M12 announces $4 million competition for female-founded startups

Posted Jul 28, 2018 by Lisa Cumming
M12, Microsoft’s corporate venture fund, announced a new competition for female-led enterprise technology solutions startups where two teams have the chance to win $2 million in funding each.
Microsoft Campus
Microsoft Campus
Microsoft and M12, formerly known as Microsoft Ventures, made the announcement via a blog post Thursday.
The Female Founders Competition is an attempt by Microsoft to feed more VC dollars toward "high potential" female entrepreneurs.
"Women make up nearly 40 percent of our investment team," reads the blog post. "(T)hese efforts are not yet reflected in our portfolio, where only about 8 percent of our founders are women."
The funding will be provided through a partnership between M12, EQT Ventures, and SVB Financial Group.
Startups interested in applying need to have at least one female founder and have raised less than $4 million in funding, through equity or debt financing. During the live pitch process where 10 teams are selected, applicants are to present their idea "as a solution that is solving a critical business problem."
The competition is open across Europe, Israel, and North America (U.S., Canada and Mexico). Applications are open until September 30 this year.
"We formed M12 to make smart bets on innovative people and their ideas, and the Female Founders Competition is an extension of that mandate," said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft, in an M12 press release on the competition. "This isn't about checking a box; it's an opportunity to remind the VC community that investing in women is more than just good values, it's good business."