SBA: 2017 InnovateHER Challenge National Competition Award Winners Announced

Linda McMahon, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, today announced the winners of the 2017 InnovateHER Challenge, the SBA’s nationwide live-pitch competition highlighting the innovative products, services, and technologies developed by visionary entrepreneurs that have a measurable impact on the lives of women and families, and in the marketplace.

“It is my pleasure to congratulate the top winners of the SBA’s 2017 InnovateHER Business Challenge – entrepreneurs who have demonstrated extraordinary innovation and talent,” McMahon said.  Innovation is the heart of this competition, and I truly believe the creativity shown here today will fuel the problem-solving strategies of tomorrow.  The finalists’ products and services and technologies will have a positive impact on women and families.  Today we celebrate their success, but this is really only the beginning.  We hope their experience in this competition will be a launchpad for future growth and opportunities.”

The national finalists presented a live marketing pitch today before a panel of judges to compete for the top three awards totaling $70,000 in prize money, provided by the Sarah Blakely Foundation.  The team of judges included Antonella Pianalto, President and CEO of the Association of Women’s Business Centers; Cristina Morales Heaney, CEO of U.S. Safety Services and NAWBO National Board Member; and Karen Kerrigan, President  and CEO of the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council.  Each marketing pitch was evaluated by the judges on the business’s strength in the following three areas: its measurable impact on the lives of women and families, its potential for commercialization, and its ability to fill a need in the marketplace.

The winners of the 2017 InnovateHER Business Challenge are:

Winner of the 1st place award of $40,000:

Jenna Ryan with Uqora, LLC, San Diego, Calif.

Uqora gives women the defense they need against bacteria that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs), keeping them out of the doctor’s office and off antibiotics

Winner of the 2nd place award of $20,000:

Jessica Dehn with Dino Drop In, Bozeman, Mont.

Dino Drop-In is childcare built to fit the lifestyle of busy families and ever-changing work schedules.

Winner of the 3rd place award of $10,000:

Alexa Jones with TheraB Medical, East Lansing, Mich.

TheraB Medical is a startup working to launch its first product, SnugLit a wearable, portable solution to infant jaundice that promotes maternal-infant bonding and breastfeeding while covering nearly twice the surface area of traditional methods.

The 10 national finalists of the InnovateHER Challenge were selected through a rigorous nationwide competition held by local host organizations, and by an executive committee of SBA officials, choosing the finalists whose products and services best meet the competition criteria and presented the greatest potential for success.


The national finalists:

  • Afreen Allam with SiNON Therapeutics, Raleigh, N.C. – SiNON Therapeutics is dedicated to improving the lives of women and families who suffer from neurological diseases by refining drug-localization of medicine to the brain.


  • Crystal Harris with Brauxiliary, LLC, Charlotte, N.C. – The Brauxiliary Hands-Free Pumping Band is a bra attachment that turns any bra into a hands free pumping bra.


  • Marna Pacheco and Susan Hickok with CapeAble Sensory Products, Fort Wayne, Ind. – CapeAble Sensory Products, LLC manufactures and sells weighted blankets, weighted wearables, and sensory enrichment tools.


  • Bianca Cerqueira and Lauren Cornell with Novo Thelium, San Antonio, Texas – NovoThelium enables women to regenerate a nipple made from their own cells after a mastectomy.


  • Zayira Jordan with GuardDV, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico – GuardDV seeks to help enforce court-issued restraining orders in favor of domestic violence survivors. The system integrates RFID and GPS technologies to track the aggressor and warn the potential victim and the corresponding law enforcement organizations about the physical proximity of the aggressor.


  • Jamelah Tucker with EasyPeasie, LLC, Hallandale, Fla. – Easy Peasie, LLC is committed to providing families simple, natural, convenient, and fun ways to improve every meal with added vegetable nutrition.


  • Jamie Clark with The Willie Wags, Bangor, Maine – The Willie Wags is a quirky and fun subscription service that supports female entrepreneurs and women-owned small businesses.



The support given by the U.S. Small Business Administration to this activity does not constitute an express or implied endorsement of any cosponsor’s or participant’s opinions, products, or services.  All SBA programs or cosponsored programs are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. Cosponsorship Authorization #17-6050-38.  Reasonable accommodations will be made for individuals with disabilities. Please contact sends e-mail).

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