Diversity & Inclusion
Business development / Pitches / Women in tech

Why this DC-based nonprofit is backing women-led companies in Europe

Women Who Tech is taking its Startup Challenge to Europe.

Emma Yang, 14, wins grand prize at a Women Startup Challenge hosted in New York. (Courtesy photo)

Data collected about the European Union shows an extremely low percentage of its women-led startups receive venture capital funding, The Next Web discovered. Based off this data, D.C.-based tech nonprofit Women Who Tech is launching a Women Startup Challenge Europe.

“We’ve seen a rise in the number of women-led startups across Europe, yet the latest data shows that only 10 percent of investor funding in the EU goes to women-led ventures,” Women Who Tech founder Allyson Kapin said in a statement. “If investors want to generate venture returns they need to invest in diverse-led companies that are unlocking innovation through diverse perspectives.”

Kapin launched Women Who Tech in 2008 to showcase and fund women-led tech startups. The company hosts startup challenges around the world focused on different themes from AI to VR and even emerging tech. The nonprofit is incubated inside of web agency Rad Campaign in D.C. and is led by Director Justyn Hintze.

“We quickly saw that the lack of funding for women-led startups was dire and it was not improving at all,” Kapin told Technical.ly DC. “As a response, we launched the Women Startup Challenge in partnership with Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, to help showcase and fund the best early stage women-led ventures and close the funding gap.”

Newmark is advising Women Who Tech for the Women Startup Challenge Europe.

“For the past three years the Women Startup Challenge has been drawing global attention to the significant gender bias in venture capital funding,” Kapin said. “The nonprofit provides capital, mentoring, and other resources needed to scale for women who are creating the most innovative tech companies.”

Here’s how the challenge works:

Women Who Tech puts out a call for applications from women-led startups through an online application system. From there, an online jury evaluates each of the startups and selects the Top 10 to pitch to investors and tech executives for a chance to win funding for their companies. Once the finalists are confirmed, Women Who Tech spends six weeks working closely with each company, providing them with pitch coaching, mentoring and media promotion.

On the day of the challenge, each company has four minutes to pitch their venture and four minutes of Q&A from the judges. The judges will pick the winner(s) and then all of those in attendance can enjoy a reception to celebrate. A total of $60,000 in grants will be awarded to the winning startup(s). Mozilla will specifically be awarding a $25, 000 grant to the startup whose product best incorporates privacy and transparency. Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker will be on the judging panel. Mozilla announced the partnership with Women Who Tech in July.

Sounds good, right? There’s more.

Even after the Women Startup Challenge day, each of the participating companies has a chance to meet with investors for a mentoring session.

Last week, Women Who Tech announced the 10 finalist for the Women Startup Challenge who will pitch to investors on Oct. 25 at Hôtel de Ville in Paris. The press release says that hundreds of women-led founders applied from 35 countries.

The finalist are as follows (with descriptions provided by Women Who Tech):

  • DEKO EKO (Poland) – An upcycling platform that works with the best designers globally to create well-designed consumer products out of carefully selected waste materials from the largest companies and brands.
  • Enterprise Bot (Switzerland) – Develops AI powered chatbots to automate customer interactions and provide enterprises with a readily accessible digital agent to improve customer experience and create operational efficiency for companies.
  • INOREVIA (France) – Develops and commercializes a new generation of patented technologies that miniaturize lab instrument volumes for analysis. This technology drastically reduces costs, time and manipulation necessary to perform next-generation bioassays and precision medicine.
  • NOVA (Germany) – The first bluetooth headset that can be integrated into earrings with a built-in speaker and microphone.
  • ObjectBox (Germany) – The first high-performance NoSQL, ACID-compliant on-device database for mobile and IoT. It’s 10x faster than the industry leader and takes only 1/10th of the code to implement.
  • Sampson Solutions, Ltd. (England) – Creating bio-based construction materials from sustainable sources using a closed-loop, carbon neutral manufacturing process.
  • SonicJobs (England) – The first virtual recruiter for blue-collar recruitment that uses chatbots combined with occupational psychology and AI, which screen and select the right job candidates in real time.
  • TRIK (England) – A Google map for structural inspection that turns photos from drones into digital 3D models. Users can make comments, take measurements, and compare changes directly from the time-lapse 3D models.
  • Vitrue Health (England) – A system that sits in the background of clinical assessments, autonomously measuring motor function metrics, freeing clinicians to focus on more complex patient interactions, saving millions in healthcare costs.
  • Vouchery.io (Germany) – A predictive coupon, discount, and loyalty automation platform that optimizes promotional strategy for customer engagement while preventing coupon fraud.
Companies: Women Who Tech

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