Google has announced its first accelerator program for women-led startups in India. Its aim is to help women-led startups scale by connecting them to the right mentors and network of other startups, helping them raise funds, and hiring the right tech talent.
Google is looking to shortlist 40 startups every year divided over two cohorts and mentor each cohort for three months. Startups that have raised a seed to series A fund and have a woman on the founding team can apply for the program.
Aditya Swamy, director of Google Play & Google for Startups said, “There’s a large women population with the ambition to truly build and design and influence society, but they’re not getting access to capital.”
Swamy points out that out of the billions of dollars raised by startups in India, only 6% of funding went to women-led startups. Startups that are entirely led by women accounted for only 1.5% of the funding.
“From a product point of view, if we have more women-founded companies, they will truly be able to solve the problems that women experience and that will make our society truly inclusive,” added Swamy.
Paul Ravindranath G, program manager, Developer Relations & Head of Google Accelerator at Google India said that there are three or four key themes that Google wants to ethically address through this accelerator.
One of them is access to mentors. Ravindranath G noted that 48% of women said that they didn’t necessarily have a great mentor. “Mentorship has been the backbone of our programs. And we’re trying to really build a strong mentor base and make sure that we are able to address the needs of women-led startups.”
The accelerator will also focus on solving the funding problem for these startups. Ravindranath G said, “We are looking at what can be done to enable these women founders to be better prepared to raise funds. It will include pitching, storytelling and providing them access to our community or network of investors.”
The other focus area of the accelerator is to give women founders access to a network of other women-led startups from India and other countries. “We have a global women founder network and we will make sure that the founders from India get plugged in and have the opportunity to get insights from them,” he added.
The program will start with an analysis followed by an understanding of the core issues faced by the startups. Then they will start a mentor matching process after which the mentor and a Google team will focus on the women founder and the challenges faced by her startup.
Further, the program will also try to solve their hiring problems. Ravindranath G points out that a lot of women founders have expressed difficulty in hiring tech teams or finding a CTO or building a tech team that believes in their idea.
Other benefits of the accelerator program include access to workshops, tech architecture reviews, and design and UX-related assistance.