The flagship initiative of Zone Startups India for women entrepreneurs, empoWer, announced two topics in Technology and Technology for Social Impact as part of its third edition this year. empoWer, the first technology accelerator for women entrepreneurs in India, was launched in April 2016, and since then it has grown enormously with 2 successful editions, many of the members of its cohort achieved several recognitions in their businesses. In the last 2 editions, 35 women entrepreneurs have been part of 2 cohorts and 1 bootcamp and the program has disbursed INR 1.2 Cr in grants. After the program, a large majority of new companies have raised additional funds for an accumulated amount of INR 35 Crores.
Zone Startups is an international brand of technology accelerators and early stage investment funds managed by Ryerson Futures Inc, Canada (part of the Ryerson University Network). In 2014, Zone Startups in India launched its acceleration program based on the iconic Bombay Stock Exchange building in partnership between Ryerson Futures, BSE Institute and Simon Fraser University-Vancouver. Since then, the program has launched many initiatives to support startups from different sectors and geographies. Empower is one of the flagship initiatives that focuses on gender diversity and supported new companies led by women in the technological space. The previous editions of empoWer were supported by the Department of Science and Technology, the Government of India and the main companies: HDFC, Vodafone, Capital First, PayU, ICICI Bank, Microsoft, Amazon Launchpad, etc.
Impover 2018 was announced on September 28 with BSE CSR Integrated Foundation and ICCL as a sponsor of the industry and the Department of Science and Technology (Government of India), the Government of Quebec, Canada and Amazon Launchpad as support partners of the program. After the announcement, roadshows were held in 6 major cities across the country to evangelize the program and join several innovative startups for both tracks: Tech and Tech for Social Impact.
Ms. Devika Shah, MD and CEO of ICCL says: “It is necessary to create an ecosystem to encourage entrepreneurship so that we have more job creators and non-job seekers in the technological space of our country. Currently, the percentage of women entrepreneurs in technology is very low. However, I believe that there are many women working hard to counteract the trend and we need to support them, encourage them and allow them to do so. ”
Says Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director (India), Zone Startups: “When we started in 2016, EmpoWer was an experiment to assess the need for a program focused on women entrepreneurs. Being able to attract such an amount of applications over the years is a validation for us; and, what is more important, it shows the growing number of women entrepreneurs in the country. We have only 32% of repeated requests with respect to the previous year. This year we have left a parallel track, so that we can accommodate a greater number of women entrepreneurs who take advantage of technology for social good. Our goal is to expand the program year after year. Congratulations to selected 30 entrepreneurs. We hope to create many more success stories. ”
Empower received an immense response from more than 285 women entrepreneurs from a group of Pan-India applications. Zone Startups India formed an evaluation committee composed of 10 industry experts, to evaluate and select the 30 startups that will be part of this year’s program. After an exhaustive and competitive selection process, which includes app evaluation and personal interviews, the next 30 initial founders have been selected for the 6-week accelerator program. The program will include tutoring sessions, workshops, industry connections, case studies, peer-to-peer sessions, investor connections and a training camp.
As part of the program, the top 3 women entrepreneurs of each track will receive a seed fund without capital from INR 10 Lakhs. The first new companies in the program will also receive a 1-week market access trip to Quebec, Canada and the Amazon Launchpad Access Program.
Cohort for the Technology for Business program:
Sailaja Nori – Traxion LLP
Sakshi Khanna – The Uncube
Khushboo Maheshwari – Kaarva
Chetana Pawar – Deazzle Services Pvt. Ltd.
Gayatri Mathkar – Envention Solutions
Vartika Manasvi – StackRaft
Vidhya Mattumel – Vahmine Technologies Pvt. Ltd.
Sonam Motwani – Kharkhana
Pritha Datta – Econolytics
Kajal Gohil – Arkidzoo
Keerti Singh – Hitwicket
Alisha Nanda – Hungerpacks
Tanvi Agarwal – Vendaxo
Sridevi Arunprakash – Guvi
Riddhima Gauba – Interview Air
Cohort for the Technology for Social Good program:
Meha Lahiri – Recity India Private Limited
Mrudula Kulkarni – iKnowlation Research Labs Pvt. Ltd.
Shilpa Malik – Bioscan Research
Nandita Yenagi – Adaptive Agritech Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
A SOUMYA RAO – Upsoil Technologies
Megha Rawat – Kurio Designs –
Poonam Gupta – Wee Sure
Prajakta Kuwalekar – Engendered
Richa Sethi – GetLitt! (Writer’s Bug Learning Pvt. Ltd.)
Gitanjali Banerjee – Femtech Fertility Dost Pvt. Ltd.
Vanita Prasad – REVY Environmental Solutions
Romita Ghosh – MedSamaan
Manasi Kulkarni – Innoweave Biocare
Vidya T G – Whatsloan
Sravani Chandramukhi Cheemala – Mirsae