Tech is often a “hugely unwelcoming place for women,” and women face extensive pressure working in a male-dominated workplace culture. Rather than dive into detail here, I’d encourage you to read about some of the challenges women face in this segment of the industry with our 3-part series on fighting misogyny in the tech world (one, two, three) by our writer Carolyn Fortuna.
Furthering the divide between women and men in the tech world are the investors themselves. It’s not a secret that female-led ventures get less funding than male-led companies. MarketPlace recently wrote about a report that showed evidence of clear gender bias in the startup world: “venture capitalists invested more than $58 billion in startups last year, women only got 2 percent of that money.”
“Almost 70 percent of men in the study were asked about their aspirations about making money for investors [but] women were asked about how they planned to avoid losing investor’s money.” One entrepreneur says it feels like “women are set up for failure right from the start.”
Clearly, there is a need for a female-focused entrepreneurial space, and the Women Startup Challenge is one such solution.
This competition, co-hosted by Google, is one of the largest pitch competitions and will showcase and fund early-stage women-led technology startups. Fields of focus are broad and can include Agriculture Tech, Augmented Reality, Biotech, Blockchain, Energy, IoT, Robotics, Space, Transportation, and/or Virtual Reality. The application process opened a few weeks ago, and you have until December 19 to enter.
10 finalists will be chosen and will have the opportunity to share their ventures before a panel of prominent investors, including Nisha Dua, Partner at AOL’s BBG Ventures, Rebecca Kaden, Partner at Union Square Ventures, and Hoolie Tejwani, Vice President at Obvious Ventures.
Rebecca Kaden, one of the investors, says, “Not only do we need women supporting women within tech and startup sectors, but we need the investor community to help fund women-led startups and address this funding gap.”
Furthermore, investing in women is a good opportunity. Nisha Dua says, “It’s simple. Women-led companies drive higher returns. [That’s] a huge opportunity that traditional VC is missing out on.”
See more about the rise of women in cleantech in the infographic below.
The Women Startup Challenge will take place at Google in New York City in March 2018. Click here to get final competition criteria and submission details.
Why A Women-Only Competition?
The competition is organized by Women Who Tech, a US-based nonprofit that advocates for women in the technology and startup industry.
Allyson Kapin, founder of Women Who Tech, explains the need for female-focused space within the tech world: “Emerging tech is a trillion+ dollar industry. As the world around us becomes more automated, we need diverse perspectives building and launching products. This innovation is changing the nature of business, society, and government. It is important that the people driving this change are as representative of our society as possible; our future literally depends on it.”
The Women Startup Challenge series has showcased 52 startups and has accomplished the following benchmarks:
- Over $1,000,000 in cash and prizes has been awarded to support women-led startups.
- Since competing in the Women Startup Challenge, the finalists have collectively raised $20M collectively.
- 1,700 applicants have participated, representing diverse, women-led startups across the US.
- 40% of finalists have been women of color.
- 1900+ attended the competitions, including founders, engineers, investors, and tech press.
- Alumni have closed 7-figure rounds and partnerships with Amazon, Snap, and more.
- Alumni have gone on to be accepted into some of the most competitive accelerators like Techstars