It’s Women’s History Month and we’re celebrating with an Instagram series that features on some of our women entrepreneurs, as well as last week’s successful International Women’s Day event with our partners at WISE Women’s Business Center, Gwen, Inc. and One Group. This insight column is a roundup of resources for women entrepreneurs, assembled by our LaunchPad Global Fellow Claire Howard ’23, who is also our talented Hult Prize Campus Ambassador. Approximately 50% of LaunchPad members are women founders or hold c-suite executive positions in student startups.
Behind the glass doors of the Blackstone LaunchPad and Techstars work a stunning group of innovators characterized by talent and tenacity. We’re proud to be home to some of the most brilliant minds of Syracuse University from all different colleges, academic disciplines, backgrounds, and identities. This month we’re proud to showcase and support a particular group of people the LaunchPad would be nothing without ‑ our women entrepreneurs. For all the fearless and intrepid businesswomen who have enriched our community, the LaunchPad is always here to support them and hope this list of resources to help our women entrepreneurs find funding, community, and inspiration to pursue their ambitions.
WISE stands for Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship. We’re a women’s business center dedicated to empowering CNY’s women entrepreneurs in all stages of business. The WISE WBC is one of 117 women business centers across the nation. It is funded in part by the US Small Business Administration and hosted by the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. A team of staff and counselors is dedicating to empowering women small business owners through comprehensive training programs, counseling and connection. WISE empowers women entrepreneurs by providing access to financial, human, social, and intellectual capital essential for achieving economic success. It serves all aspiring and current small business owners, especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged.
Geek Girl Careers, headed by Syracuse alumna Sandhya Iyer, helps women find their place to thrive within the tech industry. The company offers insight to women not sure where their skills or passions lie with a short and fun quiz. The assessment, which allows users to select adjectives they believe describes themselves, then uses those to match the user with a list of potential careers within tech fields. By showing women the diversity of skill sets needed within tech industries, Geek Girl Careers hopes to bridge the gender gap in many tech companies and encourage women to find their strengths and passions. Geek Girl Careers also provides events, networking opportunities, and advice for launching your career and working consistently towards your goals.
Ellevate is a community for women in business, from entrepreneurs to those working in a corporate environment to those searching for a new path. Their twelve-week program Squad pairs women together in small groups and guides them through career development and personal growth. While Squad, available through application only, is one of their most popular programs, their resources for women don’t stop there. Through numerous online events, mentorship programs, and networking opportunities; Ellevate seeks to connect women in business and help them grow together.
Ladies Who Launch is a not-for-profit community organization that seeks to support women entrepreneurs all around the world. From their Launch Program which mentors women starting their own business, connects them with capital opportunities, and provides them with a grant to start their business; to their numerous webinars, virtual events, and advice columns, Ladies Who Launch is a community that educates women and gives them access to the resources they need to start their own company.
Investment and Seed Funds
Four years ago this month, the founders of Chloe Capital set out on a mission to decrease the gender and diversity gap in entrepreneurship and venture capital. They started with a program to teach women how to invest, which sparked a National Tour to #InvestInWomen. Now, Chloe Capital has launched its third investment vehicle – an Impact Fund dedicated to women-led technology companies with diverse leadership teams. Along the way, the fund has made 10 investments, catalyzed over $50 million for female founders and helped create nearly 300 high-paying jobs.
The front page of Female Founders Fund highlights a startling point: companies with female founders perform 63% better than their peers. Despite this, less than 3% of venture capital funding goes towards companies with female founders. Female Founders Fund hopes to change that with institutional capital investment into companies with female founders. With an impressive portfolio of companies with over $3B in enterprise value, the fund seeks to invest in companies with a bright future ahead of them.
MergeLane is a venture capital fund that has one caveat: they only invest into companies with at least one women in leadership. Their reason? Data shows that companies with women in leadership outperform significantly. The fund, started in 2015, assists companies from pre-seed onwards and hopes to choose companies with high potential and scalable business growth. Their Leadership Camp development program helps women with personal growth and awareness in order to become successful leaders in the world of business.
The Amber Grant, started by the WomensNet to honor Amber Wigdahl, an aspiring entrepreneur who died at 19 before achieving her dreams. To honor her memory, the Amber Grant fund hopes to give women entrepreneurs the chance to achieve their dreams by giving monthly $10,000 grants to aspiring female entrepreneurs working on starting their company. They also give out monthly marketing and business specific grants, as well as a $25,000 end of year grant. Application for all grants requires only a simple written application to describe yourself and your business and winners are announced on the 20th of every month.
Our diverse and rich community of innovators and dreamers wouldn’t be the same without the fearless and inspiring women we’re honored to include and call friends. LaunchPad women have gone on to make waves in business and numerous other fields, and we are determined to make entrepreneurship accessible for all Syracuse women and provide them with the support and resources their talent deserves.
To all our women entrepreneurs, we’re rooting for you!
By LaunchPad Global Fellow Claire Howard ‘23