Ready Set Raise, the startup accelerator formed by the Female Founders Alliance (FFA), a national network of startup founders, investors, partners and supporters, in partnership with Microsoft for Startups, has announced its new Class of 2019.
Of the 400 women and non-binary-led companies that applied to participate in this year’s program, less than two percent were selected. Participants represent companies with huge upside potential, across a variety of sectors and geographies, who are solving substantial problems in unique ways.
“We created a program that is equally or more selective and value-adding than the top accelerators nationally, but consciously designed for women and non-binary founders,” said Leslie Feinzaig, founder and CEO of FFA. “I feel privileged to introduce the outstanding group of companies that were selected for this second edition of Ready Set Raise.”
The Ready Set Raise Class of 2019 includes the following startups:
- Echo Echo: AI-powered tools for podcasters. CEO Alina Serebryany, Oakland, CA
- Give InKind: Coordinating support through major life events. CEO Laura Malcolm, Seattle, WA
- Honistly: A new class of financial instruments to minimize impact of short-term cash needs. CEO Betsy Tong, Portland, OR
- Juicebox It: Modernizing erotica with a chatbot that is arousing AND educational. CEO Brianna Rader, San Francisco, CA
- Panty Drop: A personalized intimates shopping experience for women sizes XS-6XL. CEO Julie Arsenault, Reno, NV
- The Labz: A collaborative platform that protects and memorializes creative content development in real-time. CEO Farah Allen, Atlanta, GA
- Tougher: Functional, well-fitting workwear for women in the skilled trades. CEO Stacey Gose, Corvallis, OR
- Wheyward Spirit: A sustainable farm-to-flask spirit made from excess whey. CEO Emily Darchuk, Eugene, OR
During the six-week program, companies will work one-on-one with specially selected coaches in preparation for FFA’s Investor Showcase on October 16th. These dedicated coaches are former startup founders and leaders who became professional investors after achieving successful exits themselves. They include investors like Sarah Imbach, the former COO at Silicon Valley unicorns Linked In and 23andMe, and Kirby Winfield, who founded and scaled multiple companies and is currently General Partner at Ascend Venture Capital.
“I am excited to be involved with RSR because the cohort has real venture scale potential, and the talent level is strong and nontraditional,” said Winfield. “My investing algorithm improves substantially when I’m exposed to high quality entrepreneurs from all backgrounds.” In addition to the coaches, Ready Set Raise participants will receive guidance from dozens of VC investors, founders, tech executives, partners, and other subject matter experts.
FFA is also announcing a broad partnership with Microsoft for Startups across all FFA programs through 2020. Through this partnership, Ready Set Raise participants will receive up to $120k in Azure credits and other Microsoft technology, as well as technical and business mentoring from Microsoft executives. B2B-focused startups will have further opportunities to scale their business through Microsoft’s Channel Partners and customers.
“We are proud to stand behind FFA’s vision of providing access and opportunities for their members,” said Ian Bergman, managing director, Microsoft for Startups. “Both FFA and Microsoft recognize a major lapse in opportunities given to women and non-binary founders. We look forward to our continued work together to promote this necessary shift in the VC landscape.”
Additional new FFA partners include Providence St. Joseph Health, Brex, Cooley LLP, and Project W. Partners are providing benefits and support for the cohort. Experts from Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, K&L Gates, and Cooley LLP will offer legal workshops and clinics. Participants will learn about finance for startups from executives at Brex, a corporate credit card supplier, and about company valuation and fundraising terms from executives at Carta, an equity management platform. Childcare will be provided courtesy of Seattle-based Spilt Milk Nannies. The program will be hosted at WeWork Labs, which announced a partnership with the Female Founders Alliance in January.
Ready Set Raise 2019 will run from September 9 – October 18 and requires founders to be in Seattle for two of the six weeks. On October 17, 2019, each company will showcase their business model to a large audience, national media and industry influencers on Demo Night. [24×7]