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News Release

UC San Diego Tech Accelerator Dedicated to Supporting Female Technology Entrepreneurs Wins Award from U.S. Small Business Administration

San Diego, Calif., August 7, 2015 – The mystartupXX accelerator program at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at empowering the next generation of women technology entrepreneurs. For the second year in a row, mystartupXX has been named a winner of the national Growth Accelerator Fund competition, which comes with a $50,000 award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA award winners were announced at the first ever White House Demo Day on August 4, 2015 where Wearless Tech, Inc., a female-led startup company supported by a mystartupXX sister program and the von Liebig NSF I-CORPS program presented to President Obama. Read the story here.

MystartupXX is a collaboration of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at the Rady School of Management at UC San Diego and the von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. The program was started by Dr. Lada Rasochova from the Rady School of Management and Dr. Rosibel Ochoa from the Jacobs School of Engineering. Since inception, Dr. Rasochova's passion and committment to the program has been the key to its growth and tremendous success. ​ 

The program’s mission is to nurture the next generation of female founder and female-led technology startups through mentorship, education and funding.

“Increasing the number of women entrepreneurs is critically important to the growth of the U.S. economy,” said Lada Rasochova, executive director of the California Institute for Innovation and Development at the Rady School of Management and mystartupXX program co-director. “Winning this prestigious award from the SBA will enable the work of the mystartupXX program to flourish and grow. We have already had many successful outcomes from program participants and this grant will help us continue to provide the tools female-led technology startups need to excel in the innovation economy.”

“MystartupXX aims at leveling the playing field for female technology entrepreneurs in particular in terms of access to funding and to a strong support network that will serve as a launch pad for their success,” said Rosibel Ochoa, senior executive director of Entrepreneurism and Leadership Programs at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering and a mystartupXX program co-director.

Since its founding in 2012, the mystartupXX program has supported three cohorts of female entrepreneurs and 16 female-led teams. Five startup companies have been launched, more than $8 million has been raised by startups, over 130 jobs have been created, and several products are on the market generating more than $1 million in revenues. As a result of this program, UC San Diego has seen a tenfold increase in engagement of female entrepreneurs. For example, for the first time in the 10 year history of the UC San Diego Entrepreneur Challenge the gender ratio of competition finalists was 50:50 in 2014-15 and all of the female finalists were form the mystartupXX program. One mystartupXX team won the Tech Coast Angels Quick Pitch competition giving that female-led startup access to the most prominent angel investing group in California and two mystartupXX companies were admitted to other prestigious incubator and accelerator programs.

“It has been wonderful to work first-hand with the many talented women who have gone through the mystartupXX program and watch as they develop their ideas into successful ventures,” said Kim Davis King, Rady School lecturer and mystartupXX program co-director.

The national Growth Accelerator Fund competition is in its second year and awarded $4 million to accelerators in 2015 in order to continue building the support structure needed to help startups become commercially viable and create jobs more quickly. MystartupXX also won the SBA Growth Accelerator Fund competition in 2014 and received a $50,000 award.

Entrepreneurism at UC San Diego

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Sneha Jayaprakash

The mystartupXX accelerator program is one of many programs in entrepreneurship that continue to attract students from across UC San Diego. One graduate of the program, Sneha Jayaprakash, a Jacobs School undergraduate majoring in computer science and CEO of Giventure, has developed an app that enables volunteers and volunteer organizations and nonprofits to connect.

“The mystartupXX program provided the support, mentorship, and knowledge that Giventure needed over the past year,” said Jayaprakash. “I walked away from every single session having learned something new. It has been a truly incredible experience growing with and learning from this tight-knit community of entrepreneurs.”

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ThoughtSTEM co-founders (left to right) Sarah Guthals, Stephen Foster and Lindsey Handley

Two of the co-founders of ThoughtSTEM, another UC San Diego startup focused on computer science education, also participated in the mystartupXX program. “This was one of the first times that we had pitched our business idea together in the hopes of gaining support,” said co-founder Sarah Guthals. “This program gave us some funds, but more importantly, gave us an entire summer of seminars and support by other women entrepreneurs that we could look up to, ask questions of, and discuss ideas with. It broadened our connections and led to a lot of future connections with organizations around San Diego that we now work closely with.”

Guthals and co-founder Stephen Foster also participated in the NSF I-CORPS program, for which von Liebig Entrepreneurism Center at UC San Diego is now a site. “I-CORPS was a very influential program that not only taught us lean startup methodologies, but really opened our eyes to what our company actually was and what it could become,” said Guthals. “There were two main lessons from this program that I learned: listen to your customers and customers/partners are people, not organizations. Since graduating, the support of Jacob's School to their entrepreneurial students has only increased, which is very exciting to me. I can't wait to see the legacy the school creates.”

Media Contacts

Brittanie Collinsworth
UC San Diego Center for Microbiome Innovation