Girl Starter, the TLC reality show that turns hopeful young girls into successful entrepreneurs, is kicking off its second season. Helmed by creator Jeannine Shao Collins, the show promises to build girls up and help break the glass ceiling of the business world, inspiring a new generation of savvy execs.
Since season one, Collins has made Girl Starter more than just a reality show competition. The brand has become what she calls a “scalable, for-profit trans-media and technology company.” While it harnesses the power of the entertainment media industry, it uses that to empower all girls in the fields of entrepreneurship and business leadership.
Building Up Women in Business
Of all venture capital partners at the top 100 firms, only seven percent are women. That makes it pretty hard for women entrepreneurs to secure funding, or even find an audience for their pitch. That also makes it all the more necessary for someone like Collins to step in and teach girls the tools of running a company.
Collins, no stranger to business leadership herself, is just the woman to do the teaching. She spent 15 years turning relationships into profits for publishing house Meredith Corp., which produces 23 popular magazine brands, including Better Homes and Gardens.
During her tenure at Meredith, Adweek named Collins the 2010 Publishing Executive of the Year. Advertising Age had already acknowledged her as their ‘Woman to Watch’ a decade earlier. Now, Collins is passing on her wisdom and inspiring attitude to millennial women and Gen-Z girls.
Keeping it Positive is Key
What is that wisdom? First of all, that it’s important to keep it positive and focus on the collective goal: seeing more women succeed in business.
“We wanted to make sure that there was competition, but what we really wanted to show was women supporting other women,” Collins says of Girl Starter. “Yes, we can be competitive in business but we can help each other along the way.”
Part of the way they did this was by fostering a positive community within the contestants. Cofounder Dani Davis used the Capsure app to build mentorship and support amongst the members. That helped the cohorts to remember that even though they were competing, they all shared some common aspirations.
And while the show is competitive, even the so-called losers go on to do inspiring things, Collins says. She saw this when Lola, a contestant from season one, got back in touch to say that after leaving the show she had the confidence to go back to her job and get a raise.
“It’s important to call people out when people are doing the wrong thing,” Collins believes, “but I hope that we are lauding those people who are doing the right thing by women, and that’s what Girl Starter is meant to do.”
From Reality Show to Multi-Platform Empire
While working at More, a Meredith Corp. magazine geared toward women over forty, Collins’ daughter Julia expressed concerns about gender equality and the representation of women in business. She told her mom that they needed to be reaching women when they were younger. Something clicked in Collins’ mind, and Girl Starter was born.
Season one, which was shot in Brooklyn and debuted in April of last year, saw contestants compete for $100,000 in seed funding for their business ideas. But now, Girl Starter has moved beyond just a reality show.
The show’s main website, girlstarter.com, is a resource trove for any young woman getting started in business. It features, for example, the ‘Start It’ curriculum, a series of lessons that walk you through how to ‘Start It, Plan It, Prove It, Build It, Brand It, Fund It.’ Resources like this allow Collins to reach and empower even more young upstarts than the show itself has room for. And that, for Collins, is the whole point.
Keep an eye out for the upcoming season of Girl Starter on TLC, and in the meantime, why not get started on an entrepreneurial venture of your own? The more women there are succeeding in business, the more we all win.