Female Founders & Funders: Listen Ventures x Propel

Event Recaps
Carly Kramer
Mar 4, 2024
group photo of students at listen HQ

On Tuesday, February 27th, 20 Propel program participants both past and present accompanied The Garage to Listen Ventures HQ in Chicago’s West Loop neighborhood for a fabulous night of networking. At the height of the agenda, our student founders sat down for an illuminating panel discussion with three local founders - Kasia Bednarz and Britni DeLeon, co-founders at Food by FARE, and Charlotte Trecartin, founder at CharCharms - as well as two powerhouse community cultivators at Listen Ventures - Nika Longo of the creative team, and Joelle Cosmas, head of platform.

Aside from the topics regarding venture capital and investing, our founders and funders were eager to delve into their personal experiences in the startup space - ranging from topics like the challenges and opportunities of being a woman in leadership roles, to the lessons they’ve learned along the way.

Founder Charlotte Trecartin recounted her journey building CharCharms, an accessory brand specializing in convenient and trendy charms for water bottles. The idea for her first prototype struck her during her sophomore year of college and has been a relentless pursuit since then. She emphasized the importance of finding allies as a first-time founder, and that most people are willing to share advice or lend a helping hand - all that’s needed is the courage to ask.

Founders Kasia Bednarz and Britni DeLeon began building FARE in 2018, which started as a dine-in and takeaway spot that has since expanded to multiple Chicagoland locations along with a wholesale prepared foods line. Kasia and Britni were brought together by their love for well-prepared but not over-involved food, as well as their rich experience in the hospitality industry. The insights they shared revolved around the importance of finding a co-founder that complements your skill set while bringing new ideas to the table, noting that a co-founder relationship is not unlike that of a marriage. Friendship, trust, and honesty are among the most important factors in a co-founder relationship.

Listeners Nika and Joelle provided a slightly different perspective to the panel discussion, chiming in with the ‘funders’ aspect of the event. They detailed the traits and practices of successful founders across the Venture Capital space, emphasizing the immediate actions our students can take if they are interested in working as a founder or investor in the future. They also expanded on the delicate balance between a trend and a sustainable venture, and what they look for when investing in early-stage startups.

After the main event wrapped, our students were eager to continue the discussion with our panelists over a beautiful charcuterie spread catered by FARE. We’d like to extend a sincere thank you to our wonderful panelists for being so candid and vulnerable with the women of The Garage - it was truly a night to remember for many of our student founders!

Thank you to our panelists!
About the Author

Carly is a passionate community builder serving as The Garage's Marketing Manager. She is overjoyed to work with students at The Garage, helping them realize their potential in creative communication and social strategy.