Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women in Entrepreneurship | Cal Poly Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Women’s History Month: Celebrating Women in Entrepreneurship This March was National Women’s History Month, a time dedicated to honoring women’s achievements and contributions throughout history. This year, we had the privilege of speaking with several remarkable female entrepreneurs and all-female teams in the Cal Poly Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) community. Let’s take a close look at these inspiring women: Maureen (Mo) Vasquez: Founder and Creative Director of Pipsticks  Our first female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month was Maureen (Mo) Vasquez, founder and Creative Director of Pipsticks! Mo, sticker lover, designer and mother of four, founded Pipsticks back in 2014 and, years later, is still growing her business through hard work and bright ideas! Pipsticks is the world’s largest sticker subscription service with subscribers in over 60 countries. They bring creative and unique stickers to the mailbox of collectors every month. Mo works on an all-female team with Abby Fulton and Penny Kippe. Fulton and Kippe said Mo has a wonderful ability to balance the chaos of running her own business and being a mother of four. “It is inspiring to see a hardworking, creative powerhouse who is so down to earth as a leader,” they said. Pipsticks breaks the glass ceiling with a predominantly female team. A simple glance into their day-to-day operations shows how Pipsticks defies the negative stereotypes of women in business and embodies a culture that is innovative, motivating and supportive, Fulton explained. Pipsticks challenges stereotypes about women in business, proving that they are nothing short of empowering. Judy Mahan, CIE Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Senior Economic Director Our second female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month is Judy Mahan, Cal Poly CIE SBDC Senior Economic Development Director. Judy has been a part of the CIE for more than 13 years and has created a huge impact! ⁠ Mahan leads a talented team of women who all consider themselves fortunate to be under her leadership. “Judy is such a wonderful role model; she inspires me every day to work harder and aspire to do great things. She is unapologetically herself and amazing at what she does,” Libbie Stone, SBDC Videography Intern. Furthermore, Lynsey Fowler, SBDC Admin and Graphic Design Coordinator, said, “Working with Judy as a leader, I feel freer to be myself and I can talk to her about anything. She makes people feel very comfortable and included and brings great energy.” Mahan’s positive addition to the CIE, alongside her remarkable leadership and influence on her team, establishes her as an inspiring figure in the world of economic development and entrepreneurship. Penny Lane Casae, CEO and co-founder of Nexstera Tech: Our third female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month was Penny Lane Case, CEO and co-founder of Nexstera Tech. Nexstera tech is revolutionizing material detection with Artificial intelligence (AI) – driven radar technology. Penny Lane Case leads an all-female team and is currently working on her startup through the CIE Incubator, a program that provides early-stage companies tools, training and infrastructure to develop into high-grown enterprises. Case explained her experience as a female founder in a male-dominated field: “In the startup world, it is more common to find male presence and success, but it makes it much more impactful to make it as a female founder. I look forward to the day when I can support other women starting their founder journey.” Much of Case’s success is attributed to her co-founders Stefany James and Kylene Landenberger. They work tirelessly to create and bring their entire beings into everything they do, she said. “Working on an all-female team alongside these two compassionate and brilliant women breeds true transcendent innovation,” Case said. “It gives me an advantage because the communication and desire to understand each other is our top priority.” Case’s leadership at Nexstera Tech and collaboration with her all-female team exemplifies the power of female entrepreneurship and proves the importance of diversity in driving innovation. McCall Brinskele, founder and CEO of Mense:  Our fourth female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month is McCall Brinskele, founder and CEO of Mense. Mense is a period care company on a mission to destigmatize and elevate the conversation surrounding menstruation. On top of running Mense, McCall also recently started a position as a Orfalea College of Business lecturer for both Business 310: Intro to Entrepreneurship and Business 461: Senior Project. Additionally, she is also a woman in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) having received her Bachelor of Engineering at Cal Poly. Not only that, McCall is the daughter of an entrepreneur and has a strong passion for the theater and arts. Karen Tillman, Cal Poly’s Associative Executive Director of Economic Development and Advisor to the President:  Our final female entrepreneur highlight of Women’s History Month was Karen Tillman, Cal Poly’s new Associative Executive Director of Economic Development and Advisor to Cal Poly’s President. Tillman formerly worked as Chief Communications Officer at Oracle, Cisco, GoDaddy and Brex and gained more than 25 years of experience in the tech world. Passionate about entrepreneurship and the opportunities in our region, she looks forward to the future of economic development in San Luis Obispo. “We always have to think about how we can keep our community vibrant, innovative and alive,” Tillman said. “There are huge opportunities that could create massive jobs in our region which is also a huge opportunity for Cal Poly.” Tillman is “extraordinarily excited” for San Luis Obispo’s future and says, “there’s a lot ahead of us.” On top of her work accomplishments, Tillman works with a nonprofit horse rescue where she adopts Mustangs, trains them and adopts them out to other homes. Tillman’s impressive background in the tech industry coupled with her passion for entrepreneurship and commitment to community development positions her as a valuable asset to Cal Poly and the San Luis Obispo region as a whole. These are just a few of the many hardworking female entrepreneurs in the CIE community who inspire us every day. Women’s History Month is a reminder to respect and celebrate women’s contributions to society, economy, innovation and beyond. Together, we can amplify women’s voices and support these trailblazers who are paving the way for the future of women in business.