Supporting Women-run Companies

20150527-Women-in-tech-skills (1)

 

More women in tech has been a catch cry in New Zealand, and globally, for years and we’re only seeing incremental change.

While momentum is building with more amazing women being seen forging their own stories and inspiring others to pick up the mantle, some forecasts put any semblance of true gender balance in tech out beyond the year 2100.

It’s not fast enough, and more needs to be done to get us there. We’re inviting your thoughts on shaping a new initiative to boost the impact and presence of women in tech.

During Global Entrepreneurship Week 2014 entrepreneurship and education institution the Kauffman Foundation released a study called ‘Sources of Economic Hope: Women’s Entrepreneurship‘.

The study suggests that accelerating female entrepreneurship could have the same positive effect on the economy that the large-scale entry of women into the workforce had during the 20th century. In other words, a massive transformation of the impact and potential of all women.

However, it is well documented that women represent a much lower level of participation in growth-oriented entrepreneurship than men do and that the lack of gender equality is common across all startup ecosystems. Hence, one of the recommendations of this report was to provide more opportunities for female entrepreneurs to learn about starting and growing businesses, and expose them to other successful female business owners in mentoring.

Inspired by these conversations, Creative HQ is proposing the next Lightning Lab accelerator programme focuses on women-led startups. This would require applicants to have at least one female founder on the executive team.

We’re excited and committed to create a more diverse ecosystem for New Zealand, to encourage more creative thinking, richer discussions and ultimately, a more productive entrepreneurial environment. With this accelerator, our focus will be on providing the most conducive environment for female founders to thrive through the challenge of starting a company while being supported by a diverse lineup of world-class role models, coaches and mentors.

We’re inviting you to contribute to selecting a name for this new programme that we currently refer to as Lightning Lab ‘XX’ and we hope this can become a solid step towards changing the ratio of women in tech in New Zealand. Please share your creative name ideas with us through this open discussion forum: lightninglab.co.nz/xx/.

From an investor perspective, how does this make sense?

  • The 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking report stated that the trend for female entrepreneurs is significantly up—the number of female founders in the global startup ecosystem has grown by 80% over the last three years. In 2012, 10% of startups had a female founder, as compared to the 18% global average among the top 20 in 2015.
  • A well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm First Round Capital, recently took a look at 300 of its portfolio companies and almost 600 founders, and found that the teams with at least one female founder did 63% better than the all-made founder teams.
  • Other US-based investors like Valor Ventures, Jonathan Sposato and Adam Quinton of Lucas Point Ventures as well as many others have announced that they’ll only invest in startups that have diverse teams.
  • In the 2013 paper “Why Diversity Matters”, Catalyst, a not for profit that focuses on diversity in the workplace, examined management and company financial performance in Fortune 500 companies. The key finding was that women in leadership roles increased return on equity by at least 53% and return on sales by at least 42%.

With that, we invite your thoughts on the proposal – running the first female founders focused Lightning Lab accelerator programme in an open discussion forum here: lightninglab.co.nz/xx/.

Your thoughts will play a pivotal role in shaping this initiative and we welcome any open discussion around women in tech in general to ensure an informed and well-rounded approach to significantly impacting female entrepreneurship in New Zealand.

Looking forward to hearing from you,

Laura Reitel
Programme Director
laura.reitel@lightninglab.co.nz

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