PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR FAQ

WHAT ARE THE GOALS OF THE PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR?

This program is aimed at identifying, coaching and advancing women-led companies.  Accelerator programs have demonstrated success around the country and in St. Louis as a mechanism to build businesses and attract follow on capital.

WHY WAS THE PROSPER WOMEN ENTREPRENEURS INITIATIVE CREATED?

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs (PWE) was created to address the entrepreneur gender gap in the St. Louis region.  We are a group of business leaders, thinkers, doers, innovators and students who want to make sure that our community is well-positioned in the new economy and, more specifically, that women entrepreneurs are a vital part of its future. Every day in America, women start more than 1,200 new companies.  That number has doubled since 2011.  But getting those ideas off the ground isn't easy.  Prosper Women Entrepreneurs is changing that.

WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PROSPER INSTITUTE AND PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR?

Prosper Women Entrepreneurs is comprised of two separate divisions:  Prosper Institute, a non-profit organization focused on training and mentoring women in the entrepreneurial community, and PWE Startup Accelerator, a for-profit organization focused on increasing women entrepreneurs' access to growth capital and the number of women investing in early-stage capital markets. 

HOW DOES THE PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR WORK?

The PWE Startup Accelerator invests $50,000 and provides mentorship for the selected women-led companies through a three-month business development program. The program is offered twice a year with up to 6 companies in each class for a total of no more than 12 companies a year. In addition to capital, the program matches the companies to mentors, networks and other resources that enable their growth.  A specific curriculum is delivered during the program focused on educating the company leadership. Office space is provided at the T-REX startup co-working space in downtown St. Louis.

WHAT TYPES OF COMPANIES DOES the PWE Startup accelerator LOOK FOR?

Particular attention is given to companies that:

  • Have a product or service positioned for significant growth
  • Have a large target market
  • Have a substantiated problem that they’re solving
  • Have shown some traction and customer engagement in their market
  • Are in the technology, health care or consumer products industries

WHO CAN APPLY TO THE PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR?

Women!  We’re looking for women-led startups with a focus on technology, health care, and consumer products.  We define a women-led business as a company with at least one woman in a position of leadership with significant and meaningful equity.

WHAT CAN COMPANIES EXPECT FROM THE PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR?

  • We take an equity position in the company in exchange for $50,000 and our unique, comprehensive programming.  The $50,000 is paid in two tranches with one at the beginning and one at the successful completion of the program.
  • Extensive hands-on training and mentoring matched to industry and company stage.
  • Curriculum designed specifically for women to help them scale their businesses and raise follow-on capital
  • Instructors who are leaders in their fields of technology, marketing, management and others. 
  • No need to relocate the company.  All company CEOs/founders commit to being in St. Louis for the two days a week that the program is provided over the three month period.
  • The Spring 2017 program begins on January 10th, 2017 and concludes on Demo Day, March 29th, 2017.
  • Exposure to a network of experts and possible capital sources. 

WHAT OTHER FUNDING RESOURCES ARE AVAILABLE TO THE ACCELERATOR COMPANIES?

In addition to the funding provided in the program, companies are eligible for further follow on funding from the PWE Startup Accelerator fund.  The partners and mentors also actively introduce the companies to other regional funding sources and mentor their approach.

ARE ACCELERATOR PARTICIPANTS REQUIRED TO MOVE TO ST. LOUIS?

There is no need to relocate the company.  All company CEOs/founders commit to being in St. Louis for the two days a week that the program is provided over the three-month period.

ARE HOUSING OPTIONS AVAILABLE FOR VISITING CEOS/FOUNDERS PARTICIPATING IN THE PROGRAM?

Yes. There are a variety of hotels that have negotiated favorable rates for our CEOs.

DOES THE PROSPER STARTUP ACCELERATOR ACCEPT APPLICANTS FROM OUTSIDE THE USA?

Yes. Women-led businesses that want to apply can reside anywhere in the world.

HOW DOES THE PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR KEEP MY INFORMATION CONFIDENTIAL?

All individuals who review the applications are required to keep the information confidential. This is limited to approximately 15 individuals and includes the partners and the selection committee.  We see many applications each year and it’s not practical for us to sign NDAs.  The application does not require disclosure of propriety information such as details of your technology or intellectual property.  This will not inhibit your application.  Our mentors and the other CEOs in your class will be required to sign confidentiality agreements before the program starts.

WHAT ARE IMPORTANT DATES TO KEEP IN MIND?

  • January 10, 2017  The Spring 2017 program begins. Program curriculum runs for a duration of 3 months.
  • March 29, 2017 – The Spring 2017 program concludes with Demo Day on March 29, 2017, which gives companies an opportunity to pitch to a full house of business leaders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and potential clients.  
  • After graduation – Our goal is to work hard to make sure our companies remain successful and continue to receive the support they need to grow.
  • August 22, 2017 – The Fall 2017 program begins. Program curriculum runs for a duration of 3 months.
  • November 8, 2017 – The Fall 2017 program concludes with Demo Day, which gives companies an opportunity to pitch to a full house of business leaders, venture capitalists, angel investors, and potential clients. 
  • After graduation – Our goal is to work hard to make sure our companies remain successful and continue to receive the support they need to grow.

 

WHAT TYPES OF COMPANIES APPLY TO THE PWE STARTUP ACCELERATOR?

Applications have come from over 41 countries on 4 continents and represented a variety of industries.  See the companies in our accelerator cohorts here.

WHERE ARE APPLICATIONS AVAILABLE?

We are accepting applications for the Fall 2017 program - you can apply below.  Applications close on May 19th, 2017.

The PWE Startup Accelerator is a proud recipient of the 2014, 2015 & 2016 SBA Growth Accelerator Competition.