The Rochester Women Investors Forum on December 4 was a tremendous success in launching a nationwide movement to increase the number of women investors as well as support women-led technology companies. Rochester was the first stop on a five-city tour to bring attention, resources, and connections to this vital aspect of economic development.
The program, which is an on-going collaboration by Chloe Capital, The Entrepreneurs Network (TEN) and COMIDA showcased the commitment Monroe County has to women-led technology companies. Currently, women-led technology companies receive only 5% of VC capital with companies owned by women of color receiving just .2%.
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo was one of the speakers who inspired more than 100 leaders, business people, and investors who attended the presentations, networking opportunities, and a pitch event that culminated in a $100,000 investment by Chloe Capital.
Talking about the strong advantages of doing business in Monroe County, Executive Dinolfo cited our rich heritage of moving women forward with the example of hometown heroine, Susan B. Anthony. She said investing in women with money and education is a goal of Monroe County, which offers a strong support network that makes a game-changing difference for female entrepreneurs.
Spotlighted throughout the day were local women entrepreneurs, several whom are graduating from the first TEN Women Business Accelerator. The women in this class represent start-ups and scalable companies with more than 100 employees and more than $16 million in revenue.
One of the TEN companies, BetterBred, that improves biodiversity among purebred dogs through genetic testing and a SaasS matchmaking application, was a finalist out of more than 200 applications across New York State for the Chloe investment. The winner was Its By U, a New York City fast-track success story that is taking the market by storm with its DIY flower arrangement kits sent directly to consumers.
Another highlight of the day was a keynote by Dr. Michele Madansky, co-author of Elephant in the Valley, a widely cited study on gender bias in Silicon Valley. She shared, for the first time, her latest data on changes over the last three years on gender bias as well as how gender bias is affecting other industries.
“This is just the beginning of our efforts,” said Jean Kase, executive director of TEN. “Women, along with our male allies like Jeff Adair from COMIDA, are going to put Monroe County on the map in leading the way for women-led technology companies.”