The Women Startup Challenge comes to Europe to smash the tech investment glass ceiling

The Women Startup Challenge comes to Europe to smash the tech investment glass ceiling

Women Who Tech is one of the loudest and most effective advocates for women in the US technology industry. Through events, competitions, and grants, it has shone a light on countless promising woman-led companies, helping them scale and reach viability. Now, it’s crossing the pond with its inaugural Woman Startup Challenge Europe competition, which takes place in London later this year.

Woman-led startups only attract 10 percent of global investor money. Yet these companies tend to outperform male-driven startups by 35 percent despite receiving less funding, according to Women Who Tech. Its founder, Allyson Kapin believes that this is due to the financial discipline that comes from working under such austere conditions, saying “Women entrepreneurs are used to working with much less capital than men because they are funded significantly less than startups led by men. Women entrepreneurs are used to making funds go much further because frankly they have to.”

The finals of the contest will be held at the offices of London Mayor Sadiq Khan on Wednesday, May 3, 2017. The ten lucky finalists who made it through to this round will have to pitch to a number of tech luminaries including Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales, LastMinute founder Martha Lane-Fox, former TNW Editor-at-Large Martin Bryant, and Cathy White, former Head of Communications for Tech City UK and founder of CEW Communications. Over £50,000 in seed capital is available to the winner.

Those wishing to apply have until the 8th of March to do so.  The contest is open to women-led startups (defined as having at least one female co-founder on the team) that have so-far raised less than €2 million. The venture can be either at the concept or prototype stage, or have already launched.

Speaking over email, Allyson Kapin said: “London has one of the largest tech communities that’s also supportive of women-led entrepreneurs. We we’re excited to see that there are several accelerators and initiatives in London that are already focused on showcasing women-led ventures such as Seedcamp, Allbright, and Doteveryone.”

She also noted the incredible enthusiasm for the first-of-its-kind event, adding “Applications opened about a week ago and we already have 100+ entries being worked on ranging from startups focused on Artificial Intelligence, Health Tech, Augmented Reality, FinTech, EdTech, VR, Robotics, and Business Intelligence.”

Previous US-based iterations of the Woman Startup Challenge have also raised awareness of companies founded by a woman of color. Almost 40 percent of finalists come from this long-underrepresented demographic.

Over email, Craigslist founder and Women Who Tech supporter, Craig Newmark said: “Practicing inclusiveness leads to more opportunity for more founders. The Women Startup Challenge has a high number of applicants who are people of color, hopefully because they see it as an opportunity to be part of an inclusive community.

Applications for Woman Startup Challenge Europe are now open. While the fortunate winner will undoubtedly make good use of the €50 thousand seed capital, it seems like everyone who participates will benefit from the mentoring and exposure that comes with such a high-profile event.

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