Jennifer Corcoran, owner of WineRX based in Cape Charles on the Eastern Shore, has been selected as the Hampton Roads winner of the InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge recently hosted by the ODU Center for Enterprise Innovation (CEI) Women’s Business Center (WBC) and ODU Innovation Center-Norfolk in partnership with the Small Business Administration (SBA). During the competition, women entrepreneurs presented their ideas for innovative products and services. Corcoran’s presentation focused on Drop It, a sulfite and tannin reducer she created that can be added to a glass or bottle of wine to reduce the adverse effects, like headaches, that some people experience when drinking wine.
“Drop It does not change the flavor of a red, white or sparkling wine, “said Corcoran, who is a graduate of the University of Maryland with an extensive background in biology and chemistry. “But it may make an astringent or young red wine smoother.”
Corcoran, who has worked in the diagnostic lab industry for more than 25 years, worked on Drop It for two years before launching her company WineRX, makers of Drop It, in November 2016. After laboratory testing with a lab in the Napa Valley whose results support the product’s claims, Drop It was launched in January 2017. Drop It, which can be added to a single glass or an entire bottle of wine, retails for $9.99 per bottle, but can also be purchased wholesale. It is currently sold through seven retailers and seven vineyards in multiple states including Maryland, Delaware, and North Carolina. It is also available for purchase online at dropitwine.com.
As the winner of the competition, Corcoran received a $757 cash prize from the CEI, marketing support from the Monarch Acceleration Program to prepare for the semi-final competition, marketing services from MVOSS Creative ($200 value), and a one-year membership to Biz Connect ($165 value). As the local competition winner, WineRx will now be among the pool of semi-finalists from which the SBA will select up to 10 finalists. The selected finalists will make a live pitch in Washington, D.C., where they will compete for $70,000 in prize money provided by the Sara Blakely Foundation. The CEI will help Corcoran refine her business pitch if she is selected for the finals competition.
In June, the ODU Center for Enterprise Innovation was one of several locations across the country that worked in partnership with the SBA to host a local InnovateHER Business Pitch Competition. InnovateHER is a nationwide business competition to drive attention and resources to innovative products and services that make our lives easier and longer. Through the competition, SBA is seeking to amplify products or services that fill a need in the marketplace and have the potential for commercialization.
Challenge participants submitted an abstract of their concept to the WBC website, and five finalists were selected to present their ideas to a panel of expert judges. In addition to Corcoran with WineRX, other finalists were Charlette B. Crowell, Before You Do It (Portsmouth); Kay Brown, Sweat N Swag Fitness (Hampton); Leslie Rinaldi, TimbukTu (Suffolk), and Sabina S. Miller, Foil Décor (Virginia Beach). Judges included Andrew Kramer, vice president of analysis, Mission Solutions Group, Inc.; Taylor Hall, founder & CEO, Morgan Specialty Snacks; Elaine Horn-Ranney, PhD, president, & CEO/co-founder, Tympanogen; Hamilton Perkins, founder, Hamilton Perkins Collection; and Aazia Mickens-Dessaso, CEO, Pitchblack.
For more information about the InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge, contact Erika Small-Sisco, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (757) 683-5517.