On Saturday, Sept. 14, more than 200 attendees gathered at the University of San Diego for the sixth annual Women’s Venture Summit, a conference focused on getting female-led startups funded. Throughout the day, attendees participated in “entrepreneur” and “investor” tracks with one key message in mind: get to even.
In 2018, women-led companies secured just over 2 percent of venture capital funding. The summit’s organizers are on a mission to even the playing field.
“Women’s Venture Summit was created to help women-led companies make money and make an impact,” said Dr. Silvia Mah, founder of the event. “We want to see just as many women and minority founders starting companies and getting venture capital funding as men. That’s why we’re working to provide all people, regardless of gender, with the tools and resources to become informed investors.”
In its first five years, the summit helped women raise $4 million in seed capital. There’s no total yet for this year, though Samantha Urban, founder of San Diego-based Urban Translations, noted that she’s already gained interest from investors because of attending the 2019 summit.
“In 2016 and 2017, I landed investment deals of around $400,000 by forming and strengthening my relationships with investors during the Women’s Venture Summit,” said Urban. “This year I came back to share my success story on stage, and in doing so, attracted the attention of three more investors who are interested in helping me grow my digital menu software company.”
Women like Urban and keynote speaker Jasmine Crowe didn’t attend the summit just for camaraderie; they participated because they are serious about helping women grow impactful, revenue-generating businesses.
“Do not be afraid to invest in businesses that are solving real problems for tomorrow,” said Jasmine Crowe, founder of Goodr, a company that helps entities like the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport manage food waste while feeding those in need. “We have enough scooters.”
Investors and non-investors alike got to do just that during the summit’s gamified pitch contest. In fact, the audience performed due diligence and selected a winner by investing their Harriet Tubman-stamped faux money into the business of their choosing. Dr. Roshawnna Novellus, CEO of Atlanta-based EnrichHER, took home the title, which came with a $5,000 cash prize from SheInvests!, approximately $35,000 in in-kind services, the opportunity to receive additional investments and entrance into San Diego Angel Conference 2020.
The day also included a startup showcase, community awards and networking.
Organized by nonprofit organization Stella Labs, Women’s Venture Summit will return to San Diego next September. For more information or to sponsor the 2020 event, please visit womensventuresummit.org/.
About Stella Labs:
Formerly Hera Labs, Stella Labs is a female-focused business accelerator that helps entrepreneurs launch and grow profitable businesses. The organization’s interactive labs, strategy sessions, female-founder intensives and annual Women’s Venture Summit offer sustained support that allows women-led businesses to flourish. For more information, please visit stellalabs.org.