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Rockstart tackles underrepresentation of female techies in Colombia

This post is also available in: esEspañol (Spanish)

ContxtoRockstart may be a Dutch accelerator, yet the fund takes the lack of female representation in Latin America’s tech industry to heart.

On February 6th, Rockstart held their second annual Latin American “Demo Day” in Bogotá, which is where the company’s regional headquarters are located. Web and mobile acceleration projects took centerstage.

At the same time, around 40 percent of startups from the event highlighted female leadership, according to José Martin from Pulso Social. In celebration of this, let’s learn about some of Rockstart’s initiatives while recognizing some of the female management they represent.

What did Demo Day entail?

You can consider the Demo Day to be the grand finale of a 150-day training program for chosen startups. During this time, participants receive mentorship, office spaces, in addition to plenty of valuable networking opportunities.

The results can be fruitful. Last year, associated startups experienced 331 percent growth after the program ended.

This time around, around 60 mentors and over 300 investors attended this year’s Demo Day. As you can imagine, it’s an opportune time to mingle with investors and industry players to get a project further off the ground.

“I have invested on a global level for almost a decade and I see Colombia as one of the most promising ecosystems and with the potential to be the best in Latin America,” said Jon Soberg, an American investor at the event. “I’m excited to be working with Rockstart and very impressed with the companies selected for the program.”

What is the FEMTEQ initiative?

Rockstart launched a “Female Tech Founders Program” (FEMTEQ) to remedy gender disparities in the tech industry. Every year, the program selects five female techies from around the world to work at Rockstart’s coworking space in Amsterdam.

“The presence of founding women in our acceleration programs has been significant,” said Felipe Santamaría, the founder of Rockstart Colombia, who wants to galvanize Colombia’s entrepreneurial ecosystem to new heights.

Keeping this in mind, here are some female-powered Colombian startups involved with Rockstart.

Foody

Healthy, economical, varied and speedy home delivery. If you’re having a hankering for a nutritious meal, then Foody should be on your radar. Dishes begin at $11.90 Colombian pesos (US$3.80) and range from delicacies like falafel to fancy meatballs. Foody’s COO is Sara Carolina Parra Molina, who began in 2017.

Medicapp

Colombian startups love home convenience, even home medical consultation. No more stressful doctor visits with MedicApp in the startup ecosystem. Users can even get exams done from home or even get ambulatory services. Liliana Davila works as MedicApp’s Chief Marketing Officer.

La Manicurista

Also on the home delivery bandwagon is La Manicurista deploying qualified beauticians to clients’ homes. No need to drive across the city for a nail appointment when you can schedule everything from the palm of your hand.

“Rockstart was the catalyst for a lot of learning, connections and growth for La Manicurista,” said the company’s co-founder and CEO, María Alejandra Tenorio. “After Rockstart, we grw more than 400% in the last year.”

Conclusion

Let’s be clear – the tech industry needs more women. After all, females only hold 13.4 percent of tech leadership positions in South America. Personally, this seems like a dismal number, not to mention a disadvantage for companies struggling in the talent acquisition department.

In a recent study, 39 percent of employers couldn’t immediately fill STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) roles due to the shortage of female candidates. Moreover, the University of Castilla la Mancha in Spain contends that gender diverse research and development teams make better innovative decisions.

At the end of the day, the future is female.

Source: Giphy

-JA

Jacob Atkins
Jacob Atkins is a journalist specializing in Latin America. He studied journalism and international relations at American University in Washington, D.C. and has previously reported from Chile, Ecuador, Haiti and Mexico. When he isn't writing he's most likely hiking or drawing.

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