Women 2.0 announced this evening at its annual Pitch Night, that it has received sponsorship by the Kauffman Foundation to support its "Founder Labs," a pre-incubator program whose mission is to increase the number of female founders of technology startups. The sponsorship will double the reach of Women 2.0's pre-incubator program, enabling additional Founder Labs which will serve at least 100 aspiring entrepreneurs in 2011.
Diverse Founding Teams, Agile Development Techniques
Women 2.0 offers workshops, networking opportunities, and competitions in order to support and expand women's participation in high-growth technology startups.
The 5-week Founder Labs program offers 5 teams of 5 people each an intensive training in the Lean Startup methodology. Classes for the program happen on nights and weekends, allowing aspiring entrepreneurs to "keep their day jobs," while working on their startup ideas. With its focus on the Lean Startup methodology, the program emphasizes idea validation, customer development, and rapid prototyping.
The program works to balance both the gender make-up, as well as the technical expertise, of its participants. In other words, the teams that participate are 50% male, 50% female and 50% engineers, 50% non-engineers.
The program boasts participation from a number of well-known investors and entrepreneurs, including Steve Blank and Eric Ries - the "Founding Fellows of Founder Labs."
The Founder Labs program has graduated two classes, and even though 5 weeks is a short amount of time to build a team, let alone a product, the program has produced a number of promising startups, including House of Mikko, a beauty recommendation engine for ethnic women.
According to Shaherose Charania, Women 2.0 CEO and co-founder, "Founder Labs and Women 2.0 are in the business of empowering people to create companies... and that creates jobs." The Founder Labs program also gives participants a crash course in not just the Lean Startup methodology, but into the world of startups - its networks and its resources - all in the support of creating a more diverse group of tech entrepreneurs.