Lorri Wallace, a recent graduate of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business joined Business Impact NW’s board two years ago through UW’s Board Fellows Program which enables MBA students to serve as non-voting board members at a nonprofits. “Through my entire UW experience, I unexpectedly got attracted to entrepreneurship,” Lorri recalled. “Business Impact NW gave me an opportunity to look at entrepreneurship from a slightly different angle, so it seemed like a really good fit.” Lorri is driven by community and finds joy in connecting people, fostering resiliency through entrepreneurship and believes that “all individuals regardless of gender, race, veteran status or sexual orientation should have the possibility of pursuing their dream of starting a business.”
Business Impact NW’s upcoming annual IMPACT Pitch competition is centered on this very notion that
all entrepreneurs should have the opportunity to launch their small business dreams. We spoke with Lorri to learn what excites her most about the live pitch competition and why it’s important to support marginalized entrepreneurs and those making a positive community impact.
Q: What is the importance of our annual IMPACT Pitch competition?
A: IMPACT Pitch makes Business Impact NW’s mission come alive and breathe, particularly the community focus.
Q: What is it like to attend the event and what effect does IMPACT Pitch have on its winners?
A: One thing I remember from a previous pitch, it was Resistencia Coffee and a couple was pitching. They also had a child with them and they talked so much about how there were no services in [South Park], how they wanted to bring coffee there and be a meeting space where people could come, meet and interact…When you hear the contestants’ stories, and you hear what they’re doing, and their ideas, it really makes the entire mission come alive and it adds that breadth and depth to it.
The other thing I love too is, a little bit before my time, I know that Business Impact NW supported The Riveter, and now they’ve been a sponsor of TedX Seattle. To feel like I was part of the organization that started and helped support that, and now look at where The Riveter has gone and the impact they have made across the whole community – that warms my heart. That feels good for me, and I wasn’t even here when they won the first IMPACT Pitch. I love that story.
Q: Drawing from your career and experience working towards your MBA, what’s a trend you’ve noticed regarding historically disenfranchised entrepreneurs such as women business owners?
A: Within the MBA program, one of the courses I took was called Women at the Top. That particular course brought in a lot of women that were at the CEO and CIO levels that had moved business forward for their organizations in big, big ways.
One of the speakers we had come in at Women at the Top was Heather Redman. She is the founder of Flying Fish at Capital Venture and she has a very strong focus on supporting women entrepreneurs and recognizing that they don’t get funding to the same extent that a man would. To see people saying that “I’m focusing on women because they’re underserved, because there’s this unconscious bias,” is another indication that we’re becoming much more aware and self-aware of what’s going on. I think being aware is really half the battle in solving these issues…
What we’re missing a lot in the current dialogue is, it’s all about me and what you’re taking from me, as opposed to you’re part of a community. And whether you know it or not your actions affect people who are far removed from you… I think given our divisive environment right now, it’s important that we focus on community and the smaller world around ourselves. If we focus on the smaller world around us, the impact multiplies, hopefully across the nation.
Witness Business Impact NW’s mission in action and join Lorri, the Business IMPACT NW team and our extended community at the live IMPACT Pitch competition on September 19. To purchase tickets, visit businessimpactnw.org/tickets.