Sen. Landrieu and USPTO Bring Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium to Shreveport
The second annual Women’s Entrepreneurship Symposium (WES) was held March 25-26 in Shreveport, La. The event, jointly sponsored by the USPTO Office of Innovation Development, United States Senator from Louisiana Mary L. Landrieu, and the city of Shreveport, La., was a success by all measures and featured an all-star lineup of women leaders in the worlds of government, intellectual property protection, innovation and small businesses.
“This two-day event recognizes the many pioneering women who have built our great nation,” said Sen. Landrieu, who opened up the symposium by addressing a filled-to-capacity room at the Shreveport Convention Center. “It is also an opportunity for inventors and entrepreneurs—both men and women—to network, discuss best practices, and hopefully spark some new innovations.” Landrieu, the chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, was instrumental in bringing the symposium to Shreveport. Mayor of Shreveport Cedric Glover graciously facilitated the event, rolling out the red carpet for speakers and attendees alike and providing a warm sense of Southern hospitality.
Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO Teresa Stanek Rea delivered the keynote address on Monday afternoon. Rea’s powerful talk spoke of the roles of women in leadership, business and innovation. “Women’s rights are human rights, and if we’re going to serve as a driving force in this world, the onus is on us to unleash our ingenuity upon our economic competitors,” said Rea. Also speaking were Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Patent Operations Valencia Martin Wallace and other members of the USPTO team. USPTO staff members educated the audience as to the importance of intellectual property, the need for its protection and the various forms of intellectual property which might be present in their businesses – namely patents, trademarks, copyrights, and trade secrets. USPTO presentations focused how inventors and entrepreneurs can apply for patents and trademark registrations and USPTO services available to assist them in doing so.
The symposium was a valuable networking opportunity for both male and female entrepreneurs and innovators. Participants were able to connect and share information with fellow innovators and symposium resources, including USPTO executives and staff. In this setting, participants could ask individual questions and share personal experiences to help one another move forward in their innovation journey.
Successful inventors like Martha McKenzie and trademark recipient Lisa Price, the president of Carol’s Daughter, won the crowd over with their inspired and informative recounting of their experiences patenting and trademarking their intellectual property.
Local business and technological development entities were well-represented at the WES, including the Women’s Business Center of the Enterprise Consortium of the Gulf Coast and Louisiana Tech University. Individuals from these organizations provided critical information as to local resources available to individuals looking to start or grow a business, including the ever-important and elusive sources of funding, prototype building and manufacturing.
Specialized experts Karen Waksman and Renee Quinn respectively shared their individual expertise on how to successfully get products into retail stores and online markets and the use of social media to enhance product sales and business. Attendees gave them a roar of applause and a flood of questions during the seminar, in the halls, and during the ample networking opportunities.
The feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Attendee Kathy Wyatt, who directs the Technological Business Development Center at Louisiana Tech said, “The entire event was excellent. The content was very informative, the USPTO staff members were incredibly helpful, and the women entrepreneurs that spoke were truly inspiring.”
The WES was the USPTO’s second sponsored event of March to commemorate Women’s History Month. The first, “Women Entrepreneurs: Celebrating the Past, Inventing the Future,” was held on March 1 on the USPTO's Alexandria campus. As always, the USPTO enjoyed the event and opportunity to engage the public, and it looks forward to coordinating next year’s WES.