What is the Doyenne Evergreen Fund?
The Doyenne Evergreen Fund is an innovative approach to getting critical dollars into businesses that are led by women and people of color. Doyenne has raised dollars from state and city government, community organizations, foundations, and private donors. All returns from investments made by Doyenne are put back into the Evergreen Fund for future disbursement to entrepreneurs. Additionally, the Fund is paired with the Doyenne Accelerator, which provides coaching assistance to all entrepreneurs who receive funding. Dollars paired with coaching and technical support is a powerful combination!
Who is eligible to apply?
The Doyenne Evergreen Fund is specifically designed to support ventures led by women and people of color. The Evergreen Fund focuses on Wisconsin-based businesses that are doing something INNOVATIVE in their industry and are able to SCALE to a national level.
While Doyenne supports all-types of businesses through our professional development programs (coaching, Retreats, Founder Series, Fundamental Four Series), the Evergreen Fund dollars are committed to supporting innovation and significant growth. Research shows that businesses led by women are significantly smaller than those led by men. Doyenne believes this is because women-led businesses, that have potential to scale, are not adequately funded. In an effort to close this significant gap, the Evergreen Fund focuses on innovative businesses that can scale to a national level.
Please note: This focus on innovation and scaling means that some businesses, unfortunately, will not fit the selection criteria. In particular, it will be challenging for brick-and-mortar retail stores and some service-based businesses to get funding from this particular mechanism. This doesn’t mean these businesses are not valuable, it just means they may not fit the Evergreen Fund.
Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply for Doyenne funding. Only entrepreneurs who can answer “YES” to all of these questions, will be granted access to the full application.
- The business is 51% women and/or minority owned.
- The business is intending, and has the potential, to scale to a national level.
- The business demonstrates innovation in its industry.
- The business is registered with Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI)
- The business is registered as a C Corporation, S Corporation, or LLC.
- The business is headquartered in Wisconsin.
- The business has fewer than 100 employees, 51% of whom are based in Wisconsin.
- The business has the potential to increase jobs in Wisconsin.
- The business has been in operation for fewer than 10 years.
- The business has not received more than $10M in private equity investment.
What kinds of funding are available?
The Doyenne Evergreen Fund offers three types of financial support to businesses, each with specific amounts:
- Grants ($5K)
- Equity investments ($25-50K)
As a general guideline, Doyenne will not commit more than $50,000 in total to any one business, unless there are special circumstances that warrant it. If you need more than $50K in funding, we suggest you look for additional sources of funds that could be combined with Doyenne dollars.
What is the process to apply for funding?
Doyenne has designed a multi-step application process. Depending on the type and amount of funding you are seeking, the process may be more or less complex. The funding process may take a number of weeks to complete, so please plan accordingly.
Step 1: Complete the Screener Tool
To save both you and Doyenne time, we have designed a Screening Tool that, based upon your answers, will help us decide if you qualify to submit an application. Please review the selection criteria above to determine if your business is eligible for these dollars. As part of the screening process, you will be asked to review and agree to our Terms of Service (click here for a pdf version).
Step 2: Complete the Application
Only businesses that meet the criteria to apply, as indicated by the Screening Tool, will have the opportunity to complete the initial Doyenne Funding Application. We encourage you print and review the full application before you begin completing the online version. You will be able to save your application and return to it later.
Step 3: Internal & Committee Review
Doyenne staff will review your initial application and follow-up with you if there are any issues or if anything seems missing. Once your application is deemed complete, it will be forwarded to the Evergreen Fund Selection Committee for review. The committee meets quarterly to review applications for funding.
Doyenne staff will contact you with the results of the selection committee review and, if appropriate, what your next steps will be. If you are applying for an equity investment AND you are chosen to move forward, you will be asked to provide additional information (pitch).
Step 4: Doyenne Accelerator
Every entrepreneur who receives funding for her business is required to participate in the Doyenne Accelerator. We know that financial support is only ONE of many types of assistance entrepreneurs need. Our Accelerator is designed to help entrepreneurs build their skills and network, all of which contribute to the success of the venture.
What happens if a business is NOT funded?
If your business meets the requirements in order to apply, but does not receive funding, we encourage you to apply again after six months. We receive lots of applications and have limited dollars available so we have to choose the businesses that best meet our goals.
Even if you don’t receive funding from us, you can still join Doyenne and participate in our programming, which can help you develop the skills and network to grow your business. We hope that all applicants join our powerful and inspiring community of entrepreneurs.
Doyenne Accelerator Program
Every entrepreneur who receives funding from the Doyenne Evergreen Fund is required to participate in our Accelerator Program. We understand that funding is only one type of assistance that entrepreneurs need to develop their skills and build their venture. The Accelerator is designed to provide the entrepreneur with coaching, community, and visibility. It also provides Doyenne the opportunity to track the progress of businesses in our investment portfolio.
We know that entrepreneurs are incredibly busy and time is valuable. We do not want to pull entrepreneurs away from the critical focus on building their ventures. We want to help entrepreneurs make thoughtful decisions and move faster than they would on their own. Our Accelerator is designed to be impactful and manageable.
The Doyenne Accelerator program unfolds over a 12-month period, with commitments every quarter once the funding has been approved. These commitments include one-on-one and group coaching sessions, a strategic planning Retreat, and culminate in a public pitch event. Dr. Amy Gannon will work with each entrepreneur to create a personalized Accelerator calendar.
Entrepreneurs are expected to have a minimum of 2 one-on-one coaching sessions with Dr. Amy Gannon, Doyenne’s Director of Entrepreneur Development. For nearly 15 years, Amy has been working with entrepreneurs move through the various stages of building their ventures: idea to launch to growth. She will provide each participant with a private link to an Accelerator calendar where they can schedule meetings. While we require only 2 coaching sessions with Amy, we encourage entrepreneurs to schedule additional one-on-one sessions as needed and to reach out to the Doyenne Mentors.
Strategic Planning Retreat
Entrepreneurs will participate in a 2.5-day strategic planning retreat. At the Retreat, entrepreneurs and their teams will work to formulate a clear vision for the future, identify critical milestones, and create an immediate plan of action. The Doyenne Retreat Team will provide support throughout the Retreat. Additionally, experience coaches will be available to provide rapid and intensive feedback. We limit each retreat to a maximum of 10 businesses so that you get personalized attention.
Rock Your Brand Camp
Doyenne partners with Amberdella to provide expert coaching in marketing. This 30-day online training will help entrepreneurs develop their brand, marketing strategy and sales process.
At Showcase Nights we highlight the Doyenne portfolio companies and the success they’ve made during their year being part of the Doyenne Accelerator program. Up to 10 companies will give 1-minute lightning pitches outlining their businesses for everyone in attendance before then hosting round robin 5-minute conversations with attendees at small table groups. Companies share information about their ventures, including their vision for the future, accomplishments to date, and next steps along the way. The Showcase Nights are a fantastic opportunity for those from Madison and beyond to learn about and meet entrepreneurs who are building scalable businesses. This is the culminating event for the Accelerator program.
Download PDF Version of Application
2019 Application Review Schedule
2019 Schedule for Applications
Evergreen Fund Screener Tool
The first step in the application process is to complete our Evergreen Fund Screener Tool. This will help us determine whether your business qualifies for the Evergreen Fund given the funding criteria for these dollars. We want to know if you qualify BEFORE you spend time filling out the full application.
If you are approved to continue with the process after completing the Screener Tool, you will receive an email with the link to the full application. Again, we encourage you to review the application in advance. Click HERE to download a pdf of the application.
Ask a Question
Thank you for your interest in the Doyenne Evergreen Fund. While we have tried to provide useful information on our site, we do know that you will have some questions. Please submit your questions regarding the Evergreen Fund here.