Women Entrepreneurs! The session was moderated by Rick Miller (RAMP Leadership; The Hatch). Panelists are listed in clockwise order from the top left of the image. Panelists discussed the business landscape of Mobile, the benefits and challenges of being an entrepreneur and answer questions posed by mentors and companies in the mentoring program.
Lisette Norman, The Fairhope Store and The Orange Beach Store: Lisette opened The Fairhope Store in 2011 and The Orange Beach Store in 2016. Each store sells merchandise branded with iconic logos celebrating the coastal lifestyle. In 2018 The Fairhope Store received the Gold Retailer of the Year Award from the Alabama Retail Association.
Sheila Hodges, SH Enterprises and Meyer Vacation Rentals: SH Enterprises is the holding company for Meyer Vacation Rentals, which manages and services more than 1000 vacation rentals on the Alabama and Florida Gulf Coast, as well as Meyer Services, Starr Textile Services, and CENTURY 21 Meyer Real Estate. Sheila recently transferred ownership of the company to her daughter.
Jamie Tapia, Port City Industrials: Jamie and her husband Hays started Port City Industrials in 2015. The docking and warehouse storage supply company has shown triple digit growth and qualifies as an Inc 5000 fastest growing company in the US. Port City has been nominated for the Mobile Chamber Business of the Year for 2023.
Mickie Russell, Roberts Brothers Inc, formerly with Dauphin Realty of Mobile: Mickie grew her own real estate firm to five offices and over 100 agents serving the Mobile and Baldwin County area before merging the company with Roberts Brothers, Inc. in 2011, resulting in the largest real estate company in the coastal Alabama counties. She was named Realtor of the Year in 2002.
RAMP is a team-based mentoring program for businesses in south Alabama, made possible by training from the Venture Mentoring Service at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT created a world-renowned mentoring program for small businesses almost 20 years ago. This program now has 165 mentors and has mentored almost 1500 ventures. The project resulted in more start-ups, higher success rates, faster scale of businesses and greater ROI for investors. This model has been licensed worldwide, with participants traveling to MIT for Immersion training. This program has been licensed by MIT to the University of South Alabama through funding made possible by the Mobile County Commission, the Mobile City Council, the Mayor’s Office and the Mobile Area Chamber of Commerce. RAMP currently serves 16 companies with 26 highly qualified founding mentors from south Alabama.
RAMP is free and available for as long as the company-mentor team agrees that it is productive. Mentor teams are continually tailored to each company's changing needs. RAMP mentors are carefully selected, and they agree to abide by a code of ethics governing confidentiality, conflict of interest, and conduct. This creates a no-threat environment in which ventures can be confident of receiving unbiased advice. The team-based mentoring model provides a unique opportunity for mentors to experience the rewards and challenges of philanthropically growing local entrepreneurship capacity, while sharing collegial relationships with like-minded community members.