Welcome, 2017 Junior Judges!

Message from 2016 Junior Judge: Lifelong lessons about poise, confidence, initiative, and perseverance.

If you have any specific topics related to entrepreneurship, business, or investing that you’d like us to cover on this blog, let us know at

For now, we thought you might like to hear from one of last year’s Junior Judges, Sophia, who is now entering her senior year of high school in Los Angeles. She offered a reflection and what she liked most about the program, to get you excited and inspired for what is to come!

"I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity of gaining friendships, memories, and valuable skills that will stay with me as I start my own journey as an innovative and strong woman.”

The following is from Sophia, in her own words:

“About a year ago, I was sitting in the computer lab when my mom forwarded me an email with the Junior Judge application – she knew that I was just starting to get interested in entrepreneurship and economics so she suggested applying. I was clueless yet curious as to what the Women Founders Network was and what being a Junior Judge entailed, so I did some research and decided that this would be a fun introduction to the inner works of the business world! I applied that same day with the hopes of learning how to realistically start, maintain, and grow a business, all of which I dream of doing on my own one day. But what I didn’t know applying, was that I would walk away with so much more than just entrepreneurial insight – I would learn lifelong lessons about poise, confidence, initiative, and perseverance.

The first event I went to, Building a Successful Business: From Seed to Startup to Success, was when I realized just how impactful I knew this opportunity was going to be and not just as an entrepreneur, but also as a young woman. I remember hearing innovative speakers such as Fran Dunaway, Co-Founder & CEO of TomboyX, and Lauren Gropper, Founder & CEO of Repurpose, present their companies and the different accomplishments and setbacks they had faced while building them. Of course, all the companies were impressive because of the positive impacts they were having on our environment and society. What was especially impressive, though, was the manner in which the women spoke. I was so captivated by their confidence and elocution – they were all so assertive, classy, humorous, and powerful. That night, I was inspired. They modeled what type of woman I want to blossom into in the future.

During other meetings, I got to know the rest of the judges and the telltale signs of a strong business. All the judges worked together in choosing which business we think deserved the reward and in the process, learned about each other’s aspirations and goals. I didn’t have any business ideas of my own at the time but I loved hearing the other judges talk about their individual business endeavors. Being surrounded by peers who are interested in the same things as me, and actually starting to do something about those interests, motivated me to act and just go for it when I did get an idea of a business, even though it was a small one. All the meetings were very interactive and empowering, especially the Fast Pitch event. We weren’t swayed by anyone else’s opinions, the decisions and questions were completely our own and they were respected. It felt nice knowing that we were actually able to make such a heavy decision and help one company really grow and prosper. Looking back I realize how much I’ve grown myself in the past year, I used to be timid and quiet, but now I am outspoken and confident about myself and the future. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity of gaining friendships, memories, and valuable skills that will stay with me as I start my own journey as an innovative and strong woman.”

Stay tuned for more soon!

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