The emergence of startups gave rise to different people, groups and organizations that seek to help founders achieve fast and sustainable growth. These support include angel investors, incubators, seed stage venture capitalists and startup accelerators. Increasingly, there are more and more startup accelerators for female founders.
What are Startup Accelerators
Startup accelerators are fixed-period and cohort-based programs. They support startups through education, mentorship and in many cases, financing. In the best accelerators, years’ worth of learning are compressed into an intensive and cohesive education to accelerate the growth and life cycle of young, innovative companies.
Startup accelerators generally focus on teams instead of individual founders. They also provide many networking opportunities and introductions to potential investors and financiers.
Businesses built by women founders are starting to thrive even in male-dominated sectors such as the tech industry. This is a great development since women-led businesses have a unique perspective. It’s not just diversity for diversity’s sake anymore. Women founders have repeatedly proven themselves to be on equal footing with men. That said, they need the same support as any other startups. So, here are awesome startup accelerators for female founders.
Top 10 Startup Accelerators for Female Founders
- Mergelane. MergeLane provides assistance to startups with at least one female founder. MergeLane runs one 12-week accelerator each year that pairs a select cohort of high-growth startups with industry-leading mentors to dramatically increase the startup’s growth trajectory. Accelerator companies may receive up to $120,000 in MergeLane investment.
- Springboard Enterprises. Springboard supports technology-oriented companies led by women. To be eligible for their support, there must be a woman in a senior management position with a significant equity stake in the company. So far, 642 women-led companies have participated in Springboard’s accelerator programs.
- Prosper Women Entrepreneurs. Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) supports women-led companies. There are two separate divisions – Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator and Prosper Institute. Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Startup Accelerator is a for-profit organization which aims to increase women entrepreneurs’ access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early stage capital markets. Prosper Institute is a non-profit organization that helps growth-seeking women entrepreneurs advance their businesses to create economic prosperity and long-term success.
- Sephora Stands. Sephora Stands focuses on helping female founders in beauty. This startup accelerator for female founders offers funding and grants to selected applicants. They have a month-long program that begins with a one-week bootcamp where founders acquire the necessary skills to create a successful business. The program ends with a Demo Day in the fall.
- Equita. Equita provides tailor-made educational program and a network of target buyers for testing business model assumptions. It specialized concierge services like childcare to create a family-friendly work environment that supports work-life balance. It also offers seed capital investments to qualified accelerator graduates.
- Women’s Startup Lab. Women’s Startup Lab advances women’s leadership in the high-tech startup world. The programs are intensive and must be taken live-in and in-house. They have fee-based, long-term programs that take a year to complete and short-term programs that takes 3-days to complete.
- Bad Girl Ventures. Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) is an educational and micro-finance, non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring and supporting female entrepreneurs in key areas of their business. BGV enables women entrepreneurs to start and sustain well-managed and profitable businesses through our business education classes, guidance from mentors and coaches, and access to debt capital. They also offer co-working space for entrepreneurs.
- Hera Labs. This is a unique startup accelerator for female founders, dedicated to helping them test ideas and grow their business. Hera Labs is a unique business accelerator. Its program provides female start-ups, in all industries, a safe place to test ideas and grow their business. They have specialized LABS and the EXPERIENCESHIP that provides access to experts with industry know-how, labs, tools, and investment capital to efficiently launch and achieve sustainability.
- The Refinery. The Refinery helps startups through a 12-week, non-residential mentor driven program in New York City to help early stage companies with at least one woman in a leadership role, scale and grow. The mentors work with each company on their fundraising needs and strategies as well as developing the right connections.
- Upstart Accelerator. Upstart provides assistance to startups that have at least one female founder on the executive team. Their curriculum covers customer discovery, product development, user testing, marketing, financial modeling, pitching, and more. Additional emphasis is placed on personal and professional development for women founders. They also provide seed funding that starts at $25,000.
It is great to see the growth of organizations dedicated to increasing the number of women launching and growing successful startups. If you are a woman considering taking the entrepreneurial leap, you should look at these startup accelerators for female founders. If you are a female founder and are looking for growth and funding support for your startup, contact me today to explore how I can help.