Thoughts from Think Big 2015

ThinkBIG 2015 Speakers

Think Big 2015 Speakers

On Tuesday, October 13th the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University hosted its 10th Annual Think Big Forum. This year’s theme was “By Women, For Women: Celebrating 10 years of Entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh.” Women and men from all over Pittsburgh gathered for networking before the official start of the event.

Kicking off the five speaker presentations was Cara Jones-Harries, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Marinus Analytics, a technology firm that “[innovates] faster than the criminals do, to deliver cutting edge research to law enforcement and lawmakers. We now partner with non-profits to bring our capabilities of tracking victims to empower them to find the girls they seek.” Sarah Moore, a current MBA student who attended the forum, said, “It is so inspiring to see technology used for social good. Human trafficking is a global problem with no easy solution, but this app can be used to help thousands of women.”

The second presentation was given by Nicole Narvaez Manns, Founder and Owner of Nikki’s Magic Wand, an innovative product to enable customers to use all of their cosmetics to the last drop. “Nikki’s Magic Wand features a sleek, smooth and flexible tip to allow you to reach where your normal make-up applicators cannot,” according to their website. 

Next was the Founder of Blu Salt, Rohini Shah, who began her business to answer a pain point with which she identified: the need for durable, well designed, socially responsible women’s work accessories. Her initial line of career-focused bags and purses are sustainably sourced, and a portion of each sale goes to CORD-USA, a non-profit “committed to helping improve the economy and quality of life in less fortunate in America, India, and Sri Lanka in a sustainable way.”

Last to present were two young designers and business women, Sophia Berman and Laura West, Co-Founders of Trusst Lingerie. Both graduates of Carnegie Mellon University, they created Trusst Lingerie, an emerging fashion and technology company that seeks to re-design bras for larger busted women.

Jessica Pachuta, a current MBA student, attended the event and noted that “The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship has a unique talent for bringing together powerful women, and that was evident at the Think Big forum. Listening to local female entrepreneurs share their stories made me wonder, ‘Why do we ever hesitate to follow our dreams?’ My favorite, empowering quote from the night was when Nikki said, before she decided to become an entrepreneur, ‘I am so annoyed with my makeup, and I need to invent something.’ I feel that all of us can relate to that feeling.”

The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University creates economic opportunities for women through entrepreneurial education and training, mentoring, and networking. Building on Chatham University’s tradition of educating world-ready women for over 120 years, The Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship at Chatham University has provided quality education and training for women entrepreneurs since 2005.


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