Note: SheEO is now known as Coralus


Mariko Blakely, Vice President and Relationship Manager, PNC's Corporate and Institutional Banking

Featured Webcast Speakers:

Danielle Ruttenberg, Co-Founder, Remark Glass

Wanona Satcher, CEO, Mākhers Studio

Susie Pan, Director of Ventures, SheEO



Note: SheEO is now known as Coralus


Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to welcome you to our second webcast in PNC's 12th Annual Women in Business Week. Today's webcast is titled, Radical Generosity: Changing the World for Entrepreneurs.

Before we get started, I'd like to mention that today's web seminar is being recorded, and you're currently in a listen-only mode. It is my pleasure to introduce your moderator for today, and that is Mariko Blakely, Relationship Manager at PNC and SheEO Activator. Mariko, you have the floor.

Mariko Blakely:

Thank you so much, Ian. And thank you all for joining me today in celebration of PNC's Women in Business Week. As both a PNC Relationship Manager and SheEO Activator based in Seattle, it is my pleasure to moderate this panel of amazing women business leaders. Today we have Susie Pan, Director of Ventures at SheEO; Danielle Ruttenberg, CEO of Remark Glass and SheEO venture of the recent 2022 cohort; and Wanona Satcher, CEO of Mākhers Studio and SheEO venture of the last year's 2021 cohort.

 For those of you joining today that are unfamiliar with SheEO, PNC is a proud supporter of the organization through Project 257: Accelerating Women's Financial Equality. What is Project 257, you ask? Well, it is PNC's strategy to solving the economic gender gap that at today's rate, would take 257 years to close. One of the drivers of this gap is unequal access to business and consumer credit. To help solve this issue, PNC began its partnership with SheEO over a year ago by granting $1.257 million to the organization and designating more than 50 local SheEO activators across the nation, one in each of the markets at which PNC operates across the country, to support women and non-binary owned businesses with 0% interest loans.

With that, Susie, can you tell us a little bit more about SheEO and your role at the organization?

Susie Pan:

Yeah, for sure. Thank you for having me today. So SheEO is a global community of radically generous women and non-binary folks supporting ventures who are working on the world's to-do list, which are the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. I am the Director of Venture, and I just joined the team two years -- two month ago and have been an activator for over five years. And I've loved being part of the community and meeting everyone. It's been a really honor to be part of the community, so I'm really excited to be part of team in my role to support ventures. So my role is to help our portfolio of over 100 ventures across five countries to thrive on their own terms by connecting them to an amazing community of activators we have and to help support them in their capital needs.

Mariko Blakely:

Fantastic. Well, that's a great segue, Susie, to dive deeper into the backgrounds of both Wanona and Danielle. So Wanona, we'll start with you. Can you tell me a little bit about yourself, about your business and how SheEO has impacted your business?

Wanona Satcher:

Yeah, thanks for having me. I own and operate Mākhers Studio. Mākhers Studio, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where I'm actually originally from, so it's great to be home, helps working on the world's to-do list. But we are a design, build and green manufacturing company. We specialize in modular shipping container real estate with the social impact focus of building affordable housing for housing affordability.

We started in 2017, and because of SheEO, we were able to raise the required investment that we needed to scale and to grow and to acquire our first manufacturing facility, which we did in October of last year. So that has put us in the great position to be able to scale our impact across the country and hopefully across the globe.

Mariko Blakely:

Awesome. Thanks so much for sharing, Wanona. Danielle, same question to you. Tell me a little bit more about your business and your journey with SheEO thus far, very recent journey.

Danielle Ruttenberg:

Yeah, it's a very recent journey indeed. I'm so inspired and excited to be here today, so thank you. And always so excited to hear from Wanona because I just feel like in seeing where she is now, I am tasting the next steps for what we're looking forward to.

I'm a glassblower by trade, a mother of two toddlers and owner of two businesses. Remark Glass, which was started in 2016, is a creative transformation business working exclusively with recycled post-consumer glass. Bottle Underground, our non-profit, is basically the source of that material. So Bottle Underground engages with the community and collects waste glass from the local Philadelphia community, which is where we are located. And then Remark is taking these bottles and jars and whatever you have that comes through the waste stream and transforming them through a hot, high-scale glassblowing process into new goods from barware to lighting fixtures and all sorts of things in between.

I have a very exciting job. I'm very lucky to be doing what we're doing. I never really imagined that we'd be where we are as kind of a creative entering into the world of entrepreneurship. It's a huge transformation in itself. So I'm very grateful to SheEO to have such an amazing support group around me and to see that there's people inspired by our sort of creativity to be able to push that forward and see change in the world.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great. Yeah, the lighting is absolutely beautiful. I need to get some myself for dining room chandeliers and whatnot, but really love the products. Can you tell me, Danielle, a little bit about when you were starting the businesses, the challenges with accessing capital and maybe how SheEO has transformed that?

Danielle Ruttenberg:

Absolutely. So we're a very bootstrap business. I'd say scrappy, even. I have a lot of grit. I have a great pride in being able to resource what we needed to make our business happen, but it didn't come without shortfalls. And even in starting up our initial -- I don't know if I should even mention. We bank with a different banker, and I've been very inspired by PNC's involvement here, so maybe we'll make a switch. I won't name who we bank with.

But I wasn't able to even get like a line of credit. I wasn't even able to get a line of credit over $5,000 when we were first starting this. It gave us just very limited options in terms of making purchases for equipment. It was relying a lot on my personals and working with CDFIs, trying to access capital that way. And so not wanting to really put my family and my personal life at risk in getting loans or accessing capital was a little difficult and scary. This opportunity and like seeing the different avenues for capital, that it doesn't have to be a traditional loan, that maybe there's other grant opportunities. Maybe it's about crowdfunding, it takes a lot of creativity in that regard, too. So what SheEO is I think, so far as I can tell, amazing at doing is placing us within the right hands to find the right avenue to the right capital.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great. That's fantastic. Wanona, a year into this journey, plus more, actually, how have you used the capital? And can you maybe tell us a little bit about your own struggles with attaining capital to fund and grow your business?

Wanona Satcher:

Yeah, sure. I concur. What she said is correct. We were very challenged with gaining access to everything from revolving lines of credit to even basic credit cards for travel so that we can do the business development that need, or needed at the time to grow our network and expand our revenue stream. Very basic needing of lending and financial resources, very difficult.

FIs that was mentioned usually in the past, they have been great at supporting local small business entrepreneurs, but I didn't find that at this particular time. In fact, it got more and more complicated. With (inaudible) that I run, it's more of a construction manufacturing industry. And typically in that industry, usually you bid for projects. I actually have been running this company almost kind of like a tech company in the sense of how we raise the funds we need to then be able to bid for projects. And so that meant having to get a whole bunch of no's from venture capitalists because VCs were just not interested in the kind of work that we were doing, one of the reasons being we're not a quick turnaround company in a sense of making a lot of things very quickly. We are in this for generational change, and sometimes that takes a little bit more time.

So finding SheEO, which was just a huge, amazing miracle for us. Of course during the pandemic, I hadn't met and haven't really met anyone yet from SheEO, to believe in what we were doing, literally engaged in trying to change the ratio of what it means to fund women businesses that care about solving the world's problems. And that means providing zero interest loans. That means connecting them with other resources and other institutions in their network to support what we were doing, to support our narrative.

Able to leverage the funding SheEO provided with gaining more funding that we needed to raise the amount of -- $0.5 million of angel investment last year total to then get the manufacturing space to really make us competitive (inaudible) owned companies out there in the construction manufacturing space. And boy have we been on the run.

And so it has been -- SheEO's been critical to our success. The activators have been critical. Even just being a part of the community of people who genuinely care, women who genuinely care about your personal wellbeing as well as your professional growth has also been critical. Anyone can tell you, being an entrepreneur is difficult work. Especially with family, other obligations, it's not easy, and that confidence building is critical. So really is a holistic approach that SheEO is taking to support women's owned businesses, and it has really leveraged lots of other networks and opportunities for us currently.

Mariko Blakely:

That's awesome. And I'm so happy that you touched on not only the access to capital that SheEO provides, but really a global network of people who can provide feedback and support for your organization.

 So with that, Susie, you've been an activator. Now you're at SheEO as a Director of Ventures. How have you seen ventures connect with the community? And can you tell me a little bit more about the other resources that the organization provides in addition to, of course, the critical access to capital?

Susie Pan:

Yeah. We often hear from our ventures that the capital is actually not the most useful thing they get from the community. It's really the community and being part of SheEO and the coaches that they work with. So we've heard that many, many times again, experiencing that today. I think, like both Wanona and Danielle said, being an entrepreneur is hard. So just having a place where you feel safe, where you're being held, where you're being seen, it means a lot to entrepreneurs. And that is the place in the community we have with our activators.

I also think our activators are some of the most diverse, amazing women, non-binary folks in the community that literally paid money to help ventures. With that radical generosity at the core of everything we do, I actually think it's sometimes difficult for a venture to experience that radical generosity where everyone's here just to help you, support you, accept you, because it's so different than any other traditional type of investment. So having I think that psychological safety and that support with the community has been something we heard from our ventures over and over again on how valuable the network is.

We've also heard amazing things about our two development coaches who work with our ventures on a biweekly basis. And they -- we have heard them being called magicians. They are absolutely phenomenal at what they do in both helping the ventures themselves as founders and the businesses, and we've seen some amazing things happen out of that.

 And lastly, in my role now, we're trying to look at how do we look at other forms of capital and really dedicating some time and resources to helping our ventures figure out value-aligned capital, patient capital that really helps them achieve what they want on their own terms. But I would say everything at the core of SheEO is based on radical generosity and relationships, which just makes I think our entrepreneurs feel safe and heard and belonging to a community of activators.

Mariko Blakely:

That's awesome. Thank you so much, Susie. And just our audience's sake, can you just describe the criteria for becoming a venture and maybe a little bit about the allocation of funds once the ventures are announced?

Susie Pan:

Yeah, for sure. Our venture applications opens once a year. The ones for the US is going to open in September this year. So the criteria to be selected as a venture is a majority female and non-binary owned. So more than 51% ownership. Have been operating in the region you're applying from. Revenue, we're looking at an annual revenue of $50,000 to $200,000. And very importantly is working on the world's to-do list, which is the UN SDGs. So that is the application process.

Even our application process is really different, because we always tell ventures, when you apply, you get thousands of women reading your application and learning about your venture. It's a great marketing. And you get help. You have a way -- there's a form where you can create -- have an ask, and people will respond, activators respond whether you are selected or not. So that is a really great chance to experience the radical generosity of our community.

We then have advancing ventures or semi-finalists, and then the activators select top five in each country. US will be top five. Originally what we did before was that the ventures will get together and have a retreat and meet each other and learn about each other's business and divide up the capital. We've recently pivoted away from that, understanding that created a mindset of scarcity that we did not want. We really want to be in relationships with our ventures.

So we're actually adding a new process of the three-month onboarding process for our ventures to get to know the community, get to know each other, get to know us, the team. And then from there, divide up the -- work with our development guys to understand what their capital needs are. Because sometimes in those three months, their biggest needs are solved by connecting them with an activator or by connecting them to a resource that they didn't know existed, that the loan was actually not what they need. So through that and through that relationship, we are always changing, always experimenting, trying new ways, and now we realize the better way to help figure out the capital needs is, once again, to be in relationship with our ventures.

Mariko Blakely:

That's fascinating. And it touches on your point of really the most valuable thing is sometimes not the capital, but the network and the feedback. So with that, Danielle, can you maybe share a little bit about how you've connected with the SheEO community thus far? And maybe some stories about activators that you've met with or just the process so far?

Danielle Ruttenberg:

Absolutely. I am in what Susie just spoke of, that three-month window right now. I think we were -- the onboarding began in January, and so I've been meeting biweekly with my coach, Lauren, who's incredible. I'm ready to just like make the day happen and make decisions, and I feel just incredibly confident with my next steps for the business.

I think that, again, as a bootstrap business, something that I'm transitioning through is that working on the business and not in the business. Especially in something so physical as glassmaking, that delegation, I feel like Lauren has really helped me to kind of just reconfigure my world and make the right moves.

Overall, I've gotten to, again, through this onboarding process, meet with a small group of activators that were most interested in Remark when we presented initially. And each of them has been -- I don't even know what to do with the radical generosity aspect of this. I'm like, holy moly. This is overwhelming. I don't know what to do with this help. So let me just like -- I have to recollect myself after every engagement because it is an overwhelming response and support and lift-up. So I can't say enough about it. And I'm still not in a place of -- like I'm still getting used to it, quite honestly, in that regard. And I think that I can't offer up more praise to it.

Mariko Blakely:

Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. Wanona, looking back, how have you used the capital, and how have you engaged with the community? Maybe any key activators that have been really your advocates and extension of your business development team? Would love to hear more from you.

Wanona Satcher:

Yeah. No, Danielle is absolutely right. It's very, very overwhelming, and it's a great problem to have. In fact, it's not a -- actually, because it's not a problem. It is just reflective of the kind of care and empathy that these activators have to really, that they really want to make you succeed. They want you to succeed. They want to figure out any way that they can to support you.

Since the beginning, even before we were chosen as a company, as a semi-finalist for SheEO and then as a venture, I tuned in and joined a lot of the global activation calls, calls with activators presenting the work that they do, calls where they're showing other previous ventures that have -- or companies that have become ventures and founders and what they were working on. Even looking at how we could collaborate even before we were chosen with those ventures.

Now, in fact just this morning, I was in the social media conversation with an activator in Canada about how to connect me with one of -- another company that they are aware of who's also working the world's to-do list and how we could support each other between Canada and here in Atlanta, Georgia and how I could potentially showcase their designs in our spaces.

So those are the kind of conversations that I've been having since the beginning. And conversations with other ventures have been really, really amazing because you realize you're not alone in some of the struggle. But you also realize that outside of the professional piece of owning a company, the personal piece is really important, and having that sisterhood is really critical.

So with that being said, it really has been a confidence builder. There are putting out the ask the activators that I've received support from marketing to PR to sharing some of the wins that I post on social media. Those activators then share some of our wins. And you just never know what kind of connections that they're making. We had an activator who's interested in partnering, helping us to scale to Denver, Colorado, support her work in affordable housing. And so these are the kinds of putting your money where your mouth is type situations where you just don't find in the world of fundraising and investing and financing. SheEO literally is changing the ratio on that.

I would also say that through SheEO, I became a banking member with PNC. And I've been really excited to extend our portfolio, our banking portfolio to PNC because of the interest that your team has, your organization with supporting women owned businesses. Our banker here in Atlanta has been awesome. So shout out to Yasmeen in getting us through the process of creating our business accounts and feeling comfortable in the financing space not just because of the work that you're doing for small businesses and women owned businesses, but because it's a larger footprint. And we want to scale to other cities. We're working on that right now.

So because of all of this, again, like I said, we acquired our first manufacturing. We're outgrowing that space already, as soon as we started. That has allowed us to attract more clients and larger clients, which is where we're trying to shift from direct-to-consumer to B2B and really expand our impact even globally.

So supporting companies that are social enterprises, that are women owned is critical more now than ever before. And I feel just excited to be part of the family that is leading that charge to then teach other investors how to also support businesses like -- CEOs like me. So it's been a fantastic journey. And Danielle, put your seatbelt on. It's going to go fast. But it's really, really great, and I'm so excited for you as well.

Mariko Blakely:

That's so great. And I love the story about connecting with an activator in Denver and collaborating on a shared mission. I think that's where really the flywheel effect happens with not only SheEO, but the larger community. With that, I've been very pleased to have connected with local activators within Seattle just to learn more about how to amplify the impact of SheEO and better support ventures in our region. But Susie, from your perspective, what makes a good SheEO activator?

Susie Pan:                          

Activator. One of our credo and our premise here is on your own terms. And we mean that if you want to give us the money and do nothing and never see us again, that's great. If you want to come to every event and work with our community, that's great. It's really much on your own terms because we recognize that everyone has different capacities and different gifts. So that is something we say there's no such thing as a bad activator. But we know that activators who are here to create relationships, to give, to practice radical generosities are activators who get a lot out of our community. But everything here is on your own terms.

Mariko Blakely:

Yeah, I think that's great to meet people where they're at in terms of their ability to give back time or funds. That's fantastic. Danielle, any tidbits from you or stories on what makes a good SheEO activator? Maybe anyone you connected with specifically?

Danielle Ruttenberg:

I've already had shoulders to cry on in this environment. I think that I feel -- I know that I will be an activator when my time is right and once we've stabilized what we're growing here. I think that it's such a critical time in business in our world. Our world is on fire. And if we're not thinking of ways to, whether it's help the environment or help humanity or just think about our brothers and sisters around us, then what are we doing? So I think if you have any inkling to be making the world a little bit better with whatever capacity you have, you're a good fit to be an activator.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great, and great segue. I noticed that both Mākhers Studio, Wanona's company, and Remark Glass, your company, Danielle, address sustainability as a key theme of the UN Development Goals. So can you tell me about this mission piece? And was it intentional? Was that something that was a primary driver of starting the business, or how that fit into your company as it evolved.

Danielle Ruttenberg:

I see my role now as a businessperson as vital to -- I always considered my artistic agency in everything that I made, and now I see it more as entrepreneurial agency. We have this power to enact change in every decision that we make. And we're competitive and looking at a recycling market that is completely broken in the United States. We're seeing in Philadelphia, nearly 100% -- you'll hear different stories, but the cities are sending waste that is supposed to be recycling straight to landfill, or it's being burned. That's not helping anyone. And glass, for instance, in my world, is a fully recyclable material. And we see a complete missed opportunity both from a financial standpoint and environmental standpoint. There is boundless glass. It is free source material. We just need to treat it right to get it back through the system.

And so our organization is looking at pilot projects that's not just about the creative transformation of glass into beautiful wares. It's also about recirculation. It's about finding use for aggregate and green infrastructure. So using that model and creating kind of a holistic improve upon our society and create local loops and support the local economy is into itself in such a beautiful circular way that why aren't more business models like this? Because we close them, I guess, but there's a way to grow it in that it is making more money for ourselves and keeping it in the country and keeping it growing our own environment and then making us all more successful in the end.

Mariko Blakely:

No, that's a great point. And I think perhaps just a food for thought, the challenges and this unequal access to capital perhaps is what inspires that creative spark to be resourceful in finding materials. So great points there.

Wanona, shipping containers, and then of course the end result of creating affordable housing, how did you land there? Can you tell me a little bit about the origins of the story?

Wanona Satcher:

Sure. Similar to Danielle, I too am a designer. And for me, it's always been interesting. You kind of look back on your journey and see how have you progressed and sort of elevated how you see the world. For me, it's just my role really is to utilize design as a force for social good at the intersection of social justice and spaces. So how can we democratize access to spaces that are equitable, spaces that provide equal access to -- equal and affordable and inclusive access to sustainable housing? When we're talking about housing discrimination and gentrification, all these issues potentially can be solved, or at least a major component, using design. How do we create spaces for everybody? How do we create spaces that are inspiring? How do we create spaces that are affordable?

And we know that there is a growing affordable -- global affordable housing crisis, a very scalable problem. And for me, what better way than use design to create a scalable solution, which is sustainable housing. So not just understanding and caring about how we build structures or what kind of structures we build, but with the materials that we use, is there an opportunity to apply clean tech and clean energy and recycling and upcycling and repurposing to create spaces that are healthy, that promote wellness, that promote generational wealth, promote ownership, promote local ownership and local building.

And that was another critical piece that we've grown into as we've expanded our company's offerings, which is it's not just a conversation around affordable housing, per se. It's really a conversation around how can Mākhers Studio, how can we inspire a larger conversation around local supply chains? With the pandemic, you can quickly see how supply chains are disrupted in very negative ways, whether you're talking about medical devices, medicines, and for us, construction material. So how can we inspire and help teach local tradesmen and women, especially women, LGBTQ, veterans, minority owned contractors. Women naturally, anyway, really are community developers just because that's who we are. We are community builders. But how can we create a supply chain where we can actually build and recycle materials that we have in our locale and use that to then build consumer-facing end products that we can scale not only across the country, but across the globe?

I always tell everybody that to be an entrepreneur really should be about solving a problem; not about making money. You're going to be really disappointed about the money piece, especially in the five years of owning a business. So it really, it should be about solving a problem. And for me, it's all about democratizing access to equitable and fair and affordable housing. So that's what we do, but taking a workforce development approach.

And I think the challenge with the SheEO process, application process for me was which sustainable goal from the United Nations do I choose because we touch on so many of them? But at the end of the day, it really is about sustainable communities and workforce development, and then how do we expand from there. So that kind of was just quickly why we're doing what we're doing and of a space that we love so much that we hope we are a solution for it.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great. And I think the story of not being able to pick one goal that your company is working on solving is so key because there's so much intersectionality and overlap of a lot of these issues that we face today. So if you're working on one, you're likely working on another issue.

With that, Susie, one of the things that I really appreciate about SheEO is its fierce commitment to diversity. From even the ventures that it selects, I think the stats there are profound. Perhaps you can tell us a little bit more about that. But also the way in which SheEO engages with its community by opening each call with and recognizing the indigenous name of the speaker's location, for instance. To the point, actually, that SheEO is actually in the process of conducting a name change because the organization supports women and non-binary businesses. So can you talk a little bit about the importance of this commitment to diversity and inclusion at SheEO?

Susie Pan:

Yeah, for sure. It was something that when I came in on a team member, it was a really refreshing learning. I have never done a land acknowledgement in my life before and didn't really know what it was. And then learning the indigenous names of where we're from or understanding what a land acknowledgement is was something that was really revealing for myself, and it's something like owe to SheEO to go through that process. I think it's actually great that we start with the indigenous name the land, and we put the name it's known in brackets and just really acknowledging the story of that land.

Speaking of diversity and inclusion, we are very, very committed to building a world for all and building community for all. So for example, in Wanona's year, five of our five ventures last year were identified as black, female owned businesses. And this year, 80% of our US ventures identify as black, indigenous and people of color, which is absolutely incredibly amazing, given the landscape of funding today. Globally, over 11% of our entire portfolio are indigenous owned entrepreneurs, which I think is absolutely amazing. I know for example in New Zealand, Australia, every year they have at least one indigenous venture, and that's their commitment to diversity.

So I just think being an activator and being part of the community and witnessing that and now being part of that, so much that we are changing our name. Part of that I think was started really a few years ago when Vicki talked about how do we become more inclusive, because the word "she" at SheEO is a play on the word she, which is a gender pronoun word. And we wanted to include non-binary folks and just understand that we are here to build a system of transformation for everyone, and that diversity is at the core of what we do.

I also said to a lot of my friends that everyone says they have diversity initiative. But here at SheEO, it's not initiative. We're doing it because it is the right thing to do. We do it because it's at the core of what we do in our community, so much so that we're willing to change our name and have a new brand and start from scratch to practice that commitment to diversity.

So we are -- we don't know the name is. We are in that process. And I think it's also really interesting, before I joined the team, that they left it to the community to vote. Like how amazing is that to let your community vote on a new name and be part of the process of designing your entire brand strategy and what you call yourself. So I'm super excited to see what comes out of our new name process, but it is I think a testament to speak to our commitment to diversity and inclusion and doing things because we know this is the right thing to do, and we are here to self-transform and transform a society for everyone.

Mariko Blakely:

That's fantastic. And what better way to really demonstrate how inclusion is at the core of an organization than solicit input into what the future name will be. So I think that's fantastic. And even from the process of voting on SheEO ventures, it's very inclusive, it's very collaborative. So I so appreciate how central that is to the organization. With the name change, what does growth look like for SheEO, or soon to be new name organization?

Susie Pan:

I think growth to us has always been how do we, one, have more activators in our community, but two, and also amazing ventures in our community. I think before, SheEO was more about how do we get to every single country and how do we replicate this model. Now what we want to do is really show the way so other people can start and influence ecosystem versus us becoming the organization doing everything.

We are always in a process, and we always wanted to include new activators in our community. And we love -- actually we love our partners like PNC who have been bringing in amazing activators and ventures to our community. We absolutely love -- we have a very unique way of partnering with our partners, but we actually love our partners in a way that I haven't seen other organizations before. So that is one way we also are targeting growth. But we welcome everyone to be part of our community as activators, as gifted activations, as ventures, and really grow this radically generous community in the five regions that we are in today.

And we are also very curious to see how it transforms. SheEO has been around for about seven years, and we are transforming the way we're doing ventures. We're transforming the way we do capital. We're changing names. So it's a really exciting time to really practice what we call emergence. Something that I am learning is to let -- follow the energy and see where things are versus let's plan exactly what we need to do, because there is so much magic that happens that we can't plan and that learning to sit in with the emergent energy that is creating in the community today.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great. I think the opportunity is limitless. So I'm very excited to stay engaged and see where the journey goes.

Danielle, what does growth mean for your company? And what's on the horizon for you? And what guides your growth targets?

Danielle Ruttenberg:

We are on the edge of our seats, ready to scale in Philadelphia here. We've been -- we're in a really creative space. If you can see, I have a chalkboard behind me. I'm in a federal school building that instead of being torn down and turned into condos, now houses over 175 small businesses, over 50% of which are women owned. So I'm in a really creative and supportive space with a lot of cross promotion and opportunities, however, we have outgrown kind of our spot in this vicinity. And we have so much engagement with the community and so many partners that are wanting to recycle through our non-profit that we are looking for some space acquisition. So that's like really the thing that's at the front of my mind.

And I see, just as Wanona spoke to, a real opportunity to scale this model of creative recycling and recirculation to other cities. Of course, we're right now working within Philadelphia, and we are starting to work with Delaware County, which is just south of Philadelphia. So other municipalities in our surrounding area are starting to engage with us because they are also looking for opportunities to -- or has zero waste models that they are looking to attain by certain date goals, and we're one of the only operations that's showing proof of concept in this regard.

There's a lot happening in Philly, so there's a lot of energy around recycling, around reuse and around building a more sustainable future. So we're kind of riding that wave and being engaged as much as possible with the sustainability department in the city of Philadelphia. And then again, just finding all of the support and hand holding through the SheEO network as we make these next steps.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great. And when you speak about expanding into Delaware, is that in terms of sourcing materials? Because I assume you probably sell -- your selling audience is maybe a wider footprint.

Danielle Ruttenberg:

Yeah, of course. This is definitely more in terms of local waste model systems. So collecting the glass material. So bringing in bottles. Basically, everything is single stream here in Philadelphia. And the surrounding communities, most of the recycling systems are a single stream, like throw everything into a bucket, and then it's basically just not getting to the place that we thought it would be getting to. Very close to where I live, there's actually a facility that is, again, like burning recycled materials and turning them into energy or fuel. But the local community, there's a huge amount of endangerment to the local community, off-gassing, and it's quite an issue. So we're trying to find alternatives to that.

The recirculation model for glass, it's basically a milk man theory. Glass is completely reusable. A standard bottle could be used approximately 20 to 30 times before it's like dinged up and not appropriate to use anymore. But even after that, can be melted time and time again to become a new bottle again. So for it to sit in a landfill is a very missed opportunity. It's an asset. We should be using it as an asset. So we're starting to bridge that gap and start pilots in other municipalities.

Mariko Blakely:

Awesome. Awesome. And just to confirm, you're selling nationwide? You can order barware.

Danielle Ruttenberg:

Absolutely. So our goods, Remark Glass, on our website,, we have a full e-commerce platform. We also sell through Anthropologie's marketplace. And yeah, nationwide. We've shipped a few times overseas, but we do keep most things a little bit more local. And we do a branch through B2B and wholesale as well.

Mariko Blakely:

Great. Great. Wanona, what about you? What does growth look like for next 5 years, next 10 years? Where are we go going?

Wanona Satcher:

Yeah, well, hopefully far. We are right now -- so right now, and Danielle mentioned this, too. Especially after raising funding from SheEO and subsequent funding, follow-up funding, we focused a lot on the business versus in the business for growth opportunities. So what does that mean? That means basically in addition to getting our first manufacturing facility, really working hard to standardize our manufacturing processes, how we build, with what materials of that. We can get some state and regional and actually national certifications in other states to be able to build (inaudible), not have as much permitting that we would have to go through to really be able to start solving affordable housing crisis quicker than conventional construction. And so we've been working on a slew of certifications, including women and minority business owned certifications, to really make our company more competitive at the federal level when you're talking about emergency housing.

And lately have been diving a lot into social enterprise accelerators. I am a member of Moving Worlds, which is a social enterprise accelerator, and just had a conversation around hopefully working with SAP as a mentor to help support other services that I need pro bono help with from sales and marketing to reach larger corporate institutional clients. Part of that growth, again, is transitioning more to B2B clients. Just had a really great conversation with Ikea and submitting a proposal, more detailed proposal for them to support affordable housing -- their affordable housing goals at the local level.

So we have a lot of interesting project opportunities, growth opportunities, but been focusing on getting the necessary certifications and necessary funding that we need to answer the call to these projects. In fact, we already have some projects underway in North Carolina, in Durham, to be specific, where I used to live. And working with a community in Michigan to potentially set up a Midwest facility logistically that would support our company's goals of growth, but also to answer the call on lots of different potential customers and municipalities interested in working with us to solve affordable housing using our shipping container spaces. And so this growth is critical, but being able to answer the call is even more important.

And short term, we are working on our -- or will be starting soon our next fundraising round. As an entrepreneur, you're always raising money. And I will say, the process with SheEO was helpful in learning to do that better and to tell my story better, which is critical. That's what people really buy into is your story and who you are as a founder. So we are about the engage in that next step of funding specifically to get a larger space to answer all of these projects really soon. So it's a good problem to have. And so hopefully we'll be raising our first seed round end of second quarter of this year, maybe even sooner, at least a portion of that, just to get a new space here in Atlanta and then hopefully to then build some subsequent spaces, manufacturing spaces in Michigan and of course hopefully Denver and out West. So the goal is to build five micro manufacturing facilities, including here in Atlanta in the United States, and three globally.

So the good news is, we build with shipping containers, which means we can ship our spaces anywhere, whether it's ships or trains. And people have already started noticing us more and more since the SheEO funding because we've put so much more effort into legitimizing our operations, and that's what we're working on right now short term. But long term, we're just totally stoked to continue to raise funding to expand our impact.

Mariko Blakely:

That's great. I think key to growth, and you know this as an entrepreneur, is having the team that is sticking with you. And I think one of the great things about solving affordable housing issues or sustainability and climate change is it's rallying all of your employees around a larger mission. So can you tell me a little bit about your staff and what gets them just as excited as you to show up and further the mission at Mākhers Studio?

Wanona Satcher:

Sure. Yeah. So our team is very, very, very small. In fact, was just on our last coaching call of the year, which MJ, SheEO coach, and she was like, you need some help. It's time for you to start hiring. It's like yeah, because I'm really tired. And just so many other opportunities are arising. But our core team is very small. And my husband is my business partner in that respect. Over 20 years of landscape architecture, construction administration management. One of our early, early, early investors has also become our advisor, who is really our numbers guy. Reed has been a 30-year professional in real estate development and finance and asset management. Then of course my background in the public sector, private sector design, community engagement, fair housing.

So all of that combined is really helpful and not just running a company that builds real estate, but also a company that engages the communities that are wanting to build the change that they want to see. Not everybody does that. Not everybody cares about that. So we're not just about products. We're actually about people and placemaking and equitable spaces.

In addition to our core team, though, we have our design build team of probably about 6 to 8. We hope to grow that to probably 10 to 12 in each location as we grow. But 6 to 10 subcontractors, architects, structural engineers. So we really are a one stop shop when it comes to design, building and deploying our spaces. So that's really our core team.

I will say, though, that not only is it important for me as an entrepreneur to make sure that our team -- everybody on our team values our values, but also -- and of course hiring practices, making sure that we hire not just other minority subcontractors, but refugees and immigrants as well. It's a big part of what we do. But it's also our customer base. So I learned real quick to make sure that not everybody needs to be our customer. Not everybody should be our customer. But those that we want as customers and clients are 100% collaborators and that they share the same values we do. Otherwise, then we need to find somebody else to work for. So it's a serve.

But it really is about making sure that we -- we're collaborating with and work for and serve those individuals who believe in what we are doing, who want to support financially what we're doing. That the resources, that's what it's going to take. And so we don't just need mentors. We need champions. And that's really who we work with and who we work for.

Mariko Blakely:

Fantastic. Danielle, it's a very competitive world out there to hire talent. So can you tell me a little bit about your team and what gets them excited to be part of Remark Glass?

Danielle Ruttenberg:

Yeah. I would echo a little bit of what Wanona was saying. Part of our scaling model is working B2B, and brand partnerships are a huge part of that, especially working with post-consumer glass. So we're looking at corporate waste and how it can be dealt with. And then finding those ideal brand partners is like just as important as hiring. For me, finding somebody who has like-minded -- businesses with like-minded missions, who are eager to deal with the creative process and find creative solutions and make that leap with us. Because I think it's a really exciting process, and we have a lot of ability to give back brand power to larger institutions, saying that we are in fact dealing with our waste in a sustainable way.

When it comes to our team, we are also a small team of about 14 total. And that includes my co-owner, Rebecca. She and I deal with a lot of the, again, working on the business, our financials, our operations. But we were fortunate enough to make some really strong hires as of recent. We have a new lead fabricator who is a production glassblower of over 20 years who is really upping our production capabilities in great ways. And then I also have -- we have a really interesting thing that happened to us. For better or worse, employees find us. People who see our mission and see what we're doing, to us come knocking on our door and they're like, hey, we really want to work with you. And it tends to be a good fit.

So we have a young woman who just joined our team as a marketing manager who is really interested in glass and left the corporate world during COVID to make this decision for herself, and it's been a huge asset for our team. And then similarly, an HR representative from Target came and started volunteering with us last year, and then we hired her. And now we have HR and marketing, which was something that as owners and as entrepreneurs, we were doing -- we were bootstrapping that ourselves for quite some time. So it's a huge relief and it's a huge growth for the business to have these two amazing women really supporting our mission and giving us the break that we need to be doing just movement forward.

Otherwise, we also work with fair chance hire systems and get amazing people who are coming out of the system that are ready to work. And we have had a huge success with having some members of the community come in through our doors that way. And we feel really good about just supporting this local community.

We're in South Philadelphia, which is -- we are in HUBZone. There's a lot of disenfranchised community members and young people learning about the world. That we don't have a great school system, so we have a lot of interns coming through our doors and are really getting the opportunity to get their hands dirty and get that trade back into the schools because it's something I really believe in. We need to teach our young people how to use their hands, how to use a ruler and use our bodies to make the world a better place. It's a really simple concept that I think has been lost, so we're really grateful to be able to give that back.

Mariko Blakely:

Absolutely. I think in light of the Great Resignation, if you have a mission and purpose-oriented company or organization, you become the beneficiary of a lot of people moving and changing jobs. So, well said there.

Mindful that we're pretty much at time, and I do have one question from the audience to wrap us up for the

day. So Susie, this one will be for you. What is one message or call to action you'd like the audience to leave with today?

Susie Pan:

Well, if you felt inspired by anything we said today and want to be supportive of someone like Danielle and Wanona or ventures, I encourage everyone to activate and be part of community. The more activators we have, the more we can support ventures and more we can fund ventures. So if you want to be part of our radically generous community, please activate today at Or if you're a venture, please apply to become a venture and be part of our generous community. So thank you all for being here, and I really encourage everyone who has heard anything you like today, to please be part either as an activator or as a venture.

Mariko Blakely: Yes. Thank you so much for that reminder, Susie. And then yes, a quick reminder that anyone can be an activator with a contribution of about $92 a month. And for every, is it 100 activators, we can make an additional 0% loan to another venture. Is that right, Susie? Keep me honest.

Susie Pan:

You got it, Mariko.

Mariko Blakely:

Thank you. And also, please visit to learn more about Project 257. And thank you to the audience, for everyone listening. Thank you, Susie, Danielle, Wanona for generously spending your time with us today. And finally, this is really early on in our celebration of Women Business Week, so we look forward to seeing everyone at additional programming opportunities throughout the week.

Wanona Satcher:                Thank you.

Mariko Blakely:                 Thank you so much.

Susie Pan:                           Thank you.

Danielle Ruttenberg:         Thank you.