By Janinne Brunyee

While listening to the speakers pitching their startups at the first ever Seattle Female Founders Alliance Founders Showcase last week, I had an important realization: I was much more captivated by the pitches that were framed by the speaker’s personal story. It wasn’t that these speakers had a better business idea or go-to-market strategy. It was just that I found myself leaning in a bit more, paying closer attention and emotionally investing in their success.

And that reminded me why I co-founded a firm that is committed to the art of storytelling. Each presenter had a specific call-to-action in mind: find an investor, attract high talent employees, drive sign-ups.  The speakers I connected with understood what they needed to do to inspire action: unite an idea with an emotion. And the best way to do that is to tell a compelling story.

Here are a few of the stories told by female startup founders to a captive audience at The Riveter, the new co-working space in Capitol hill built by women, for women.

Boost! CollectiveGive in Kind

The unexpected and unfathomable loss of a child was the seed that grew into Give in Kind. Founder and CEO, Laura Malcolm said even though she and her husband were living far away from their families and close friends, the outpouring of help was almost overwhelming. “The challenge was that because they didn’t live locally, our loved ones didn’t know that there were thousands of services near us that could give us exactly what we needed.”  Instead, she said, they sent flowers and money – to the value of $8,000 – when what the couple really needed was house cleaning, childcare and meals.

Malcolm pointed out that whether it’s a cancer diagnosis or a sick child in hospital – everyone is touched at some point by personal hardship. That’s when Give in Kind comes in.

“We are working to make it easy to do everything that matters,” she said.  “Give in Kind is a single solution platform that lets people lend a hand from anywhere.” The company calls it “crowd-caring.”

By partnering with service providers like, Uber, and Blue Apron, users can send the help that’s needed where it is needed. They can also set up registries of the items and services that will have the most impact.


As a woman of “a certain age” Jill Angelo is on a mission to start a movement that will affect half the population: helping women navigate the big M: menopause. ‘Menopause is not often spoken about and when it is, it has a negative connotation,” said Angelo. “As a woman on my own perimenopausal journey, I realized that I have a passion for women’s health and development,” she said.

Research revealed that menopause can be life-changing for women who also happen to have a lot of spending power.  “One in three women experience unpleasant effects and they are willing to spend $25B a year to get relief.”

Angelo looked at the solutions and providers that are typically available to women heading into menopause and midlife. “Typically, you go to a OBGYN. But, more OBGYN’s are retiring than are graduating,” she said.  As a result, women in menopause are turning to other providers including nutritionists, physical therapists, urologists, endocrinologists etc. Angelo also found that most of the online resources were dated.

So, she decided to step up to create, a digital platform for women heading into menopause and midlife.

“It’s time to bring transparency to the market. We are disrupting the traditional word of mouth women use the build their network by connecting women directly with providers, community, content and products.”

Boost! CollectiveInvio

In 1999 when everyone was worried about Y2K, Cassie Wallender first met Dema Poppa. Fast forward to 2015, Cassie was a senior manager of Product Design at IMS Health and Demo was running medical trials at Redmond-based Olympus. “Dema told me that this mainly involved collecting data and that he was frustrated by the quality of the data collection process,” said Wallender.

Why? The data was collected on site by doctors before being transcribed into a database for the trial. Then the data had to be verified by monitors to ensure that it was transcribed accurately. All this data was stored in large three-ringed binders.

Wallender says that each clinical trial required that monitors had to travel to each site every 3 to 4 weeks – resulting in thousands of trips. The problem was that even with third party verification, transcription errors were still happening.  The pair discovered that each year, $6.8B is wasted on this process.

The breaking point came when the FDA changed its regulations to allow a new verification process. Wallender and Poppa decided to seize the opportunity to build the tool that Dema wished he had when he was running clinical trials – a tool that would finally eliminate all those three-ring binders.

Invio is a cloud-based platform for remote source document verification which reduces travel requirements by 70% and increases the verification process by 95%.  “With Invio, the verification process goes from two months to two hours,” she said.

Boost! Collective is a story-driven marketing and communications firm. We work collaboratively to discover, write and tell powerful stories that drive authentic engagement.