The Ladies Who Launch team views social and online networking as a necessary component for business today. However, unlike many social networking sites, this one relies on paid membership to sustain its business model. The benefit of a paid membership, according to site co-founders Victoria Colligan and Beth Schoenfeld, is that it helps ensure an elite and quality-controlled social networking site. They believe that women are more likely to join a nonthreatening community where they can receive motivation and confidence. With a fee wall in place, women are more likely to connect with others who are serious about their business success. “Ladies who Launch is not for everyone,” says Colligan. “We are more than just a social networking site. People who pay for our services are provided networking opportunities and credible connections.”
There are three different types of memberships offered: A basic membership is free of charge—women can access links to the online magazine, as well as receive daily updates from the website via email. (The site currently has 45,000 email subscribers.) A yearly membership of $120 is exclusively online and targeted at someone who does not live in an incubator city or who simply wants the benefits of promoting her business online. An incubator membership—which can cost anywhere between $300 and $600—includes online and in-person opportunities.
Ladies Who Launch currently has about 3,000 incubator members in 50 designated incubator cities, which include New York City; Los Angeles; Nashville, Tenn.; Providence, R.I.; and Dallas.
The revamped site, slated to leave beta in the next few months, will include a much more sophisticated architecture and the ability for members to connect with others. There will be a number of new benefits including monthly virtual seminars and advertising credits, which provide women on the site an opportunity to advertise their businesses. With these credits, women can now spread the word about their companies through LWL, on Launchpad, through classified listings, or via email alerts. The site will give business professionals access to original content about launching and building successful businesses, as well as provide the opportunity to network with some of the top professionals in a variety of industries. Women will also be given the chance to have their own businesses or products featured on the website.
The site’s founders believe that what makes Ladies Who Launch different from other social networking sites is the fact it is solely based on supporting women and their businesses. Websites such as MySpace and iVillage are great for networking and connecting with other people, but they are on a much broader level than Ladies Who Launch. “This is the only site where women can connect on a more intimate level,” says editor-in-chief Amy Swift. “There isn’t anywhere else to go where women can get these opportunities on a consistent basis.”
Colligan co-founded the site with Beth Schoenfeld in order to solve what they saw as an unfulfilled need for women: a place to connect with other women and have the opportunity to grow their businesses with the necessary resources. “There are millions of women around the globe that we want to reach and we spend our time thinking about how to reach them and how to add value to their lives and their ventures,” Colligan says. “As a company we believe that anything is possible, and we know that when you surround yourself with likeminded women whether online or in person, you are more likely to be successful.”
Ladies Who Launch has helped thousands of women start companies while balancing their lifestyle. And though the website’s look and content may change, its mission to inspire, connect, and provide opportunities remains the same. The site’s original purpose was to provide a place to share women’s success stories, but like the dreams of the women it serves, the site continues to grow.