Stephanie Agresta cofounds strategic advisory firm for women entrepreneurs

Called Virago, the shop was launched with cofounder Jori Des Jardins.

NEW YORK: Stephanie Agresta, MSLGroup’s former global social media and digital leader, has cofounded a strategic advisory firm for women entrepreneurs.

The firm, called Virago, debuted on Thursday. Cofounder Jory Des Jardins, also the cofounder and former president of BlogHer, is launching the firm alongside Agresta. Des Jardins will be based in the San Francisco Bay Area, while Agresta will be based in New York.  

Agresta declined to identify clients.

The firm is focusing on women who have founded both consumer and b-to-b technology startups. It will counsel clients on business development, fundraising, and marketing strategies.

Virago’s main goal is to address issues for women entrepreneurs at scale, Agresta said, adding that male entrepreneurs start their businesses with nearly twice as much capital as women.

"We want to increase the likelihood that women founders in the tech industry drive revenue growth and have sustainable businesses," she said. "Not everyone wants to be a unicorn. A lot of these startups do not aspire to be billion-dollar startups with IPOs, but they can be incredibly successful businesses."

Virago will hold its inaugural event, called the Scale Collective, in New York on November 2.

Attendees will be female founders and executives at early stage startups; early stage VC and angel investors focused on both consumer and enterprise; corporate partnership leads from tech, media, and consumer brands; and successful startup founders, growth hackers, and experts.

"Many founders are looking at other ways they can grow their company," said Agresta. "Connecting with these experts and corporate-partnership leads can make a significant difference in terms of one customer relationship that can change your growth trajectory."

Speakers will include Halogen Ventures general partner Jesse Draper, Ellevest CEO Sallie Krawcheck, BlogHer cofounder and chief community officer of SheKnows Elisa Camahort Page, Zuckerberg Media CEO Randi Zuckerberg, and Havas PR North America CEO Marian Salzman.

Agresta said Virago intends to take the event to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Agresta is also continuing her consulting work under the banner of Stephanie Agresta Consulting, which is focused on accelerating the growth of startups. Clients include reputation growth and advocacy company Qnary, executive coaching program Brand U, influencer marketing platform MAVRCK, and visual comms agency Gapingvoid.

Agresta left her role as global practice director for social media and digital at MSLGroup last June after holding the position since December 2012. At the Publicis Groupe firm, she worked with executives from around the world on social and digital vision, strategy, and talent, and oversaw 15 staffers, most of whom were based in New York.

Previously, she led social media at Weber Shandwick as MD of social media in its digital communications practice. Agresta was also EVP and global director of digital strategy and social media at Porter Novelli, and owner of Stephanie Agresta Consulting, which she launched in 2007.

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