Four women-owned or led companies from Ottawa have been selected to participate in the third cohort of SheBoot, a bootcamp that prepares women entrepreneurs to secure investment.
They join 11 other founders from across Canada, marking the first year SheBoot has expanded the application process nationally. More than 100 applications were received, according to the Capital Angel Network (CAN) and Invest Ottawa, which operate SheBoot.
The four local founders are Tamey McIntosh, co-founder and COO of Braiyt AI Inc.; Varsha Chaugai, co-founder of Evoke Health; Shruti Singh, co-founder of Otterby Inc.; and Alina Li Zhang, founder of Skylinerunners.
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“The 15 women-owned and led companies selected are developing innovative solutions with application in a wide array of sectors,” said Julia Elvidge, co-founder of SheBoot and a director with CAN, in a news release. “These include e-commerce to software, medtech, hardware, agtech, robotics, cleantech and energy.”
SheBoot addresses the systemic challenges facing women entrepreneurs in the investment landscape. Despite a banner year in investment, women founders received less than two per cent of VC funding in 2021, the lowest percentage in five years.
“The investment allocated to sole women-founded companies has hovered at, or below, two per cent for years,” commented Jennifer Francis, chair of CAN, director of the Invest Ottawa board and a co-founder of SheBoot. “This is simply unacceptable. Together with these founders and dozens of champions we aim to drive long-term, sustainable change across our ecosystem.”
The 15 founders will participate in a six-week bootcamp this fall that will equip them with fundamental business skills, with a focus on investment-readiness, and facilitate peer networking and introductions to investors and investor networks. It will conclude with a pitch competition at AccelerateOTT, hosted by Invest Ottawa, where participating founders will vie for a total of $300,000 in investment from 30 women angels. This year, the total funding available to entrepreneurs through SheBoot is $450,000.
“This program builds on the Women Founders and Owners Strategy we created at Invest Ottawa in 2018 and addresses key goals established with our community,” said Sonya Shorey, vice-president of strategy, marketing and communications with Invest Ottawa and a SheBoot co-founder. “Together with the Capital Angel Network, our valued investors and partners, we aim to help fuel the growth of more women founders and support the first $100 million woman-owned and led firm in Canada’s capital and many more across the country.”
As of July 2022, SheBoot graduates have raised or acquired more than $11 million.
SheBoot is supported by the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program.
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