Companies are stepping up to support entrepreneurs and those driving the programs are oftentimes deeply tied to the mission. We sat down with Jamie Sears, Executive Director, Community Affairs & Corporate Responsibility at ‎UBS, to discuss the 2017/18 Project Entrepreneur Intensive, common traits among the most successful founders and more.

Project Entrepreneur: You were a part of the design and creation of Project Entrepreneur since day one to help women entrepreneurs build high-growth, high impact businesses and provide them with the tools they need to succeed. Tell us about a highlight from the past two years that stands out to you.

The Project Entrepreneur Intensive! Every year, we select 200 women who are founders of early stage companies from every corner of the country (131 cities from 34 states and counting!) for a free, two-day convening in New York City. I love hearing their amazing stories; it's always a great reminder of why I do this work.

Entering into its third year, how are you hoping to see Project Entrepreneur expand?

We want to up our game -- build on our strengths and grow the program to support even more founders. In addition to being an on-ramp into entrepreneurship for women across the country, I'm especially proud of the ethnic diversity of our participants - over 50% at our events and in our applicant pool. We want to continue to maintain and increase this. Our goal is that PE continues to be a high-value resource for today's most promising founders.

Having spent the past decade working to support entrepreneurs, particularly focused on leveling the playing field for those from underrepresented and/or under resourced backgrounds, have you noticed any common traits among the most successful founders?

While no two entrepreneurs or companies are the same, there are a few patterns I've seen over the years that also play out in Project Entrepreneur. I think a big part of their successes can be attributed to their ability to accept that they don't have all the answers, and thus are not afraid to ask for help. They refuse to be discouraged by the tough stuff; they're persistent and have an incredible work ethic.

You and your team at UBS focus on inclusive entrepreneurship programming. In what ways do you see these efforts as catalysts for change?

I think the private sector has a really important role to play in all of this. Through our Elevating Entrepreneurs program, we're focused on greater shared economic growth and developing a more inclusive landscape for entrepreneurs everywhere. We do this through partnerships with organizations like Venture for America, and efforts such as Case Foundation's #FacesofFounders campaign.

Speaking of equipping entrepreneurs, PE's 2017/18 Venture Competition kicks off this week! What would you like to tell women who want to apply?

Apply! Join our community. Even if you're not sure your business is ready, by answering the questions in the PE application, you might gain an even better understanding of your business. It's also a good opportunity to perfect and refine your pitch. Plus we would love for you to potentially join us in New York City in April.

This article originally appeared on the Project Entrepreneur website and has been condensed for clarity.

Published on: Sep 15, 2017