This entrepreneur-focused program is coming to Dayton, thanks to one of its alums

Aviatra Accelerators

Credit: Aviatra Accelerators

Credit: Aviatra Accelerators

A new business accelerator is coming to Dayton — and it’s designed specifically for women.

Female entrepreneurship is on the rise, increasing more than 30 percent over the last 12 years. However, hurdles remain for women-owned businesses, particularly with funding and other critical resources.

That's where Aviatra Accelerators (formerly Bad Girl Ventures, Inc.) comes in to help. The Cincinnati-based nonprofit was launched in 2010 to help empower female entrepreneurs. Over the last decade, the nonprofit has helped 2,000 women launch companies, create 6,500 jobs and raise over $10 million in follow-on funding.

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In the coming months, Aviatra is planning to launch its first Dayton cohort, which has been funded by Robin Gentry-McGee, founder of Functional Formularies and a 2011 alum of the program.

Gentry-McGee’s journey with Functional Formularies began in 2005 when her father suffered a traumatic brain injury. As a former chef versed in eating whole foods and using food as medicine, she was appalled to discover that the formula in father’s feeding tube was almost all sugar, which she believed was making the secondary symptoms of his coma worse.

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She set out to find a healthier formula for his feeding tube. When she discovered there was nothing on the market, she invented her own. She said her father’s health turned around within six weeks of taking the new, healthier formula. After waves of requests for the recipe, she decided to commercialize her product.

Robin Gentry McGee

Credit: Niall Kingston_

Credit: Niall Kingston_

In 2013, eight years after its creation, Functional Formularies’ “Liquid Hope” debuted on the market. In 2018, Gentry-McGee sold the company for an undisclosed sum.

Her experience with Aviatra Accelerators was key to her success, Gentry-McGee said.

“It gave me the confidence to feel like I actually had the tools I needed to go in front of investors to raise funding, win pitch competitions,” she said.

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What were the keys to her success? First off, Aviatra paired her with a mentor who was available around the clock. They also provided a network of contacts, which helped her company move to the next level. When she saw the opportunity to bring the program home to Dayton, she jumped.

“I do believe that women are underserved, and everybody needs a champion. I’ve been given opportunities, been at the right place at the right time, that have enabled me,” she said. “I’m honored to be able to give that opportunity to others.”

Aviatra Accelerators offers three programs in order to meet female founders at each stage of their journeys: Explore, Launch & Grow. Each class is taught by business owners and professionals from the local community who advise women on everything from business planning to marketing and finance. Aviatra also offers an online learning platform called Aviatra365.

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Pamela Cone

Aviatra will launch these cohorts in Dayton this fall.

Longtime Dayton resident Pamela Cone, who formerly held a leadership role at Functional Formularies, has been named the market director for Aviatra – Dayton.

Until the launch, Aviatra will offer free virtual support to help the area's female entrepreneurs navigate the uncharted waters that the COVID-19 shutdown has brought. They've also launched a weekly Aviatra Survival Kit e-newsletter to provide subscribers with resources and tips from local, regional, and national organizations.

For more information, visit aviatraaccelerators.org.

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