Recently we published an in-depth look at the outrageous trouble one fashion tech female founder has had in getting funding. The problem of women receiving funding is well known, and unfortunately widespread–but people are working to change that! The Women Startup Challenge is aiming to fix that problem exactly. We caught up with Allyson Kapin founder of Women Who Tech to tells us more.
Describe the Women Startup Challenge.
The Women Startup Challenge, in partnership with Craig Newmark of craigslist and craigconnects, champions game-changing women in tech and startups by showcasing and funding their innovative, disruptive, ventures that are focused on solving problems for people, businesses, and the planet. We host national and regional startup challenges where 10 of the most promising startups are selected to deliver their elevator pitch on stage in front of investors and a live audience. Prizes range from $25,000 to $50,000 and startup-friendly services.
We’re one of the few organizations disrupting a culture and economy that has made it exceedingly difficult for women entrepreneurs to access capital. Currently, only 7% of investor money goes to women. If we truly want to innovate and create the best products for people in this world, we need to radically change how we invest. And that is what we are hoping to ignite through the Women Startup Challenge.
What has been the impact of the Women Startup Challenge?
In just four months….
- Nearly $500,000 has been raised.
- $315,000 has funded 88 women-led startups.
- $50,000 has been awarded to the Women Startup Challenge grand prize winner, On Second Thought.
- Additional funding and advisory support has been added for Challenge finalists.
Tell us about the Women Startup Challenge NYC.
Our next Women Startup Challenge NYC will be on November 9th at Microsoft in Times Square. 10 of the most promising startups will pitch their venture in front of some of the biggest investors ranging from Joanne Wilson to Susan Lyne at AOL’s BBG Ventures who will help us award $25,000 in cash, no strings attached. Then on November 10th, the finalists will meet one-on-one with investors and experts at AOL for our Women Startup Speed Dating event, which is designed to give women founders one-on-one access to investors and experts to help them hone their startup pitches and ideas.
What inspired you to create the Women Startup Challenge?
93% of all investor money goes to startups led by men and that number has not really budged in years, despite the rise in women-led startups and studies showing that women-led ventures deliver a 35% return on investment and generate 12% more revenue than male-run startups. To address this BIG problem, we launched the Women’s Startup Challenge to help fund and showcase women-led startups.
I believe that the next really big disruptive venture that will change social media and tech, and how we know it today, will be founded by a woman. But if we are going to see their products come to life, we must diversify our funding for startups so that they can scale.
What is your take on the difficulty women entrepreneurs have in receiving funding? How do you feel this can be changed?
I think a lot of it comes down to personal networks on both sides (the investor side and the startup founder side). Investors are incredibly busy and most prefer warm leads. They tend to network with startups that they have already funded (mostly white men) and they take referrals from these startup founders very seriously. Startup founders have an equal responsibility to actively network with investors who fund startups in their space. Startup founders can do this by attending similar networking events and conferences, going to “office hours”, reading investors’ blogs and commenting on posts, as well as interacting with them on social media. At the same time, investors need to do a better job of networking with diverse startups and partnering with groups like the Pipeline Fund and Women Who Tech, who runs the Women Startup Challenge and has an active database of women-led startups, or accelerators like MergeLane who are focused incubating women-led startups. Right now a lot of investors are missing out on funding diverse startups with potential huge returns.
Where do women apply for the event and attendees register or purchase tickets?
For the Women Startup Challenge NYC, startups in the NE region can apply here. Applications close September 30th. To attend the Pitch Competition, stay tuned for ticket sales to open in early October.
Find out more about the Women Startup Challenge NYC by going to the website here. We hope to see you there!
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