Zone's flagship accelerator program for women entrepreneurs, empoWer 2022, in collaboration with TiE Women, successfully nurtured 43 startups from all over India. The program provided valuable mentorship, cash prizes of Rs. 15 lakhs, and a week market access to Quebec, Canada. As part of their journey, the cohort also took part in the TiE Women Global Pitch Competition 2022, held during the TiE Global Summit in Hyderabad.
On February 16, 2023, ZSI hosted the India Grand Finale of the 7th edition of the ZSI empoWer Program 2022 at the prestigious International Convention Hall in the Bombay Stock Exchange on Dalal Street, Mumbai. This exclusive event, which was by invitation only, featured an impressive lineup of speakers, jury , panelists, open mic pitches, showcases, and an incubator roundtable. Representatives from the Indian and Canadian delegations, the startup ecosystem, as well as women entrepreneurs were in attendance.
The winners of the competition, Cygenica Ltd - Nusrat J M Sanghamitra (Winner), Greengrahi Solutions Pvt Ltd - Shivali Sugand (1st Runner Up), Agromorph Technosolutions Pvt Ltd - Akanksha Agarwal, and Zero Cow Factory - Parini Kapadia (2nd Runner Up), received a standing ovation for their achievements. The top 3 finalists were awarded an equity-free cash prize of INR 15 Lakhs and a ticket to Quebec, presented by Global Affairs Canada. Mr. Nikihil Thorat handed over the ticket to Ms. Shivali Sugand for Greengrahi Solutions Pvt Ltd, who secured the 1st Runner Up position.
To celebrate the accomplishments of the top 10 finalists, a leisure day called the "BEST Mumbai Tour" was organized. The tour took them around South Mumbai, visiting iconic landmarks such as the Prince of Wales Museum, Gateway of India, Taj Hotel, Nariman Point, Victoria Terminus, and the Bombay Stock Exchange. The startups participated with great enthusiasm, creating memorable moments and concluding the event on a positive note.
We express our gratitude to the distinguished individuals who graciously served as jury members, panelists, keynote speakers, and chief guests at the India Grand Finale. Their valuable expertise and presence enriched the event, and we are truly appreciative of their contributions. Please find the esteemed list of participants below.
The 6th edition of empoWer was launched in April 2021. This edition was executed in partnership with TiE Women, with BSE Limited as the Industry Sponsor and Government of Quebec as a Supporting Partner.
Over 600 applications were received, from with the cohort comprised of 74 women entrepreneurs was selected. The selected women entrepreneurs underwent a 2-month accelerator program comprising mentoring, workshops, case studies of successful women-led startups, industry connects, peer-to-peer networking and investor connects.
The top 18 startups (“winners”) got a chance to represent India at the TiE Women’s Global Pitch Competition at GITEX Future Stars 2021 in Dubai on October 19. They pitched in front of an international jury and competed against winners from 13 other countries. For the second year running, the top prize ($75,000) was won by one of the empoWer cohort member. This year the winner was ZeroCircle.
Then, 10 hand-picked startups (“India finalists”) pitched at the empoWer Finals on November 12 in BSE international Convention Hall, Mumbai. They pitched for equity free Cash Prizes of Rs. 17 Lacs sponsored by BSE and ICCL. Serigen Mediproducts, Odrways Solutions (Sama) and Vivalyf Innovations were the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prize winners respectively.
As always, the Quebec Government Office in Mumbai picked 1 startup from the cohort for a fully sponsored 1-week market access trip to Montreal. The winner of the Quebec prize was Saumya Shukla, Founder, Dectrocel Healthcare & Research.
Serigen Mediproducts emerged as the overall Winner and was awarded a cash prize worth Rs. 10 Lacs. Odrways Solutions (Sama) was the 1st runner up and was awarded a cash prize worth Rs. 5 Lacs & Vivalyf Innovations was the 2nd runner up and was awarded a cash prize worth Rs. 2 Lacs.
The program wrapped-up with a specially curated 2-day in-person Bengaluru workshop for the 56 Runners-up on Nov 26-27. There were panel discussions and mentoring sessions by investors, entrepreneurs and industry stalwarts, in addition to networking events.
empoWer 2020 was launched in February 2020 in partnership with TiE Women, BSE Limited as the Industry Sponsor and Government of Quebec as a Supporting Partner.
We did roadshows across 4 major cities Surat, Hubli, Coimbatore & Chennai. Application closed in August-End 2020 and received 1000+ applications Pan-India.
The selected women entrepreneurs underwent a 2-month accelerator program comprising mentoring, workshops, case studies of successful women-led startups, industry connects, peer network, investor connect and concluded with a demo day.
A total of 53 women entrepreneurs were selected from 15 cities Pan-India; each city selected 1 Winner & 3 Runners-up. 39 Runners-up were taken through a 2-day Bootcamp in Jaipur on 3rd & 4th December 2020 and the 14 Winners had their Demo-day on 13th & 14th January 2021.
During the demo-day; Shivani Gupta, Co-Founder, InochiCare emerged as the Winner of empoWer program and was awarded a cash prize worth $100,000 and was also secured the 1-week market access trip to Quebec during the C2, Montreal by the Quebec Government Office in Mumbai by Mr. Francis Paradis, Director who had joined from Quebec, Canada to announce the winner on the basis of International scalability. The 2nd Prize was won by Parul Ganju, Co-Founder, Ahammune Biosciences and was granted a cash prize of $25,000.
empoWer 2019 was launched on June 21st, 2019 through a soft launch and roadshows across 5 major cities (Pune, Hyderabad, Delhi and Bangalore) attended by 200+ entrepreneurs and 15+ leaders. Along with Grand launch in Mumbai.The launch was hosted on 25th July 2019 at the Barclays Rise Mumbai and attended by close to 150 guests, which included the entrepreneurs and other ecosystem enablers.The program had a Keynote address by Ms. Tara Scheurwater, Consul and Senior Trade Commissioner, Consulate General of Canada. The keynote address was followed by a High Profile Panel discussion on The technological curve: How its impacting the startup ecosystem in this age. The session had eminent panellists-
Paula Mariwala, Managing Director, SeedFund
Deval Sheth, Managing Director, Giesecke & Devrient MS India Pvt Ltd
Lincy Therattil, Head of Rise Mumbai, Barclays
Abhishek Pant, Founder, The Fintech Meetup 9 startups made their pitch on the ‘Demo day’ in front of Investors, Corporates and Subject matter experts. The Winners were felicitated by panelists included Akshay Soni, Managing Director – N/Core, Sharda Agarwal, co-Founder – Sepalika and Marketgate and Functional Nutrition Therapy Practitioner from the Nutrition Therapy Association, Hariharan Mahadevan, Senior Vice President and Head of Strategic Projects, Analytics, MIS and CSR at ICICI Securities, and Prachi Jain, Director at Achieving Women Entrepreneurs Funds. A total of INR 37.5 Lacs was disbursed between Top 3 startups namely – Pratyusha Pareddy, Co-founder of Nemo.Care, emerged as the winner of the empoWer cash grant of INR 18 lakhs. Nupur Gupta, Co-founder of NIRA Finance and Monika Shukla, Co-founder of LetsEndorse, were announced as the first and second runner-ups respectively, with a cash grant of INR 12 lakhs for the 1st runner-up and INR 7.5 Lakhs for the 2nd runner-up. The cash grants were supported by BSE CSR Integrated Foundation. Based on the international scalability potential, NemoCare was offered a one-week market access trip to Montreal by Government of Quebec, scheduled for May 2020.
empoWer 2018 Edition launched on September 28, through a soft launch followed by roadshows in 4 major cities. 3rd Edition supported 30 women entrepreneurs building scalable ventures using technology for business or technology for social good. A grand cohort announcement took place on 22nd November at International Convention Hall, BSE a full day event presided by 10+ senior leaders from industry and Government and 150+ women entrepreneurs in the audience. The final cohort of 30 women entrepreneurs were felicitated by Ms. Devika Shah, MD & CEO – ICCL, Isabelle Dessureault , International Mentor and Change Maker / Former SVP Chief Strategy Officer, Dominic Marcotte, Consul et directeur – Bureau du Québec à Mumbai, Ritu Srivastava, Founder – Roundglass Obino and Hina Shah, Director– ICECD. At the end of the 4month accelerator program on the ‘Demo Day’, the graduated cohort of 30 entrepreneurs presented their refined businesses in front of a nearly 200-strong
stakeholders community that included investors, corporate leaders, subject matter experts, and others ecosystem enablers. This led to 18 winners for equity-free seed support of INR 90 Lakhs, 7 winners got fully paid Market Access Trip to Quebec and Access to Amazon Launchpad from the program. The winners were felicitated by Apurva Purohit, President, Jagran Prakashan Ltd, Ms. Rashmi Bansal, entrepreneur and a youth expert, Deepali Naair, Director – Marketing, India & South Asia, IBM, Anjalli Ravi Kumar, Social Mission Director, Unilever.
The Market Access trip to Quebec was in partnership with Government of Quebec, Balcorp, Concordia University, CDPQ and COOP under empoWer program 3rd Edition. The objective of this partnership was to allow a few selected startups from the cohort who has a Product-market fit in Quebec and help them with Quebec market exposure. Hence 6 women entrepreneurs from empoWer program were taken for 1 week market access trip from 20th- 24th May 2019.The entrepreneurs received mentorship, business development advice, customer connects, investor access and valuable, international experience.
Vendaxo, Econolytics, Engendered, MoneyLearn, WeeSure, ARkidzoo
District 3 hosted empoWer startups at there strong and diverse innovation hub in Montreal where these startups got to interact with like minded startups and build a strong peer group.Startups also pitched to Coach/mentors and influencers to receive a feedback and potential connect in the Quebec Market.
C2 Serendipity VIP dinner
6 entrepreneurs who travelled for the market access trip were also invited for the VIP C2 Montreal Gala dinner. Dinner was attend by major influencers, Government Officials, corporate and delegates across borders. This gave them a great networking opportunity.Poonam Chaudhary, Founder, Vendaxo got an opportunity to talk live about her startup and experience of Market Access trip in Montreal at The Natasha Hall show at CJAD 8OOAM. Prajakta Kuwalekar founder of Engendered was invited to speak on the Panel along Lisa Lindström (co-founder and CEO, Doberman), Born To Rise founder Aiesha Robinson, comedian Sarah Cooper on around the current state of gender parity and how women can make changes to achieve it at C2 Montreal Event.
empoWer 2017 was launched on September 1, 2017 as a part of full-day conference presided by 25+ senior women leaders from the industry and 200+ women entrepreneurs in the audience. The program was launched by Avani Davda, Managing Director – Godrej Natures Basket, Naiyya Saggi, Founder – BabyChakra, Ranganath Thota, Founder – Fuel-A- Dream and Priya Naik, Founder & CEO – Samhita Social Ventures. Following the Mumbai launch, we conducted similar events in 5 more cities. 15 women entrepreneurs from the cohort made their pitch on the ‘Demo Day’ in front of investors, corporate leaders, subject matter experts and others. The winners were felicitated by Mark D’Souza, India Business Manager & Commercial Software Engineering – Microsoft, Dr. Anita Gupta, Associate Director – NSTDEB, DST- Dominic Marcotte, Consul et directeur – Bureau du Québec à Mumbai.
Relations and La Francophonie, Govt. of Quebec discussing about the woman entrepreneurs in India, their career paths, their current entrepreneurial ventures, the existence of networks of women leaders, mentorships in India, challenges in the male dominated business world, opportunities, the future of these start-ups.
The objective of the roundtable is to discuss and deliberate the landscape of women entrepreneurs – support ecosystem, funding, opportunities and challenges.
We hosted a rountable discussion on the topic ‘Challenges and Opportunities faced by Women in the Indian and US ecosystem’ The panel was chaired by Ms. Manisha Singh, Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, U.S. Department of State and included Zankhana Kaur-Director and Co-founder of Ybiz Ventures Private Limited. Former Head, TiE Stree Shakti program, Poyni Bhatt- Founding team member of the Society for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (SINE) at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay, a technology incubator, Karon Shaiva- Chief Impact Officer and Managing Director, Idobro Impact Solutions, a social enterprise that aims to help women entrepreneurs build their capacity to access markets, strengthen network and deliver solutions, Anuradha Bhavnani- Reginal Manager-India,Shell Foundation and was moderated by Sweta Tiwari- Associate Director, Zone Startups India.
Program partners for the previous edition include Department of Science and Technology (DST- GoI), TiE Women, GIZ, Google, Vodafone, ICICI Bank, Microsoft, Amazon, Capital First, PayU, Government of Quebec and FlexiLoans.
A grand launch event took place in Mumbai followed by roadshows in Delhi and Bangalore that saw participation from 250+ women entrepreneurs. The program was launched by Mrs Deena Mehta – Managing Director, Asit C. Mehta Investment Intermediates Ltd & Independent Director – NPCI and Mrs. Meera Sanyal – Chairperson Urban development Committee, Indian Merchants’ Chamber, Ex- CEO and Chairperson of RBS India along with partner representatives. At the end of the program on the ‘Demo Day’, the graduated cohort of 15 entrepreneurs presented their refined businesses in front of a nearly 200-strong stakeholders community that included investors, corporate leaders, subject matter experts and others. This led to 8 select winners gaining financial support of INR 70 Lakhs from the program. The winners were felicitated by Ms. Rashmi Bansal, entrepreneur and a youth expert, Ms. Paula Mariwala, Executive Director of SeedFund, Mr. Vikas Agnihotri, Director of Sales at Google and Ms. Vicki Saunders, Founder, SheEO – an international women’s support organization.
The 1 week bootcamp was designed to help the participants rethink about various aspects of running a business and provide them a fresh from seasoned and experienced mentors on it. The program focused on making interactions happen on individual challenges faced by the entrepreneurs and thus most of the mentoring was one on one. The bootcamp was linked to the NASSCOM 10,000 Startups Change Makers Summit 2016 powered by Google focused on impacting women led startups. empoWer partnered with them to offer this specially designed bootcamp to top 4 women led startups part of the summit. The summit received 250 applications out of which 80 application were shortlisted by empoWer team for a interview round on the day of the event. Based on the interviews, the top 4 startups were selected and announced at the event.
On the occasion of Women’s Day, we hosted a panel discussion on one of the most prevailing topic ‘Women Leaders: Innovating, Inspiring and Building Nations’ bringing women leaders together to discuss overcoming and outshining professional hurdles faced by women. The panel was chaired by Hon. (Ms.) Bardish Chagger, Canada’s Minister for Small Business and Tourism and included Shinjini Kumar -CEO PayTM Bank, Kashmira Mewawala – Head Business Development and Chief Ethics Counselor Tata Capital, Monica Jasuja- Head of Digital Payments at MasterCard, Rashmi Bansal – Author, Smita Bhagat – Head-Branch Banking and e-Commerce HDFC Bank, Shweta Shalini – Spokesperson of BJP Maharashtra, Chandni Jafri – CEO of Mumbai Angel, Prerana Langa – CEO Yes Foundation, Lakshmi Potluri – Angel Investor, Ritu Soni-Srivastava – Co-Founder ObiNo and was moderated by Harshada Sawant, Senior Associate Editor CNBC TV18.