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  • Stefan Kyora

Women on the rise but still rare

Although the Swiss start-up scene still has only a few female bosses, an analysis by shows that at least their numbers are now increasing strongly.

Women at the top of start-ups are still rare.

Cartographie des startups suisses dont le CEO est une femme

This applies worldwide; for example, a study by the US consulting firm Peter S. Cohan & Associates showed that only about 2% of all unicorns in the US have a female CEO.

In order to shed more light on the situation in Switzerland, startupticker has created a map of start-ups run by women. In addition, we examined how much is invested in these start-ups, based on the Swiss Venture Capital Report.

The updated map identifies more than 100 start-ups run by a female CEO.

The most striking feature of the analysis is the confirmation that the number of start-ups with female bosses has grown significantly in recent years.

Three phases can be distinguished: until 2012, 2013 to 2015 and from 2016. We were able to identify only one to three start-ups founded per year between 2004 and 2012, and six to seven founded per year in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

This was followed by a strong increase in 2016, 2017 and 2018, when about 20 companies were founded per year. However, compared with the total number of newly established start-ups per year – about 300 – the share of women-owned companies is still below 10%.

An evaluation of the two most recent Swiss Venture Capital Reportscomes to similar conclusions.

In 2017, 5.7% of all start-ups that attracted risk capital were led by a woman; in 2018, the share had increased significantly to 9.1%.

There was also significant growth in invested capital: in 2017, only about 2% of the total capital went to start-ups with a female CEO, but almost 7% in 2018.

The potential for further increase is clear, as the proportion of women in founding teams is clearly higher.

An analysis for Innosuisse, published in 2017, showed that 25% of all Swiss start-ups had at least one female co-founder. Venturelab came to a similar conclusion: about a third of the projects funded by Venture Kick in 2018 had at least one female member. And of the start-ups selected for the Top 100 Swiss Startup Award in 2018, 28% had a female co-founder.


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