CO-FOUNDER SWSI MEDIA (SMART WOMEN. SMART IDEAS.); DIGITAL MEDIA & MOBILE LEADER; STRATEGIST, ADVISOR, CONNECTOR; FORMER COO EACHSCAPE AND DIGITAL BUSINESS DIRECTOR, TIME OUT, NORTH AMERICA
By content editorial director photographer
There’s a new reality competition, and it’s coming to a computer or a mobile device near you! Debuting online, October 28th, on Ora.TV, Queen Bee is part Shark Tank, part The Voice, part Kickstarter, and it’s targeting female-founded companies with products to sell. One of the women behind this ingenious concept is Marci Weisler, a digital executive with over 15 years experience in growing and managing online businesses for brands and startups. Marci and her Smart Women. Smart Ideas. (SWSI) business partner’s have created a new media platform they envision will ultimately become a next generation QVC.
“BY COMBINING REALITY PROGRAMMING, CROWDFUNDING AND PROMOTION, WE WANT TO ENABLE PRODUCT COMPANIES, FOCUSED ON WOMEN, TO GET KNOWN, GET FUNDED AND GO BIG.”
“There are tons of crowd funding projects now, but women have a harder time getting funding. Product companies have an even harder time getting funding than technology companies, plus you need a (business and social) network to get funded in the first place.” Queen Bee hopes to give women entrepreneurs exposure and fundraising tools that are often difficult to acquire.
Online viewers will not only be able to vote for their favorite female-founded company competitors, but viewers can also fund companies and pre-order products through crowdfunding. As with any successful reality show, the host and the judges are key to whether it’s a hit or a miss.
Queen Bee’s host is the dynamic Tonya Lewis Lee, former corporate attorney, best-selling author, television producer and multi-media production company owner. The judges are smart and compelling: Julie Roehm, SVP, SAP, marketing and “chief storyteller” extraordinaire, former Walmart and Chrysler executive and Fox Business contributor; Divya Gugnani, Harvard MBA, French Culinary graduate, serial entrepreneur and investor and the much admired Lawrence Lenihan, Founder and Managing Director at FirstMark Capital, which focuses on seed and early stage investments.
When the women of SWSI went out to raise their own startup money, investors first wanted to see what happened with the first initiative of their business plan: the digital only, Queen Bee show. “To practice what we preach, we did our own crowdfunding through Plum Alley. We raised $27k in 28 days, plus we got E*TRADE to come onboard as a sponsor of the shows.”
In addition to producing and launching Queen Bee digitally, on Ora.tv, Marci and her SWSI partners have a bigger vision. “While the show, itself, can only feature a handful of entrepreneurs, the media platform will have hundreds of different companies coming in and getting exposure through our platform, and not only be able to push their crowdfunding, but also be able to sell their products.”
Since crowdfunding is becoming the new seed funding, and reality programming is big exposure, the women of SWSI and their Queen Bee digital show may be a hit with female founders and investors as well as advertisers and television networks. The real “queen bees” may be Marci Weisler and her Smart Women. Smart Ideas. partners. In fact, Smart Women. Smart Ideas. may be an apt name for all concerned.
We want to enable product companies, focused on women, to get known, get funded and go big.
MOST IMPORTANT SURVIVAL SKILL
Learning to listen and understand what other people mean and how to make it all work together. That took a long time to learn.
Spend time with my family. I like it when everyone’s home, and we have an unplanned day. It’s very important.
WHAT EMPOWERS YOU
Knowing that if I’m in a bad situation, it’s up to me to change it, but I need to be proactive.
THROWS YOU OFF YOUR GAME
The unplanned call from school. Oversleeping and waking up late.
VALUE MORE NOW THAN 20 YEARS AGO
Free time. Where I decide what I can do and to be able to just go do it.
MOST DARING THING
I’ve been part of startup companies for a long time, but starting something myself has been a very different experience, even being part of someone else’s startup from an early stage.
To make this business a success, and to have a happy, well-adjusted kid who doesn’t spend too much time engulfed in devices, which is really hard these days. That may also be hard because I’ve built my professional career in internet and mobile.
NOT WORTH IT ANYMORE
Trying to keep up with people who don’t give back and don’t reciprocate. I have no patience for a lot of drama.
WHAT SCARES YOU
Modern life scares me sometimes, just in terms of the pace. I’m a New Yorker, and I move quickly, but the change in technology and fads is faster than it used to be. It’s hard to plan long-term with that.
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION
I’m not so focused on possessions. It’s much more about people and experiences. My Grandmas are so very special.
There are good women I’ve met, coming up through the mobile industry, like Heidi Messer. She rocks! I’m amazed at what she’s done. She’s just so smart and poised and so generous with her time and her help. That to me is really inspiring, and I try to do the same for others.
RECHARGES YOUR BATTERIES
A good run. A vacation, definitely, which is ideally either a more active beach vacation or going skiing.
WHAT ARE YOU READING
It’s one of the things I don’t do as much of as I used to. I’ll go through phases of reading lots of articles and then getting stuck in a book. I just read Ben Horowitz’s The Hard Thing About Hard Things. I highly recommend it; about making hard decisions in business.
A good massage every now and then feels like a guilty pleasure, although I don’t think it should.
HIGH OR LOW MAINTENANCE
Low maintenance. I’m pretty self-sufficient.
STYLE NOW VERSUS 20 YEARS AGO
I used to wear suits, but I’ve gotten more casual over time. Casual stylish.
FLATS OR HEELS
It’s important to me to be comfortable. I like a good shoe. I don’t like super high heels because I can’t walk fast enough. Not Easy Spirit, but stylish comfort.
I like eclectic and mixing high and low. I’m a big Theory fan but at the same time, I’ll go into Uniqlo and find some really great things. Anthropologie is another favorite in terms of stores because they curate really well.
MISSING FROM YOUR CLOSET
More bags. Probably a few good pairs of pumps.
DEFINITION OF LUXURY
A fancy hotel.
Hair. Going to the salon and making sure the color is right and the cut is good. Vacations are the other big splurge.
Yes! Often! For everything!
LIPSTICK OR EYELINER
Lipgloss and eyeliner
CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT BEAUTY PRODUCT
FACELIFT OR BOTOX
No thank you.