Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network Announce the National Expansion of SheBoot, the Investment-Ready Bootcamp for Women Entrepreneurs, and Launch Applications
Ottawa, Ontario – May 26, 2022: Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, and the Capital Angel Network (CAN), a group of angel investors in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, today announced the national expansion of SheBoot, the investment-ready bootcamp that helps to address the critical funding gap facing women founders. SheBoot is receiving advisory services and up to $342,000 in funding from the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to support this expansion and pilot this program across the country. This will help more women tech founders get investment-ready and secure the capital required to fuel their growth and commercial success. Over the last 18 months, SheBoot graduates have raised more than $7.84 million in follow-on investment, with millions more to be announced.
As co-founding organizations, Invest Ottawa and CAN jointly launched the third call for SheBoot applications across the country earlier this month. This program aims to address long-standing systemic challenges in the investment landscape by increasing funding for women founders and the number of women making investments. Designed and delivered by women entrepreneurs and investors, it strives to help scalable technology and tech-enabled women-led businesses tackle significant challenges, including access to capital. This includes the opportunity to vie for a minimum of $200,000 in equity-based investment from women angel investors.
Given the detrimental impact of the pandemic on women, this support is needed more than ever. According to Pitchbook, women founders continue to suffer a ‘disproportionate blow’ when it comes to investment. Despite a record-breaking year in venture capital funding, companies solely founded by women received a mere 2 percent of this funding in 2021. This percentage represents a dismal decline from 2.2 percent in 2020 and an all-time low since 2016.
SheBoot addresses this challenge head-on. This intensive six-week program arms tech or tech-enabled women-led and owned companies with fundamental business and investment skills and increases funding for women founders. It culminates in a pitch competition at AccelerateOTT, the flagship entrepreneurship conference hosted by Invest Ottawa, and the awarding of at least $200,000 of equity-based investment from at least 20 women angels. In this round, SheBoot will also provide up to $150,000 in funding from NRC IRAP, with $10,000 allocated to each of the participating founders. Invest Ottawa and CAN will select fifteen women-led startups from Canada’s Capital and across the country this year. This represents a 33 percent boost in the number of women entrepreneurs who will benefit from SheBoot. The program will be delivered jointly by the Invest Ottawa Venture Development Team and the Capital Angel Network with critical support from dozens of women founders, investors, and mentors.
Applications for SheBoot are now open. Women founders are invited to apply by June 10, 2022 at www.sheboot.ca.
“We are an extremely high-growth startup that fulfills all the criteria of a venture-backed company. Based on the diversity and intersectionality of our founding and executive team, statistics show we have less than one percent chance of being funded through traditional sources. Because of SheBoot and the investment we received through this program, we were in a position to not only attract investors but select the right investment partners. SheBoot equipped us with the training, expertise, and critical funding that helped, and will continue to help, catalyze our long-term growth, sustainability, and success.”
- Julie MacDonnell, Co-Founder and CEO, Haloo (formally Heirlume); First place winner of the SheBoot Pitch Competition
“We have always known that we need more women investors working together to build the next generation of investment-ready women-led and owned tech firms. I am so proud that we are continuing to move this critical needle in the right direction – and in such a short timeframe. Today, women angels represent more than 20% percent of our investors. This has catalyzed $2.5M for women-founded businesses during 2021. This represents 35 percent of our 2021 investments. We aim to help share our learnings to drive sustainable change for women founders and investors across the country.”
- Jennifer Francis, Chair of the Capital Angel Network (CAN), Director of the Invest Ottawa Board, and Co-founder of SheBoot
“It’s incredible to see dozens of women investors, founders, and leaders come together to help deliver this scaling program. Leveraging critical new funding from NRC IRAP, we are creating new opportunities for women founders in Ottawa and across the country. We are excited by the progress and impact we have made as a collaborative community over the last two years. We have established ambitious goals. It will take a critical mass of investors, partners, and allies to help us achieve them. I want to thank all angels, coaches, mentors, and program leaders for making SheBoot possible and fueling the growth of women founders. It is truly powerful collaboration.”
- Julia Elvidge, Investor, Advisor, CAN Director, and Co-founder of SheBoot
“Research shows when more women invest, more women founders get funded. I have seen first-hand the difference that women investors can make in the growth trajectory of a company. SheBoot addresses both sides of the funding gap facing women founders. It has attracted more Canadian women angel investors and helped more women tech founders acquire capital. In my 20 years of investment, I have never seen a model like this. This evolving national program is addressing systemic challenges that have faced women entrepreneurs for generations. I’m so proud to be an investor with SheBoot.”
- Sandra Ng, VP, Tesceleration Investments Inc.; SheBoot Champion and Investor; Capital Angel Network Investor
“Together with our community, we have established a women founders and owners strategy dedicated to enabling and accelerating the growth and success of women entrepreneurs from every walk of life. We aim to help catalyze the first $100 million women-owned and led company in Canada’s Capital. SheBoot is helping us make progress towards this goal. And now with critical support from NRC IRAP, we have the opportunity to collaborate with women founders and investors across the country and help them put SheBoot to work. The national expansion of this program will help drive long-term sustainable change and impact for women founders in Canada. Kathy Griffiths, our NRC IRAP Industrial Technology Advisor, was instrumental in helping us to achieve this goal.”
- Sonya Shorey, Vice President, Strategy, Marketing, and Communications, Invest Ottawa, and Co-Founder of SheBoot
“We are excited to collaborate with the Capital Angel Network, Invest Ottawa, and NRC IRAP on the third cohort of SheBoot. We look forward to working with the next wave of founders and managing the Special Purpose Vehicle for angel investment once again this year. We have seen first-hand how SheBoot is propelling the investment readiness of women-led startups. We have already invested in one of the SheBoot pitch winners. It is amazing to see this program go national and drive cross-Canada collaboration to address investment hurdles facing women entrepreneurs across the country.”
- Pablo Srugo, Principal, Mistral Ventures
SheBoot is a six-week bootcamp based in Ottawa, Ontario that prepares women founders across Canada to pitch their business and secure investment. Launched in March 2020 during International Women’s Week by founding organizations Capital Angel Network and Invest Ottawa, this program aims to help address the funding gap facing women entrepreneurs by increasing the number of women making and receiving investment. Designed and delivered by women investors and entrepreneurs, SheBoot arms technology and technology-enabled startups with fundamental business skills with a focus on investment and market readiness. It culminates in a pitch competition for a minimum of $150,000 of equity-based capital. This investment is made by women investors committed to fueling the next generation of women-owned and led firms. SheBoot has partnered with Mistral Ventures and is delighted to receive advisory services and funding support from NRC IRAP. It also benefits from previous investment through the ScaleUp platform supported by FedDev Ontario. For additional information, please visit: www.sheboot.ca
About the Capital Angel Network
Founded in 2009, the Capital Angel Network (CAN) has been investing in startups in the National Capital Region for over a decade. Since its inception, CAN members have invested close to $60M into 120 early-stage companies 90% of which are based in the National Capital Region. This early stage funding has led to over $500M in additional investment through grants, syndication with other angel groups and venture capital funds. The membership base now consists of over 50 Angels, 20% of which are women. In 2021, CAN invested over $7M in 26 companies – 20 new investments and 6 follow on. For additional information, please visit: www.capitalangels.ca/
About Invest Ottawa
Invest Ottawa is the lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, facilitating economic growth and job creation in Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative, inclusive, and future-ready city, Invest Ottawa delivers venture development, global expansion and talent programs and services that catalyze the growth and success of entrepreneurs and firms. These include small business training, mentorship, acceleration for technology firms, foreign business and investment attraction, local business retention and expansion in targeted sectors, commercialization, and marketing Ottawa’s diversified economy and high quality of life. Invest Ottawa is also the manager of Bayview Yards, Ottawa’s innovation hub and one-stop business acceleration shop; and founder and operator of Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration. Since 2012, Invest Ottawa has worked with thousands of startups, scale-ups, and SMEs; helped firms to attract more than $992 million in capital; contributed to the creation of more than 11,178 jobs; and attracted more than $1 billion in domestic and Foreign Direct Investment. Explore Invest Ottawa’s 2021 Economic Impact Report at: https://bit.ly/3mbuOyL
Here for All Women
When we use the term ‘women’, we are referring to all individuals who identify as women. This includes women of colour, transgender women, and women with gender-diverse identities including non-binary and gender non-conforming women (as we know that gender is fluid and can change throughout one’s lifetime). These women have historically and systemically been excluded from many mainstream programs, services, and opportunities. At SheBoot, Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network are making a concerted effort to prioritize equity, access, and inclusion in everything we do. Our goal is to ensure that anyone who would like to access our programs and services truly feels welcome and supported. We recognize that every founder has unique needs and lived experience, and that, in some cases, we are not currently well equipped to address all of these unique needs.
At SheBoot, we have not yet systematically assessed how we can enhance our programming and advisory to best support gender-diverse founders. As an example, our advisors and program teams have not yet received training to help them address the needs of racialized and gender-diverse founders, however, this is now in process at Invest Ottawa. Leveraging the diversity of our partners and networks, our internal DEI experts, and our generous, committed community, we will do our best to support the needs of all participants. We welcome all women, non-binary, gender diverse, and non-conforming founders to SheBoot, and are committed to listening, learning, and helping every founder to thrive.
Vice President, Strategy, Marketing & Communications