According to data from Tracxn, the majority of founders in India’s unicorns are men. Moreover, about 13 percent of the current tech unicorns in India have no female co-founders. The world’s third-largest startup ecosystem has been churning out tech unicorns at a faster pace than before, but like the tech industry, it is heavily skewed towards men.
Building a successful business requires more women entrepreneurs as it brings in diverse perspectives and concerns to the table. To that end, Qualcomm Incorporated India and Qualcomm Ventures launched the Qualcomm Women Entrepreneurs India Network (QWEIN) in July 2020 in the deep tech space.
The programme raised $1 million+, including grants from government and top universities, and has been highlighted in various state government partnerships. They have filed six patents till now and another 10 in the pipeline.
In 2020, 14 early-stage women-led startups graduated from the first cohort of QWEIN 一 Ashva Wearable, DeAzzle Services, Whizrobo, Enlite Research, KiksAR, Renkube, Bitvivid Solutions, PureScan AI, Truckhall, Curapy Health, Track Your Metrics, VRRSP (InterviewAir), Inochi Care, Dropledge and GramworkX Agro-Tech.
Putting the spotlight on women entrepreneurs in India
With the belief that corporates need to do more for the startup ecosystem, Qualcomm is hosting the second edition of QWEIN, which will aim to inspire more women entrepreneurs to build scalable organisations. The programme spans over six months and looks to cover various areas of need and interest.
Talking about their vision for the 2021 edition, Swapna Gupta, Director of Qualcomm Ventures says, “The driving force behind QWEIN is to support groundbreaking, innovative startups in India, regardless of the gender of their founders, and ensuring that female founders are empowered enough to turn their great ideas into successful businesses with long-term potential. Our goal for QWEIN 2.0 is two-fold. We strive to elevate STEM female founders and secondly, hope to enhance awareness on the need for more female representation in the tech startup scene beyond India’s borders.”
Who can apply?
Early-stage, deeptech, women-founded startups from any vertical, including XR, IoT, MedTech, CleanTech, AgriTech, and logistics, among others are eligible to apply for the programme.
What do startups get?
● Access to 1:1 sessions with Qualcomm senior leaders for dedicated mentorship
● Attend masterclasses on intellectual property strategies, product management fundraising, sales, marketing, finance leadership, organisation scaling, IT, among other areas of expertise
● Join networking and personal development sessions on leadership, starting up, building habits, pitfalls to avoid in fundraising, attracting investors, managing growth and navigating change
● Establish connections in Invest India and Sequoia India
● Showcase opportunities with Demo Day and Qbuzz to attract investment opportunities
● Get extensive coverage in YS on their startup journey and vision for the future
● Access to various Qualcomm technologies
● Get challenged by mock pitches, presentations and peer learning, to help sharpen your offering and messaging
Timeline of events for QWEIN 2021
● Applications open – May 14
● QWEIN info sessions – May 14 to June 10
● Application close – June 11
● Cohort announcement – June 21
● Cohort goes live – July 1
● Cohort graduation (Demo Day) – December
In 2020, the Demo Day saw participation from 40 attendees, including early-stage accelerators and VC firms. At the end of the cohort, women entrepreneurs graduated with refined skills, a robust network and a skill set that would enable them to scale their businesses. This year, you can experience it too.