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  • Emily Mathison

Less Talking, More Doing

Announcing W Venture

This one is for my female founders, supporters of female founders, and those who want to see more women-led businesses thrive. (Hint: all y’all.)


Announcing W Venture: a different kind of accelerator program for Canadian, women-led, tech-enabled startups. 

W Venture is a 3-month program delivered by Accelerate Okanagan, University of Victoria, and VIATEC, funded by the Digital Technology Supercluster, that aims to advance women entrepreneurs and their businesses through hands-on coaching and mentorship. 

Program architect and lead, Shelley Voyer, an entrepreneur, business coach and advocate for women in business, designed W Venture with a focus on more doing and less talking. “We can’t solve every problem an entrepreneur has in 3-months, but we can help to solve one major challenge she has to growth”, says Shelley. “And so far the program is resonating, but as a pilot I’m sure there will be more we can do. Personally, this is the program I wish I had when I launched my own company.” 


“We wanted to focus on more doing and less talking.” 

The “doing” takes shape through personalized matching of ventures with subject matter experts (SMEs). Entrepreneurs define one major obstacle to their business’ growth called their “impact initiative” and work with their SME to overcome this challenge. This hands-on approach allows W Venture to meet entrepreneurs where they’re at, whether they’ve been in-market for weeks or years, and empower them to scale up. 


The program is in its pilot stage and was opened to women entrepreneurs in British Columbia. After receiving an overwhelming amount of applicants and adding additional capacity, thirty-one female-led ventures have been chosen and are now in their first weeks of the program. 


The list of ventures is phenomenal and impressively diverse. They span industries from creative writing editing software, to an app to find your lost frolf disk (frisbee golf), an online marketplace for interior designers on-demand, bioluminescence-powered reusable light wands to replace disposal glowsticks, probiotic cleaning products and services, a co-op advertising platform that connects big brands and local retailers, a dementia resource center, medical research and communications, memory loss treatment through magnetic pulse, solar cells — I could go on, but you should really check them all out. (Full list at the bottom of this article.) 


And the subject matter experts? Very impressive as well. Brad Van Vugt is on a project to define a Technical Product Roadmap, Scott Davis is advising on User Experience and Pilot Feedback Research projects, Alexandra Dawes is working with several ventures to build Financial Roadmaps, Coralie Wood is assisting with Google Analytics and Online Marketing Campaigns, and James Coutts is coaching a few ventures on Sales Processes, while supporting in closing a deal or two. 


“I feel like I’ve gone back to university with the program! I can’t thank you enough for including me. I think it’s going to really up our game.”

In addition to being paired with an SME, ventures also have the option to also be connected with a mentor in their industry for extra support. And value is already being delivered there. Kristina Stanley, founder of Fictionary, shared about her meeting with her W Venture mentor yesterday.  “I just had an awesome meeting with my mentor, Jenny Yang. She’s amazing. I’ve got a bit of homework to do. I feel like I’ve gone back to university with the program! I can’t thank you enough for including me. I think it’s going to really up our game.”


And if that wasn’t enough, another core component of W Venture is its content streams. Entrepreneurs choose to participate in applied-learning workshops in five key areas — Strategy, Marketing, Sales, Finance, Funding — based on their unique impact initiative. Originally, ventures were intended to choose from one to three workshop areas, but because of the high value and applicable nature of the teaching, Shelley says most entrepreneurs have jumped in with both feet and are participating in all five. 


This curated content is also being delivered by the best and the bright in their fields: Strategy is led by Shannon Susko of Metronome, Marketing by Katrina Carroll-Foster and Tiffany Chester of Kollectively, Sales by Michelle Reid, Finance by Regan McGrath of Metrics, and Funding by Jill Earthy


Leanne McKeachie, founder of Flathaus Solutions, an online marketplace dedicated to helping Interior Designers help the D.I.Y homeowner, through all their renovation and design challenges, told us why she’s excited about the program. “W Venture came into my life with perfect timing. I had newly launched the Ask A Designer service and was ready to hit the market! But I needed a smart marketing strategy. When W Venture arrived on the scene, it was everything I appreciated about the support I’d already received from female entrepreneurs in the tech community + the added focus on propelling Flathaus from where I’m at here and now. As the Founder and "wearer of all the hats", I’m leaning into everything W Venture from Subject Matter Experts & learning sessions to one-on-one mentoring, because as they say, you don’t know what you don’t know.”


Amen.


Programs like W Venture are important in helping women-led businesses bring impactful innovations to market, particularly in the tech space. It just doesn’t make business sense that although companies with women executives consistently outperform their male counter-parts and bring higher substantially returns, the percentage of venture capital funding handed to women-only founded companies is only 2.7% (we peaked in 2014 at 3.1%, wooo 🎉), and 11.5% to mixed-gender founding teams (double wooo 🎉). 


We’re looking forward to seeing where W Venture will propel this impressive cohort of women-led startups. 



2020 W Venture Startups


Abella Fashion Inc., Penticton

Axolotl Biosciences, Victoria

Bin Breeze, Vancouver

Covault Technologies, Victoria

Daily Ritual, Victoria 

Dementia Connection, Victoria

EstateBox, Kelowna

Flathaus Solutions, Victoria

Fictionary, Victoria

GreenStep Solutions Inc., Kelowna

Hibou, Victoria

Inqli Inc., Victoria

Joyster, Vancouver Island

Kooshoo, Victoria

Kilo Lima Code Inc., West Kelowna

Live It, Nelson

Mammoth & Co., Victoria

MeepMeep, Victoria

Nyoka Design Labs, Victoria

Origen Air/Origen Clean, Victoria

Optimind Clinic Inc, Victoria

Paintilli, Victoria

RecStaff, Victoria

Simplified Social, Kelowna

Solar-Ventures; Victoria

Spotlight Solutions, Vancouver 

Sustainable Life App, Kelowna

Tantalus Medical Communications Ltd., Lake Country 

The Digital Gal, Victoria

Unboxals Creative Ltd., Kelowna

Voxcell Innovation, Victoria


"No one belongs here more than you" - Brene Brown


More for female founders...

FLIK - Female Laboratory of Innovative Knowledge, who we featured in our trailblazer series, have just released their 2020 Future of Female Founders Survey. Next month, the results will be compiled into the first-of-its-kind Future of Female Founders Report. 


FLIK wants to know how 2020 has been for your company, what you hope for in 2021, and where you see the future of the female founder community headed. Even if you’re not a female founder, they want to hear your insights — contribute to the conversation!


Take FLIK’s 2-minute survey today and get notified the second the report goes public! Please feel free to share the survey with your entrepreneurial network:https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Y62LTY2



About Herstory.

We want to share, challenge, and celebrate Canadian women in today’s workforce. Join us. Please send exceptional stories of women we should know to info@herstory.io

Until next week.


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