Female Founders: Meet the Woman Who Wants to Fund Your Next Start-Up|
Meet Georgie Weedon, co-founder of Host of Ideas. Host of Ideas is an online platform that connects investors with entrepreneurs based out of UK, US and India. Today, Georgie’s announcing the beginning of its “Female Founders Challenge”– a competition for female-founded tech start-ups– backed by Host of Ideas’ impressive list of founding members: Michael Cline of Accretive Ventures, financier Sir Laurie Magnus, entrepreneur turned venture capitalist David Giampaolo, not to mention members of the Harvard Business School Angels and the Forbes Midas List.
The Founders Challenge is an opportunity for female founders to present their business cases online (and in person, if you’re in the UK) to a judging panel of professional venture capitalists and angel investors, and to compete for a prize of $7,500 (or 5,000). The competition is open now and runs throughout August. Entry is free before 30th July. Winning venture and entrants receive complimentary access to Host of Ideas’ top-?flight investor base looking to invest in promising startups.
We spoke with Georgie to get the behind-the-scenes on the challenge:
Levo: You and your co-founder, Will Andrews, are launching a platform, Host of Ideas, today in the hopes that you will attract female-founded startups to your capital pool. What prompted the Female Founders Challenge? Is this Host of Idea’s first time pursuing female startups specifically?
Georgie: We felt it was a very interesting market to push into, and I would personally like to see more female founders being given the support and ambition to succeed. We launched the whole platform this week so it is our first time pursuing female start-ups.
You say that you have a pool of active and influential investors. What percentage of those investors are female? What do you think the implications are of that percentage on the angel market for young entrepreneurs today? Who’s missing out- and who’s benefiting from the disparity?
I would say around 15% of our investors are female at this point, and this is (of course) a ratio we active seek to balance. In terms of missing out, it is an interesting question. I think there are probably more “potential” female founders that don’t go for it than males, which is a shame.
Being an entrepreneur comes with lots of challenges– but it can also give you an immense amount of freedom. If you get it right(and have a healthy dose of luck), you get to write the rules for your life, and create something that in turn is likely to generate jobs, create a culture etc. Of course most start-ups fail; but I have generally learnt the most through my failures. I think everyone benefits from a healthy start-up scene.
We’ve got lots of background on Andrews from you already, but nothing about you– what’s your story? Do you have a management consulting background, too?
No management consulting for me although I am very happy that Will has had a top experience (in that regard) at McKinsey. I started my career in media and after publishing a book about the Middle East and making some films I joined the launch team of Al Jazeera English, the global news channel, as Head of Acquisitions and Commissioning Editor, and was in fact the third employee at the channel. It was a fantastic time and an insight in how to launch a global company with offices in 40 counties!
After that I founded my communications agency Gingerwink Media and worked with some very interesting clients including UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the UK’s FCO. Through that I was selected onto the Climate Leadership Programme at Cambridge University and did some very interesting work with the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Group on Climate Change. Gingerwink also had a film production arm– and we won several industry new talent awards, including being selected to screen at BAFTA (which was a big deal for us at the time).
I met Will through my work at Gingerwink Media and it seemed a very natural fit to join him in the launch of Host of Ideas and to start galvanizing the start-up scene on both sides of the Atlantic. I did study Java for a year, so it is not so absurd that I’ve come full circle into co-founding a tech company.
What other funding campaigns do you have going that our community should know about?
We are also launching a “Heathcare Apps” campaign, live now, and in the coming months “Big Data and Analytics,” “Cleantech and Green” and “Education Apps”– but anyone is welcome to submit their ideas in any field, and they will get seen by our investors. Our investors are also interested in investing in non-tech companies.
What’s the number one reason to apply to the Female Founders Challenge? Who are you hearing from so far?
The number one reason is that we have great investors ready to invest in great start-ups and we want to encourage more female founders into the fold! Come and sign up! So far we have been hearing from all sort of very interesting people. I just attended the Harvard Business School summer party and we’ve had some great ideas that have come through their alumni. But we want to stress that you don’t have to be Ivy League to start a great start-up!
Check out the Female Founders Challenge at Host of Ideas here, and submit your ideas fee- free now through July 30th.