Announcing our Female Founders Competition winners

Last fall, in partnership with Mayfield and Melinda Gates’s Pivotal Ventures, we launched the second Female Founders Competition to award $6M to four women-led companies building enterprise software and deeptech solutions.

While the data has been refreshed with a new calendar year, all-female founding teams earned just 2.8% of venture capital invested in the US in 2019. With more attention, the trends are slowly changing; from 2018 to 2019, an incremental $300 million in funding was deployed to exclusively female-founded startups. The increase is encouraging, but the pace of change must quicken.

Aspiring to build a more inclusive dealflow pipeline, we’re examining some of the deeply entrenched systems that predetermine the types of founders we see most frequently. A more holistic sourcing strategy is critical, and support for the entire pipeline of female founders is required. But in parallel, building on the success of our inaugural Female Founders Competition was an important next step to reinforce our commitment and identify the next wave of leading female founders.

Female Founders Competition logo Female Founders Competition logo

Today, we’re proud to announce the winners of our second Female Founders Competition. Scroll on for the stories behind their startups, and help us amplify their advice for other female founders.

Deeptech — Global Winners : iLoF — Oxford, UK

Deeptech — US Winners : Huue — San Francisco, CA

Enterprise Software — Global Winners : Deployed — London, UK

Enterprise Software — US Winners : Webee — Sunnyvale, CA

We’re thrilled to welcome these four startups to our respective portfolios and look forward to supporting them throughout their growth.

Thank you to our investment partners — Mayfield and Pivotal Ventures — for your support in helping to realize this competition. The past several months have required a new level of agility and flexibility to hear pitches and stay coordinated outside of an in-person, conference room context; I’m proud that we were able to deliver on our commitment to provide incredible founders with access to capital.

Headshots of the Deeptech winners Headshots of the Deeptech winners
Deeptech — Global Winners : iLoF — Oxford, UK
Deeptech - Global Winners: iLoF - Oxford, UK

 

How does it feel to be a winner of the Female Founders Competition?


It’s an honor to be selected as a winner from such an inspiring and trail-blazing group of women-led deeptech companies from all over the globe. We are immensely excited to be able to join M12, Mayfield and Melinda Gates’ Pivotal Ventures in the fight for increased diversity, and to be able to do our small part in supporting an environment of inclusion, openness and acceptance. As we begin this next phase in our journey with the backing and support of world-renowned investors, we believe we will be able to fast-track the development and deployment of our platform and our vision.

 
How has your offering impacted customers to date?


Using our non-invasive, low-cost and agnostic platform, we are transforming the drug discovery and development process, creating value for customers in a wide range of applications.
In our main focus area, Alzheimer’s disease, we have enabled a promising biotech to validate a new nano-sized therapeutic biomarker. At the same time, we are providing a public hospital with a tool to screen thousands of patients for a clinical trial in a non-invasive and patient-centric way.

Mehak Mumtaz, Joana Paiva, & Paula Sampaio pitch to Tamara Steffens Mehak Mumtaz, Joana Paiva, & Paula Sampaio pitch to Tamara Steffens
Clockwise from top left: Mehak Mumtaz, Joana Paiva, & Paula Sampaio pitch to Tamara Steffens from M12 at the FFC Finals Event
iLoF uses AI and photonics to build a cloud-based library of disease biomarkers, initially focusing on the biggest epidemic of our time: Alzheimer’s disease.
How do you plan to use the funding from the Female Founders Competition?


We at iLoF are on a mission to enable a new era of personalized medicine, by helping the industry develop precise and personalized treatments for patients. This investment will be used to fast track our collaboration with one of our industry partners for development of a treatment for Alzheimer’s, while also accelerating our work in two additional verticals: oncology and cardiovascular disease.


What advice do you have for other female founders who are fundraising right now?
  1. Find other female founders to share and learn from each other, leverage communities or build your own.
  2. Identify female-led startup role models, reach out to them and get them to show you the ropes.
  3. Be prepared, understand the process, know your numbers and practice, practice, practice.
  4. Brace yourself for rejections and learn to reframe them into learning opportunities.

Follow iLoF on LinkedInTwitter, and Facebook.

Female Founders Competition winners from Huue Female Founders Competition winners from Huue
Deeptech - US Winners : Huue - San Francisco, CA
Deeptech - US Winners: Huue -  San Francisco, CA

 

How does it feel to be a winner of the Female Founders Competition?


Quite honestly, it feels surreal. There are so many women out there doing incredible things, and we are just humbled to be awarded this recognition. It makes us even more motivated to pay it forward both by supporting other female entrepreneurs and by carrying out our mission to change the world of color for good.

How has your offering impacted customers to date?


Huue’s mission is to culture nature’s rainbow to create a brighter future for the planet. Our biological dye solution enables fashion brands and their supply chain to make more sustainable products, like denim jeans, for today’s conscious consumers with scalability and performance.

Julie Wroblewski and Tamara Steffens hear Huue’s pitch from Michelle Zhu & Tammy Hsu Julie Wroblewski and Tamara Steffens hear Huue’s pitch from Michelle Zhu & Tammy Hsu
Clockwise from top right: Julie Wroblewski, Pivotal Ventures & Tamara Steffens hear Huue’s pitch from Michelle Zhu & Tammy Hsu
Huue is a biotechnology company transforming how we color our world with nature-inspired, non-toxic, sustainable dyes.
How do you plan to use the funding from the Female Founders Competition?

These funds will allow us to grow our team and scale our technology to meet the demands of our first brand partners and bring our vision for more sustainably dyed jeans into the closets of a few lucky first consumers.

What advice do you have for other female founders who are fundraising right now?

First of all, acknowledge that fundraising is not easy, and in a climate like this, it’s important to not lose hope and know that you are not alone on the grind. As difficult as it may be, especially for women who are their own toughest critics, you have to keep faith in your company because there is new hope with every conversation and the tides do turn in an instant.

Follow Huue on on TwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.

Headshots of Emma and Kayleigh from Deployed Headshots of Emma and Kayleigh from Deployed
Enterprise Software — Global Winners : Deployed — London, UK
Enterprise Software - Global Winners: Deployed - 
London, UK
How does it feel to be a winner of the Female Founders Competition?

Its validating and unreal at the same time. It was a highly competitive global competition and we’re humbled by caliber of our female founded start-ups in our category. It’s really exciting for the startup community here that both global winners are from the UK.

How has your offering impacted customers to date?

We shine a light on an untapped opportunity for corporate enterprises; the hidden workforce contained in Statements of Work. The biggest WOW moment is the transparency our platform brings to a fragmented supply chain; not only to who is working, but what they are doing and how they are doing it.

Kayleigh Kuptz and Emma Rees pitching remotely with ring light and recording set up Kayleigh Kuptz and Emma Rees pitching remotely with ring light and recording set up
Kayleigh Kuptz and Emma Rees brought high production elements to their remote pitch
Deployed is a guided scope writing platform. Companies and suppliers can rapidly deploy teams with commercial accuracy and transparency using our fully digital, content rich Statement of Work framework.
How do you plan to use the funding from the Female Founders Competition?

On our people. We’ve accelerated hiring for talent in technology, design and product roles and this award allows us to expand into critical customer success for client onboarding.

What advice do you have for other female founders who are fundraising right now?

Seek out VCs who vote with their money and can evidence investment in diverse founders and owners.

Follow Deployed on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and Instagram.

Headshot of Cecilia Flores from Weebee Headshot of Cecilia Flores from Weebee
Enterprise Software — US Winners : Webee — Sunnyvale, CA
Enterprise Software - US Winners: Webee - 
Sunnyvale, CA

 

How does it feel to be a winner of the Female Founders Competition?

It makes me feel immensely proud of the work we are doing and it’s an affirmation of our vision of creating technology to achieve sustainable industrialization. It’s been an incredible process that makes me feel very optimistic about the change that comes ahead for all-female founders as organizations and leaders take tangible steps towards equality.

How has your offering impacted customers to date?

We help reduce the enormous impact of inefficiencies in the Food Industry supply chain and manufacturing to avoid millions of dollars of losses and tons of food sent to waste. Our customers add real-time visibility to their operations through easy to deploy no-coding IoT and AI technology that doesn’t require any technical expertise.

Cecilia Flores & Lucas Funes pitch Webee to Julie Wroblewski, Pivotal Ventures, Tamara Steffens, & Priya Saiprasad Cecilia Flores & Lucas Funes pitch Webee to Julie Wroblewski, Pivotal Ventures, Tamara Steffens, & Priya Saiprasad
Cecilia Flores & Lucas Funes pitch Webee to Julie Wroblewski, Pivotal Ventures, Tamara Steffens, M12 & Priya Saiprasad, Mayfield
Webee is an IIoT no-coding end-to-end toolset, powered by AI and Machine Vision, that provides real-time insights, alerts, and recommendations to increase the visibility, sustainability, and efficiency in manufacturing, industrial and supply chain operations.
How do you plan to use the funding from the FFC?

We will strengthen our partnerships to expand our vision and democratize the adoption of IoT and AI as we continue to grow. We are excited about the opportunities to join forces with M12, Mayfield, and Pivotal Ventures to tackle this urgent need to achieve sustainable industrialization.

What advice do you have for other female founders who are fundraising right now?

Be confident and show your passion to solve the problem you are working on. Never settle, be open-minded to go through the process so you can also learn from it, and no matter what happens, don’t let the outcome define you.

Follow Webee on LinkedInTwitterFacebook, and YouTube.

 

For more M12 news, follow us on Twitter.