Small business support network Enterprise Nation will be awarding one deserving woman the title of female startup of the year. The crowning ceremony will take place at the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs 2016 (Friday 21 October) after a pitching competition to decide who has The XX Factor.

“We wanted to shine a spotlight on some great female-founded businesses that have got great ideas and ambition to match.”

 

emma-jones-at-ffe15We spoke to Emma Jones MBE, founder of Enterprise Nation, to find out why they are celebrating women startups in this way and what they are looking for from entrants. Emma tells us,”We wanted to shine a spotlight on some great female-founded businesses that have got great ideas and ambition to match. We’re not so worried about how much they’ve raised, it’s more the modus operandi, ingenuity and tenacity we’re interested in.

“The startup awards space is dominated by firms that have raised millions from investors and tell the world they are building gazelles and unicorns that will be the next Google or Facebook. It’s all good stuff and we’re delighted to see such good news, but it doesn’t reflect the way women start businesses. That’s not to say success evades women at all. It simply means they are starting out small and growing organically, testing their business before they start to take on debt.

“There’s also a need for better advice to women on how to de-risk raising money”

 

“We’ll actually be debating the way women raise money at the Festival. Things have changed a lot with the option of crowd funding and startup loans. But there’s also a need for better advice to women on how to de-risk raising money. It’s going to be a lively debate!”

Techie treats

The festival is aimed at celebrating women who are starting businesses and loving it, and this year it boasts a whole host of techie treats.

Hosted at science centre, At-Bristol, speakers include Jess Butcher, founder of Blippar – the visual discovery app that uses augmented reality and artificial intelligence; Alex Depledge, chair of Coadec – a non-profit that campaigns for policies to support digital startups; and founder of Hassle.com an app that lets you find and book a local recommended cleaner.

There will be a tech panel discussing where technology is taking us featuring a certain tech editor [Ed: That’s me!], and the Life’s a Pitch competition part judged by Mike Jackson, CEO of Webstart – the Bristol and Bath internet incubator. The winner of the competition will then become female startup of the year.

“There are some great female role tech models like Martha Lane Fox, Alex Depledge and Sarah Wood so we’re looking forward to seeing lots more”

 

Emma adds, “A recent piece of research has shown that if small firms made the most of the digital opportunity, it could generate another £92bn for the economy and countless jobs. While we are seeing more women run businesses, those that are purely tech are still sadly fewer than those started by men. But thankfully, there are some great female role tech models like Martha Lane Fox, Alex Depledge and Sarah Wood so we’re looking forward to seeing lots more.”

ffe15-at-colston-hall

Advice for applicants

Last year over 800 males and females passed through the doors, and this year they are expecting even more attendees, so competition to stand out as a winner will be that bit harder. This is why we asked Emma for some advice for those thinking about applying. She says, “We want to see great ideas, passion, creativity and solid financial management. Women who are thinking outside the box, but also reaching into new areas, reviving tired practices and making a difference along the way.

“[She] saw how cultures reject girls and women during menstruation – she decided to do something about it while finding a solution. That’s girl power!”

 

“Chloe Tingle of No More Taboo, who won last year, has got such a great social purpose behind her business – and her approach to it has been smart and single-minded. She’s another example of someone who has taken a different view on an ancient issue. She didn’t just accept the injustice she saw when she travelled the world and saw how cultures reject girls and women during menstruation – she decided to do something about it while finding a solution. That’s girl power!”

To find out more information about the line up, logistics and get tickets, you can check out the Enterprise Nation website, or follow them on Twitter @e_nation or by using the Hashtag #FFE16. The FFE16 will be 9.30am – 6pm Friday 21 October, At-Bristol, Anchor Road, Harbourside, Bristol BS1 5DB, £49 for the full day (inclusive of VAT).

[Image Credit: Nina Allwood, www.lifestyledistrict.co.uk