STARTUP

New Incubator Focuses on Female Founders

Three New York City businesswomen are launching their own incubator to focus on start-ups with a female founder and a mobile product or service.

Lisa Tanner

Women Helping Women From Left: Deborah Jackson, Kelly Hoey, and Veronika Sonsev

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Tech incubators, such as Y Combinator and TechStars, graduate astonishingly low rates of woman-run companies. Instead of complaining about the gender gap, three New York City businesswomen are launching their own incubator. Women Innovate Mobile, co-founded by Kelly Hoey, Deborah Jackson, and Veronika Sonsev, will focus on start-ups with a female founder and a mobile product or service. The first class of two to five companies, which will be announced this month, will each get $18,000 and free office space. Inc.'s Issie Lapowsky spoke with Hoey.

Why do you think more women should launch tech companies?
Technology enables women to create more scalable businesses. Women own 40 percent of the private businesses in this country. Think about what happens if that 40 percent scales. The economic and employment landscape of this country begins to change.

Why focus on mobile?
Veronika comes from the mobile space. She co-founded the group Women in Wireless. And when you look at where there's huge growth in tech, it's in mobile.

Who has applied so far?
We've gotten inquiries from students at Harvard and other business schools, but our first five inquiries were actually from women in Switzerland, Ireland, China, Turkey, and Canada. By targeting women, specifically, we may find the next big idea that New York VCs would never have seen otherwise.

What's your hope for this first class?
We want them to get VC funding. That's the benchmark for accelerator success these days. But we also have an opportunity to break some myths about women in entrepreneurship. A lot of people think only of "Mommypreneurs" and fashion when they think of women entrepreneurs, but we can do a lot more than that.

IMAGE: Corbis
Last updated: Feb 28, 2012




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