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M12 Catapults Women Entrepreneurs to the Forefront of the Tech World

By Chrissie Cluney

M12, Microsoft Corp.’s venture fund, along with the EQT Ventures Fund and SVB Financial Group, have announced the Female Founders Competition. This competition is seeking to accelerate funding for top women-led startups focused on enterprise technology solutions. Two winners will share $4 million in venture funding, as well as access to technology resources, mentoring among other benefits.

“We formed M12 to make smart bets on innovative people and their ideas, and the Female Founders Competition is an extension of that mandate,” said Peggy Johnson, EVP, Business Development, Microsoft. “This isn’t about checking a box; it’s an opportunity to remind the VC community that investing in women is more than just good values, it’s good business.”

Submissions will be accepted from July 26, 2018, to Sept. 30, 2018. The competition is open across three regions, which are Europe, Israel, and North America. North America encompasses U.S., Canada and Mexico. Companies will be eligible to apply if they have at least one woman founder, have raised less than $4 million in combined equity funding and/or loans at day of application and offer or intend to release a product, service or platform that addresses a critical business problem.

What have the studies of women founders’ performance in technology found? Women entrepreneurs receive a disproportionately small amount of venture funding. Only 2.2 percent of the total invested in 2017 was given to women-founded startups. Studies have also shown that investing in companies created by women delivers significantly higher returns than the market average. By promoting this highly talented, but underfunded group of entrepreneurs, M12 and its partners seek to not only fund innovative female entrepreneurs. The fund desires to spotlight the funding gap that exists and the benefits of more equitable distribution of capital.

“The EQT Ventures team is all about backing founders with the ambition, drive and vision to build a global success story,” said Alastair Mitchell, partner and investment advisor, EQT Ventures. “This competition reflects this and offers women entrepreneurs a great platform from which to launch their business, providing them with access to capital and mentorship. It also raises awareness of the funding gap between male and female founders, and the EQT Ventures team wants to play an active role in bridging that gap.”

Up to 10 finalists will have the opportunity to pitch their startup in person for the chance to be one of the two startups that earn a $2 million investment as well as access to technology resources, mentoring and additional support from M12 and Microsoft. The competition also seeks to drive greater awareness for both finalists and winners, with the potential for future funding from the broader VC community.

“At SVB, we strive to help innovative companies succeed,” said Tracy Isacke, head of Corporate Venture, Silicon Valley Bank. “Research tells us diverse teams are more successful. We believe this is true for our business, our clients’ businesses and the innovation economy at large. Our partnership with Microsoft has created a great opportunity for SVB to engage in this competition and is one of the many ways we are supporting diverse representation in the global innovation ecosystem.”

M12, the EQT Ventures fund and SVB Financial Group hope to shine the spotlight on startups which are run by women.


Chrissie Cluney has been a correspondent for IoT Evolution World since 2015. She holds a degree in English with a concentration in writing from the College of Saint Elizabeth.

Edited by Ken Briodagh
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