chicago conference

These Women Speed-Pitched Their Businesses and Won $5K Grants from McDonald's

Last month, we gathered in CHI-town for our Create & Cultivate conference. Apart from hearing inspiring panel discussions, networking with fellow boss ladies, and getting career advice from new mentors, our guests had the ability to pitch their entrepreneurial business ventures to McDonald’s. The McDonald’s mini conference room activation at C&C Chicago was a huge hit amongst our guests, especially the ones who had a pitch ready to take their business to the next level. But why did they pitch their big idea to McDonald’s?

With 90% of McDonald’s restaurants being owned and operated by franchisees, McDonald's runs on entrepreneurial spirit and understands what it takes to build a business. McDonald's brought this spirit to C&C Chicago offering conference guests a $5,000 grant to the business with the strongest pitch providing a clear vision on how these funds would help them achieve the next phase for their dream.

Well, there was a major plot twist at the event when McDonald’s ended up choosing two grant winners—Curve Shop, a seasonal plus-size pop-up consignment sale, and We Are Boss Moms, a platform for working moms to thrive—both amazing business ideas with a strong vision for the future of their companies. We caught up with the winners to learn the ins and outs of what went into their McDonald’s pitch and learned some key advice that any entrepreneurial business woman can use. Ahead, the founders of both businesses tell all.

Curve Shop

Tell us a little about your business…
Curve Shop is a seasonal plus-size pop-up consignment sale that was created out of a need to provide a larger range of sizes at an IRL shopping experience. So many of our plus friends struggled to find their size in stores and usually would end up having to buy multiple sizes online before they’d find something that fit perfectly. What’s left are items they can’t return, a cluttered closet and the shopping process starts all over again as soon as a new outfit is needed. We wanted to put all this hard work to good use, by creating a place where women could shop in a body positive space, where everything is a size 12 and up and items are curated to be flattering because another plus-size stylish babe took the time to find and love each item.

Each of our sales usually has over 50 consigners who tag and price their own items, get to shop the sale before it’s open to the public and make a percentage of every item they sell. We also always partner with a local non-profit and to date have donated over 1,500 pounds of clothing to help women in need.  It’s a huge win-win for everyone! We’ve received feedback that many women not only find a whole new wardrobe at 85% less than what they would buy retail, they also make new friends and feel better about their bodies after they leave our sale. One of our favorite comments was from a shopper who said she had never had seen so many items that actually fit her size 16 body in one place before!

What went in to your pitch to McDonald's?

We talked about our vision for Curve Shop ahead of time and decided who would be doing the majority of the talking and who would be answering follow up questions. We made sure to have clear answers on how a sale operates, data we have gathered about our target audience, research on our competitors and personal stories on why we thought a body-positive shopping event is so needed.

What do you plan to do with your $5K grant from McDonald's?

Currently, Curve Shop is only popping up in Madison, WI but we have been wanting to expand for a while. With the grant from McDonald’s we’ll be able to grow to Chicago and Milwaukee in 2019 and then hopefully both the east and west coasts soon after that!

What are the challenges you face as a small business owner?

The biggest challenge we’ve faced owning a small business is that we’re doing something new that we haven’t seen done before. There isn’t a mentor in our field to help us navigate growth and business decisions. So far, running Curve Shop has required a lot of trial and error, learning as we go and pivoting when necessary.  

What did you learn from pitching your business in this timed experience?

It’s important to deeply care about and know your business inside and out. It’s stressful to pitch in a time crunch, especially when tricky questions can be asked about your business on the fly. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it’s so much easier to reply honestly and without stumbling for an answer because you can speak from the heart. In a scenario like the McDonald’s speed pitch that we did, we only had 3 minutes to speak and then 4 minutes for questions. We found it worked best to stick with the “big picture” to get the judges to see our vision. We knew if we came with too many statistics or facts to share we wouldn’t have enough time to say everything and would have left feeling defeated. Instead we did our best to paint a picture of what the Curve Shop experience is and let the judges ask about the specifics. We kept calm and focused on something other than the time ticking away by making eye contact, reading our audience and making a genuine connection.

Where can women go to support your business?  

We are on Instagram and Facebook at curveshopconsignment and our website is We are looking for awesome plus babes to partner with so please reach out if you are interested in a Curve Shop popping up in your city!

We Are Boss Mom

Tell us a little about your non-for-profit…

Modern mothers - who work at home, stay at home, own their own businesses, work in corporate America, etc. - aren’t equipped with resources, support, direction and community after becoming a mom, leading to not knowing or pursuing their purpose, increased guilt and pressure to “do it all.”  Moreover, many corporations aren’t offering environments, flexible schedules, benefits or resources to support working moms and thus, women are leaving the workforce. This is a clear problem. Thankfully, some companies have made progress but not fast enough and not significant enough.

This matters because the more women that are supported, specific to their needs and their familiar needs, we see a positive growth to the global economy.

According to Forbes:

  • 28% of the decline was attributed to lack of family-friendly workplace policies

  • Half of the earnings gap women experience can be made up for with parental leave and childcare policies

  • In the United States childcare accounts for the single largest household expense in many regions, which leads to decline in workforce participation

  • The United States is the only developed country without a universal paid parental leave policy

There are thousands of data points pointing to the positive impact every aspect of the world has when women work.  When they work well. Not for a paycheck, but for a purpose. We believe that if we can create an ecosystem of tangible programs - on and offline -  that directly support mothers, we can make a dent in furthering the global economy. We can keep women in the workplace. We can keep families together. We can redefine what it means to be a working mom, offering purpose that becomes the foundation of furthering growth where it matters most.

WE ARE BOSS MOM (WABM) is a 501c3 non-for-profit platform for working moms to thrive. We are a creative incubator for mothers who work, entrepreneurs, work -at-home-moms, business owners and corporate employees all coming together for a common purpose—workforce development for mothers.

Our focus is to create an open and inspirational place to gather, experiment, and foster connections from a wide-range of disciplines. We share a common desire to drive innovation and support working families by providing opportunities for both organizations to thrive and mothers to contribute to the overall vision of how we rewrite the modern workplace. We’re a movement for a new generation of mothers who are redefining the meaning of work-life balance, parenting and purpose.

WABM’s main objective is to support and actively help 5,000 working moms by 2020 to achieve their potential by defining and living out their purpose.  #purposedevelopment

What went in to your pitch to McDonald's?

As an entrepreneur I strive everyday to promote We Are Boss Mom with conviction and excitement towards everyone I meet because it’s my passion. For the past year, I have made it a point to connect with three new people a week with the goal of building genuine connections and learning from individuals who I might not just “run into” within my daily routine. After countless blind conversations and lots of weekly conversations you become good at reading people and clearly identifying your objective and goals in a short amount of time. You really only have about 2 minutes to make an impression.   

Even though I knew I had 7 minutes to “pitch”, I made sure that I did not speak more than about half my allotted time to give an opportunity for their questions and feedback. It’s key to always make sure you have time to learn about the person/org you’re “pitching” to and see how you can intertwine their objectives into your own.

Oh, and one more thing. Make sure you’re passionate about your cause! People may not remember everything you say, but they will remember your passion.


What do you plan to do with your $5K grant from McDonald's?

We focus on #purposedevelopment for mothers; leveraging resources from our B2B partners to provide accessibility, education and resources for scaling mother-owned businesses. Boss Mom Mercado focuses on moms who run their own business (side hustles) and we wanted to create a hands-on experience tacking multiple aspects of scaling or growing their online business. The goal is to give local mother-owned businesses the opportunity to experience a brick and mortar location while inspiring the community and encouraging the Shop Small movement supported by progressive retail outlets such as Simon Malls. The top mother-owned retailer that makes the best number of sales combined with bringing the most fans wins a POP UP SHOP location within a Simon Mall.  

We just successfully launched the first Boss Mom Mercado in Miami and we are looking to expand this competition nationally. The professional development component of the Boss Mom Mercado is the mandatory Boss Mom Bootcamp that the competing vendors must go through to compete. In this Bootcamp they learn merchandising, retail leasing and marketing techniques; but we wanted to take it a step further and provide hands-on practice with tools and methods available to solve problems using data science. By teaching these mompreneurs the benefits of computer science and data analytics we are providing equal opportunity to learn an important skill which is the largest and fastest growing field and job listing in the U.S. This field, which will reach 2.7 million, is also among the highest paid professionals, with salaries averaging over 113% more than average salaries for all job postings.

To ensure full support among the mothers on this journey, we will provide on-site childcare and tutors to assist during boot camp hours—so that moms can feel supported and assisted during the course. We are excited to announce the expansion for Boss Mom Mercado/ Bootcamp in select cities starting in 2019 thanks to the McDonalds grant.

What did you learn from pitching your business in this timed experience?

I learned to never underestimate yourself, and always show up early! I had a noon time slot for the pitch and when I walked by early to ask a question they had an opening immediately at 10am, so I jumped on the opportunity to get the pitch completed in the morning. I really think it was one of my advantages, I felt fresh and still had energy. I think if I would have waited till my allotted time “during lunch” I might not have had the right amount of energy and spontaneity.

Where can women go to support your business?  

So, we made something cool. We made a We Are Boss Mom kinda bag. This limited edition handbag is on pre-order and 100% of proceeds will be going towards taking Boss Mom Mercado nationwide and empowering our Mompreneur community of small business owners. it was never meant to be just a clear bag.

For $45 100% proceeds go to bringing opportunities for working mothers. At WABM we want to make sure that all mothers have a voice and  benefit from the programs, data research and relationships we develop. We aim to empower and ignite your Boss Mom spirit. You are a Boss Mom. But together, WE ARE BOSS MOM.

Contact Info:

  • Website:

  • Email:

  • Instagram: @wearebossmom