Women Founders Forum (WFF) has announced the launching of its fifth accelerator program for startups founded by women. The program includes senior women high-tech mentors, product strategy training, help in financing rounds and marketing, and advice for hiring. 36 ventures have participated in four courses in the program to date.
Women currently account for 34% of all employees in the sector, but the number of women entrepreneurs is quite low. As of the end of 2018, only 8% of all founders and CEOs in high tech were women, according to IVC figures. WFF is designed to increase the chances of success of ventures managed by women. One of its main goals is to help women entrepreneurs and CEOs to raise capital.
In general, women founders and CEOs of startups raise less capital than their male counterparts. To date, however, participants in the WFF program have aggregately raised over $100 million. These figures are extraordinary in comparison with the financing rounds generally conducted by startups managed by women. PitchBook says that women raised only 2% of the capital invested by venture capital funds in the US in 2018.
Sivan Shamri Dahan, a managing general partner at the Qumra Capital growth fund, and Qualcomm Ventures Israel director Merav Weinryb founded WFF. They were joined by Deutsche Telekom Capital Partners managing director Irit Kahan. The mentors in the program are senior executives in multinationals, venture capital funds, and Israeli growth funds, including Wix, Microsoft, Aleph Fund, Verizon Ventures, Viola Growth, and Payoneer. Men mentors joined the programs staff this year for the first time.
Companies that participated in the program include Nexite (cofounder and CEO Anat Shaked), which is developing an electronic chip for the fashion industry and has raised $11 million to date; Donde Search (founder and CEO Liat Zakay), which is developing a search engine for fashion items on websites and raised $6.5 million this year; Gala Prompter (founder and CEO Yonat Burlin), which is developing an app to make theater performances accessible and has raised $3 million to date; and Zeekit (cofounder and CEO Yael Vizel), which has developed computer vision technology for virtual clothes fitting and has raised $13 million to date. The program already posted its first exit in July, when AppLovin acquired SafeDK (cofounders CEO Orly Shoavi and CBO Ronnie Sternberg).
"When we founded the forum, we wanted to create experimental infrastructure for the growth of startups headed by women. Today, we can say that we're starting to reap the harvest: dozens of women are contacting us - young and veteran women entrepreneurs - to participate in the program or help those who are just starting out. Success is already here - this year, we saw the forum's first exit - SafeDK. Financing rounds by companies in the program are increasing in size every year in both number of companies and the amounts raised," Shamri Dahan says.
"Our program has become a welcoming home for dozens of women in the technology and venture capital industry in Israel. Over the past five years, prosperous companies led by women have grown here on an international scale. Beyond the program, a special community of leading women entrepreneurs supporting reach other around the special challenges facing women entrepreneurs and women's entrepreneurship has arisen here."
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on September 16, 2019
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