Tech competition to offer $15,000 cash prize, investment opportunities to women-led startups

LAHORE: She Loves Tech, a women-centric global technology startup competition, is coming to Pakistan for the fourth time, offering women-led startups a chance to compete for $15,000 equity-free cash prize, investment opportunities and other benefits. 

Startups that are in the early stages seeking seed, angel or A round funding (under $5 million) and have a viable product beyond a conceptual stage are eligible to apply. Startups applying should be solving key problems affecting women, with the end product targeting female users.

The 2020 edition of She Loves Tech will take place at more than 30 locations including China, Germany, Singapore, Hong Kong etc. In Pakistan, it is being hosted by CIRCLE Women Association, a leading social enterprise that aims to build and develop the entrepreneurial and leadership capacity of women in Pakistan. 

The competition will be hosted in 10 cities, including Azad Kashmir, Sukkur, Multan and Faisalabad — while working with different NGOs, academic institutes, incubators and ecosystem partners across the country.  CIRCLE will be hosting 10 local rounds that will all happen virtually making it possible for women anywhere in Pakistan to join from home. 

For 2020, the competition is looking for startups from following verticals: fintech, enterprise solutions, health and wellbeing, education, cleantech and sustainability, consumer and retail, food and agritech, women’s issues and smart cities. As many as 20 startups from the local rounds will pitch in the semifinals and then the country’s top 10 will compete in the final round. 

Prior to the final, top mentors will be assigned to the finalists who will be able to hold office hours with the mentors on topics ranging from marketing, business planning, fundraising etc. 

The competition is not restricted to females only. Male entrepreneurs can also apply if their technology startup is impacting women positively or technology startups that have at least one woman entrepreneur in the founding team. 

Furthermore, the goal is to reach 10,000 young women and girls through the startup competition, the pitches, panels, inspiring talks, digital boot camps and workshops specially designed for women. 

CIRCLE Founder Sadaffe Abid said, “This year we aim to impact 10,000 young women and girls through She Loves Tech Pakistan which will include pitches, digital boot camps, workshops and more. Investing in women is smart economics. Pakistan must build policies and ecosystems to support women.”

The successful startup will be able to win the equity-free cash prize, special media feature, mentorship session with top VC partner, pass to THK forum, customised boot camps and lots of investment opportunities. 

Last year, CIRCLE team of six women embarked on a journey using trains, buses and public transport to promote She Loves Tech and encourage women to believe in themselves. The team was received with enthusiasm, reinforcing the fact that the roads do belong to women. 

Yishel Khan of DOT Mind Unlocked had won the ‘Pakistan She Loves Tech National Competition’ in 2019 and travelled to China to represent the country and compete with 20 startups at the global finals in Beijing. 

“We at DOT use a data-driven approach. We have developed a wearable headset that reads brainwave activities and uses artificial intelligence to predict different mental health conditions and provide therapy through games,” Yishel had said. 

She Loves Tech provided networks, exposure and capacity building workshops to Yishel. She is now in the midst of a conversation with manufacturers in China for their headsets leading to a launch in the market. 

The DOT team has been spreading awareness on Covid-19, and released an app called Breathe. This app will help people cope with stress and anxiety during these unprecedented times. 

Taimoor Hassan
The author is a staff member and can be reached at [email protected]

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