ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE, Invest Ottawa, November 3, 2022
SheBoot is Helping to Address the Investment Challenges Facing Women Founders Across in Canada’s Capital and Across the Country While Growing a National Network of Women Angels
Ottawa, Ontario – November 3, 2022: Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, and the Capital Angel Network, a group of angel investors in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, are delighted to announce the winners of the third annual SheBoot pitch competition.
Set on the stage of AccelerateOTT, the flagship entrepreneurship conference hosted by Invest Ottawa, hundreds of participants at Bayview Yards and online across Canada cheered on 15 women-led companies as they vied for $300,000 in investment from 30 women angels. The following founders claimed top awards:
- Negin Ashouri, Co-founder & CEO, and Inara Lalani, Co-founder & COO of FemTherapeutics Inc., a Canadian-based medical device company specializing in the development of the world’s first customizable gynecological prosthetic: Top prize winner with $150,000 in investment.
- Macarena Cataldo-Hernandez, Ph.D., Co-founder & CEO of Viridis Research, the future of advanced water treatment: Second prize winner: $100,000 in investment.
- Lianna Genovese, Founder & CEO of ImaginAble Solutions, a medical equipment manufacturing company creating innovative assistive devices to improve the quality of life for people living with limited motor skills: Third prize winner: $50,000 in investment.
- Livia Han & Eve Staszczyszyn, Co-founders of Compass, a holistic mental health platform that provides students with resources based on their unique needs, wants and identity: Crowd Favorite award winner with an opportunity to pitch the Capital Angel Network.
Established by Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network, SheBoot aims to address long-standing systemic challenges in the investment landscape by increasing funding for women founders and the number of women making investments. It is a critical objective. Over the last five years, women-founded startups have never exceeded 2.8 percent of the total investment allocated to firms.
As an example, new PitchBook data found that U.S. companies with all-women founders are raising less capital this year than in 2021 amid current economic challenges. According to Crunchbase, women raised around 2.4% of all venture capital allocated in the US last year, a figure that stands at 1.9% in the third quarter of this year. This number becomes even lower and even worse if we factor race into account. While the overall percentage of US investment allocated to for all-women teams was 2.4% last year, Black and Latinx women hovered around 0.05% each, while Indigenous founders raised approximately 0.004%.
These statistics must change. SheBoot is addressing this challenge head-on. Research shows when more women are making investments, more women founders get funded.
SheBoot is an intensive six-week investment-ready bootcamp designed by women founders and investors concluded with a pitch competition that awarded a total of $300,000 in equity-based funding from 30 women investors in the Capital Angel Network. This year, SheBoot is receiving advisory services and up to $342,000 in funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to fuel the expansion and pilot this program across the country. In addition to this investment, all founders participating in the third cohort received Small Value Contribution project allocations of $10,000 through NCR-IRAP this year.
SheBoot is helping more women tech founders get investment-ready and secure the capital required to fuel their growth and commercial success. Over the last 18 months, graduates have raised more than $11 million in follow-on investment. With current and previous SheBoot-ers participating in a multi-city investor roadshow this fall, millions more in investment is expected to be announced in the months ahead.
In addition to critical funding from NRC IRAP, Welch LLP joined SheBoot this year as a sponsor. Welch LLP delivers accounting, tax and advisory services to private enterprises, government, and non-for-profit businesses. Mistral Venture Partners, a seed-stage venture firm based in Canada’s Capital, annually establishes a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for the SheBoot angel investments. Welch and Mistral are managing the angel investments now and into the future.
“It was a privilege to collaborate closely with all founders participating in our third cohort of SheBoot, the 30 women angels who contributed critical investment, and 25+ leaders, mentors and supporters who help deliver this program. I am incredibly encouraged by the steps we are taking as a community. We launched SheBoot in the middle of the pandemic three years ago. Today, we have helped to catalyze the investment readiness, growth, and success of 34 women founders. I am thrilled to see Negin & Inara, Macarena, and Lianna on this path. Our goal is to help all SheBoot founders acquire investment. We look forward to supporting the long-term growth of every company and all those that follow.”
- Julia Elvidge, Director, Capital Angel Network; Advisor, Invest Ottawa; and SheBoot Co-founder
“Heartfelt congratulations to our pitch winners and all entrepreneurs who participated in our first national SheBoot program this year. With founders from Canada’s Capital and eight fellow cities across five provinces, these entrepreneurs are leveraging disruptive technologies and creating high-potential visionary ventures. It was exciting to help these companies pursue new opportunities, address key hurdles, and experience their incredible growth over six weeks. I am delighted this investment will help propel the scaleup of FemTherapeutics Inc., Viridis Research, and ImaginAble Solutions.”
- Jennifer Francis, Chair, Capital Angel Network; Director of the Board, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards; SheBoot Co-founder
“SheBoot directly supports the goals established in our Women Founders and Owners Strategy: to enable and accelerate the growth and success of women entrepreneurs from every walk of life. We strive to help more women founders acquire the capital they need to scale strong, sustainable global companies. We aim to support the first woman-owned and led $100 million company in Canada’s Capital and help build a robust pipeline of many more across the country. Our 2022 pitch winners are helping to realize this objective from coast to coast. These founders are creating impactful solutions for global markets that will help build a stronger and more inclusive economy, society, and world.”
- Sonya Shorey, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa; SheBoot Co-founder
SheBoot is a six-week bootcamp based in Ottawa, Ontario, that prepares women founders across Canada to pitch their business and secure investment. Launched in March 2020 during International Women’s Week by founding organizations Capital Angel Network and Invest Ottawa, this program aims to help address the funding gap facing women entrepreneurs by increasing the number of women making and receiving investment. Designed and delivered by women investors and entrepreneurs, SheBoot arms technology and technology-enabled startups with fundamental business skills with a focus on investment and market readiness. It culminates in a pitch competition for a minimum of $300,000 of equity-based capital. This investment is made by women investors committed to fueling the next generation of women-owned and led firms. SheBoot has partnered with Mistral Ventures and Welch, and is delighted to receive funding support from NRC IRAP. It also benefits from previous investment through the ScaleUp platform supported by FedDev Ontario. For additional information, please visit: www.sheboot.ca
About the Capital Angel Network
Founded in 2009, the Capital Angel Network (CAN) has been investing in startups in the National Capital Region for over a decade. Since its inception, CAN members have invested close to $60M into 120 early-stage companies 90% of which are based in the National Capital Region. This early-stage funding has led to over $500M in additional investment through grants, syndication with other angel groups and venture capital funds. The membership base now consists of over 50 Angels, 20% of which are women. In 2021, CAN invested over $7M in 26 companies – 20 new investments and six follow on. For additional information, please visit: www.capitalangels.ca/
About Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative, inclusive, and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life. Invest Ottawa is also the founder and manager of Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration. Since 2012, Invest Ottawa has worked with thousands of startups, scale-ups and SMEs; helped firms to attract more than $992 million in capital; contributed to the creation of more than 11,178 jobs; and attracted more than $1 billion in domestic and Foreign Direct Investment. For additional information, please visit: investottawa.ca
About Mistral Venture Partners
Mistral is a seed-stage venture capital firm with offices in Toronto, Ottawa, and California. Mistral is currently investing from their third fund, with a focus on SMB and enterprise software. Since they were founded in 2012, Mistral has invested in more than 30 startups – including companies like Ritual, Symend and Rewind. www.mistralvp.com
About Welch LLP
Welch LLP is a Chartered Public Accounting firm that has deep roots in the communities it serves. Since 1918, Welch has been providing a wide range of accounting, tax and advisory services to private enterprises, government, and not-for-profit businesses. Welch experts are industry specialists who have an in-depth understanding of marketplace influences, issues, and trends unique to each sector. A true partner, Welch takes a collaborative, relationship-driven approach to client service. Big firm expertise, with small firm service and value. Welch LLP is a firm like no other. For more information, please visit: https://welchllp.com/
Here for All Women
When we use the term ‘women,’ we are referring to all individuals who identify as women. This includes women of colour, transgender women, and women with gender-diverse identities, including non-binary and gender non-conforming women (as we know that gender is fluid and can change throughout one’s lifetime). These women have historically and systemically been excluded from many mainstream programs, services, and opportunities. At SheBoot, Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network are making a concerted effort to prioritize equity, access, and inclusion in everything we do. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who wants to access our programs and services feels welcome and supported. We recognize that every founder has unique needs and lived experiences and that, in some cases, we are not currently well-equipped to address all of these unique needs.
At SheBoot, we have not yet systematically assessed how we can enhance our programming and advisory to best support gender-diverse founders. For example, our advisors and program teams have not yet received training to help them address the needs of racialized and gender-diverse founders; however, this is now in process at Invest Ottawa. Leveraging the diversity of our partners and networks, our internal DEI experts, and our generous, committed community, we will do our best to support the needs of all participants. We welcome all women, non-binary, gender diverse, and non-conforming founders to SheBoot, and are committed to listening, learning, and helping every founder to thrive.
Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Communications
Invest Ottawa, Bayview Yards, and Area X.O