By Published: Jan. 16, 2020

Alumna opened WINC’s doors in 2011 and has since trained thousands of women across the country in business

When Myka McLaughlin (IntlAf’08) finished her degree at CU Boulder, her sights were set abroad to fight global poverty. But every time she glimpsed those troubles, she couldn’t help but notice the scene right in front of her: her friends in Boulder—many of whom were living at or near the poverty level. 

“The majority of them were self-employed, but they didn’t think of themselves as business owners, and definitely not as entrepreneurs,” McLaughlin says. 

She recalls a night in December of 2010, hanging out with several of those friends—all sharing new year’s resolutions around their problems with money. 

Myka McLaughlin

Myka McLaughlin, founder of WINC - Women in Community.

What would turn out to be much more than a resolution came to McLaughlin later that night when she got home. It hit her suddenly—an insight that would transform her into a leader of entrepreneurial women. 

“There was a loud voice in my awareness that said, ‘My name is WINK. I am here to help women build profitable businesses … to transform their lives, their families’ lives and, ultimately, our communities and economies all over the world.’” 

It shook her so much she stayed up all night trying to grasp the message. “I didn’t know what WINK stood for. The W was pretty obvious as women.”

After days perusing the dictionary to decipher the I and N and some fiddling with the K, McLaughlin had much more than the letters translated—she had the beginnings of her own business, WINC (Women in Community), which would do what the voice said it would do: help women turn their passions into successful businesses.

She opened WINC’s doors in 2011 and has since trained thousands of women across the country in business. 

McLaughlin tells the story of a waitress she met in 2013 making at most $300 a month with a hobby creating and selling jewelry. Soon after graduating from WINC’s 90-day program, she was earning $3,000 a month, and within two years, she was generating six figures. “This year she broke seven figures,” McLaughlin says. “She told me that no part of her ever imagined she’d have a seven-figure business.” 

McLaughlin says WINC’s focus is on “very tangible results” and that the goal isn’t to make millionaires and billionaires but rather to “help women entrepreneurs generate the consistent revenue they need to provide real security and comfort” for themselves and their families. 

“Along the way, they become new versions of themselves with new belief systems about what they are capable of in life and business. Through the process, they learn to love themselves and believe in themselves, which is perhaps one of the greatest forms of wealth.” 

She says WINC’s curriculum is 60% business education and 40% internal training. “What women need are really powerful strategic skills to be a business owner, but they also go on a psychological and even spiritual journey.” 

Through the process, they learn to love themselves and believe in themselves, which is perhaps one of the greatest forms of wealth​"

McLaughlin isn’t surprised she became an entrepreneur; her dad owned a business. 

“One of the first books I read on women’s entrepreneurship in 2011 was on the increased probability for a woman to be an entrepreneur if one of her parents was an entrepreneur,” she says. “Interestingly, my father—like most of WINC’s customers—became an expert in his field because it was his lifelong passion. His business emerged out of his passion, not because he set out to be a business owner.”

McLaughlin is a Denver-area native but her family moved around the western United States while she was growing up. CU Boulder was an obvious pick, and she says minoring in economics proved to be a good choice. 

”WINC works because of the powerful number-crunching skills (the program’s leaders) teach,” she says. “Economics helped me develop expertise in problem-solving through math. Once we help a woman map out her dream in numbers and spreadsheets to make sure it is viable on paper, she can start building with a much higher probability for success. Plus, she now has a clear roadmap for what to expect, and on what timelines … for solving any problem or creating new dreams.” 

McLaughlin’s own roadmap continues to point toward WINC with plenty of miles and work ahead. She says there are 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, and 88% are making less than $100,000 annually.

“We want to get them over that $100,000 milestone. We want to help 10,000 women—that’s the goal,” she says. “There’s a huge horizon.”