Utah County grows businesses almost as fast as it grows babies, and Product Hunt meetups are a way for local entrepreneurs to show off their ideas.
The November Product Hunt meetup Thursday night spotlighted local female-founded startups. Big Door, a video content marketing company, hosts Product Hunt meetups, and partnered for this event with Braid Workshop for Women Entrepreneurs.
Product builders and product users connected well at the Silicon Slopes headquarters in Lehi that evening. The startups in attendance were as varied as their founders.
Amy Roskelley, owner of Prepear, found an interested audience as she explained her month-old Lindon company. Prepear is an app that “connects and organizes the cooking experience” — from recipes to shopping lists to meal planning — making it less of a chore for busy parents and professionals.
“Everything is so fragmented today. But this is connected cooking, all in your pocket,” she said.
Ashley Ulibarri came to Product Hunt to raise awareness for sex trafficking, and to share her unique business model — fashion for a charitable cause. She sells her custom designed Barri Handbags, and donates 10 percent of her profits to Operation Underground Railroad. The word “freedom” is discreetly inscribed into all her handbags as a quiet reminder that “every bag you buy, you are carrying freedom for someone.”
Ulibarri was also excited about Thursday’s event because she is looking for a marketing business partner to further her year-old South Jordan business.
The founders of RAGS and Fuze Play are two well-known and highly successful companies that also attended the Product Hunt meetup. Becky Kay, social media manager for RAGS, said they came to the event because founder Rachel Nilsson is such a beacon in the startup community. Nilsson went from sewing her stretchy neckline toddler rompers in her parents’ basement to a successful pitch on “Shark Tank.”
“We came to show how we’ve grown and to show how amazing a company can be,” Kay said.
Kristy Sevy, Fuze founder, said she went to the event because she is a huge advocate for the supportive startup community embodied in Silicon Slopes, Product Hunt and Braid Workshop. Others looked to her that evening as inspiration, because she started out as a mother who had no background in robotics and tech, but through a lot of learning and hard work, she created a successful technology learning company.
She now has a partnership with the Girl Scouts of America to use her Zubi Flyers for technology instruction. Scouts who complete the program will earn a newly approved badge.
Melissa Sevy, founder of Givv, also enjoys the community Product Hunt meetups foster. Her Givv app is still in the early stages, but she already generated excitement that evening for the app, which bridges corporate and employee giving programs with nonprofits.
“Even just connecting with other entrepreneurs is a big deal. We’re all experiencing the same pains, and it’s really helpful to connect with each other,” Sevy said of the event.
Other female founded companies enjoyed rubbing elbows with the startup community. Ryla, which recently rebranded from Vauva, showed off its improved diaper bags. Product hunters were able to hold and rifle through Trisha Zemp’s Golden Coil planners, and Springville-based Lemon and Sage Market gave visitors a taste of the vendors and caterers who work out of their communal commercial kitchen.
“It’s such a great event, to spotlight women entrepreneurs. We work just as hard starting and running a business,” said Sarah Crawford, owner of Tailored Events, which uses the Lemon and Sage kitchens.
According to Nicole Eads, Big Door event manager and Product Hunt organizer, every Product Hunt meetup has a theme. She explained this allows similar companies to better network and collaborate with each other. She also purposely chooses companies that are all along the spectrum in startup age – those who are just testing out an idea, to those who have found success.
Product Hunt events are held alternately in Lehi and Salt Lake City.