Advancing Women in Product (AWIP), an organization co-founded by two Google and Amazon PMs to empower tech leaders through equality of opportunity in career advancement for both men and women, today announced the launch of the Female Founders Program. The organization is partnering with leading venture capital firms in Silicon Valley to empower the next generation of female technology entrepreneurs through access to funding and networking events.
AWIP was founded in 2017 to address the gaps we saw in tech management roles that were filled by women and other underrepresented groups. The organization believes that the gap largely exists due to lack of targeted skills-based training as well as executive mentorship. AWIP intends to empower women and other underrepresented groups to advance their careers to become product and technical leaders.
“One of the biggest barriers to success for female founders is obtaining access to funding resources,” said Nancy Wang, CEO and founder of AWIP. “Through this initiative, AWIP strives to create a safe space where all founders can interact, garner feedback and secure funding mentorship from top-tier VCs.”
The inaugural Female Founders Program was held on March 20 with the support of Sapphire Ventures. Each event will feature an intimate networking portion to connect founders with venture capitalists to pitch presentations and gather feedback, as well as to gain insight on a specific market or domain.
“Leadership across the industry should be diverse and unbiased to create a better world. Today, half the world’s population doesn’t have an equal voice or representation to lead the next generation of products. Our Female Founders program is a strategic effort to support all women leaders and impact change in the direction of equality,“ said Aakrit Prasad, Board Member at AWIP and Co-Founder & CEO at AptEdge.
Female entrepreneurs across all industries continue to face challenges obtaining funding, training and support in the VC landscape with only $38.9 billion invested, or 14% of venture deals globally in companies with a female founder in 2018, down from 15% in 2017.
“When our communities underinvest in over 50% of the world’s talent, our society and our economy suffers,” said Tatyana Mamut, Board Member at AWIP and Chief Product Officer at Nextdoor. “Great ideas are overlooked, and capital is poorly deployed. This is why we want to bring talented women and underrepresented groups face-to-face with top Silicon Valley investors — to add fuel to innovative ideas that will power the next 50+ years of growth.”
“I haven’t had the opportunity to do 1:1s with VCs yet and pitching opportunities are a great way to practice and hear directly from the source on how to pitch better,” said Aneri Pradhan, Founder & CEO at ENVision Mobile.
“AWIP provided a great opportunity to refine our pitch and improve our understanding of the investor mindset through conversations with investors interested in us and our technology sector,” said Erika Barraza, Founder & CEO at EVRealities.
“Not only was I surrounded by other brilliant, trailblazing Female Founders, the calibre of investors in attendance was impressive,” said Maria Malavenda, Co-Founder & CEO at EVVEMI, Inc. “I was given specific insights into my pitch and feedback on the ‘how, why and what’ must be present in my approach for an investor to respond. No BS – just the facts! The session was invaluable.”
“Having just closed a seed round, getting feedback on where to focus for a Series A raise was extremely valuable,” said Lisa Rodewald, Founder & CEO at Instant Teams.
“We made valuable connections and got useful feedback. It was great to see other female founders and hear what they are working on,” said Helen Foo, Co-Founder at a Stealth Startup.