Consulting firm for businesswomen wins student entrepreneurship competition

by Stephany Christie / Beacon Staff • May 3, 2015

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Manisha Tolani won the annual E3 expo this year.
Via Lu Ann Reeb
Manisha Tolani won the annual E3 expo this year.
Via Lu Ann Reeb

A student venture to support low-income women starting their own businesses won the college’s 10th annual entrepreneurship showcase last week.

The enterprise, called HerLaunch and developed by junior Manisha Tolani, was one of 18 student ideas generated in the yearlong Emerson Experience in Entrepreneurship, or E3, program. The course culminates in the public E3 Expo, held this year in the Bill Bordy Theater on April 24.

At the E3 Expo, students exhibit their companies by setting up booths and giving presentations, ultimately competing for three cash prizes. Four judges—some from Emerson and others with entrepreneurial backgrounds in Boston—chose the winners.

Tolani won the first-place prize of $5,000 to kickstart her consulting firm.

“I really believe that HerLaunch has the power to help women make their entrepreneurial debut,” said Tolani, a marketing communication major. “I wasn’t expecting to launch it immediately after college, but after the incredible support I received at the Expo, I am taking the next step this summer.”

Greeks That Speak, a program intended to increase discussion about, and awareness of, sexual assault among fraternities and sororities, placed second. Its creators, junior marketing communication major Chris Dobens and senior journalism major Christopher Bergren-Aragon, won $3,000.

Danny Dranoff, a senior marketing communication major, won $2,000 for his enterprise, PupPlay, which he said would be like Tinder, but for dogs and their owners to meet and play.

Other pitches included a mobile app with a better music experience; an organic, natural almond milk; and a New York seafood restaurant turned food truck.

The event’s keynote speaker was Andy Miller, the chief innovation architect of email marketing firm Constant Contact.