There are presently no open calls for submissions.

For an overview of the competition head to www.FemaleFoundersComp.com. 

For full Terms & Conditions, click here

Frequently Asked Questions

How old do you need to be to apply? 

Founders must be 18 years or older to apply.

I am a female founder but not the CEO. Can I apply?

Yes—this competition is for companies that have at least one founder who identifies as female. Where prompted, please include the contact information for your CEO. 

We have co-founders, but one is a woman. Can we participate?

Yes—this competition is for companies that have at least one female founder. Founder or co-founder status should be clear on your incorporation paperwork and cap table, as applicable.

My business serves a consumer audience. Can I apply?

The Female Founders Competition is specifically for female-founded companies targeting the enterprise. Only B2B companies are eligible. 

What countries are eligible for participation?

Companies with their headquarters in the following geographies are eligible: 

  • Group 1: United States, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico
  • Group 2: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada (excluding Quebec), Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and United Kingdom

I’m not from one of those geographies. Can I still apply?

Eligible female founders must be legal residents in the region in which they are participating. Eligible geographies are stated above. 

My company has locations in multiple eligible regions. Can I submit applications on behalf of each region?

There is a limit of one entry per company overall. If your company has locations in multiple countries or within one or more entry region, please submit within the entry region in which your company is headquartered. 

I am working on more than one startup. Can I apply?

There is a limit of one entry per company overall. If you are a female co-founder of multiple companies, please submit entries for each one. Please note you must be a co-founder with significant ownership on the cap table as applicable or as otherwise noted in your incorporation documentation.

I don’t yet have a company, but I have an idea for a company. Should I apply?

Your company must currently offer or intend to release a product, service, or platform which solves a critical business problem. That product must be based on a model developed by your company and/or be built with data obtained or generated by your company or a 3rd party. 


How do I decide if my company should be identified as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) or Deeptech? 

Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) is a software licensing model in which access to the software is provided on a subscription basis, with the software being located on external servers rather than on servers located in-house. Software-as-a-Service is typically accessed through a web browser, with users logging into the system using a username and password.

Deep technology startups are new businesses founded on breakthrough science or engineering. These momentous revolutionary technical solutions redefine or create new markets. “Deep” denotes the expansive potential of technological innovations to impact the world we live in.

My company isn’t a SaaS or a Deeptech company. Can I still apply?

Our competition is only open to female founders of SaaS and Deeptech companies. 

We’ve raised a round of funding. Are we still eligible for the competition? 

Eligible companies will have raised no more than $5,000,000 USD (equity or debt) or equivalent amount using foreign exchange rates as of the application date. Any additional funding raised after date of application that puts your company’s total amount raised over the $5,000,000 USD threshold will be addressed on a case-by-case basis during the finalist diligence process.

Who will judge the competition?

M12 and its venture capital funding partners Mayfield and Pivotal Ventures will be involved in judging and discerning competition winners. All judges are professional investors.

When can I submit my application?

Applications are open from 6am PT October 17, 2019 through 11:59pm PT December 15, 2019.

How do I enter the competition?

Start the application process by clicking "Apply" above.


What information is required in the application? 

You will need to provide basic contact and company information, and address the following topics via written answers and a pitch deck consisting of 10 or fewer slides:

  • Product and business offering; and
  • Thesis supporting the offering; and
  • Technological approach – description of the proprietary technology utilized in the company’s products/offering; and
  • Market – size, target customers/global addressable market, traction (e.g. PoCs, betas, paying customers, partnerships) and business model; and
  • Uniqueness and competitiveness; and
  • Funding – basic data such as total amount raised, date of most recent round capitalization table; and 
  • Financial performance and projections until 2022; and
  • Team – short founding team bios (including job titles and LinkedIn URLs), contact details

What file format should my company slides be in? 

Acceptable file formats are: .PPT, .PPTX, or .PDF

What are judges looking for in applications? 

The panel of judges will consider all eligible entries received based on the equally weighted judging criteria listed below. 

  • Problem addressed
  • Market size and growth potential
  • Differentiated/disruptive solution
  • Technical depth and complexity
  • Performance and traction with customers
  • Ability of founding team to execute

How many finalists will you have?

We will identify TWENTY finalists total: five Software-as-a-service companies located in Group 1 geographies defined above, five Deep Technology companies located in Group 1 geographies defined above, five Software-as-a-service companies located in Group 2 geographies defines above, five Deep Technology companies located in Group 2 geographies above. If we do not receive enough entries meeting the entry requirements, we may, at our discretion, select fewer finalists. 

When will finalists be notified?

Finalists will be notified no later than March 6, 2020. 


When and where will the finals take place?

A live finals pitch competition will take place in the Silicon Valley March 18-19, 2020, with the announcement of winners to follow shortly thereafter.

What happens after finalists are selected?

Finalists will be invited to a finals competition March 18-19, 2020 that will consist of in-person closed door pitches to a panel consisting of professional investors from M12, Mayfield, and Pivotal Ventures. Each finalist will be awarded a two-night hotel stay in Silicon Valley, one per company. All other travel costs including but not limited to, airfare, transportation, additional hotel costs, and meals are the sole responsibility of the finalists.

How much time will we have to pitch to judges?

Finalists will each have 20 minutes (inclusive of Q&A) to pitch their startup vision to a panel of judges in a private, closed door session.

What happens if there is a tie?

In the event of a tie between any eligible entries, an additional judge will break the tie based on the judging criteria described above. The decisions of the judges are final and binding.

When will the winner be announced? 

Exact date is TBD pending final diligence and deal documentation, but the announcement will take place no later than May 1, 2020. 

How much money will each winner receive? 

Two SaaS winning companies (1 each, US and Global) will receive:

  • $2M of funding 
  • $250K in Azure credits for use over 2 years, and up to 100 Office 365 E3 licenses for use over 2 years 

Two Deeptech winning companies (1 each, US and Global) will receive:

  • $1M of funding 
  • $250K in Azure credits for use over 2 years, and up to 100 Office 365 E3 licenses for use over 2 years 

Does my company have to or intend to build on Azure in order to win? Would being on Azure help my application?

Applicants on any cloud service provider (CSP) may apply. This is competition is CSP-agnostic; which cloud you use will not be factored into the evaluation process. Use of Microsoft Azure credits and O365 licenses included in the prizes awarded to each winner is voluntary and not required. 

Do winners receive investment from M12, Mayfield, and Pivotal Ventures?

M12, Mayfield, and Pivotal Ventures are equally funding winners from eligible Group 1 regions. M12 and Mayfield are equally funding winners from eligible Group 2 regions. 

Why are you splitting the awards categories into U.S. vs Global?  

We are thrilled to be working with two great VC partners this year: Mayfield and Pivotal Ventures. Mayfield is a global partner, and Pivotal Ventures is focused on investing only in the U.S. In order to work with both critical and game-changing VC partners, we have split the awards categories to align with their respective investing jurisdictions.  

What’s the rationale behind the groups – U.S. and Global? 

The U.S. remains the largest and most mature ecosystem worldwide especially for enterprise startups. Because of this, and because Pivotal Ventures is currently focused on U.S. companies, we established the U.S. SaaS and deeptech prizes so all three FFC partners could fully participate. 

M12 and Mayfield will participate equally in the Global SaaS and deeptech prizes. The countries represented comprise the rest of M12’s global investment footprint, including the United States, India, Israel as well as Europe.  

Why are the deeptech prizes less than the enterprise SaaS prizes ($1M versus $2M)? 

Deeptech innovation involves heavy R&D and scientific breakthroughs that literally change markets and industries. Because of this, deeptech startups typically have a longer commercialization and investment horizon and require greater capital investment. Some specialized funds have more of a 10-17-year timeframe for expected return vs 5-7 years for enterprise software which has more comparable / known benchmarks. This year we wanted to identify and support extremely technical founders with a significant amount of equity funding to get their tech to market as they grow their initial team. $1M was appropriate for each deeptech winner across our three funds, to give intensely technical founders the room to further develop their technology and start their companies.