Microsoft Announces Second Female Founders Competition

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In an effort to help boost the ranks of businesses founded and owned by women entrepreneurs, Microsoft announced that it is launching a second Female Founders Competition.

This event is a worldwide contest to identify and fund top women entrepreneurs leading enterprise tech startups. M12, Microsoft’s venture capital arm, is partnering with two other VC’s, Mayfield and Pivital Ventures (founded by Melinda Gates) to help create a better playing field for female founders.

“It’s well-documented that women-led companies deliver higher returns over time than those founded by men, yet female founders—particularly of enterprise tech startups—continue to receive significantly less access to capital,” said  Peggy Johnson, Executive Vice President, Business Development, Microsoft, in a blog post. “In fact, last year companies founded solely by women received only 2.3% of the total capital invested in venture-backed startups. While we’re seeing some pockets of progress, we as a VC community can do much more to support and financially back innovation and ideas from women-led companies. But where do we start?”

M12 and its partners last year started at trying to expand the path for funding women led startups with the first Female Founders Competition. After receiving hundreds of applications, $4 million was awarded to two winners,Greta Cutulenco, CEO and co-founder of Acerta, and Julie Dorsey, founder and lead scientist at Mental Canvas.

“I’ve seen the obstacles that female founders face just to get a seat at the table. And women like Greta and Julie remind me every day of the incredible opportunity that these underrepresented founders represent – not just for investors, but for all of us who believe in the power of technology,” adds Johnson. “That’s why I’m proud to share our commitment to helping continue this progress by casting an even wider net.”

Thanks to an increased investment from Mayfield and Pivotal from $4 million to $6 million, this year’s competiton will offer two $2 million awards for business to business enterprise tech and two additional $1 million awards for women-led startups in deep tech.

Microsoft is looking for entrants based in the US, Europe, Israel and new this year, India.

Entrepreneurs can submit their names now through December 15, 2019. Female-founded teams building enterprise SaaS or deeptech solutions are encouraged to apply at FemaleFoundersComp.com.