Tampa Bay Wave has announced that they are accepting applications for their 2nd TechWomen Rising accelerator program, sponsored by JPMorgan Chase. At last year’s Synapse Summit, JPMorgan Chase awarded a $500,000 grant a two-year partnership between Tampa Bay Wave and Embarc Collective that will focus on supporting women tech entrepreneurship and the pipeline of women entrepreneurs. Under this partnership, Tampa Bay Wave launched the TechWomen Rising Accelerator, a program specifically geared toward female founders—those whose founding team is made up 51% or more by women. Selected participants will be given business mentorship, pitch coaching and peer and investor networking. Tampa Bay Wave is a founder-focused nonprofit that wants to see businesses thrive, especially those led by individuals from marginalized communities.
The deadline to apply to be part of the 2021 TechWomen Rising accelerator cohort is July 31st, and the committee will select 10-15 companies. Wave will also host 2 “Ask Me Anything” sessions on June 24th and July 8th where interested startups can meet the Tampa Bay Wave team and learn more about the accelerator’s programming.
On the value of the program, Tampa Bay Wave CEO Linda Olson agrees that, “For women, it’s an uphill battle. Female founders continue to face endemic barriers in accessing capital to start and grow their businesses,” quoting an article recently published on Embroker.
Women-led businesses receive less than 3% of venture capital investment, but Olson says, “If you’re a woman of color, the statistics are even bleaker.” According to Fortune, “Black and Latinx women combined received just 0.64% of total venture capital investment between 2018 and 2019, for a total of $3.1 billion; 0.27% went to Black women and 0.37% went to Latinas,” as found by a survey of 650 Black and Latinx female founders conducted by ProjectDiane.
Tampa Bay Wave is excited that this year’s programming will be in person—last year’s was virtual due to the pandemic. The TechWomen Rising accelerator is offered to businesses that operate out of Florida. Olson says that now that the program is entering its second year, Wave intends to offer even more specialized programming to help women founders prepare for investor conversations and give them greater access to investors specializing in women-led businesses.
At the end of the 90-day program, cohort companies participate in a Demo Day, where they pitch their business to investors. After the program finishes, cohort companies get ongoing support in the form of continued access to Tampa Bay Wave’s mentor network, coaching and engagement on the corporate side to help facilitate opportunities for contracting.
Tampa Bay Wave’s alumni businesses have seen major success. Grit Daily caught up with 2 founders who were part of the TechWomen Rising inaugural cohort. 20Lighter, a program designed to help people reach their health and weight loss goals by targeting visceral fat and inflammation, relocated to Tampa after going through the accelerator. Founder Dr. Jessica Barnes says it was important to connect with other female entrepreneurs because, “as a female entrepreneur, particularly in the C-suite—a co-founder and a CEO—it can be very lonely. You have a ton of work, you constantly are pushing forward, it’s very task driven, and especially in the early stage you’re constantly hearing ‘no.’” Dr. Barnes still receives mentorship from the Wave’s vast network, and keeps in touch with other founders from the program.
Another alumnus of the program, Kinstak, is a cloud platform that allows people easily store, organize and locate photos. Founder Carolyn Eagen has been involved in the tech sector for the past 10 years and she reveled in the fact that during group discussions with other female founders in the cohort, “The feedback was given from a place of growth mindset versus having to justify my place at the table.” The program helped her grow her team, define Kinstak’s target audience (military families) and prepare for seed round funding. Eagen says, “I encourage anybody to apply no matter what stage you’re at, because when I applied, I had a prototype that I just had built.”
Tampa Bay Wave’s TechWomen Rising accelerator offers women founders the opportunity to grow their business in record time alongside those who understand their particular struggles. It also allows them to get advice from professional and serial entrepreneurs, who are willing to open their investor networks, offer mentorship and be each company’s personal cheerleader. The deadline to apply for the program is July 31st.