How Women In Cloud is turning the tide for female tech entrepreneurs

Despite the cloud opportunity being pegged at $4.5Trillion dollars, female tech entrepreneurs capture less than 2% of market share

Research conducted by the  Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)  found that “In 2016, an estimated 163 million women were starting or running new businesses in 74 economies around the world. In addition, an estimated 111 million were running established businesses. This not only shows the impact of women entrepreneurs across the globe but highlights their contributions to the growth and well-being of their societies”. These findings highlight the even greater gender disparity in the tech industry. 

The Women in Cloud initiative, a joint effort from Microsoft, Meylah and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, hopes to turn the tide with a program that advances female tech entrepreneurs, giving them access to resources, distribution, customers and advisors to leverage the power of the cloud, as well as a robust accelerator to help them meet investors.

The initiative was largely the result of connections made at Microsoft Ignite in Washington. Through informal meetings, founders  decided to create an initiative to celebrate female tech entrepreneurs along with providing resources to leverage existing and future technology. The effort also aims to provide education and resources on forming partnerships with industry and government partners. The community is first focused on US companies in and around Washington, but with an eye towards supporting entrepreneurs elsewhere eventually too. Although the initiative is still young, it’s already made significant strides and aims to start a movement.

At the official launch of the initiative on 2nd March 2018, Gretchen O’Hara, VP Go-To-Market Strategy, One Commercial Partner at Microsoft told accelerator participants that Microsoft is “deeply committed” to the initiative, including one on one support.

One of the things I am very excited to announce, is I have been working personally to get a Microsoft Executive assigned to each and every one of you as a mentor and advisor of this incubator, and I have been able to accomplish that.

Friends in High Places

Partnerships are at the core of any successful tech enterprise and finding and fully utilizing the right tools can make the difference between success and failure. Through the Women in Cloud Accelerator, participants can work to find the ideal suite of tools to fully realize their efforts. The interaction and guidance offered at the accelerator benefits both parties: Participants receive discounts and top-notch consulting, while Microsoft and HPE can help entrepreneurs build their client base and encourage participants to share their knowledge with others. We recently spoke to one of the initiative’s co-founders, HPE’s Carrie Francey.

The six-month Women in Cloud accelerator program relies on proven and well-tested methodologies – participants all gain access to and incentives for using the latest in Microsoft and HPE technology. Currently, the program is limited to just 20 to 30 participants, ensuring those involved receive ample attention. Participants also get access to leading industry experts who provide coaching and mentoring.

Those who participate will take part in a one-day immersion workshop to cover the basics. All participants will also receive extensive one-on-one coaching. Those who migrate to the Azure platform will receive free assistance, a benefit worth $1,500, and up to $5,000 worth of solutions architecture and users experience developing billed at 50% off. The curriculum also involves 100 hours of personalised and interactive training along with cloud development strategy sessions. The business side is covered as well; funding and negotiation strategies are part of the program, as is content for pitch preparation, lead generation, deal negotiating, and co-selling. Participants are asked to pay an $1,000 administrative fee, as well as being encouraged to share their own skills back with the community by mentoring, advising, and recruiting young interns along with investing in the future where possible.

Who Participated in 2018?

Graduates from its inaugural class of 12 companies are already praising the experience and looking forward to utilizing what they’ve learned to make the most of cloud opportunities. In total, 12 companies were selected to participate in this year’s program. Kate Isler launched Daysaver to bring cloud-based healthcare scheduling to some of the largest healthcare providers. Like many newer companies, Daysaver needs to rely on scalable infrastructure to grow, and the difficulties of predicting future demand and determining the best way to handle growth makes determining cloud requirements difficult. Through the accelerator, her company will be better able to handle taking on new clients.

Other participants include Clever Databases, Red Sky, Computing Kids, Stylyze, Plantmatch, Agile Impact Group, Bitlume, genneve, Automation Marketing, Visual Media Group, and RightScience.  CEO of genneve, Jill Angelo, stated that the program helped her company leverage the power of Microsoft and HPE’s expansive network and prepare to take her business to a business-to-business audience. Sharon A. Davison, Ph.D. and CEO of Red Sky, called the program the “missing link” for achieving growth and boosting revenue.

When successful women come together great things happen. Red Sky is thrilled to be part of Women in Cloud Accelerator program sponsored by Microsoft, HPE and hosted by Meylah. This is a huge opportunity for us to build our cloud business and utilize the support of these great partners along this exciting journey.

We recently caught up with Meylah’s Chief Marketing Officer and Women in Cloud co-founder Chaitra Vedullapalli to find out why the initiative is so important.

The Women in Cloud initiative may be young, but it’s an ambitious effort led by talented individuals aiming to create bridges for the world’s most promising female tech entrepreneurs to develop and share resources. Given it has the backing of both Microsoft and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, its accelerator promises to provide a solid foundation upon which the initiative can spread. Its founders are currently looking for cloud advisors, mentors to support the participation of their cohorts. In addition, they are seeking companies to reach out and explore how they can provide access and opportunity to adopt solutions in their ecosystems. Pledge today!