Pat Evans has always had a passion for helping under-represented groups, and now she’s turned that into not one, but two successful new business ventures.
Her background includes 25 years spent helping to develop smart solutions technology, go to market strategies, branding and marketing communications solutions for Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies. She was also an educator at the University of Phoenix for seven years, and CEO for a logistics and transportation company prior to discovering NAWBO through its Launch Right Program in mid 2022.
Launch Right is a six-month start-up program for under-represented women exploring entrepreneurship to provide them with the tools they need for a good start. It’s made possible by NAWBO’s corporate partner Wells Fargo and the Wells Fargo Open For Business Grant.
Pat, who is based in Charlotte, North Carolina, had decided on entrepreneurship as her next step with Green Leaf Paradise, LLC, a health and wellness company for individuals with chronic illnesses. As she was going through Launch Right, however, her vision evolved.
She ultimately co-founded two companies, URG (which stands for Under-Represented Groups) and FrontEnd Sports, after a chance meeting with Lowell Fortune, CEO of the Minnesota-based Viekor Technologies. Green Leaf Paradise is now folded into these companies.
“When I met up with Lowell on a Zoom call, our missions aligned and we fit like we were both two halves of the same pie,” Pat tells. “It all happened so fast, and now I am part-owner of the companies, and we have an international footprint.”
Pat, Lowell and their team are helping under-represented groups with access to innovative technology, education (STEM/STEAM and skilled trades certifications), social media marketing and monetization, merchandising, community engagement and access to capital through sponsorships.
FrontEnd Sports, for example, has been working with the Women’s Football Alliance (WFA) to bring in sponsors for its championship game in July at the Tom Benson NFL Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, which will be televised on ESPN. The mission of FrontEnd Sports is to create lasting change for women’s sports by creating awareness, fostering women’s empowerment efforts and helping to bridge the inequitable pay gap between genders and sports categories.
As part of this, Pat is looking to change the narrative around compensation and brand endorsements when it comes to female athletes. “There’s a gap in what’s happening in male and female sports,” she says. “Many of these women are single mothers working two jobs, but this is their passion. If they had proper compensation and endorsements, they wouldn’t have to do that.”
Pat understands this passion well. She jokes that she came out of her mother’s womb dribbling a basketball. She ran track, did cheerleading (because she couldn’t play football at the time) and played softball. “Everything a female could do, I did through school,” she says. “It’s been amazing to reconnect with that passion.”
Pat feels fortunate to have NAWBO in her corner as she now works to grow these ventures—especially in the current climate where there’s increased competition for every sponsorship dollar. She learned about NAWBO from an e-newsletter. “I was looking at their mission and it sounded perfect as it would expose me to other female entrepreneurs who could mentor and guide me,” she says.
Pat experienced just that as a participant in Launch Right, which she completed last December. “I really engaged in the program and I love and am using the One Page Business Plan,” Pat says. “Having that sisterhood where I could relate to other women entrepreneurs and being able to share experiences and support one another was invaluable.”