DMZ launches accelerator supporting women founders


The DMZ has launched an accelerator to support early-stage companies led by women.

The four-month accelerator program will help eight women-led tech companies accelerate product-market fit and secure early revenue. Women will get access to growth mentors and hands-on support to build tailored customer acquisition plans, land customer contracts, and reduce sales cycles.

Participants will also immerse their company in the US market through an all-expenses paid trip to New York City — where the DMZ has a satellite location — to meet international investors and potential customers. At the end of the program, each finalist will pitch to judges for a cash prize sponsored by Scotiabank and Tangerine.

“When we talk about the women-in-tech pipeline, we fall short on retention — supporting the women founders who are currently in our ecosystem.”

“Advocating for gender parity in Canada’s startup ecosystem is a social and economic necessity,” said Michelle Caers, founder and CEO of DesignedUX and the program’s lead DMZ Entrepreneur-in-Residence. “In order to strengthen the position of women in the startup ecosystem, the DMZ’s Women Founders program will equip entrepreneurs with the necessary connections, capital and community to compete in Canada’s burgeoning tech sector.”

Ahead of the accelerator’s launch, the DMZ conducted a survey including 30 women to get an understanding of where founders felt their challenges lie. Fifty-seven percent surveyed believe their biggest barrier to acquiring customers is due to a lack of credibility, while 82 percent believe that customer acquisition is the most difficult milestone to reach.

“If we want Canada to be a global technology leader, we need to be heavily focused on the advancement of women in our startup ecosystem,” said Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ at Ryerson University. “The DMZ Women Founders program has been brought to life by serial entrepreneurs, industry leaders and months of research designed to create an efficient engine that advances the potential of entrepreneurs by solving the well-identified barriers in early market validation.”

Sixty-six percent of women entrepreneurs do not have a mentor even though 84 per cent believe that a mentor would’ve been helpful in the beginning stages of growing their business.

“Often, when we talk about the women-in-tech pipeline, we fall short on retention — supporting the women founders who are currently in our ecosystem,” said Kirstine Stewart, TribalScale’s president and chief revenue officer. “The DMZ Women Founder program is tailored to provide founders with an inclusive space to receive the tools and mentorship needed to reach product-market fit – one of the key barriers for women founders of early-stage tech companies.”

Applications to the DMZ Women Founders program will open on February 15, 2018 and close on March 20, 2018 on the official website.

Photo by Natalia Dolan

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Freelance tech writer. Former BetaKit News Editor.

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