In an effort to support more women entrepreneurs, a new all women-led accelerator has launched in Toronto with the specific purpose to get women founders investment-ready.
Using an equity-for-service model, Toronto-based The Big Push will provide hands-on services and resources to women founders through a collective of senior executives with expertise in key fields like finance, design, law, research, public relations, sales, and marketing.
“The Big Push is a new category in the technology startup accelerator space. Our singular focus is on advancing female founders by helping them achieve their goals through a service-for-equity model,” says Sharon Zohar, founder and CEO of The Big Push. “We give true meaning to the concept of ‘sweat equity’ by providing female founders with the backing of an entire network of senior female executives that are willing to roll up their sleeves to help get startups to the next level of success.”
The Big Push plans to work with 10 startups a year through a four to six-month program, who will receive between $50,000 to $100,000 in professional services in return for three to five percent equity, depending on the degree of services required. The goal is to get founders prepared for large seed and Series A rounds. Artery is its first portfolio company.
“The advancement of women in tech and in other leadership roles is slowly gaining ground. While the conversations are happening, there is still a lot of real work to be done.”
– Kirstine Stewart
“The Big Push is a rare collective – each and everyone involved is a force. They’ve built successful businesses and created impact in their communities and, as entrepreneurs themselves, really understand what it means to be on the front-lines of accessing capital, growing a team, and trying through it all to hold onto your north star,” said Salimah Ebrahim, co-founder of Artery. “That they’re a group of women focused on supporting women-led ventures is important, especially in tech where the gender gap not only exists but in some areas feels like it’s calcifying. It’s exciting to be able to push forward together, share perspectives, and have that experience behind us as we grow Artery.”
The accelerator has already started building an impressive advisory board, which so far includes Kirstine Stewart, chief strategy officer at Diply, and Angus Frame, SVP of digital products at Torstar. Stewart and Frame will help implement The Big Push’s go-to-market strategy, and make connections with corporate sponsors and other funding vehicles. They will also provide mentorship and support to startups.
“The advancement of women in tech and in other leadership roles is slowly gaining ground. While the conversations are happening, there is still a lot of real work to be done to change the status quo and get female founders the support they need to succeed,” said Stewart. “With their hands-on approach to working with female founders during this critical phase, The Big Push will be instrumental in helping this important community in our tech ecosystem position their companies for global success.”