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Entrepreneurship Can Thrive in a Challenging Economy.

Yahoo! Small Business and Carolyn Kepcher Name "Seeds for Success: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs" Grant Program Winner

SUNNYVALE, Calif. -- In spite of the struggling economy, entrepreneurship in America has the potential to flourish as people seek new career opportunities or additional revenue streams. As the fastest-growing sector of new small business owners in the country, women, are creating new jobs for themselves and are taking advantage of resources available to them to bring their business ideas into reality. Today, Yahoo! Small Business (NASDAQ:YHOO) and Carolyn Kepcher of "The Apprentice" fame and creator of fwm[TM] (Finding What Matters), a network of career/life experts and resources for women, named Dana Rubinstein, founder of small business Dapple, winner of the national grant program, "Seeds for Success: Empowering Women Entrepreneurs." The program was launched in April to promote women's entrepreneurship enabled by the Internet.

Rubinstein's commitment as a mother to only use organic and environmentally-friendly baby products inspired her to start Dapple, a company that creates natural and safe baby-specific cleaning products, with partner Tamar Rosenthal. Since the beginning of the Seeds for Success program, Dapple has made exceptional progress, developing an e-commerce site with Yahoo! Small Business, launching two new patent-pending product lines, securing distribution in more than 45 boutique stores and two major retailers, and winning an iParenting Media Award, a prestigious consumer accolade that determines best products in the marketplace. In less than six months, Dapple has sold 25,000 units, with sales increasing 43 percent in the third quarter and more than 500 percent in the fourth quarter to date.

"The expert guidance, consulting services and monetary grant Dapple received from Yahoo! Small Business and fwm made this contest invaluable to the strength of our company and the speed at which it has taken off. The full package has enabled us to make smarter business decisions that have accelerated our success in a very short period of time," said Rubinstein. "Through this program, I've been empowered to turn my small business dream into a reality. I am excited to continue to build Dapple, and I hope to be a role model for other women who are considering launching businesses online."

The three "Seeds for Success" finalists were selected from 5,500 applicants and each awarded a $20,000 grant; $5,000 in Web site consulting from Yahoo! partners Exclusive Concepts, Fast Pivot, and EY Studios; and two years of complimentary Yahoo! Small Business services. fwm also matched the finalists with free one-on-one mentoring by a team of business leaders, including Kepcher; Bobbi Brown, founder and CEO of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics; and Cathie Black, president of Hearst Magazines.

As the grand prize winner, Rubinstein receives an additional grant of $10,000, promotional support, and additional mentoring from Kepcher. She was selected by a panel of judges and mentors who weighed the finalists' performance against a number of milestones including Web site development, sales, partnerships, public relations and marketing, among others. There was also an online voting portion that attracted nearly 660,000 votes.

At the outset of the program, Rubinstein's goals were to build nationwide awareness for Dapple, communicate the company's brand as synonymous with safe, natural baby-cleaning products, and launch new products. Dana's technology mentor, Scott Smigler from Web design firm Exclusive Concepts, helped her to "make over" her Web site and establish a strong online strategy. The new Dapple Web site is professional, optimized for search engines and complete with Yahoo! Merchant Solutions' e-commerce functionality.

"Entrepreneurs play a critical role in developing a healthy economy, and strategic use of the Internet is crucial in driving the success of small businesses," said Susan Vobejda, vice president of marketing, Yahoo! Small Business. "In the case of our Seeds for Success finalists, Yahoo!'s tech mentors worked closely with each one to help design and launch Web sites that met their product and marketing needs and the work is paying off. Yahoo! Small Business wants to foster continued online innovation, so we hope this program inspires other women entrepreneurs to turn their passion into a profitable business."

Carolyn Kepcher added, "When the economy is unstable, people turn to entrepreneurship as an avenue for change. By tapping into the contributing experts of fwm, we were able to provide resources to create a truly unique and personalized learning experience for the three finalists, helping them achieve dramatic growth within a short time frame despite a down economy."

Other program finalists included Karla Duncan, founder of Head 2 Toe Publications, an innovative publishing company that develops products for parents and therapists to assist special needs children up to age 13, and Abby Port, creator of Red Koala, a company that produces online customizable art for nurseries and children's rooms.

The "Seeds for Success" grant program followed the launch of Yahoo! Small Business' Unlimited Web Hosting product earlier this year, which provides a fast, easy-to-use and affordable way to build a professional Web site. Additional information is available at http://smallbusiness.yahoo.com.

About Yahoo!

Yahoo! Inc. is a leading global Internet brand and one of the most trafficked Internet destinations worldwide. Yahoo! is focused on powering its communities of users, advertisers, publishers, and developers by creating indispensable experiences built on trust. Yahoo! is headquartered in Sunnyvale, California.

About fwm

fwm: finding what matters, is the first brand of Carolyn & Co. Media, LLC, a multi-media company based in New York and co-founded by high-profile businesswomen Carolyn Kepcher and Jen Marr. Created to be the single go-to source for working women, fwm will provide answers on career & life balance through expert advice & shared experiences. For more information, visit www.findingwhatmatters.com.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Nov 20, 2008
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