Female Founders Force: the journey

blog - 5 min.

4 countries, 40 pitches, 6 finalists, 1 winner. The Next Women Female Founder Force Program in a nutshell. For the seventh consecutive year in a row we are scouting the most promising women-led companies for our training and pitching program. And this year we're even flying overseas to do so. Continue reading for our journey so far.

Buenos Aires
October 7-8

After a summer of preparations and sleepless nights, October 7th was the day: the kick-off of the Female Founders Force pitch program in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Together with our partners EY Argentina and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Argentina, we’ve gathered a group of dedicated female founders all ready to elevate their business to the next level. During the extensive Academy Day on October 7th, all 10 pre-selected entrepreneurs received a pitch training, financial training and mock-up investor Q&A. Pitch ready for the next day: the semi-finals that took place at the Dutch Embassy. After 10 pitches and careful deliberation, Ambassador Roel Nieuwenkamp announced the first finalist: Veronica Smith, founder of gluten-free cookie company NINA determined to fight obesitas in South America.

November 5-6

3 weeks after The Next Women’s return from South America, Lisbon was up next. Not just another location, as the pitch program in Lisbon was the official side event of Web Summit 2019. Kicking the program off in a festive way, 20 investors, founders and partners gathered on November 4th for a welcome dinner at The Insolito in Lisbon. Whilst enjoying the magical views the restaurant had to offer, setting up their game-plan for the hectic Web Summit days ahead was the focus. On November 5th the selection of entrepreneurs gathered at EY Portugal to enjoy a fruitful Academy Day, organized according to the same format as in Buenos Aires. On November 6th, the entrepreneurs implemented what they’ve learnt and gave their (perfect) pitch in front of a jury of Portugese investors and a crowd of 200 guests. The lucky winner: Iris Geudens, co-founder of ProductBuilder.ai.

Tel Aviv
November 11-12 & November 27

No sleep for team TNW! After being in Amsterdam for only 3 days, it was time to fly to Israel for the pitch program in Tel Aviv. Together with EY Israel and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, aligned with the other locations, the 10 Israeli women-led startups all got the chance to be trained and to pitch for investors. Sharon Zalewski, partner at EY Israel, provided a financial training to provide new insights on how to get your business off the ground. Rosalie van Gelder provided a pitch training to prepare the founders for the semi-finals, taking place on November 27 at the Ambassador’s residence in Herzliya. After 30 minutes of deliberation, the jury unanimously selected the 3rd finalist: Tamar Schapira, co-founder and CEO of SenseIT.

November 27-28

Last but definitely not least: Amsterdam. On Wednesday November 27 all pre-selected female founders received a pitch training, financial training and mock up investor Q&A to get prepared for the semi-finals, taking place the next day. On November 28, 14(!) awesome entrepreneurs got the chance to pitch in front of an audience with delegates from Hivos Investments, the Borski Fund, Dutch Embassy and a jury of investors. After careful deliberation the jury, consisting of Jacqueline van den Ende (PEAK Capital), Pauline Wink (4ImpactVC), Frank Appeldoorn (Arches Capital), Emmelijn Hermens (HearstLab) and Rixt Herklots (The Next Women), selected not one, but two lucky finalists that go throught to the finals on Thursday December 19th: Signe Naessing, founder of We Are Friends and Floor van der Steen co-founder of Max’s Mints.


Veronica Smith | NINA la felicidad se alimenta | Buenos Aires, Argentina
Iris Geudens | ProductBuilder.ai | Antwerp, Belgium
Tamar Schapira | SenseIT | Tel Aviv, Israel
Floor van der Steen | Max’s Mints | Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Signe Naessing | We Are Friends | Copenhagen, Denmark

About Female Founders Force

Female Founders Force is a The Next Women program focused on early-stage enterprises led or co-led by female founders. The goal of the program is to scout entrepreneurial talent to help, support and in best cases even fund them to take their business to the next level. Our reason? Equality equals growth. By supporting national and international women-led companies we aim to improve the position of women everywhere.

During the program the founders receive a high-end financial training by local EY professionals, a pitch training and investor speed-dates to make them investor-ready. Even when not winning their local chapter final the knowledge the founders gain is of high value. The local winners fly out to Amsterdam in December for a Business Tour and to pitch in the Grand Finals on December 19th, together with the Dutch finalist.

The Grand Final
December 19

We’d love to celebrate women entrepreneurship with you during the grand finals! Sign up for your ticket here and we’ll see you there.

14:30-15:00 Registration
15:00-15:15 Opening by moderator Felice van der Sandt
15:15 -15:30 Welcome by Rixt Herklots – The Next Women
15:30-16:00 Keynote by Claudia Zuiderwijk – Director Dutch Chamber of Commerce
16:00-16:15 Introduction jury
16:30-17:15 Time to pitch
17:15-18:00 Panel | founders vs. investor
18:00-18:15 Announcement winner by our very special guest Minister Sigrid Kaag
18:10-20:00 Female Founder Fest | Networking & Drinks

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