Hannah Davis, program director of MergeLane
Too few female-owned startups and the propensity for women-led businesses to yield higher profits is why MergeLane, a 12-week business accelerator for high-growth startups, was created.
The program, based in Boulder, Colorado, is not an all-female accelerator but requests that companies have at least one female fulfilling an executive role with capital interest. Companies also are expected to have raised less than $5 million outside of equity. Although MergeLane is a mentor-driven program that provides the opportunity for personal coaching and one-on-one work with experienced investors and mentors, this program will only accept companies that can show some level of achievement based off of revenue or contracts. Most importantly, companies need to be expandable in order for MergeLane to offer its credible knowledge.
Hannah Davis, program director of MergeLane, did not hesitate when recruited for the position. She stated, “I didn’t just want a job. I was interested in work with meaning.”
She explained that the mission of this program is to make an impact on the world and the way that will happen is through a ripple effect. Davis said, “Through curiosity and openness we become greater each day. We want to grow big companies like everyone else, but with integrity and value.”
Building a company can be a long and lonely process, but with MergeLane participants are provided support including CEO coaches. Within building a business things can be missed and errors can be made. These coaches come with a different perspective of expertise. They will ask difficult questions and allow participants to think about causes that they haven’t thought about before. This form of critical thinking is designed to enhance knowledge and guide participants into the right direction.
The MergeLane program begins with the recruiting and accepting process. A total of 10 start-up teams are chosen. The first two weeks of the program take place in Boulder. Participants are to meet with their team for one hour where they are to gain mutual interest and begin to plan how to achieve business growth. Additionally, each week every team has an objective, as well as a personal coach. Weeks three through 12 are completed online. This flexible structure was created purposely so that women and men don’t have to leave their families during the entire process. Part of the curriculum given confers how men could be helpful and also focuses on specific challenges women face.
Throughout 2015 MergeLane encountered much success, closing nearly $1 million in financing in six weeks for its funds. Their inaugural class of eight companies circled $3 million in funding prior to demo day, an event that MergeLane hosts, presented to over 300 people at the sold-out Demo Day (with more than 200 investors) and, departed the program with a combined revenue run rate of just less than $5 million. With that being said, the program had hundreds of applicants.
A business begins with an idea and individuals prospecting for triumph. MergeLane offers authenticity. Through the program’s wide network of investors and mentors applicants are aided through the long journey of establishing a reliable and credible company that will prosper.