India hosted the demo day of the 3rd cohort of empoWer accelerator
program, on 29th March 2019 at the BSE International Convention Centre. The
demo day was attended by over 100 guests, that largely included the investor
community, industry leaders and large corporations. The grand Demo Day followed
a 6-month accelerator program, which connected these entrepreneurs to over 90+
mentors, including industry leaders and subject matter experts.
The 3rd cohort of empoWer was
launched in September 2018, with a focus on technology-led women-owned
businesses in enterprise tech and social tech. 15 women founders were
on-boarded as a part of the 2 parallel tracks.
This edition of empoWer is in partnership with Indian Clearing Corporation
Limited (ICCL), a wholly owned subsidiary of BSE Ltd. (BSE), as the lead
Industry Sponsor and Department of Science and Technology (GoI), Government of
Quebec, Concordia University, La Coop fédérée, Caisse de dépôt et placement du
Québec and Amazon Launchpad, as
The launch was a part of a full-day
conference that was presided by 25+ women leaders from the industry. This was
followed by multi-city roadshows at Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Delhi and Pune, and
an online application campaign that brought in 285 applications from diverse
domains – ranging across financial services, media, smart cities, healthcare,
education, agriculture and retail to name a few. The program focused on technology areas such as Deep Tech, Artificial Intelligence,
Machine Learning, Enterprise Mobility, Search & Feedback Engines,
Enterprise Software; making it is a very interesting mix of tech applications.
Says Ajay Ramasubramaniam, Director
(India), Zone Startups – “This was a new experience for us, to manage 2
parallel cohorts under empoWer. The nature of startups is to be iterative, and
we at Zone Startups India consider ourselves to be one. After the first 2
cohorts, we realized the need to split up enterprise tech and social tech as
separate themes; as the nature of support and program required is different.
One the feedback we got over the past 2 years, was a request from entrepreneurs
who missed out due to smaller cohort size, asking if we would think of
expanding the same. This year, with the funding availability it gave us the
bandwidth to so. We are extremely delighted by the composition of the cohorts
and the kind of companies that are being built. We look forward to greater
success with empoWer and enabling more women entrepreneurs in India”.
The opening Keynote at the empoWer Demo
Day was delivered by Apurva Purohit, President – Jagran Prakashan Ltd., and she
touched upon an empowering message to our women leading the way in today’s
The keynote address was followed by a high
profile panel discussion on whether gender inclusion is the key to boosting
innovation in entrepreneurial ecosystem. The panel was made up of
representatives from a diverse background, and comprised of Deepali Naair,
Director – Marketing (India & South Asia), IBM, Anjalli Ravi Kumar, Social
Mission Director, Unilever and Shweta
Aprameya, Co-founder HAPPY & Founder AU
Welfare Foundation. The session was moderated by Kritika Saxena, Chief
of Bureau- Mumbai and South, CNBC-TV18.
After much deliberation, the jury of
investors and tech leaders awarded the top 18 women-led startups with an equity
free seed funding of INR 5 lakhs each, based on the strength of their business
model, their team, their market viability and their products/services. The seed
funds were supported by BSE CSR Foundation.
The grantees were:
– A. Soumya Rao, Founder, UpSoil Technologies
– Gayatri Mathkar, Co-founder, Skygge
– Gitanjali Banerjee, Founder, Fertility
– Kajal Gohil, Co-founder, ARKidzoo
– Manasi Kulkarni, Co-founder, Innoweave
– Poonam Choudhary, Co-founder, Vendaxo
– Poonam Gupta, Founder, WeeSure
– Prajakta Kuwalekar, Founder,
– Pritha Datta, Founder, Econolytics
– Richa Sethi, Co-founder, GetLitt!
– Ridhima Gauba, Co-founder – Interview
– Romita Ghosh, Founder, MedSamaan
– Sailaja Nori, COO, Traxion LLP
– Shilpa Malik, Founder, Bioscan Research
– Sonam Motwani, Founder, Karkhana.io
– Sridevi Arunprakash, Co-founder, GUVI
– Surabhi Srivastava, Co-founder,
– Vartika Manasvi, Founder, StackRaft
The grant awards were followed by several
category takeaways by the partners.
2. Based on the international scalability
potential, seven startups were offered a 1-week market access trip to Montreal
by Government of Quebec:
– Keerti Singh, Co-founder, Hitwicket
Dominic Marcotte, Consul, and Director of
the Quebec Government Office in Mumbai is very happy with this partnership. He
says, “It is a matter of great pride for the Government of Quebec to support
the empoWer program. Our partnership with Zone Startups India has flourished in
the second year with more partners from Quebec supporting the market access
trip. As a part of its international policy, Quebec supports diversity and
minorities. We believe that enabling women to become successful entrepreneurs
is the best means of empowerment.”
Sravani Chandramukhi Cheemala, Co-founder,
Mirsae was offered to join the Amazon Launchpad Program.
The program received amazing
positive feedback from its participants. “Being a part of empoWer has been an
extremely enriching experience. As an entrepreneur, you are always looking to
meet people who can mentor, partner, share and do business with. In these 4
months of being associated with empoWer, I was able to meet a variety of such
people that have helped me and my business grow.”, says Pritha Datta,
empoWer now has a cumulative cohort size of 65 women
entrepreneurs, built over 3 cohorts. From the first 2 cohorts, a cumulative of
INR 60 Crores has been raised by Founders, and there have been 3 solid
acquisitions. empoWer is at the forefront of being the go-to platform for women
entrepreneurs that are looking to accelerate their ventures, and Zone Startups
India is gung-ho about launching newer initiatives under this banner.
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