BOZEMAN — Jessica Dehn, a Montana State University alumna and founder of Dino Drop-In, a modern, no-screen preschool with the flexibility of drop-in care, advanced to the semifinals of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER competition by winning a local business plan competition hosted online by co-sponsor Blackstone LaunchPad at MSU on June 3, 2017.
Ten finalists, to be announced July 31, will be invited to pitch live at the national competition this fall to vie for $70,000 in prizes sponsored by the Sara Blakely Foundation.
“There are so many opportunities for entrepreneurs to improve the lives of women and families, so no two submissions were alike and competition was fierce,” said Tiphani Lynn, a Montana Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA, who organized the local competition.
“Ultimately, the decision was made based on magnitude of impact on the lives of women and families, demonstrated success in commercialization, and clarity of market need. Dehn’s solution was strongest in all three categories,” Lynn said.
In rural communities with high growth rates and increasing rates of entrepreneurship and non-traditional work schedules, the lack of flexible child care is one of the key factors affecting career advancement for women. Demand is also increasing for affordable preschool offerings. The Dino Drop-In model is an elegant solution to both of these needs. It has already proven successful in Bozeman and Belgrade and is poised to scale to other similar communities.
Of the win, Dehn said, “I am thrilled to be involved in revolutionizing child care in our community. Even better, I get to be a resource for other entrepreneurs to enter the market. By providing flexible child care, I get to empower women and families striving to have an impact on their community. The tremendous support we have received from Bozeman and Belgrade has given us the opportunity to expand our offering to other communities, in and out of Montana.”
For more information about Dino Drop-In, visit http://www.dinodropin.com/.
About the Blackstone LaunchPad: The Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University, a partner of the Jake Jabs College of Business and Entrepreneurship, is an entrepreneur resource for students, alumni and faculty across the university and community that offers coaching, ideation and venture creation support.
About InnovateHER: The Innovating for Women Business Challenge (InnovateHER) is a cross-cutting prize competition to unearth innovative products and services that help impact and empower the lives of women and families. It’s sponsored by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The Blackstone LaunchPad at Montana State University is a co-sponsor for the national SBA competition, serving as a local competition host for eligible entrepreneurs, under co-sponsorship authorization #17-6050-38. SBA's participation in this co-sponsored activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any co-sponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.
Jessica Dehn, an MSU alumna and founder of Dino Drop-In, has won a local InnovateHer competition hosted online and co-sponsored by the Blackstone LaunchPad at MSU.