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New accelerator looks to give female founders a Big Push

The Big Push (TBP) is an all-female led accelerator dedicated to the promotion of female-founded tech companies. Based out of Toronto, the program focusses on giving early stage female-founded startups what they need during their transition from seed funding to their Series A round of investment.

The founder gap
TBP is hoping to help correct the dismal inclusivity numbers in Canadian tech leadership. As founder Sharon Zohar puts it, “The statistics are pitiful.”

According to a new report by MovetheDial, only five percent of Canadian tech companies have a female CEO, and only five percent have a female founder. This is shocking in light of other recent numbers from McKinsey Global Institute, showing that women make up 45 percent of entry-level workers and 39 percent of managers in tech in Canada.

As an entrepreneur with twenty years of experience, Zohar is no stranger to the disparity within the Canadian startup community. That’s why she decided to found The Big Push and help women in tech make the move from entry-level or managerial involvement to founding and growing a company, and bringing a product to market.

”I realized after building other companies,” says Zohar, “some successful, some not so successful, that what I needed to do was create something that was able to help founders at that critical stage and get them through to the other side, and get them investment ready.”

Sharon Zohar - founder of The Big Push

Sharon Zohar – founder of The Big Push
The Big Push

The TBP process
The Big Push will work closely with ten startups per year. Each company must have a female founder or co-founder, be focussed in the tech sector and have introduced a product that is already getting demonstrable lift in the market.

Zohar and fellow board members work closely with each female founded tech company to put together a capabilities list, and identify how best to move the business forward using TBP’s expertise.

“What we do is really different than the traditional investor-type approach,” says Zohar. “We don’t ask for the pitch deck. We don’t ask them to sit there and tell us all about their company in a formalized way. We get together with the collective group of ten (TBP’s advisory). We listen and ask what they need from us, to better understand where they’re going and what their gaps are.”

The Big Push has picked art space sharing platform Artery as the first startup to benefit from the program. Artery uses sharing economy tools to allow artists to perform or exhibit their work in private spaces.

Asked what made The Big Push pick Artery as its first startup to accelerate, Zohar indicated a respect for founder Salimah Ebrahim and the disruptive potential of her idea. “We believe in her and her vision is really exciting to us. Artery is really the new frontier of the sharing economy.”

The Future
Zohar hopes that, in the future, The Big Push can be expanded, so that their current equity-for-service model can become a larger crowdfunding-style platform available to many more female entrepreneurs.

“Obviously, we have ten female executives on board… and we can only take on ‘x’ amount of startups per year. So if we could provide such a platform so that many more can get value from it, that would be what we’d like to see. And be able to ensure that in order to become part of that platform, at least fifty percent of your c-suite would have to be female.”

The Big Push is focussed on changing the lay of the land when it comes to women in tech, to better indicate the contributions being made by women to Canada’s tech economy. But Zohar is quick to point out that no single group can do it on their own.

“I think everybody should have a hand in it: the government, entrepreneurs, industries. We are all interconnected. The conversation has to happen and the activity and movement has to occur from all angles.”

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