This past year has been challenging for everyone, including women. Women have disproportionately faced hardships when it comes to creating work-life balance, and it’s no different for women entrepreneurs. However, Saskatchewan women in tech have proven to be resilient throughout the pandemic and continue to move industry dials forward. Currently, only six percent of Canada’s tech sector founders are female. At Innovation Saskatchewan, we are helping to build momentum for women entrepreneurs in the province, having watched them take their ideas from vision to realization.
There are many inspiring women working in the tech sector in Saskatchewan, many of whom have decided to become founders of their own tech companies. We have featured many of these innovators over the past few years and continue to celebrate their success alongside them, especially during Canadian Innovation Week and Women Entrepreneurs Week.
We have featured founders such as Katherine Regnier, founder of Coconut Software, and Andree Carpentier, co-founder of 7shifts, who have paved the way for female founders in Saskatchewan. They have shared their stories about what it takes to succeed in a male-dominated tech industry, and how they were able to overcome obstacles. They set amazing examples for other female founders, and laid the foundation for a more inclusive tech community.
Other founders, such as Serese Selanders of Ora and SolusGuard, Alicia Soulier of SalonScale, Dr. Monique Simair of Maven Water and Environmental, Brianna Brownell of Pure Strategy, Allison Anderson of Succession Matching, Sheila Maithel of Brillist Better Projects, Jackie Martin of Viking Innovations, Koreen Mak of Peppermint Technologies, Jessica McNaughton of memoryKPR, Kristy Ehman of Hyon, Melanie Morrison of BetterCart, Rachel Drew of Cadence, and Robyn Ham and Jana Ham of Fifo, have proven successful with their companies over the years.
These women have taken advantage of the robust Saskatchewan tech ecosystem, including participating in Co.Labs and Cultivator programs, taking part in community events such as Ladies in Tech nights, Co.mmunity nights, 24 Hour Startup events at Cultivator, Co.Launch programs at Co.Labs, mentorship opportunities, and Founders Table. Alicia Soulier of SalonScale and Kristy Ehman of Hyon have even won Co.Launch and been able to use that momentum to scale their company.
Many founders have also taken advantage of Innovation Saskatchewan’s programs including the Made in Saskatchewan Technology (MIST) Program, which gives them the opportunity to have the Government of Saskatchewan be their first big customer, and the Saskatchewan Technology Startup Incentive (STSI), which is the most aggressive angel investor tax incentive program in Western Canada.
“Saskatchewan has been a great place to start my company,” says Alicia Soulier, founder of SalonScale. “Innovation Saskatchewan has been a catalyst in building up the community and making it a more inclusive place for female founders. There are so many opportunities here that has helped SalonScale grow to where we are today.”
These female founders have really shown the community what can happen when they put their ideas into action. They have proven their ideas and have also paved the way for the latest generation of female founders.
Lately, we have also seen many new faces at the female Founders Table in Saskatchewan. It is encouraging to see so many talented women build their tech company and take full advantage of the available supports.
One of those supports is the Founders Table program, held in conjunction with Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan (WESK). It is a six-month mastermind program that provides in-depth learning sessions presented by other female leaders in the tech community. Founders such as Joanne Cunningham of Wave9, Krista Sali of Fundraisn, Jill Bashutski of Tetherport, and many others have taken part in the program. Over 30 female founders have participated in Founders Table!
“We are very excited to announce the continuation of the Founders Table program through 2021 and 2022 with a $60,000 per year investment! We welcome more women in tech into the ecosystem, and will watch them continue building momentum in growing the tech sector in Saskatchewan,” said Kari Harvey, CEO of Innovation Saskatchewan.” “We are proud to showcase exceptional women and can’t wait to see what comes next.”
While we have featured a number of female founders who have been strong leaders in the Saskatchewan tech ecosystem, we are excited to continue to feature women in tech. Funding programs like Women Entrepreneurs of Saskatchewan’s (WESK) Founder’s Table, and programs run by Innovation Saskatchewan can continue to change under-representation in the industry. Innovation Saskatchewan’s investment into programs builds a strong community of female tech founders in our province - increasing Saskatchewan's economic growth, competitiveness, and building a better quality of life for all residents. We are proud to showcase these exceptional women and can’t wait to see what comes next. Women in tech have had to overcome so many challenges, but female founders in Saskatchewan are overcoming barriers and becoming true industry champions!