Skip to main content

SAP Leverages Its Massive Network to Uplift Diverse Startup Founders

Almost 90 percent of global financial and goods flows touch an SAP system. That kind of reach is almost unthinkable — and the tech giant wants to put it to work to empower diverse startup founders. 

While the company doesn’t fund startups directly, its SAP.iO Foundries initiative arguably offers something even better. The program gives startups an opportunity to integrate within SAP’s technology ecosystem and develop relationships with the company’s vast network of customers, partners and employees.

Almost half the companies (44 percent) in SAP.iO’s global portfolio are founded or led by an underrepresented entrepreneur. Since 2017, the 525 companies incubated by SAP globally have raised around $11 billion in venture capital post-graduation from SAP.iO. They’ve also landed sales in the tens of millions thanks to connections made through the program and created around 36,000 jobs.

“The feedback that underrepresented people often get when they go to investors is, ‘You don’t have enough traction,’ whether that’s valid or not,” said Kange Kaneene, vice president of SAP.iO Foundries in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean. “What we can say is: We are going to give you that traction. We’re going to give you big contracts with big customers that are incontrovertibly impactful in whatever region or industry they sit in, and then we’ll help you fundraise by introducing you to people. And that’s something that the numbers show has been extremely successful for us.”

A boost for underrepresented founders…

SAP.iO intentionally seeks out underrepresented founders, who it defines as entrepreneurs from groups whose venture capital funding is disproportionately low for their region. This varies globally but often includes women, people of color, LGTBTQ people and people from countries that tend to be overlooked by VC funders.

SAP.iO formalized its commitment to these founders in 2019 with the launch of SAP.iO No Boundaries, which it bills as “the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative for underrepresented and underestimated entrepreneurs in the business software industry.” It pledged to scale SAP.iO Foundries with a focus on diverse founders, aiming to support at least 200 startups founded or led by underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023. It met that goal in July, six months ahead of schedule.

But incubating startups led by diverse founders is only the beginning. Creating a landscape in which these startups can succeed also means busting preconceived notions and changing hearts and minds.

“When I talk to external stakeholders about how we’re excited about the focus on underrepresented founders, their feedback is always, ‘Oh, so does that mean you’re compromising on quality?’ That’s always very frustrating, but we’re excited to say that [the startups led by underrepresented entrepreneurs] in the portfolio tie or surpass the rest of the portfolio on all the typical external metrics,” Kaneene said.

The 200 startups founded or led by underrepresented entrepreneurs make up 44 percent of SAP.iO’s global portfolio — and they represent half of the unicorns in the portfolio (meaning their valuation exceeds $1 billion), as well as 42 percent of cumulative VC funding. They also “have a greater likelihood to progress in their partnership with SAP,” according the company.

Read More…

Supporting LGBTQ+ Founders and Fostering Inclusion in the Tech & VC Industries

By Max Kahn, Director, SAP.iO

As an out and proud leader at SAP, I couldn’t be more excited to celebrate Pride Month and recognize the inspiring LGBTQ+ individuals who’ve made a significant impact in the world of tech, entrepreneurship, and venture capital. This month, we not only celebrate our community’s resilience and pride, but also reflect on the progress we’ve made and the work that still needs to be done to create a more inclusive and equitable world. In recent years, the world has seen a surge of innovative LGBTQ+ startup founders who’ve broken barriers and paved the way for a new generation of entrepreneurs. Despite these achievements, the world of venture capital continues to be primarily male & pale, with only a small percentage of investments going to startups founded by women, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color.

According to a study by StartOut, LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs are less likely to receive funding from investors compared to their non-LGBTQ+ counterparts, despite having comparable or even better performance metrics. This disparity highlights the pressing need for greater representation and support for the LGBTQ+ community in the venture capital space. As corporates, we have a responsibility to do better and foster an inclusive environment that encourages and supports LGBTQ+ employees & founders.

Here are some ways we can contribute:

1. Educate investors and customers about the value of diversity: It’s proven that diverse teams lead to better decision-making and innovation. By educating about the benefits of funding underrepresented founded & led startups, we can continue to shift the narrative and encourage more inclusive investments. For example, companies that embrace pro LGBTQ+ policies outperform those without them in the stock market by more than three percent. In our SAP.iO portfolio, underrepresented startups make up 44% of our portfolio and tie or surpass their counterparts in benchmarks used to measure success including number of exits and likelihood to progress in their partnership with SAP.

2. Embrace inclusive policies & benefits: Encourage your company and portfolio companies to adopt policies and practices that are inclusive and supportive of LGBTQ+ employees. Join SAP by embedding inclusive language into the DNA of your company, offering comprehensive coverage for gender-affirming care, and providing fertility support and family-building benefits for people of all identities. Recognizing pronouns is also essential to creating an inclusive environment for transgender and nonbinary colleagues. I’m proud that employees can easily add their chosen name and personal pronouns to their people profiles in SAP SuccessFactors. In addition to building inclusive companies and ecosystems, lobbying for equality is more important than ever. It’s important to recognize that one-third of the countries worldwide still criminalize homosexuality.

3. Foster collaborations & partnerships: Collaborate with organizations, accelerators, and non-profits that specifically focus on supporting LGBTQ+ founders and funders. Partnerships create a stronger support network for LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and contribute to their long-term success. In addition, supporting emerging LGBTQ+ VCs increases diversity within the VC community and drives more equitable decisions. Organizations like StartOut, Gaingels, and Out in Tech are fantastic resources for both startups and corporates to get involved with.

This Pride Month let’s celebrate the achievements of our community and continue working together to build a more inclusive and equitable future for all.

Inspiring Innovators: Alex Lamb Chief Executive Officer and Founder of BOLDLY-Get A Couch, On Being BOLD

At SAP.iO, we work with innovators and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we hear how founders, CEOs, and presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Alex Lamb

People described as bold tend to listen to their gut, prioritize, take action, and demonstrate courage. Boldness inspires and energizes, both of which are important qualities in a leader and a coach. As the Chief Executive and Founder of BOLDLY, these are traits that Alex Lamb personifies. In addition to her leadership role at BOLDLY, Alex is also a fractional Chief People Officer, organizational psychologist and executive coach, and has a deep understanding of how to create an environment to develop people’s skills. We were excited to have the opportunity to speak to Alex about her path, starting with looking for career advice, to coaching, to becoming a Founder and Chief Executive.

Working in Shanghai and Hong Kong for Korn Ferry over seven years, Alex honed her skills in various positions, from client management to product development. To get direction for her next career move, Alex started searching for a framework for decision-making which led her to studying evidence-based coaching practices and becoming a coach herself.

Observing an appetite for customized solutions suited to Asia, Alex moved to Singapore and started a consulting service designed to nurture domestic leadership talent. The service grew rapidly, taking on 11 consultants, and she quickly realized they needed a coaching technology platform to build BOLDLY beyond the reach of consulting. Alex launched the BOLDLY platform in 2017 to democratize coaching.

BOLDLY is a global coaching marketplace of qualified executive coaches and career coaches who are trained to develop staff and impact business performance using evidence-based coaching practices. Coaching is an evidence-based career development method proven to nurture professional growth, enhance workplace performance and provide targeted support for vocational confidence, competence, and leadership development. Their mission is simple: to ensure everyone has equal opportunity in the future of work.

“I figure if I don’t show up and have a try at something, somebody else will. And so, why not me? I often do things that scare me or might be a bit awkward at first, but this is where I learn. So being bold and finding courage has meant that we’ve taken the business further than we expected.”

Read More…

Check out our progress: 2022 Diversity & Inclusion Report

SAP’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Office has launched the 2022 Diversity and Inclusion Report. The report provides a transparent view of the progress made and highlights some of the key wins in the past year, such as pledging to support at least 200 startups founded or led by underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023 and achieving the goal six months ahead of schedule!

This report outlines SAP’s ongoing efforts to foster a culture of inclusion and integrate diversity into our strategy. By sharing this information, we hope to provide colleagues with a transparent view of our D&I progress in 2022, and to inspire others. The Global Diversity and Inclusion Office invites everyone to join in co-creating a workplace where employees feel a sense of belonging, can share their unique perspectives, and are helping to make a better, more equitable world for all.

Read Report Here 

The Inspiring Women Behind Digital Innovations on SAP Store

In the bestselling novel Lessons in Chemistry, set in California circa 1961, the protagonist is a female scientist who faces down disrespect, denigration, and downright discrimination to pursue her passion and put her talents to work. That level of bigotry might be shocking in most societies today. But the goal of reaching gender parity continues to elude us, as illustrated in the new article “Bridging the Digital Gap for Women in Tech,” published to observe this month’s International Women’s Month.

International Women’s Month provides the occasion to take stock of how far we have come and how far we have to go in creating opportunities for women’s advancement in the workplace. And it’s the perfect time to recognize several pioneering women in technology who are defying stereotypes and making enormous contributions in their fields. While women still comprise less than 30% of the workforce in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), these trailblazing entrepreneurs, leaders, and employers are serving as role models to inspire a new generation.

At SAP, we are proud to showcase the products and services of their companies on our digital marketplace, SAP Store. We are also pleased to shine a light on SAP’s commitment to helping women break gender barriers through SAP.iO, the strategic business unit that incubates, accelerates, and scales startup innovation. In fact, the No Boundaries initiative was established with the express purpose of ensuring that innovators from all backgrounds are empowered to start up with SAP. This program is the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the business software industry.

Now let’s get acquainted with six of these visionary women.

Lisa Skeete Tatum, Founder & CEO, Landit
If anyone knows the challenges that women and people of color encounter in technology, it’s Lisa Skeete Tatum. Her company, Landit, is dedicated to increasing the success of women and diverse groups in the workplace – and assisting companies in hiring and retaining them. Landit’s solution, Personal Career Pathing, offers a personalized playbook that helps people advance and navigate their careers. Employers are using it to deliver an action-based strategy that increases engagement, upward mobility, retention, and overall performance. Lisa attributes her own success to her board of directors, a family who believed in her, and to being her own best advocate. Personal Career Pathing is available on SAP Store.
Rashi Gupta, Co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist, Rezo.AI
Solving business problems using statistics and machine learning: that’s the primary passion of Dr. Rashi Gupta. A mathematician at heart, she earned a PhD in biometry from the University of Helsinki in Finland, where she discovered great support for women in technology. Returning home to India, she found a way to apply her skills in data mining and complex data sets. Realizing that the most rewarding way to do that would be to start her own company, she co-founded Rezo.AI in 2017. Rezo.AI is an AI-powered cloud solution that transforms the customer experience, improves agent productivity, and operationalizes real-time intelligence. Rezo.AI is available on SAP Store.
Paula Paw, Co-CEO, VersaFleet
A graduate of National University of Singapore with a bachelor’s degree in arts and social sciences, Paula Paw quickly found a job in sales and marketing at VersaFleet – a young company with a young team. Within just a few years, she become co-CEO, a fast-track career path that she attributes to an attitude of determination, a willingness to fail before getting it right, and listening empathetically. VersaFleet software optimizes route plans and fully digitalizes supply chains, providing technology for all transporters in any industry, in any market. VersaFleet Last-mile Transport Management Software is available on SAP Store.
Michelle Bacharach, Founder and CEO, FindMine
Her own experience as a consumer led Michelle Bacharach to invent an AI-powered technology that creates complete outfits around retailers’ products. “Complete the Look” is designed to inspire and inform shoppers, in-store associates, and retail buyers to use and pair products across e-commerce, email, marketing channels, and in store. And they tend to spend more! Michelle had always pictured herself starting her own business, and experience at a tech startup and in corporate strategy and product management gave her the background and the impetus she needed to launch FindMine. The FindMine solution is available on SAP Store.
Neha Singh, Founder, Obsess
A graduate degree in computer science from MIT enabled Neha Singh to develop the right skills to pursue a career leading engineering and product teams, which took her to Google, Vogue, and a luxury e-commerce startup. She’s combined technology expertise with a passion for fashion to create an e-commerce platform designed to make online shopping fun. Obsess Virtual Store Platform leaves the tired old thumbnail grid behind with immersive 3D virtual stores that create an interactive, engaging experience. It replicates an actual store with the sights, sounds, and social experience of real-life shopping. Obsess Virtual Store Platform is available on SAP Store.
Chandralika Hazarika, Co-Founder, Bigthinkx
Bigthinx is a perfect example of a startup that took wing at SAP.iO. Its inspiring innovator is Chandralika Hazarika, who applied 15 years’ tenure in branding and marketing – and experience with her own fashion brand, Velvet Piano – to focus on building digitally empowered brands. An architect by education, she always wanted to do something on the creative side of the business with people. Bigthinx builds software for online fashion retailers, using AI, mobile body scanning, virtual try-ons, and digital twins. The technology creates a 3D body scan for instant apparel size and fit predictions to see how it would look and fit in reality. Check out Lyflike Apparel Fit and Size Predictor by Bigthinx on SAP Store.

Why not discover these solutions and more innovations on SAP Store? It could inspire your own big ideas.

SVB gave ‘underestimated’ founders ‘a soft place to land.’ Where do they go now?

After the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank, there’s been a lot of talk about the importance of diversification in finance. In the startup world, though, Kange Kaneene says being able to diversify is “a luxury that some people just don’t have.”

“If you’re going to bank after bank and getting told no, it’s hard to diversify,” the vice president for Foundries, the software giant startup accelerator in New York, San Francisco, Latin America and the Caribbean, told MarketWatch. Kaneene said Silicon Valley Bank was “a soft place to land” for many startup founders she called “underestimated,” such as women and people of color. The bank launched a program focused on increasing opportunities for underrepresented people in the “innovation economy,” but the future of that is as cloudy as that of the bank itself.

The venture-capital world, already affected by a tech slowdown and other economic worries before the failure of the bank, is now dealing with even more uncertainty that includes possible long-term effects from a banking crisis. The impact could be worse for VCs and startup founders who are women and/or people of color, a category that already saw a low share of venture funding.

Of all venture-capital funding last year, only 1.9% went to female founders, according to data from PitchBook. Usually, less than 2% of VC funding goes to Black entrepreneurs, according to Crunchbase; last year, while overall venture funding declined 36%, funding to Black-led businesses dropped 45%.

Read More…

Censia’s Growth Journey

Meet Censia

What makes Censia tick? Their core value that every person counts.  Founded in 2017 by CEO Joanna Riley, Censia unleashes the power of the people by delivering transformative talent intelligence, helping customers supercharge SAP’s human resources management solutions portfolio with AI-powered resume review, passive sourcing, and candidate evaluation. After achieving a 10x growth in 2020 following a $21M Series A funding round, Censia has been helping the biggest brands optimize recruitment and talent management by transforming executive intelligence, workforce intelligence, and talent acquisition.

Making Data-Driven Talent Decisions

Censia’s partnership journey with SAP began in 2019 when Censia joined SAP.iO Foundry San Francisco’s Future of Work accelerator as a seed-stage company. Looking to leverage the strength of SAP’s network, Censia quickly became an SAP partner with an integrated solution in SAP SuccessFactors Recruiting and a listing on SAP Store. Censia Talent Intelligence was fast to become wildly successful and last year, Censia became an SAP Endorsed Application, a prestigious recognition only received by 1% of SAP store partner solutions. To date, Censia has closed numerous deals with SAP and major brands such as Tapestry Inc., TJ Maxx, and PepsiCo Inc. Today, as Censia rapidly scales, SAP continues to see the major impact their solution has on improving human resource management for SAP SuccessFactors customers.

On Partnering with SAP.iO

Censia CEO Joanna Riley credits her experience working with SAP.iO and the inside knowledge and insights shared as critical in helping to set Censia up for success in working with enterprise. Riley shared that SAP.iO’s input on company presentation was extremely valuable in successful meetings with SAP, SAP customers, and investors, and really felt part of a selective group of entrepreneurs who are the next generation of leaders with an edge.


“Entrepreneurship is about continuous learning and to be able to be part of SAP.iO, I feel like I’m cheating. I’m learning from lessons that have been learned through years of experience that SAP has acquired and taking those and applying them to my business so that we have a head start. I would recommend any company especially focused on enterprise to look at SAP.iO as a real solution to build a produce that is great for enterprise.”
– Joanna Riley, CEO, Censia


As one of the most successful startups in the SAP.iO portfolio, we look forward to many more joint successes and a fruitful journey together ahead! Learn more about how Censia adds AI-powered talent intelligence to SAP SuccessFactors here.

SAP Achieves Goal of Supporting 200 Startups Founded or Led by Underrepresented Entrepreneurs Six Months Ahead of Schedule

SAP announced that it has supported 200 startups founded or led by a female or member of an underrepresented group as of July 2022. This is six months ahead of the initial goal of 2023.

In January 2019, SAP launched SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first comprehensive, inclusive entrepreneurship initiative for underrepresented and underestimated entrepreneurs in the business software industry. SAP recognized that diversity yields better innovation, but that most venture funding goes to startups founded or led by a very narrow demographic.

Therefore, SAP pledged to scale its global network of the no-equity-ask external startup program SAP.iO Foundries with a focus on inclusive entrepreneurship. SAP also set an ambitious target of supporting at least 200 startups founded or led by underrepresented entrepreneurs by 2023. To achieve this, the SAP.iO Foundries program has built a diverse team, communicated a clear startup sourcing process, participated in events and partnered with organizations that support underrepresented founders.

As a result, underrepresented startups now make up 44% of the portfolio of 450 startups in the SAP.iO program and tie or surpass their counterparts in benchmarks used to measure success. They represent:

  • 51% of the exits in the portfolio (18 out of 35)
  • 50% of the unicorns in the portfolio (2 out of 4)
  • 42% in cumulative venture capital raised by startups within the SAP.iO program (US$2.7 billion of $6.6 billion)
  • A greater likelihood to progress in their partnership with SAP

“SAP firmly believes talent is equally distributed globally and opportunity is not,” said Alexa Gorman, Global Head, SAP.iO Foundries and Intrapreneurship, SAP. “We are doing everything we can to provide more access to opportunity to founders everywhere while simultaneously adding incremental innovation and value for SAP customers.”

During the program, startups receive technical and go-to-market support to help them integrate with SAP and become part of a curated ecosystem where their offerings are easily accessible to SAP customers.

One of the most successful startups of the SAP.iO program is female-founded Censia Inc. Recently, Censia’s app was named an SAP endorsed app, a designation achieved by less than 1% of partner solutions offered on the SAP Store site. Censia augments HR management software provided by SAP with AI-powered resume review, passive sourcing and candidate evaluation software. Censia has successfully closed 14 go-to-market opportunities with SAP and major brands such as Tapestry Inc., TJ Maxx and PepsiCo Inc.

Joanna Riley, CEO of Censia, said, “I’m learning lessons that SAP has acquired through years of experience and applying them to my business so that we have a head start. I would recommend any company to look at SAP.iO as it is an invaluable resource for startups, especially ones focused on enterprises.”

The SAP.iO Foundries program plans to build on its momentum. By 2028, it wants 45% of its portfolio to be comprised of startups founded or led by people whose share of venture capital funding in the technology industry is proportionally less than their share of the population. This would be up from 40% in 2018.

The program works to achieve this goal by continuing with its winning execution strategy as well as adding geographical representation as a sourcing focus. For example, SAP.iO Foundries expanded to Latin America and the Caribbean in 2022 and will target specific countries in existing SAP.iO Foundries regions such as Nigeria, Pakistan and others.

To learn more about how SAP.iO is helping innovators start up and scale with SAP, please visit

Inspiring Innovators: Riana Lynn CEO and Founder of Journey Foods, On being a serial entrepreneur

At SAP.iO, we work with innovative people and new technologies that positively impact our world every day, and we think it’s time to share their stories with you! In our series, “Inspiring Innovators,” we get to hear how founders, CEOs, presidents of cutting-edge startup technologies overcame, thrived, and pursued their goals. SAP.iO’s Alexa Gorman sat down to discuss the road to success and lessons learned with some of our most inspiring startup founders.

Meet Riana Lynn

Starting as a biology student in college building websites on the side, Riana Lynn was unknowingly launching her journey as a serial entrepreneur. Even as a kid, she knew she wanted to work on health issues to impact her community positively. Using her background in biology, she took an interest in larger food systems and how food affects our chronic diseases. Coming from a family of food entrepreneurs and farmers, it was no surprise that Riana’s first food company became one of the top juice bars in the country. After this accomplishment, she had the opportunity to work at the White House and even spent some time in Silicon Valley working for Google.

With all this experience to pull from, Riana set her sights on a new horizon, developing solutions that solve food science and supply chain inefficiencies. Riana shared with us that consumers spend $3 trillion a year on packaged foods and that research shows evidence that eating packaged foods is related to the increase in chronic diseases and poor mental health. Confident that we could change these problems with better science and data tools, Riana founded Journey Foods.

Journey Foods is a portfolio intelligence and lifecycle management software for food development and innovation. Their approach puts nutrition and sustainability at the forefront of product development, helping formulate products according to specific consumer and company goals. To further their impressive progress, Journey Foods builds integrations with companies like SAP to drive widespread impact quickly.

“I work on solving the most significant problems in food that effect my family, our communities, and the world.”

Read More…

GraphQL developer platform Hasura raises $100M Series C

Hasura, the company behind the popular open source Hasura GraphQL Engine that can turn virtually any database into a GraphQL API, today announced that it has raised a $100 million Series C funding round led by Greenoaks. Previous investors Nexus Venture Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Vertex Ventures also participated in this round, which brings the company’s total funding to $136.5 million and its valuation to $1 billion.

As Hasura CEO and co-founder Tanmai Gopal told me, the company has seen its growth accelerate over the course of the last 18 months since it raised its $25 million Series B round. As developers are increasingly tasked to build applications on top of an ever wider range of data sources, they are looking for a service like Hasura.

“The enterprise developer is just absolutely bogged down with complexity,” he said. “They’re just completely deadlocked. They’re like, ‘man, I have like a thousand models in this legacy data system. I have a bunch of new stuff that is ML/AI enriched in this new system. I have these legacy APIs. And all I really want to do is modernize my application screen so that somebody can see their billing history.’ […] What Hasura does, is say: We make this data access self-serve. We’ll automate this. We’ll give you an API that is flexible, it’s secure and it’s an API that you love — it’s a GraphQL API — and we’ll automate that.”

Read More…

In a League of their Own: How Female Leaders Help Power SAP Store

The COVID-19 pandemic has not been friendly to women in the workforce, setting gender parity efforts back by a generation or more, according to the World Economic Forum. However, while the pandemic has been punishing, it has helped bring attention to this widening disparity and caused us to acknowledge and celebrate the businesses, and especially the women, that are breaking gender barriers and striving for a more equitable working world.
For many years, SAP has been committed to eliminating gender inequality in support of our purpose – to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. SAP.iO – SAP’s strategic business unit to incubate, accelerate and scale startup innovation – is one of organizations working to establish equal opportunities for women. To do that, they launched the No Boundaries initiative, the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the business software industry. The program ensures that all innovators from all backgrounds are empowered to start-up with SAP. And it’s been a success: since 2019, 50% of the startups that have worked with SAP.iO have a female/underrepresented founder or CXO.

Celebrating Female-Founded Partner Companies on SAP Store

At SAP Store, we have had the privilege of seeing many of those women entrepreneurs launch their solutions on our online marketplace, including:
  • Ashley Crowder, CEO & Co-Founder, VNTANA: Ashley always loved engineering and art and 3D/AR/VR combined both of those interests. Her passion for the medium drove her to want to solve the most time-consuming problem: Automatic file optimization and management so creators could focus on creating amazing experiences. As a result, she launched VNTANA and the solution Automated 3D CMS, available on SAP Store.
  • Diane Keng, CEO & Co-Founder, Breinify: With her experience working at Apple and Symantec, Diane learned that technology and algorithms are a needed part of the business process in order to launch amazing consumer experiences. Additionally, personalization, especially with a pandemic, must continuously adapt and evolve. These insights drove her to launch Breinify and the solution Breinify AI for SAP Commerce Cloud, available on SAP Store.
  • Jan Bruce, CEO and Co-Founder, meQuilibrium: As a successful media executive, wife, and mother, Jan was having difficulty balancing her career with how exhausting and conflicting her life obligations were. With meQuilibrium, she created a tool that not only was useful to her but was also something that could help others – a behavior modification solution to help people manage how they think and react. The meQuilibrium solution, meQuilibrium Resilience Suite, is available on SAP Store.
Other amazing female founders and CXOs with solutions on SAP Store include:
These female entrepreneurs are not only visionaries in their industries but are also delivering innovative solutions that are bettering SAP Store. Yet they aren’t the only strong female leaders powering SAP’s digital marketplace.

Henkel : Idea Hackathon supports 100 early-stage female founders

The Henkel Xathon, an ideation hackathon for female founders, is taking place for the third time. The aim is to promote female entrepreneurs and talents in the technology industry, strengthen their business innovation and support them in building a relevant business network. The Xathon will take place in Berlin from November 12 to 14, 2021 as a hybrid event* in English. It is hosted by Henkel dx Ventures, Henkel’s platform for open innovation and collaboration, together with Global Digital Women.


One focus this year is on the rapidly accelerating D2C sector, influenced by changing consumer behaviors towards hyper-personalization across all channels.


At the Xathon, participants can take part in live workshops at four different locations in Berlin and digitally, watch keynotes, collaborate with top female experts, and further develop their business ideas. A total of 100 female talents will get the opportunity to participate in this year’s hackathon. Interested female founders can apply until October 10 at The main event partner of the Xathon 2021 is Global Digital Women. Further partners include SAP.iO and Microsoft.


Raising awareness for female empowerment

‘Diversity and gender equity are of strategic importance to us at Henkel. With the Xathon, we want to empower female entrepreneurship and support talented women in realizing their ideas and unfolding their full potential,’ says Sylvie Nicol, Chief Human Resources Officer at Henkel.

The Female Founder Monitor 2020 once again showed that targeted support for female founders is necessary: according to this, only 15.7 percent of all founders in Germany are female. Women entrepreneurs are particularly rare in the technology sector.

‘The figures show that the road to equality in the tech industry is still long. But there is much more than just figures: every year at our Xathon we see impressive and great ideas from female founders. For us, it is a privilege to experience and support this female entrepreneurial power in tech,’ says Michael Nilles, Chief Digital & Information Officer at Henkel. ‘I am truly convinced that innovation is built on diversity. That’s why we are very much looking forward to welcome 100 female founders and their early-stage business models.’

Read More…

Corporate investors hold the key to fostering inclusive entrepreneurship

Alarming headlines about women leaving the workforce during the pandemic abound. A quick Google on the topic will yield results including “How COVID-19 Sent Women’s Workforce Progress Backward”, “Women’s COVID-Fueled Exodus from the Workplace Hurts Us All”, “Why COVID-19 Could Force Millions of Women to Quit Work – and How to Support Them” from American Progress, Time and the Forum, respectively.

A side story which is not being so widely reported is how the pandemic reverse the meager gains women entrepreneurs have made in recent years.

In the US, it’s already happening. Pitchbook reports that in Q3 2020, quarterly venture capital funding for women founders dropped to a three-year low, even though overall venture capital activity was on a par with previous years. Between Q2 and Q3 last year, investment in women founders dropped 48%.

These losses make already dismal numbers worse. Women founder teams received only 4.3% of all venture capital deals in Q1 2020 – a drop from 7.1% in Q1 2019.

So far, investment levels in Europe are holding low but steady at 1.8% of venture capital going to all-women founder teams and 12.8% going to mixed-gender teams up until the end of October. But the threat of slippage in Europe – and globally – looms.

While COVID-specific dynamics have exacerbated the venture capital investment picture, women’s low representation on investment teams was already fueling the chronic opportunity gap. In 2019, just 3.4%of assets under management were held by women-founded VC firms, and only 3.8%were held by diverse-owned firms.

Rethinking and resetting the status quo on underrepresented entrepreneurs

The Forum’s Great Reset challenges us to rethink our economic, social and technological systems for a better world – to steer the market toward fairer outcomes, ensure that investments advance shared equality and sustainability, and harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good.

In such a context, corporations can activate their venturing funds, as well as accelerator, incubation and procurement programs to drive the changes required for the Great Reset, fostering inclusive entrepreneurship by:

  • Increasing the percentage of women and underrepresented groups on their investment teams
  • Increasing the percentage of investment (financial and non-financial) that goes to women and underrepresented entrepreneurs
  • Activating additional business levers to fuel scaling of businesses led by diverse teams

Focussing on women has multiple benefits

Investing in women pays huge dividends for everyone. In COVID-19 and Gender Equality: Countering the Regressive Effects, McKinsey estimated that acting now to advance gender equality could add $13 trillion to global GDP in 2030.

It also returns greater yields than less targeted investments. Over a five-year period, for every dollar venture capital invested, women-led or women co-founded startups generated 78 cents of revenue while male-led startups only generated 31 cents (Why Women-Owned Startups Are a Better Bet). What’s more, on average, companies with more diverse leadership teams report almost 20% higher revenue from innovation. (How Diverse Leadership Teams Boost Innovation).

We should therefore view investment in women entrepreneurs as a powerful catalyst for economic recovery.

Addressing the gap for women is only one step toward generating more equitable outcomes for all. We expect that most levers that help women can also contribute to wider diversity efforts. Further studies investigating variations in impact between underrepresented groups would be welcomed.

Read More…

Getting Energized to Level the Playing Field

A conversation with Amanda Niklaus, PPA Transaction Manager in the renewable industry.

The Road Less Traveled

What initially drew you to the energy industry?

During my Master’s studies, there was a mining boom in Australia. A lot of money was put into energy research, particularly for oil and gas. The Head of my university department suggested that I pursue mathematical economics in energy and work with some prestigious supervisors from the industry which I did. After graduation, I worked as an economist for the government and then in investment banking where we were looking at M&A opportunities. At the time, I found working within this very male-dominated industry a bit unsettling, and left for the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) where I worked on providing training for investors and traders and we looked at battery viability for participating in different markets. A lot happened and changed over the time I worked there and that is one of the elements I like about the power market sector: it’s very dynamic, constantly evolving.

When I came back to Switzerland, I read about Pexapark. They were very new at that time and had a lot of potential. I thought it would be exciting to work with a focus in renewables and to help developing a business. I was right — it’s so far been an incredible experience to be part of and contribute to Pexapark’s development and growth.

What’s the most satisfying part of your role at Pexapark?

I really enjoy working across markets and looking at different issues, that clients are encountering or questions they are trying to answer. While our business is very specialised, I feel like a request is never ever the same. It’s always new, there is so much to learn constantly!

What’s your secret sauce that you bring to work with you each day?

A ‘can do’ attitude and resilience.

Making Strides in Renewables

What thoughts are going through your head (if any) and what are you experiencing when you find yourself to be the only woman in the room?

That’s often the case to be honest. With clients, I do not let that disturb me, I cannot. Otherwise I am going nowhere. It is of course harder to ignore for someone who works in this environment every day. There are many studies about the ‘Onlys’ — referring to the only woman in a team. A notable one is from McKinsey, showing that women in this situation often receive judgement or doubt about their own area of expertise. They feel under a constant pressure to provide a proof of competence compared to their male colleagues. The sad part is that you don’t know if it was intentional, or it is just a dynamic of the competitive environment. That is not always clear. What is clear to me — there is a way to improve the situation. A more gender- balanced team is very important and I’d like to think I try my best to influence in that direction.

Read More…

Changing Our Perspective on Women Entrepreneurs

Slowly, but surely, glass ceilings around the world are beginning to crack and break. Although it is a slow progress, it is progress. We are not only finally seeing a change in the perception of women in business, but more specifically we are seeing a rise of women entrepreneurs. CEOs, Founders, Managers, and event organizers have begun to shine the spotlight on the underrepresented, which includes women entrepreneurs.

Ensuring all innovators, from all backgrounds are empowered to start-up with SAP, SAP.iO No Boundaries, the first comprehensive inclusive entrepreneurship initiative in the business software industry was created. Since 2019, 50% of the startups we’ve worked with have a female/underrepresented founder or CXO.

The SAP.iO Foundry Paris has supported 38 startups since late 2018. Of these companies, many have women in management positions. We recently had the opportunity to interview some of these female leaders and learn more about their unique experiences, operating in a world that is largely run by men. These entrepreneurs occupy a rare place today, they are part of only 16% of employees in the tech sector and only 8% of tech entrepreneurs.

We asked how they choose their career, their profession? What are their strengths? We found out that what they all have in common is that they dared to explore what they love. Out of desire, curiosity, need or conviction they chose a field in technology. They listened to their inner voice and considered what it is that they really enjoyed. Charlotte Fanneau, Director of Operations at Heuritech said, “I did not choose the job of Director of Operations, but the mission of putting cutting-edge technology at the service of the fashion industry.” All shared the desire to step out of their comfort zone, to learn “on the job”, to explore areas that were unfamiliar or that could not be learned in school. “To become Marketing Manager in a field that I did not know, I found similarities with sports training. I was curious, I trained on my own. I tested, I documented myself to create my own knowledge,” said Manon Pellet Marketing Manager at Hiboo.

Read More…