Female angels pitch in additional $100K for SheBoot winners

Stock cash photo

The female founders who earn one of 10 coveted spots in an Ottawa-based entrepreneurial bootcamp will be vying for significantly more seed capital at this year’s event.

SheBoot organizers announced Thursday that participants in the second edition of the six-week program aimed at preparing women entrepreneurs to pitch their businesses and secure investment will be eligible for a total of $300,000 in funding – up from $200,000 last year.

Organized by Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network, this year’s event, which runs from Sept. 13 to Oct. 23, attracted more than 125 applicants. 

The $300,000 total funding envelope includes $200,000 worth of angel investment for winners of the final pitchfest held during AccelerateOTT, Invest Ottawa’s annual entrepreneurship conference. That’s double the $100,000 that was on the table in the inaugural pitch competition in 2020, thanks to contributions from 10 new women angels who have joined the 10 previous female investors.

In remaining $100,000 will be divvied up equally among all participants, who will receive cash or equivalent business expenditures from FedDev Ontario.

“We have always known that we need more women investors working together to build the next generation of investment-ready women-led and owned tech firms,” SheBoot co-founder Jennifer Francis, who is also chair of the Capital Angel Network and a member of Invest Ottawa’s board of directors, said in a statement.

Drop in funding 

“I am so proud to see that we have been able to move the needle in the right direction – and in such a short time frame.”

According to business data platform Crunchbase, companies with female founders received just 2.3 per cent of all global VC funding in 2020, down from 2.9 per cent in 2019. Women-led startups landed a total of $4.9 billion in venture capital last year, a 27 per cent drop from the year before.

SheBoot’s investors hope to change that narrative.

Among the new angels is local accountant Michelle Liu, who moved to Ottawa from China two years ago. In 2009, Liu invested in a woman-owned firm in her home country – a company that eventually went public via an IPO a few years later.

“I have seen the difference women investors can make in the growth trajectory of a firm,” she said in a statement. “I am truly inspired by SheBoot and look forward to helping achieve our shared goals.”

The program is getting an additional lift from Mistral Venture Partners, a seed-stage venture capital firm based in Ottawa. The company is setting up a special vehicle to house and manage the $200,000 in angel investment for SheBoot.

“We recognize that women-led companies frequently outperform the industry average, and we would love to invest in more,” Pablo Srugo, a principal at Mistral, said in a statement. “When we look at our deal flow, however, the companies are predominantly led by men. 

“We see SheBoot as a program that has the potential to radically change that and create much more visibility to women founders. We’re delighted to have found a way to support SheBoot and help it scale.”

Alumni from the first SheBoot cohort have wasted no time in making their mark on the business world. 

$1.7M seed round

The winner of last fall’s inaugural pitchfest was intellectual property lawyer Julie MacDonell. She took home $150,000 in funding for her startup, Heirlume, which helps small businesses register trademarks. The firm recently secured $1.7 million in seed funding.

Second-place finisher Vaultt, which makes a mobile app that stores patients’ medical data and other vital information on a secure platform, signed a partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim, the world’s largest private pharmaceutical company. 

Meanwhile, Treehouse Medical, another 2020 participant, received $30,000 in cash and in-kind services after winning Canada’s Total Mom Pitch.