Vegan Women Summit, a media and events organization dedicated to inspiring, educating, and empowering rising female-identifying leaders to bring compassion to their career and industry, will continue to transform the food tech industry with the world’s first founder summit and pitch competition dedicated to female-identifying founders building the future of plant-based innovation.
On Dec. 5, VWS Pathfinder will help raise awareness of the persistent gender inequality those female entrepreneurs around the world face in fundraising and connect the brightest emerging ideas in plant-based innovation with leaders in venture capital. The top prize of the competition is valued at over $50,000, including a $10,000 cash prize sponsored by Purple Orange Ventures, $35,000 of branding services from Evolution Bureau, global membership to WeWork office space, and more.
“Almost half of female founders and CEOs in the food tech industry have encountered bias, particularly gender bias, from investors, while nearly half of all female founders of color have experienced racial bias,” said Jennifer Stojkovic, founder of Vegan Women Summit. “VWS Pathfinder creates a platform to showcase and drive investment to these underfunded and overlooked up-and-coming founders while bringing out the industry’s top leaders to inspire and educate this future generation. With founders and CEOs joining from five continents, we are proud to create the much-needed amplification for these voices and will feature a lineup with more than two-thirds founders of color.”
Last month, Vegan Women Summit released the results of a survey of 160 female-identifying founders and top executives at plant-based and cell-based food startups around the world. In a key finding, 48% of respondents say they have faced bias during the fundraising process, with 75% of those women saying they have faced gender bias specifically.
The Dec 5. event will also include CEO panels, founder chats, and session programming featuring more than two dozen of the world’s leading founders and CEOs in the plant-based space, including Miyoko Schinner (Miyoko’s Creamery), Shama Sukul Lee (CEO of Sunfed Meats), Daniella Monet (Co-founder of Kinder Beauty Box), and Denise Woodard (Partake Foods). Notable venture capitalists joining from the food technology industry include Matilda Ho (Bits x Bites), Lisa Feria (Stray Dog Capital), Regina Hecker (Blue Horizon Ventures), and Miray Zaki (Dismatrix). The event is also being sponsored by leading plant-based companies across the world, including Upfield, Miyoko’s Creamery, and Califia Farms, in addition to more than half a dozen venture capital firms, including VegInvest, Big Idea Ventures, and Vegan Capital.
“Stray Dog Capital is proud to continue to support Vegan Women Summit through the VWS Pathfinder event. It’s been proven that diverse teams deliver outsized returns and we fully support the female founders that are driving so many of these startups,” said Lisa Feria, CEO of Stray Dog Capital.
Miyoko Schinner, CEO of Miyoko’s Creamery, added, “The future of the planet depends on finding the best and brightest talent across the world to change the food system. By building a more inclusive, global ecosystem to empower, cultivate, and support female founders through VWS Pathfinder, we can bring more solutions to the table, move quicker to enact change, and create a kinder future for us all.”
Applications for VWS Pathfinder will be accepted from founders around the world through Oct. 23. Ten semi-finalists will be selected and then narrowed to five finalists, who will be announced on Dec. 1. Both the selection committee and the final jury panel will consider the market impact, team experience, growth potential, business model, differentiation, and value proposition of each pitch.
“The challenge we’ve given ourselves at Vegan Women Summit is to find innovative ways to build the next generation of female founders in the
plant-based space,” Stojkovic said. “Through our recent survey results, we have discovered more than one-third of female founders entering the space move towards a more plant-based diet after founding their company. We are eager to explore this opportunity and create a mainstream entry point into the industry for founders coming from all backgrounds.”
For more information about Vegan Women Summit, visit veganwomensummit.com.
For more information about VWS Pathfinder or to submit a pitch, visit veganwomensummit.com/pathfinder.