Accelerators Focusing on Women-led Startups

Accelerator

More than 200 million women entrepreneurs across the globe are operating new businesses. We’ve provided insight into the ecosystem supporting women entrepreneurship in the United States by developing a listing of startup accelerators that focus on the female entrepreneur and their companies.

An overview of Women Entrepreneurs

The Global Entrepreneur Monitor, (GEM) recently issued a “Special Report on Women’s Entrepreneurship in 2015.” Based on the GEM article entitled “Women Entrepreneurs Thriving Worldwide”, the report indicated that currently, more than 200 million women entrepreneurs across the globe are in the process of establishing, or are operating new businesses. An additional 128 plus million are currently running established businesses. In the review entitled “The 2013 State of Women-Owned Business Report”, it was indicated that there are over 8.6 million women owned businesses in the United States, generating more than $1.3 trillion in revenues. More than 2.68 million of these or approximately one third are minority owned.

While the news referenced above is encouraging demonstrating improving diversity in the macro environment, the gender gap remains significant. According to the Center for Venture Research women-owned ventures accounted for 16% of the entrepreneurs seeking investment and 25% of those which received investment in 2012.

FundingSage has developed a listing of startup accelerators which focus on female entrepreneurs:

  • Aviatra
    Aviatra Accelerators offers a three-phased education program approach; Explore, Launch and Grow. Each phase focuses on the most critical education, best practices and guidance needed to support the business as it moves from idea stage, to launch to growth stage. In each of the programs, they not only address the challenges women face when it comes to business ownership, but also recognize and maximize the exceptional strengths that are unique to the female entrepreneur. Upon completion of any phase of the accelerator program, women are invited to join our alumni network where they are connected to a valuable community of female business owners that they can lean on for continued support.

  • AVINDĒ,
    They hold two “Startup Acceleration” sessions per year is a “community-driven”  startup accelerator which caters to women working to launch and grow scalable businesses.  AVINDĒ’s mission is to “educate diverse women who have skills to launch and lead scalable businesses in multiple markets from idea to validation to funding readiness locally, nationally, and internationally; be the go-to voice for scalable women’s businesses.”
  • Bad Girl Ventures
    Established in 2010 in an effort to help educate female entrepreneurs and enable them by providing the tools they need to be successful as they launch their startup concepts. In addition to the educational opportunity provided by their nine week startup program, they also provide co-working space, mentoring and access to capital for Ohio’s female entrepreneurs.
  • changecatalyst
    Supports “underrepresented entrepreneurs and investors, (those who are underrepresented by gender, race, sexuality, disability, veteran status, age and geography), to start, scale and fund worldchanging businesses”.  They accomplish this through the provision of education, mentoring, networking and dealflow opportunities.
  • Circular Boarwomend
    Touts themselves as “The Collaborative Accelerator for Women Entrepreneurs”. They are a virtual accelerator, focused on women entrepreneurs which helps women build the foundations for their company’s growth by driving focus, development of strategic relationships and potential access to capital. Their twelve week program continues beyond their culminating “Virtual Demo Day” with support and participation through their “Alumni Circles” and rotating peer advisory boards.
  • Equita
    They believe that “the current landscape for women tech entrepreneurs is disappointing.” Based on their statistics, only four percent (4%) of VC funding goes toward women led companies; only five percent (5%) of the VC funded companies are led by women entrepreneurs; and only five percent (5%) of the venture backed tech companies in 2013 had female CEOs, CFOs or CTOs. However, they believe women have tremendous potential. Through the Equita experience which is integrated and focused on increasing women entrepreneurs’ access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early stage capital markets, they provide a tailor made educational program, a network of pre-screened mentors, a collaborative, creative workspace and seed capital investments to qualified graduates.
  • Hera Labs Business Accelerator
    Their sole purpose is “to help women entrepreneurs launch, propel, and grow their businesses.” The program supports female startups in all industries by providing female led companies a safe place to test their ideas and grow their businesses. Hera indicates that their labs at Hera Hub are “a one-stop resource for enterprising women to work, connect, and flourish.”
  • MergeLane
    A startup accelerator which has as a goal “to promote exceptional women leaders and the companies they run.” The motivation behind their efforts includes a belief that there are fewer comparable women led startups then one would expect there to be and that diverse companies are stronger companies.
  • NewME
    A San Francisco based accelerator which focuses on companies led by female or minority entrepreneurs.  They describe themselves as follows:

    “NewME is a platform that helps out of the box entrepreneurs transform cool ideas into great businesses.”  “NewME speeds up your road to success by “digging in” and giving you the support you need to win.”

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  • Prosper Women Entrepreneurs
    Their objective is to address the entrepreneurial gender gap in the St. Louis, MO area. The accelerator is “focused on increasing women entrepreneurs’ access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early stage capital markets,” according to their website.

Startup Accelerator Spotlight: Prosper Women Entrepreneurs

  • The Refinery
    “Fuels the growth of women led companies.” They support early stage companies which include at least one women on their leadership teams, with the tools to scale and grow. The program is highly individualized including mentorship with mentors who possess industry specific experience and a philosophy of continuing support beyond the formal accelerator program term.
  • SheEO
    A Canadian accelerator founded by Vicki Saunders.  It was established in 2015 to take advantage of women’s economic and social power to radically transform the landscape for women entrepreneurs. Their model combines crowdfunding, coaching, buying power and expertise to leverage not just the wisdom of the crowd — — but also its heart.
  • Springboard Enterprises
    Serving as a resource hub providing women led growth companies with the support and resources they require since 2000. More than 500 companies have participated in Springboard’s accelerator programs. These companies have collectively raised more than $7.0 Billion dollars. Springboard indicates more than 80% continue in business as independent or merged entities including 11 which went public through IPOs.
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  • Upstart
    “equips female founders with the skills and confidence to level the entrepreneurial playing field.” The program, touted as one of the nation’s first programs to be dedicated to women led tech startups invests in up to six startups per session.
  • The Women’s Startup Labs
    “is to empower female founders to be strong leaders, to create powerful startups and to influence and shape the world though their companies, using collaboration, community and innovation.” Established in 2013, the accelerator focuses on building strong companies and developing strong and effective leaders utilizing “Hito” philosophies. Hito is, according to The Women’s Startup Lab, “about people supporting and holding each other accountable for extra-ordinary results.”

In search of an accelerator that aligns with your startup’s needs?  Try TurboFunder’s Find My Accelerator search tool!

Are you familiar with other startup accelerators which focus on funding women led startups? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing your comments below!

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Tony Lettich

Tony Lettich has previous corporate venture capital experience and currently serves as Managing Director of The Angel Roundtable. He is a co-founder of FundingSage, which provides valuable information, tools and resources to entrepreneurs seeking to start, grow and fund a business.