other businesses, Shine Registry helps level the playing field by providing a network committed to helping them succeed.
- Catherine Tsavalas
Hundreds of people like Tsavalas have fulfilled requests on ShineRegistry.com, ranging from “become my first paying customer” to “connect me with pro bono legal services.” On the registry are retail startups, consultancies, social enterprises, mobile app developers, media companies, you name it — from Pittsburgh, where Shine Registry is based, and from across the nation and around the globe. Companies can register for “Small Things,” like “follow me on social media,” “Little Stuff” and “Big Asks.” One of Shine Registry’s Big Asks, for example, is for volunteers to test features on the website.
A feature of the registry is offering supporters, as well as registrants, the opportunity to share a pep talk. A few words of encouragement from someone who’s been there and done that can make all the difference in the day of a frustrated entrepreneur.
- Emily Wazlak
Registrants Give Thanks
“Our participation in Shine Registry has taught us that money isn’t everything,” notes E.Louise Larson, co-founder of Prototype PGH. “While we’re grateful for the donations and grants we’ve received, the relationships we’ve forged are particularly critical to our success.”
Prototype PGH (prototypepgh.com) defines itself as a feminist makerspace. Its mission is to build gender and racial equity, primarily in tech entrepreneurships, by providing affordable access to high-tech tools and equipment (think 3D printing), and workshops that help people use them. Larson and her co-founder, Erin Gatz, have successfully registered for $5-a-month memberships and items from the company’s Amazon wish list.
Another startup on Shine Registry is Local Impact Inc., a social venture that reimagines civic education. Local (localcivics.io) leverages game- and team-based learning to empower teachers and help students become civic-minded and engaged. Led by former soccer pro Beverly Leon, Local is piloting its program in New York City.
“Soccer became a transformational lever in my life. Early on, I realized the potential of sports to bring people together, and in high school, I started volunteer coaching when I realized how doing what I loved could inspire others,” says Leon. “We want to reach people at this stage in their lives and give them the tools they need to grow into the next wave of changemakers, leading, shaping and defining our society.”
Developing technology platforms, building a sustainable business model, navigating due diligence issues, and collaborating with schools and students make Local a time-consuming and investment-intensive venture. Leon relies on Shine Registry for support.
“Being part of Shine’s community of entrepreneurs is a powerful motivator,” Leon says. “We get help when we need it and give help when we have the experience to do so. I’ve been fortunate to begin building a network through the registry and will leverage that network even more as our seed funding and other needs grow with our programs.”
Whether you’re a startup entrepreneur, an established business owner who has advice for newbies, or an individual with a desire to support women and their business endeavors, Shine Registry wants you.
Visit ShineRegistry.com to offer a pep talk, fulfill a request, create a profile or learn how to partner with Wazlak to expand Shine’s reach. Have a girlfriend who’s starting a business? Throw her a “business shower” by registering her company, sharing the URL and inviting your network to contribute.
Because sometimes it’s the “Small Things” that make the biggest impact.