The scene at The Pink Ceiling on Wednesday evening was, appropriately, as women-centric and women-relevant as the products and services presented for the InnovateHER pitch competition.

Among the wallpaper, LED-lit wall decor, and chairs all dazzled with different shades of pink stood a group of women-led startups awaiting their chance to pitch to investors and advance to the semi-final round of the national Small Business Administration pitch contest.

(AND THE WINNER IS … Read WRAL TechWire’s wrapup{/a}})

Sitting in the front of the room in bright pink chairs was a panel of judges all representing different fields of entrepreneurship: Morgan Spurlock, an Academy Award nominated filmmaker, star and director of the popular documentary Super Size Me, Bethany Edwards, the first national InnovateHER winner for her biodegradable/flushable pregnancy test startup LIA Diagnostics, Morgan Stanley Senior Relationship Manager Suzanne Charnas, and Doug Eckert, an angel investor and executive VP of Orlando building company Hoar Construction.

The room was packed with chattering attendees all sipping the pink rosé on tap and eating taco dinners—so packed, in fact, that The Pink Ceiling founder and InnovateHER host Cindy Whitehead had to announce the start of the competition several times before the room fell silent.

Whitehead has risen to the forefront of the Triangle’s startup community, since her billion dollar exit of Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which developed the first drug to enhance women’s sex drive. Whitehead championed the drug and overcame several hurdles to eventually earn FDA approval.

These successes, coupled with a contagious, positive and bright appeal to women founders has made her someone many in the community look up to as an example of perseverance. She also has an accelerator called The Pinkubator that mentors and funds women-led businesses or women-focused products in various industries.

There’s much more to Shannon’s story. read it at:

InnovateHER: 5 Startups Pitch Products for Women, Created by Women