Women in Entrepreneurship Conference

Sunday, November 13, 2022, 9:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.

SDRP (Ikenberry Commons), 301 E. Gregory Dr., Champaign

Origin Ventures Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership in Gies College of Business is hosting the inaugural Women in Entrepreneurship Conference and welcomes UIUC students of all majors and levels and faculty/staff, alumnae, and community members who are interested in entrepreneurship or engaged in entrepreneurship support activities. The conference will include networking, resources, and a variety of talks and concurrent sessions to share knowledge, build skills, and inspire women in their entrepreneurial pursuits and will conclude with a venture pitch competition for women founders.


9:30-10:00 a.m.: Check-in (Pre-function space 2020); Continental breakfast & networking (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

10:00-10:15 a.m.: Welcome/introduction (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

10:15-11:30 a.m.: Keynote speaker Britney Robbins: "Build Like a Girl" (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.: Plenary session: "Voices in Entrepreneurship" fireside chat with women entrepreneurs (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

12:30-1:20 p.m.: Boxed Lunch, resource/venture stations & networking (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

1:30-2:20 p.m.: Concurrent sessions 1 (Garner Rm 2003, Forbes Rm 2005, Hopkins Rm 2009, Taft Rm 2050)

2:30-3:20 p.m.: Concurrent sessions 2 (Garner Rm 2003, Forbes Rm 2005, Hopkins Rm 2009, Taft Rm 2050)

3:30-4:20 p.m.: Concurrent sessions 3 (Garner Rm 2003, Forbes Rm 2005, Hopkins Rm 2009, Taft Rm 2050)

4:30-6:00 p.m.: Venture pitch competition for cash prizes (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

6:00-6:30 p.m.: Door prizes, pitch awards, closing remarks (2025 ABC Multipurpose)

Register Now for the Conference (to reserve food/SWAG): https://go.gies.illinois.edu/WIEcon2022register

Featured Keynote: "Build Like a Girl"

Britney Robbins, Founder & CEO of The Gray Matter Experience

As women entrepreneurs, oftentimes there aren't many blueprints or guides to look to as a woman building a business in today's society. A lot of the successful women we admire most are those that have been highly visible and those in the entertainment industry - think Oprah, Beyonce, Kylie Jenner. We don't too often hear the stories of the scrappy female entrepreneurs that grew their company's success in their garage. But we are now in a different time! Women started 49% of new businesses in the US in 2021, up from 28% in 2019 and Black women are the fastest growing demographic of entrepreneurs. As more women embark on their entrepreneurial journeys, more and more examples of what it looks like to build and lead as a woman are surfacing. During this keynote, Founder & CEO, Britney Robbins will share her unique journey through entrepreneurship, the challenges and opportunities she's encountered and the things she wished someone had told her sooner.

About the Speaker:

Britney Robbins is a UIUC alumna and a serial social entrepreneur that loves innovation, forward thinking and is constantly identifying problems that can be solved through business creation. She's worked within Chicago's entrepreneurship and tech community for the past 10 years working within some of Chicago's top venture capital firms and incubators including Sandbox Industries, Cleveland Avenue, Lightbank and 1871.

In 2016, she started The Gray Matter Experience - a non-profit dedicated to unlocking the self-determining power of Black youth and strengthening their ties to community through real world experience in entrepreneurship. They have since served over 700 Chicago youth in this mission, awarded over $95,000 in seed funding and helped to launch 9 teen-run businesses. She has been recognized as one of Ariel Investment, BMO Harris and WVON's 40 Under 40 Gamechangers, Essence Magazine's Woke 100, featured on Fox32, Chicago Inno, BlackEntrepreneur.com, DNAInfo Chicago, Chicago Tribune, and Essence Magazine. Most recently, she's been named as one of the 26 Most Influential, 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans, The Chicago Defender's Women of the Year in 2021 and 2022 Crain's Notable Black Leaders & Executives.

Robbins is currently a Graduate Adjunct Professor at Loyola University's Baumhart Center for Social Enterprise & Responsibility, serves as the Secretary of the Chicago Urban League's IMPACT Alumni Association, is a member of Business Leadership Council, the Executive's Club of Chicago and the Baumhart Leadership Council.

Venture Pitch Competition featuring:

Aionia, ASL Aspire, Camp Monarch, Ferritiva, HeartStrong Meal Kits, Jeevatva, Privy, Top Tier Lessons

Featured Resource Stations:

Brand Hub, Champaign Public Library Business Services, Community Solutions Incubator, EntreCORPS, Engineering Open House Startup Showcase, IDEA Lab, OUR Tech, Research Park & EnterpriseWorks, Technology Entrepreneur Center, The Women's Network, Zero2One

Featured Venture Stations:

Aionia, ASL Aspire, Camp Monarch, Ferritiva, For the Greater Good Publishing, HeartStrong Meal Kits, Jasmine's Jewelry Company, Life Still Is


Origin Ventures Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership, Gies College of Business

Business, Exploration, & LEADS Living-Learning Communities, Student Affairs University Housing

AWARE & Technology Entrepreneur Center, The Grainger College of Engineering

Women & Gender in Global Perspectives Program, Illinois Global Institute

Door Prize Donors:

Cinema Gallery, Gies College of Business, Industrial Donut, Jane Addams Book Shop, Just Bee Acai, MURAL, Shawarma Joint