Entrepreneurs selling everything from STI screening kits to skincare products to software tools pitched their ideas at the third annual Demo Night for Ready Set Raise, a startup accelerator run by Female Founders Alliance.
Seattle-based FFA just wrapped up a virtual version of its eight-week Ready Set Raise program, which requires each company to have a female or non-binary CEO.
This year’s cohort was selected from a batch of more than 400 applications. The eight selected companies have raised a collective $6.3 million. Over the past eight weeks the CEOs spent a combined 200 hours of 1-on-1 mentoring and met with more than 100 investors.
“Our goal with Ready Set Raise is to find those companies that already have great traction, and just teach them how to speak in the language of VC so that VCs will understand them and invest,” FFA founder and CEO Leslie Feinzaig said in her opening comments at the Demo Night on Wednesday.
Venture funding for female founders hit its lowest quarterly total in three years, PitchBook reported in October. A recent study by FFA found that the pandemic has made matters worse for women and non-binary individuals with entrepreneurial aspirations.
FFA initially started as a private Facebook group of women who wanted to help support female founders and entrepreneurs. It now has more than 20,000 members since launching in 2017 and graduated three Ready Set Raise cohorts.
The organization doesn’t take equity from companies participating in the accelerator program. However, it asks startups to grant pro rata rights: the opportunity to invest up to $200,000 in a future round, at a 20% discount from the lead investor’s terms in the round.
FFA is a social purpose corporation, a type of profit corporation the state of Washington created in 2012, and is funded primarily through corporate partners. FFA has also inked partnerships with groups such as Microsoft for Startups and Bellevue, Wash.-based venture capital firm Trilogy Equity Partners. It hosted its third annual Champion Awards event in August.
Here’s a quick rundown of each company in the third Ready Set Raise cohort, listed in the order they pitched.
The pitch: “Our product line represents the opposite of traditional beauty. We appeal to all ages, but we resonate deeply with the Gen-Z men and women. This demographic craves clean products that don’t include preservatives, sulfates, or parabens, and they expect affordable pricing for products that yield results. Mary Louise Cosmetics is reinventing skincare rituals for the next generation. Our multi-use formulations with ethically-sourced materials create accessible, dynamic products that customers buy time and time again.”
The pitch: “Gearo is a SaaS-enabled outdoor gear marketplace. We give consumers access to accurate, transparent, and bookable inventory that is available across our network of over 200 retailers and 75 cities. On the marketplace, you can rent and buy gear, as well as book experiences. Searching for a bike rental at a particular location has never been easier. You just view all your options and click one and reserve online. It’s super simple.”
The pitch: “tbd health enables women to take control of their sexual health and wellness. We’re starting with at-home STI screening for women. It’s really important that women get screened. Unfortunately, existing solutions are challenging. It’s inconvenient to book a doctor’s appointment. It’s also embarrassing and uncomfortable, especially when it comes to sexual health. And there’s also limited access to information. About 52% of women surveyed said that they would actually make different life choices if they would have known that STIs were linked to infertility. And this is exactly what tbd solves.”
The pitch: “Fix Fake delivers risk-scoring software to automate authentication and find fakes for e-commerce marketplaces. Fix Fake solves this problem by halving the authentication costs. We reduce the number of problematic inventory that gets into the system. We accelerate and reduce the cost to authenticate. And we reduce fraudulent claims and counterfeit returns.”
The pitch: “Health In Her HUE is a telehealth and wellness platform for women of color looking for culturally sensitive and personalized care. There are way too many headlines that talk about black women’s poor health outcomes, and too few solutions that address their unique needs. The lack of targeted solutions for these women and other women of color is not only driving up healthcare costs, but it’s costing these women their lives.”
The pitch: “datacy is a consumer-to-business insights data marketplace. Businesses need consumer data to create new products, to understand customers, and to carry out market and trend analysis. They spend $308 billion every year buying this data. Despite this real need, the data-buying process today remains manual, fragmented, and unethical, resulting in data that is old, non-compliant and full of holes.”
The pitch: “Brightly is the new destination for the consciously-curious consumer. We make eco-friendly shopping and living easy for thousands of millennial and Gen Z women everyday. We’re building a commerce company that is designed to change consumer behavior for good. We’re the most trusted essential destination for this generation of consciously-curious consumers.”
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News – Meet the startups that just pitched at a virtual Demo Night hosted by Female Founders Alliance