WASHINGTON, New York -- In honor of Women’s History Month, Women Who Tech, the largest organization that’s combatting the severe lack of funding for women-led tech startups, opened applications for the 10th Women Startup Challenge to showcase and fund early-stage women-led ventures. Despite the pledges by VCs to increase funding for startups led by diverse founders, the numbers are barely budging. In 2019, only 2.8% of investor funding went to women-led startups, up a mere 0.1% from 2017, according to Pitchbook.
“If we're going to create products for the masses and build breakthrough technologies that solve the biggest problems, we need to make shift happen by building a culture and inclusive economy that accelerates women entrepreneurs,” said Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech. “The funding gap is dire and not really moving - but we’re here to change that.”
Winning ventures will be awarded $75,000 and pro bono services. Women Who Tech will award a $50,000 cash grant and the W Fund is committing a $25,000 investment. The W Fund will also be convening an investor mentoring day where founders will meet one-on-one with several investors to expand their access to VC networks, which have traditionally been off limits to underrepresented founders.
The Women Startup Challenge will showcase 10 of the best women-led startups to pitch their tech companies at Google in NYC this June 2020. Women Who Tech’s esteemed investor jury includes:
- Susan Lyne, President and Managing Partner, BBG Ventures
- Andrew Beebe, Managing Director, Obvious Ventures
- Shelly Kapoor Collins, Founder, The Shatter Fund
“The tech industry can’t afford not to support diverse founders or else we lose out on innovation. It’s programs like the Women Startup Challenge and allies working together that are needed now to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in tech,” said Craig Newmark, founder of craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, and a member of the Advisory Board for Women Who Tech.
Applications for the Women Startup Challenge are open to tech startups with at least one woman founder or co-founder based in North America. Criteria and submission details can be found on the Women Startup Challenge website. Applications close March 29, 2020, at 11:59pm PT.
"We’re excited for the opportunity to invest in one of the great companies taking the stage at the Women Startup Challenge,” said Kate Brodock, founding partner of the W Fund. “We firmly believe that the next wave of $1B companies will be led by women and underrepresented founders. Women Who Tech has been a consistent leader in showcasing that potential and pushing the ecosystem closer to that reality.”
About Women Who Tech
Founded in 2008, Women Who Tech is helping to draw global attention to the significant gender bias in venture capital funding by shaking up a culture and an economy that has made it exceedingly difficult for women to launch and scale their startups. The nonprofit provides capital, mentoring, direct access to leading investors, and other resources for women who are creating the most innovative tech companies, with the ultimate goal of closing the funding gap for good.
Women Who Tech’s flagship Women Startup Challenge is one of the largest global programs with a pipeline of over 3,500+ women-led startups. The event showcases and funds women-led tech startups, hosting thousands of women innovators across the world including New York, Silicon Valley, London (co-hosted by the Office of Mayor Sadiq Khan), and Paris (co-hosted by the Office of Mayor Anne Hidalgo). To date, $72M+ has been raised by Women Startup Challenge cohorts. For information, visit www.WomenWhoTech.com.
About Craig Newmark Philanthropies
Craig Newmark Philanthropies was created by craigslist founder Craig Newmark to support and connect people and drive broad civic engagement. The organization works to advance people and grassroots organizations that are getting stuff done in areas that include trustworthy journalism, voter protection, gender diversity in technology, and veterans and military families.
For more information, please visit: CraigNewmarkPhilanthropies.org.