The third cohort of empoWer accelerator program, which ran for a whole of 6 months concluded on March 29. At the ‘grand demo day’ which had key stake holders including from the investor community in attendance, Zone Startups India announced the names of 18 women entrepreneurs as the beneficiaries of funding. The women entrepreneurs had been put through the 6-month program that saw training and other sessions conducted by mentors, leaders from the industry and experts from different fields of activity relevant to startups.
This third edition of empoWer had the backing of a galaxy of organisations that included Indian Clearing Corporation Limited (ICCL), a wholly owned subsidiary of BSE Ltd. (BSE), as the lead Industry Sponsor. Support came from Department of Science and Technology (GoI), Government of Quebec, Concordia University, La Coop fédérée, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and Amazon Launchpad.
The cohort was designed to focus on technology-led women-owned businesses in enterprise tech and social tech. The launch of the programme was done through multiple city road shows. Applications were invited online and there were 285 requests received for the programme. The business areas the applicants were involved in were quite diverse: Financial services, media, smart cities, healthcare, education, agriculture and retail to name just a few.
Deep Tech, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Enterprise Mobility, Search and Feedback Engines and Enterprise Software were the technology areas taken up in the programme. There were two parallel cohorts under empoWer: enterprise tech and social tech.
Says Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director (India), Zone Startups – “This was a new experience for us, to manage 2 parallel cohorts under empoWer. The nature of startups is to be iterative, and we at Zone Startups India consider ourselves to be one. After the first 2 cohorts, we realized the need to split up enterprise tech and social tech as separate themes; as the nature of support and program required is different. One the feedback we got over the past 2 years, was a request from entrepreneurs who missed out due to smaller cohort size, asking if we would think of expanding the same. This year, with the funding availability it gave us the bandwidth to so. We are extremely delighted by the composition of the cohorts and the kind of companies that are being built. We look forward to greater success with empoWer and enabling more women entrepreneurs in India”.
The jury of investors and tech leaders awarded the top 18 women-led startups with an equity free seed funding of Rs 5 lakh each, based on the strength of their business model, their team, their market viability and their products/services. The seed funds were supported by BSE CSR Foundation.
Given below are the 18 women entrepreneurs:
- A. Soumya Rao, Founder, UpSoil Technologies
- Gayatri Mathkar, Co-founder, Skygge
- Gitanjali Banerjee, Founder, Fertility Dost
- Kajal Gohil, Co-founder, ARKidzoo
- Manasi Kulkarni, Co-founder, Innoweave Biocare
- Poonam Choudhary, Co-founder, Vendaxo
- Poonam Gupta, Founder, WeeSure
- Prajakta Kuwalekar, Founder, EngenderedCo
- Pritha Datta, Founder, Econolytics
- Richa Sethi, Co-founder, GetLitt!
- Ridhima Gauba, Co-founder - Interview Air
- Romita Ghosh, Founder, MedSamaan
- Sailaja Nori, COO, Traxion LLP
- Shilpa Malik, Founder, Bioscan Research
- Sonam Motwani, Founder, Karkhana.io
- Sridevi Arunprakash, Co-founder, GUVI
- Surabhi Srivastava, Co-founder, Innovision Tech
- Vartika Manasvi, Founder, StackRaft
Of these, 7 were shortlisted by the Government of Quebec, Canada, to visit Montreal under a free market access programme.