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Flourish Aims to Invest $3,000+ into Winning Business in 4th Year


September 12, 2022

Flourish: Fund Ideas That Matter is back for year four in an effort to amplify, celebrate and invest in small businesses owned by women and/or gender nonconforming individuals. This event concept came to life shortly after a 2015 ranking showed women-owned businesses in Iowa were few and far between. I quickly took action to bring FemCity Des Moines to the next level as a strong women’s networking group and establish Flourish to ensure women with ideas and traction were being seen, heard and financed.

Investing in a Winning Concept

So what is Flourish? It’s a pitch event where three individuals get to share their idea in five minutes to a live audience. At the end, the event attendees vote for the business they want to leave with the prize. All attendees pay $30 to attend the event and all dollars go to the winner, making it a true community investment event.

Instead of providing a loan with interest or relying on angel investors who expect equity in exchange for capital, we wanted everyday people to feel like they could contribute to the small business community in a really tangible way, without leaving a business owner with debt or expectations to 10x their investment. It’s a feel-good experience for everyone involved.

Over the years, we’ve seen nine different individuals pitch their business idea or latest project. From a local bakery to a lingerie creator to a neighborhood farmer, the businesses that come to us have an idea our committee believes matters to our community in some way. This year, we’re improving the experience by bringing FuseDSM on board with Love Local to continue the impact on small businesses and the broader community.

2022 Finalists

Here’s a snapshot of this year’s finalists in alphabetical order: 

Des Moines Girl Des Moines Girl

DSMG, owned by Morgan Chiccelly, is a digital micromedia platform that provides guides, itineraries and profile pieces on small businesses in Greater Des Moines (DSM). DSMG serves as a fun check-in for things to do around town and is curated by locals, for locals.

Chef CassDSM Culinary

DSM Culinary, owned by Chef Cass, teaches culinary classes to the public. Each class has a theme, and the participants cook alongside a chef to learn kitchen skills, learn about the cuisine and have the opportunity to socialize.

Pie Bird Pies & Bread by Chelsa B (a new business partnership) Pie Bird Pies Bread by Chelsa B

Pie Bird Pies, owned by Kristen Daily, is a home-based bakery in the Drake neighborhood serving seasonal fruit pies. Bread by Chelsa B, owned by Chelsa Smith, is a micro-bakery specializing in small batch sourdough breads and naturally leavened treats.

On Tuesday, Sept. 20 from 6 – 8 p.m., you can join us at Jasper Winery to support these incredible, locally-owned businesses in DSM. The winner will leave with roughly $3000+ to fund their next idea or project thanks to ticket sales and generous sponsors like Greater Des Moines Partnership, PurposeBank, Sara Hopkins Realty, Window World, FemCity Des Moines and Timewise Assistants.

Learn more about this year’s event here: flourish-funds.co

Looking for tools to help grow your startup or small business? Visit the Small Business Resources Hub to find the information you need or sign up for Mentor Connection to build relationships with a trusted group of mentors.

Emily Steele

Emily Steele is the CEO and Cofounder of Hummingbirds. A spin on influencer marketing, Hummingbirds drives local behavior by pairing businesses with real people who experience their brand and share about it on social media. Emily and her cofounder, Charise Flynn, raised their Seed round of funding in December 2023.