Today we announced the SheStarts program – a startup program designed to fund 10 ambitious female entrepreneurs who are launching technology startups in 2016. But let’s start the day where it begins: champagne breakfast!
This morning we had the pleasure of hosting 150 women entrepreneurs from Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine for a champagne breakfast to celebrate International Women’s Day. The energy in the room was insane (these are some seriously gutsy women) and it made me wonder what would happen if we could keep the same momentum tomorrow. And the day after. And every day until we close the gap.
Because we have a gap. We have a gap when it comes to women founded startups (19%), we have a gap when it comes to women in tech (7%) and we have an even bigger gap when it comes to women turning those startups into global businesses (women only hold 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEO roles). The good news is that there are amazing communities, organisation, clubs and groups already working to support more women entrepreneurs and leaders, but there’s gaps in between them.
Gaps like this aren’t good. They represent unrealised potential and a world that hasn’t kept up with the times. It’s a huge economic and social problem when over 80% of your population aren’t participating in creating new products and services, new valuable companies.
There’s nothing that the team at BlueChilli loves more than a problem to solve. So we made some big promises today, including a commitment to fund and launch 10 female led startups in one go this year.
That’s right. We’re funding 10 ambitious women with $100,000 investment each and 1 year to build their tech startup.
SheStarts is a competitive startup program designed to fund 10 ambitious female entrepreneurs who are launching technology startups in 2016. It is open to early stage female entrepreneurs building scaleable, tech enabled businesses. 20 finalists will be selected to complete a two week validation bootcamp where they will work with expert startup advisors and successful entrepreneurs to refine and validate their ideas. The bootcamp culminates in a grand pitch where 10 founders will each receive a $100,000 investment and a spot in the SheStarts accelerator program, tailored specifically for women.
Having just opened for expressions of interest from both entrepreneurs and supporters, it’s already gaining ridiculous interest and support. My inbox is literally doubling every hour. I think we found a gap – or in startup speak “a problem worth solving”.
I think it’s because the program is about more than just 10 women. If we are going to improve the narrative that we don’t have enough women in tech, or women in startups, or women leading businesses, then we need to improve the way society profiles these women. I know that when I accidentally stumbled into my first startup that I really didn’t associate as a female founder until I tanked it. We need to change the conversation and demonstrate what it really means to be a female founder. To achieve that goal, the journeys from idea to launch will be captured into a web and TV series, and feature length documentary to make sure the world understands the diverse meaning of tech entrepreneur, to amplify the success of the startups and to inspire more women to join the startup economy.
At this point I usually get bombarded with “OMG, how do I get involved?”. Too easy.
Go to shestarts.com and either express your interest as an entrepreneur or supporter. All it takes is getting started, and that’s what I’m inviting you to do today.