Top Womxn Tech Founders Claim $200,000 in SheBoot Pitch Competition

Posted in News, Press Releases
Nov 13, 2020

Capital angel network logo and invest ottawa logo

Ottawa, Ontario – October 19, 2020: The Capital Angel Network, a group of angel investors in the Ottawa-Gatineau Region, and Invest Ottawa, lead economic development agency for knowledge-based industries in Canada’s Capital, are delighted to announce the winners of the first SheBoot pitch competition hosted on Thursday, October 15, 2020.

Hosted during the kickoff of AccelerateOTT Virtual, the flagship entrepreneurship conference hosted by Invest Ottawa, all 10 women founders in the inaugural SheBoot cohort competed for $200,000 in funding.  The entrepreneurs pitched their business live for investors and AccelerateOTT participants with the following founders claiming awards:

  • Julie MacDonnell, Co-Founder and CEO of Heirlume, an AI-based technology company that makes the complex process of trademarking fast, accurate, trusted, and affordable: Top prize of $150,000 in funding.
  • Audrey Bond, Founder and CEO of Vaultt, an encrypted information management and communication platform to help families, caregivers and home care agencies securely store, manage and share vital information, updates, documents, schedules and tasks: Second prize of $50,000 in funding.
  • Shannon Ferguson, Co-Founder and CEO of FanSaves, a digital couponing platform that features discounts and deals from sponsors and affiliates brands of organizations, teams, events, chambers, influencers and more: Tied for Crowd Favorite Award with an opportunity to pitch the Capital Angel Network.
  • Cassie Myers, Founder and CEO of Lunaria, a technology company that provides complete diversity, equity and inclusion solutions that put people first and drive real returns: Tied for Crowd Favorite Award with an opportunity to pitch the Capital Angel Network.

Established by Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network, SheBoot aims to address long-standing systemic challenges in the investment landscape by increasing funding for women founders and the number of women making investments.  It is a critical objective as only 2.7 percent of global venture capital is currently allocated to women entrepreneurs.

The intensive four-week investment-ready bootcamp designed by women founders and investors concluded with pitch competition that awarded $200,000 in capital including:

  • $100,000 in equity-based funding from women investors in the Capital Angel Network
  • $100,000 in non-dilutive funding (which does not require the founders to give-up equity) through the Scale-Up Platform supported by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered by Invest Ottawa in Eastern Ontario

Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network look forward to hosting the next SheBoot bootcamp in 2021.


Featured Quotes

“Women entrepreneurs face unique and systemic challenges, which have been amplified by the COVID-19 crisis. Through SheBoot, led by Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network and with support from FedDev Ontario, more women founders can access the expertise, networking and investment needed to grow their tech businesses. The Government of Canada is here to support women entrepreneurs and small businesses, and work together to build a stronger, better Canada for everyone. Congratulations to the 10 participants of the inaugural SheBoot cohort and to the winners of the pitch competition.”

  • The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario

“On behalf of the Capital Angel Network (CAN), Invest Ottawa and our many partners, I would like to thank all founders who participated in SheBoot.  It was amazing to experience the progress of all entrepreneurs over the last four weeks.  I am also delighted Heirlume, our SheBoot pitch winner, becomes the 100th company supported by CAN.  This is an exciting milestone for our organization. Over the last 10 years, less than 20 percent of our portfolio firms included a women founder. With the many talented women-owned firms that participated in SheBoot, we expect this number to be far greater in the future.”

  • Jennifer Francis, Investor, Chair of the Capital Angel Network, Director of the Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards Board, and SheBoot Co-Founder and Program Leader

“I am delighted with the outcomes achieved by all founders in our inaugural cohort of SheBoot. This program truly reinforces the power of collaboration.  We are incredibly grateful for the commitment of all participating entrepreneurs, and more than 50 women investors, founders and leaders helping to deliver this program. As our ultimate goal is to help all ten founders acquire investment, we look forward to supporting the long-term growth of each company. This includes on-going coaching from SheBoot mentors and ghost board members. We look forward to celebrating the on-going success of all firms.”

  • Julia Elvidge, Investor, Invest Ottawa Advisor, Director of the Capital Angel Network Board, and SheBoot Co-Founder and Program Leader

“It was an honour to collaborate with 10 amazing founders through SheBoot and celebrate their powerful pitches during the launch of AccelerateOTT.  This bootcamp directly supports bold goals we have established with our community as part of our Female Founder and Womxn-Owned Business Strategy. We aim to help Ottawa become the greatest region in the world for women founders from every walk of life to launch, grow and scale successful global firms.

  • Sonya Shorey, Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Communications, Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards, SheBoot Co-Founder and Program Leader

“We are an extremely high growth startup that fulfils all the criteria of a venture-backed company. Based on the diversity and intersectionality of our founding and executive team, statistics show we have a less than a one percent chance of being funded through traditional sources. Programs such as SheBoot are lifesavers to startups such as Heirlume.  They are critical to our success and the success of many other women-led firms. SheBoot equipped us with training, expertise and funding will help catalyze our long-term growth, sustainability and success.”

  • Julie MacDonnell, Co-Founder and CEO, Heirlume; First place winner of the SheBoot Pitch Competition

“I am very grateful to Invest Ottawa and the Capital Angel Network for the opportunity to participate in SheBoot. In addition to winning $50,000 in non-dilutive funding for my firm, I gained invaluable skills and relationships that will propel our business growth. It is very challenging to launch and grow a tech startup. Few succeed, and women founders have an even steeper hill to climb. SheBoot helps women tech founders acquire more investment in a world where less than 3 percent of global venture funding goes to women entrepreneurs. I’m very thankful for all those who champion and support women tech founders.”

  • Audrey Bond, Founder & CEO at

“As a mixed-race Black woman working in technology, I am no stranger to the odds stacked against me to raise capital, no matter the success of Lunaria.  The statistics get even worse when we look to LGBTQ2+ and Indigenous founders. SheBoot offered an incredible opportunity to learn how to package our technology, customer interactions, and team to get the capital needed to continue our growth. Programs like SheBoot are critical to fight against systemic discrimination and provide successful, sustainable and promising minority-owned businesses the capital needed to accelerate their growth. I’m very grateful for SheBoot and the mentorship, community and learning provided to get Lunaria to the next level.”

  • Cassie Myers, Founder and CEO, Lunaria

“Raising money has become a big focus of ours at FanSaves as we continue to scale and SheBoot couldn’t have come at a better time. The program has given me a wealth of knowledge and the confidence to walk into investor meetings with a much better grasp on our business. Being a woman in tech seeking investment comes with its own set of challenges but I now have the tools to break down those barriers and ensure we get funded.”

  • Shannon Ferguson, Co-founder and CEO, FanSaves


Backgrounder: Why “Womxn”?

The word ‘women’ is an alternative term to the English language word ‘women’. We use this term to explicitly include those who identify as women, transgender women, women of colour and non-binary individuals. This choice supports our concerted effort to create a culture of belonging.


About the Capital Angel Network

Founded in 2009, the Capital Angel Network (CAN) has invested in almost 100 in startups in the National Capital Region over the last decade. Since the inception of this network, CAN members have invested more than $30 million into early-stage companies, with 90 percent of these firms based in Canada’s Capital. This funding has also leveraged more than $250 million in additional investment through government contributions, syndication with other angel groups, and venture capital funds. Our portfolio has seen nine exits that provided a positive return for investors. Our membership currently includes more than 50 Angels, 20 percent of whom are women. In the last 12 months, our members have made ten new investments and nine follow-on investments, that total $5 million. For additional information, please visit:


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 the City of Ottawa. Guided by a vision to help realize Ottawa’s full potential as a globally recognized, innovative 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 founder and manager of Area X.O, the futureplex of innovation and collaboration. Since 2012, Invest Ottawa has worked with thousands of entrepreneurs and companies; helped firms attract more than $666 million in capital; contributed to the creation of more than 9,714 jobs; and attracted $862 million in domestic and foreign investment.  For additional information, please visit:


About FedDev Ontario

For more than 10 years, FedDev Ontario has actively worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation and growth in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving their productivity, growing their revenues, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Read more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario.


Media Contact

Sonya Shorey

Vice President, Strategy, Marketing and Communications

Invest Ottawa and Bayview Yards


[email protected]

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