Mumbai-based Zone Startups India today launched the second edition of empoWer – India’s first tech accelerator for women entrepreneurs building technology ventures. Backed by the Department of Science & Technology (Government of India), Microsoft, Capital First, PayU, ICICI Bank, Social Alpha (a Tata Trusts initiative), Cherie Blair Foundation, Amazon and FlexiLoans, the initiative aims to identify need-gaps witnessed by women entrepreneurs and address them.
The empoWer 2.0 launch in Mumbai today will be followed by roadshows across Bengaluru, NCR, Hyderabad, Pune and Ahmedabad for attracting applications. At the end of the initiative, 15 women entrepreneurs (or co-founders) will be shortlisted for the six-week bespoke programme. Shortlisted participants will get access to mentoring, workshops, case studies of successful women led startups, industry connect, peer network, investor connect and business development opportunities. Also, they will be entitled to takeaways worth $117K (INR 75 Lakhs).
Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director (India), Zone Startups stated, “We kick-started empoWer, with a belief that there was a lot of potential to work with women entrepreneurs in tech and help build a strong ecosystem around the same. Our core belief has always been our ability to identify hi-tech, hi-potential startups very early-on, and back them all the way. empoWer has given a totally new dimension to this. The genuine benefit from the program that our first cohort has vouched for, coupled with success from the cohort, has helped us to expand the program beyond just an accelerator.”
Empower 2016 And Other Accelerator Programmes By Zone Startups
The 1st edition of empoWer was launched in April 2016. The programme had received 191 applications, from across India, of which 15 women entrepreneurs were selected for the accelerator programme followed by a demo day.
Read about the 15 startups shortlisted last year here.
Out of these, Vanity Cube, ThinkerBell Labs, YourDost amongst others raised in excess of $23 Mn (INR 150 Cr) in cumulative funding. For instance, Vanity Cube raised $15.6 Mn (INR 100 Cr) from VLCC and was acquired by it this April, while YourDost raised $1 Mn from SAIF Partners in June 2016. Similarly, Advenio raised $100K from Kalaari Capital’s K-Start Program in August last year. Similarly in June this year, Bengaluru-based assistive tech and edtech startup Thinkerbell Labs raised $202K from Indian Angel Network’s Rajesh Navaneetham, Manjunath Nayak, and Anand Mahindra, Chairman, and MD at Mahindra Group.
Zone Startups India will continue to support the selected women entrepreneurs for up to a year after the programme. Zone Startups India is the international footprint of Toronto-based Ryerson Futures Inc. In India, it is set up as a joint venture with the BSE Institute.
EmpoWer is one of the four accelerator programmes launched by Zone Startups. The other three include Gateway91, Rise Accelerator with Barclays and Thought Factory Accelerator with Axis Bank. In March this year, it celebrated its third anniversary by inaugurating a new accelerator space about 2500 square feet in size. As of today, the Zone Startup’s flagship accelerator’s portfolio has grown over to 120 startups, with over 40 of its startups raising in excess of $30 Mn collectively.
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