PARIS — Looking to help close the gender gap in the tech start-up ecosystem, the Paris-based arm of Startup Weekend is readying the first global edition of Startup Weekend Women.
Set to run Feb. 9 to 11 at Paris business school EBS, the 54-hour workshop will take place across 23 cities simultaneously, including Brisbane, Australia; Hong Kong; Port-au-Prince in Haïti; Dakar, Senegal, and Denver in the U.S.
According to Armonie Bellepeau Crochet, who is leading the event, only 10 percent of management positions in the tech start-up domain in France are held by women.
The event’s Paris-based participants — expected to total around 100 — will get a minute each to make their pitch. The community will then vote on the best ideas which will be developed across the weekend, covering elements like business model research, creation of prototypes, and market testing, assisted by volunteer mentors. A final pitching session will take place in front of a jury at the close of the weekend, with a winner chosen. The jury members will hail from the teams of some of the event’s sponsors, including RCI Banque, which is active in the mobility technologies domain; AccorHotels, which recently acquired London-based startup Onefinestay; and Wavestone, which has a start-up acceleration program.
The event will mark the second time that Techstars, which acquired Startup Weekend’s parent company UP Global in 2015, is backing a global workshop event.
Startup Weekend encourages the creation of startups through different programs and initiatives. Since its creation in 2007, 2,900 events have been led by local organizers in more than150 countries worldwide, bringing together 193,000 people and creating 23,000 teams. Themes have included finance, fashion, artificial intelligence and education. So far, three editions of Startup Weekend Women have been held in France.
A Global Startup Weekend Women final will be held at the Paris headquarters of AccorHotels on March 7. Each of the winners from around the world will be flown to Paris to present their pitches to an international panel. They will also be given a tour of key addresses in the French tech scene including Station F, billed as the biggest incubator in the world, and Paris Pionnières, billed as the most gender-balanced incubator in Paris.
With start-up incubators mushrooming across France, Bellepeau Crochet described the scene as “ultra dynamic,” adding of the Emmanuel Macron-led government: “Now that we have the support of politicians, it’s even better.” The French government-backed investment group Bpifrance last year invested a record 467 million euros in start-ups, she said.
With more than 3 billion euros invested in French start-ups in 2017, a 10 billion-euro fund is also being set up to invest in “breakthrough innovation,” according to Chloé Rossignol, also on the team behind the event, and head of communication for France Digitale, an independent non-profit organization that represents the French start-up ecosystem.
Around 10 percent of the sector’s venture capital funds have women at their helm, she said. They include Hardware Club, co-founded by Barbara Belvisi; Korelya Capital, founded by former French culture minister, Fleur Pellerin; and Daphni, founded by Marie Ekeland.