The JumpFund is helping women grow businesses
(WTVC) Chattanooga, TENN —
Shelley Prevost is the CEO of Torch, and most of her days end in a warehouse. She's taping up and labeling boxes. She personally ships every Torch that goes out.
"The CEO, we make decisions, we talk about the mission, and the story around our company," Shelley Prevost said. "We tell other people what to do. They're back at the office doing what I've asked them to do. So, it makes sense for me to be the one here."
Torch is a digital router that helps parents see what their kids are seeing online.
"We are making the internet a great place for kids," Shelley said.
Shelley is working hard on her company, and helping others. Shelley Prevost, Kristina Montague, Cory Allison, Stefanie Crowe, along with three others are partners at Chattanooga's JumpFund.
"You know we really want to make the southeast the best place for women to invest in and start a business," Cory Allison said.
It all started several years ago. They went to a Gig Tank pitch night in Chattanooga. Entrepreneurs were making presentations about their companies.
"There's literally no women pitching, but yet our experience was so counter to that," Shelley Prevost said. "We knew so many smart women, and so it became a conversation of what is happening here?"
They knew the biggest problem was finding investors.
"In the end, if we got some money together, people really felt like that what would make the difference," JumpFund Managing Partner, Kristina Montague said. "If you start putting money on the table that changes the conversation dramatically."
More than 50 women invested in the fund, and ninety-eight percent of those women are from Chattanooga. The JumpFund raised 2.5 million dollars from that group of people.
"Initially the guys who were already in the scene just weren't sure. It hadn't been done. It wasn't tested. It wasn't conventional." Stefanie Crowe said. "They weren't sure there were many women out there like us."
The businesses they work with must have a woman in a C level position such as a CEO or COO, and she must have significant equity in the company.
"We've invested in a genetics company. We've invested in 3-D printed shoes. We've invested in the Internet of toys," Kristina Montague said.
The JumpFund has invested in eighteen different companies. Torch is one of those companies. Cory Allison's company Rezli is also one of the eighteen.
"A lot of women do not think of investing as a way to leverage their power," Cory Allison said. "We like to volunteer. We like to give money to charities, and that's wonderful. That's how the world works, but at the same time if we can take a little bit of that, and invest in others so that money can actually explode even further then we have more to give away. So, that's really what we set out to do."
Right now the Jump Fund is currently working on a second fund to help start more businesses lead by women.