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Female Founders Shine at SAP.iO FoundrySF

Feature Article | July 14, 2017 by Camille Bui-Nguyen

SAP.iO shines a spotlight on female founders of tech startups and companies in the Golden State.

Getting funding for a startup in any line of business or industry is no easy feat — but the challenges are especially harder for female founders. A recent CrunchBase study found that only 17 percent of startups have a female founder. According to the study, between 2009 and 2012, the number of venture-funded companies with female founders grew by 8 percent. However since then, the share of female-founded venture-supported companies has stagnated at 17 percent.

The numbers become even more dismal when taking into account the lack of venture funding for companies and startups founded by women of color, which only receive 0.2 percent of all venture funding in the tech industry.

The struggles and challenges faced by female founders in tech, however, have not gone unnoticed. SAP.iO, SAP’s business unit focused on driving new business models and incubating innovation, is shining a light on the importance of supporting women and increasing their presence in the tech industry through a new program launched by the SAP.iO Foundry in San Francisco.

“Women need a voice when building companies and we want to help amplify that voice,” said SAP.iO’s Balaji Gopinath at last week’s kickoff of the SAP.iO Fund and Foundry program.

The SAP.iO Fund and SAP.iO Foundry are catalyzing an early-stage ecosystem that leverages SAP’s data sets, APIs, business content, and/or technology. The SAP.iO Fund makes direct equity investments in early stage startups, and the Foundry builds and supports intense, programmatic programs in various global locations, including San Francisco, New York, Berlin, and Tel Aviv. In doing so, SAP.iO is helping entrepreneurs build great software, especially for B2B SaaS and marketplaces.

Women need a voice when building companies and SAP.iO want to helps amplify that voice.

For its Summer Session, the SAP.iO Foundry in San Francisco, “FoundrySF”, has selected seven early-stage B2B SaaS startups with one or more women on the founding team: Carta Health (Anna Chukaeva, Matt Hollingsworth & Carey Phelps), Control (Kathryn Lowen) InteriMarket (Bhumika Zhaveri), Hexa (Jessica Chiu & YC Chen), Instapio (Sena Zorlu), Career Lark (Ellen Choi and Gowri Rao), Simularity (Liz Derr and Ray Richardson).

“Diversity within the startup ecosystem is essential as it brings different layers of experience and approach to entrepreneurship,” the SAP.iO team said. “We need more female founders in the ecosystem and we need them to build B2B companies.”

In the Summer Session, the FoundrySF will work with the seven selected startups through mentorship and workshops that will add value and support each companies’ growth. Group workshops will be held once a week and will be geared at providing practical knowledge transfer to the cohort as well as on an individual basis as needed and where possible. There will also be mentor sessions for each startup with selected internal SAP and external mentors.

From right to left: Balaji Gopinath (SAP.iO), Dana Loberg (MojiLala), Jenny Fieldling (Techstars New York), and Lonnie Rae Kurlander (Medal)

FoundrySF’s Summer Session’s focus on empowering and giving female founders the tools needed to build great software companies. However, it is admittedly just a small part of the overall discussion regarding the need to give women-founded startups equal support.

“It’s getting better and better for women, as people become more cognizant of these issues, and we’re really progressing in terms of equality and treatment,” said Dana Loberg co-founder of MojiLaLa during the event’s Women Leaders in Technology panel. “But we still have a long way to go.”

This story originally appeared on SAP TV on Medium.

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