Women Startup Challenge Europe 2017 Judges


Europe 2017 | Finalists | Judges | Advisory Committee

Ten finalists pitched their startups to these investors at City Hall in London on May 3, 2017. The grand prize winner, Simprints, received €50,000 as a cash grant.

Meet the Jury

Martha Lane Fox

Founder and Executive Chair of Doteveryone

Baroness Lane Fox is the Founder and Executive Chair of Doteveryone.org.uk. In April 2016, she was appointed as a non executive director of Twitter. Martha became a crossbench peer in the UK House of Lords in March 2013. In March 2014, she was appointed Chancellor of the Open University. Martha co- founded and chairs LuckyVoice, revolutionising the karaoke industry. She is a non executive director of the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Creative Industries Federation, the Scale Up Institute, and the Open Data Institute.

In 2007, Martha founded Antigone, her own charitable foundation. She also serves as a Patron of AbilityNet, Reprieve, Camfed, and Just for Kids Law. In 2013, Martha was awarded a CBE. In 1998, Martha co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website, lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman. They took it public in 2000 and sold it in 2005.


Marie-Laure Sauty de Chalon

CEO of auFeminin group

Marie-Laure is CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors of auFeminin.com, the world’s leading internet portal for women. Before joining the auFeminin Group in June 2010, Marie-Laure started her career working in media agencies. She previously served as CEO of Aegis Media Southern Europe (including France) from 2004 – 2010.

Marie-Laure is a member of the Antitrust Authority and board member of LVMH who has been teaching “Changing Media” at SciencesPo Paris since 2007.


Rajeeb Dey

Founder of Enternships.com and CEO of Learnerbly

Rajeeb Dey, MBE, is the Founder and CEO of Enternships, a portal which has connected students and graduates to internships and graduate jobs in over 7,000 startups and fast-growing businesses. In recognition of his work, Rajeeb was named the “O2 X Young Entrepreneur of the Year” and the youngest recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion in 2013.

Rajeeb is passionate about helping people connect to opportunities and flourish in their careers. To further this goal, he recently launched Learnerbly – a platform to help manage employees’ professional development. Rajeeb is also the Co-Founder of StartUp Britain, a national entrepreneurship campaign launched by Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011. He is a vocal supporter of social enterprise, serving as a Trustee of UnLtd – the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs – for over 8 years.

Rajeeb graduated with 1st Class Honours in Economics and Management from the University of Oxford and was appointed the world’s youngest Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012 at the age of 26. He was named one of the 1,000 Most Influential People in London by The Evening Standard as well as being recognized in “Who’s Who” and “Debrett’s People of Today”. He was appointed Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s 90th Birthday Honours List in June 2016 for services to Entrepreneurship.

Diane Tate

Senior Program Manager, Mozilla

Diane works on communications, events and programs for Mozilla’s 1000+ global staff. Previously, she worked in Mozilla’s MDN Web Docs group supporting web developers worldwide. She joined Mozilla to run WebFWDMozilla’s accelerator for open source startups. She currently works on internal communications; previously she was Program Manager for Mozilla’s Developer Relations team.

Pre-Mozilla she did communications, marketing, product management, and business development at various startups as well as at Charles Schwab. She got her MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and her BA in History from Stanford.


Tatiana Issaeva

Managing Partner at Fluent Digital Capital

Tatiana is the Managing Partner of Fluent Digital Capital, a new generation fund of funds specializing in European venture capital. Fluent Digital Capital offers investors a diversified portfolio of outperforming venture funds and access to the most promising growth companies in Europe. Before co-founding Fluent Digital in March 2015, Tatiana gained extensive experience in European venture capital at European Investment Fund (EIF), the largest European venture capital fund-of-funds.

At EIF, Tatiana led investments in 16 European early-stage and growth venture capital funds, including Atomico, Balderton, Felix Capital, Creandum, Sunstone, and Prime Ventures. She also worked on the development of EIF’s new investment products and represented EIF at the European Digital Forum. Before joining EIF in early 2011, Tatiana worked on the development of next-generation mobile networks in various technical and business roles at Nokia.

Tracy Doree

Founding Partner at Kindred

Founding partner at Kindred, a London based seed-stage venture firm that practices equitable venture. Maths grad who previously co-founded content-led ecommerce site Llustre (acquired by Fab.com). Was VC with MMC Ventures and an IB at NM Rothschild.

Sarah McVittie

Cofounder, Dressipi

Sarah McVittie is a co-founder of Dressipi, a global leader in fashion personalisation.  She is an award-winning entrepreneur who has launched a number of firsts across mobile and web.  With Dressipi, in just 5 years and with limited funding, they have doubled their annual revenue and have also built a business that offers every woman access to their own digital stylist. Dressipi services over 20% of the UK womenswear market including retailers like Topshop, John Lewis and Very.  They offer retailers the opportunity to transform their personalisation strategy and see very positive uplifts in revenue and reductions in costs.  Prior to Dressipi, Sarah launched and ran Texperts, (the world’s first Q&A SMS service) inspired by her job as an analyst at UBS. Texperts won Shell Livewire and Natwest Startups awards before its multimillion sale to kgb giants, 118118 in 2008.

Neil Cocker

Co-Founder of Cardiff Start and TEDxCardiff

Neil is an entrepreneur, tech/digital industries consultant, and music industry survivor. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the the Welsh Film Agency (Ffilm Cymru) and co-founder of Cardiff Start, the tech startup community of Europe’s fastest-growing capital city. He also represents Cardiff as part of UK Government’s Tech City UK Cluster Alliance.

After many successful years in the music industry (both as a label boss and a performer in over 30 different countries), Neil co-founded the ecommerce merchandise platform Ramp, and is the also the co-founder of TEDxCardiff and Ignite Cardiff. He currently lives in Sofia, Bulgaria

Mary McKenna

Director at Elemental Software and Co-Founder of Learning Pool

Mary McKenna, MBE, is a well-known Irish technology entrepreneur and angel investor. She co-founded the successful Northern Irish e-learning company Learning Pool following a long public sector career and a spell as a Silicon Valley dotcommer. She exited from Learning Pool in 2014 so that she could return to working with earlier-stage startups.

Mary is interested in helping to start and grow indigenous Irish and UK tech companies. She is also keen to work with female and young entrepreneurs. She is a resident expert at the University of Oxford’s Said Business School; one of the Entrepreneurs in Residence at the Northern Ireland Science Park in Belfast; a trustee of the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology; and an active member of Tech London Advocates.

She has invested in six early-stage tech startups to date, three of which have female founding teams. Mary was awarded the MBE by Her Majesty the Queen in the 2014 New Year’s Honours for services to digital technology, innovation, and learning.

Charles Thiede

Co-Founder and CEO of Zapnito

Charles is Co-Founder and CEO of Zapnito, a publishing platform that allows organizations to build their own online, branded knowledge networks. Together with his co-founder, Charles created, bootstrapped, developed, and pivoted Zapnito from an idea to a thriving SaaS business that won Digital Startup of the Year at the 2015 Professional Publishers Association Awards.

Prior to Zapnito, Charles worked as Chief Technology Officer at Informa Business Information. In this role, he managed a portfolio worth $400 million for one of Informa’s most successful business units. Charles also worked as Interim Chief Product Officer and Digital Systems Director at Nature Publishing Group, where he created and developed the first product office for Nature.com.

A former triathlete and triathlon coach, Charles excels at helping founders build their businesses from bootstrap to profit. Creating world-class digital products with outstanding colleagues gets Charles out of bed each morning.

Max Kelly

Managing Director (London) at Techstars

Max is currently Managing Director of Techstars London. Techstars is the world’s leading accelerator program for early-stage startups. Prior to Techstars, Max spent 12 years at Virgin where he was responsible for the strategy of the group and for starting new companies. Virgin Insight – which delivered big data consultancy to all the Virgin companies, including Virgin Mobile USA – grew to revenues of $1 billion within 18 months. Additionally, Virgin Mobile Canada was voted the best Canadian network in its launch year, while Virgin Healthbank froze stem cells cryogenically. These companies exited for more than $500M for Richard Branson.

Alongside his Virgin commitments, Max also co-founded lastsecondtickets.com which was successfully sold in 2014. He started his career at L’Oreal running the UK’s largest haircare brand – the irony was lost on no one. He was a scholar at Oxford University, where he obtained a First Class Degree in Chemistry.

Mobbie Nazir

Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social

Mobbie serves as Chief Strategy Officer at We Are Social, a London-based global media agency. In this role, Mobbie owns the strategic model for global client relationships as well as driving thought leadership across the agency. She also engages across a range of We Are Social’s global clients.

Mobbie previously worked as Head of Digital Strategy at JWT. During her three years at JWT, she developed the digital strategy and planning for a range of clients including Unilever, HSBC, Shell, and Nestlé. Previous roles also include Head of Planning at MRM Worldwide, Business Director at Wunderman, and Marketing Director at Digitas.

Mobbie earned her BA (Hons) in English from the University of Oxford. In 2016, she was included in the Holmes Report’s Innovator 25 EMEA list.


Adizah Tejani

Director of Marketing (EMEA) at Token

Adizah is a product-focused technology executive who has worked within the digital tech space since 2009. She is currently the Director of Marketing (EMEA) at Token, a San Francisco-based open banking fintech company. She was also part of the founding team at Level39, a London-based technology accelerator focused on fintech and cybersecurity products. Under her leadership, the Level39 technology ecosystem grew to over 200+ member companies, delivered over 7 hours of weekly educational programming and technology partnerships.

Adizah has been in the technology and startup ecosystem for the last 7 years and understands how to build relationships and strategies that add value to all partners. Adizah has worked on the rollout of digital products such as websites, billing systems, and mentor matching platforms. This work has led Adizah to collaborate with industry leaders such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM, JP Morgan, UBS, Thomson Reuters, and Accenture.

Adizah has also spoken about the impact of technology, business, and finance at global industry events and conferences. In 2016, she was named one of the top 100 women in London by City A.M.

Gina Miller

Cofounder of SCM Private and the True and Fair Foundation

Gina Miller co-founded SCM Private in 2009 as a disruptive modern investment manager offering low access to high-end wealth management. Gina has worked in the UK retail financial services sector since 1996 and is passionate about transparency, accountability and consumer protection.

Her business principles are characterized by innovation, efficiency, a profit for purposes model and putting the customer at the centre of all decision-making processes.  In 1996, she launched SWAY Marketing, one of the first specialist retail financial services marketing agencies in the UK.  Prior to this, Gina worked for BMW’s events and marketing team in the UK.

Gina’s feisty advocacy for transparency, scrutiny, and ethics in the UK financial services industry led to her launching the True and Fair Campaign in 2012. She also created the True and Fair Calculator, a free online tool that helps users see their true investment costs.  Her campaigning work resulted in influencing and drafting text in 3 EU Directives – MiFID II, PRIPS, and the Shareholder Directive in 2014.

In September 2014, Gina launched SCMDirect.com and MoneyShe.com as direct-to-consumer online wealth management brands which use technology as an enabler of efficiencies and dis-intermediation, as well as on-boarding smaller clients.

Gina is a passionate philanthropist and conscious capitalist. She has funded and authored / co-authored reports on modern-day slavery, social justice ,and the charity sector. Her True and Fair Foundation campaigns for greater transparency, accountability, and governance in the UK charity sector. It also directly supports small, dynamic, community charities that are making significant impacts.

Gina has studied Law, Marketing, and Human Resource Management. In 2016, Gina was the lead claimant in a historic constitutional legal case against the UK Government seeking to preserve Parliamentary sovereignty by claiming that the Government could not bypass Parliament and trigger Article 50 without primary legislation.

Emma Sexton

Founder and Creative Director of Make Your Words Work™ and Co-Founder of Flock Global™

Emma Sexton is the Founder and Creative Director of design business Make Your Words Work™, and the Co-Founder of Flock Global™, a collaborative network for entrepreneurs. Emma is also a presenter on talkRADIO; winner of the Kantar Inspiration Award and the Future 100 Award; and was shortlisted for The Drum’s Creative Woman of the Year 2016.


Carla Zaldua

CEO of AcceXible

An entrepreneur and MSc graduate in Media and Communication, Carla’s latest project is acceXible, a company that focuses on stakeholder engagement and exploitation strategies for ICT R&D projects. She also works as a consultant building communications campaigns. Carla has collaborated with organizations including the Council of Europe, OECD, Repsol-YPF, and Microsoft Iberica.

As a serial entrepreneur, Carla is currently working on a new, early-stage idea to help unemployed young people develop professional careers. Follow her on Twitter at @zaldux.

Eva de Lera

Executive Director, Raising the Floor International

Eva de Lera is an idea and concept developer, innovation strategist, and advisor focused on applying her diverse, multi-disciplinary background to help steer change in organizations interested in improving people’s lives. Her work and research focuses on emotions/psychology, education, design, and technology. She is also a serial entrepreneur and an artist. Eva currently serves as the Executive Director of Raising the Floor International, on the Advisory Board of the Doug Engelbart Institute, and at Sekg.

Cathy White

Founder, CEW Communications

Cathy specializes in working with startups and the organizations that support them. She has a real passion for working with growing companies where she can make an impact.

Before founding CEW Communications, she was Head of Communications for Tech City UK, an organization to accelerate the growth of digital startups and skills in the UK. She previously worked as the Communications and Marketing Manager for Seedcamp, the first round fund that invests in pre-seed and seed-stage tech startups. In her role at Seedcamp, she advised early-stage companies within Seedcamp’s portfolio on their own marketing and PR activity.

Ahead of Seedcamp, she was Senior Account Manager on the Startups and Fast Growth team of Albion Drive and was recognized for her work in the agency by PR Week in June 2014, when she appeared as a ‘Rising Star’ of the industry. She has worked on international campaigns for US and European companies in a range of sectors across the tech space. These include some of Europe’s leading startups and VCs, such as Index Ventures, DFJ Esprit, Transferwise, Etsy, Brainient, Moo.com, and Klarna.

Outside of her day-to-day, she is an organizer for GeekGirl Meetup UK, which highlights female role models in the tech industry and provides women with events to learn, connect, and be mentored. Cathy is also the host of GeekGirlMeets, a podcast series that interviews women in technology in order to inspire others.

Pauline Roux

Partner, Elaia Partners

Pauline joined Elaia Partners early 2014. She began her career as an equity research analyst at Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux (former broker of Crédit Agricole CIB). She moved on to an independent firm, Genesta Finance, where she spent three years covering European midcap stocks in the internet and video games sector. In 2011, she joined the Corporate Finance team at the investment bank Bryan, Garnier & Co. Still specializing in the Internet and TMT industries, Pauline has realized more than 10 transactions, from M&A to fundraising/IPOs and capital restructuring.

Pauline is Partner at Elaia Partners and sits – among others – on the board of Agriconomie (AgTech marketplace), EasyRECrue (HRTech SaaS), and Talent.io (selective marketplace for developers). She also follows others companies such as tinyclues (predictive emailing CRM) or Cryptosense (security analysis in cryptographic systems). Pauline’s expertise lies in ad tech, Internet, marketplaces, AgTech, and SaaS. She was educated at EM Lyon and Corvinus University of Budapest.

Ophelia Brown

General Partner, LocalGlobe

Ophelia is a General Partner at LocalGlobe, a seed-focused venture capital fund that has backed some of the UK’s biggest success stories – like Zoopla, Graze, and TransferWise – and helped build global leaders like Skype, Just Eat, and King. Fascinated by user behavior and experience, she loves working with design-led teams and founders with strong product DNA. She also has a keen interest in digital health and financial services.

Previously, Ophelia was with Index Ventures for four years, where she led investments in Big Health, Call9, Osper, Typeform and MarvelApp. She also worked closely with Robinhood and Credit Benchmark. In 2016, Ophelia was named by Forbes Magazine as one of the 30 Under 30 in Finance.

Gonzalo Lopez

GM of Digital Valley Business School (Barcelona)

I have two degrees in Business Administration and Marketing. I’ve worked for big companies for most of my life (Nielsen, Warner Bros, Cadbury, and HP) in the Sales and Marketing departments. After 8 years at HP, I decided that I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working for a multinational and quit.

After a 2-year trip around the world, I returned to Barcelona in 2012 and decided that I wanted to start my own business. In 2013, I created Kuotus, an online booking system for tours and leisure activities. After months preparing a business plan, I decided to invest in and join The Valley Digital Business School based in Madrid. In January 2015, I opened The Valley DBS in Barcelona. I’ve managed the School since then, and consider it my second startup experience.

Fatou Diagne

Partner and Co-Founder at Bootstrap Europe

Fatou is a partner and co-founder at Bootstrap Europe in Zurich, where she focuses on the sourcing, risk evaluation, negotiation, and due diligence of new investment opportunities.

Prior to starting Bootstrap, Fatou co-founded TREE. In this role, she focused on investment, selection, due diligence, and performance optimization of clients’ direct holdings in private companies. Fatou also contributed to the setup and implementation of the African Risk Capacity, a $100m sovereign risk insurance facility against drought in 22 countries.

Fatou worked at Citigroup in their London and Johannesburg offices, where she spent over five years advising clients in Europe and emerging markets on cross border acquisitions, high yield debt, and equity financings. Her work experience also extends to strategic advisory to the CEO at SFR, France’s second largest mobile operator, as well as the sovereign credit ratings team Standard and Poor’s in London.

Fatou is originally from Senegal. She holds a BSc in Economics and Finance from the University of Calgary and graduated from the HEC Business School in Paris, where she majored in Finance. Fatou is fluent in French, English, Wolof, and Spanish.

Belinda Waldock

Co-Founder of SoftwareCornwall.org

Belinda Waldock is an Agile business coach, author of Being Agile in Business, and a Computer Science graduate. Her book was shortlisted as the CMI Management Book of the Year and has been published internationally, including its translation into Chinese. Belinda works with private and public sector teams and businesses supporting growth and improvement. She specializes in whole business agility from a teams and business perspective.  Her “Being Agile” approach has been adopted by a broad range of high-growth businesses across sectors such as tech, fashion, manufacturing, and marketing.

Belinda is part of the organizing committee for the award-winning conference www.AgileontheBeach.co.uk. She is also a regular speaker at events , where she shares her experiences adopting agile within and beyond the tech sector.

Belinda is a co-founder and director of www.SoftwareCornwall.org, the second fastest-growing digital cluster in the UK (TechNation2015). Software Cornwall represents a community of businesses, education, and support organizations dedicated to connecting, promoting, and supporting Cornwall’s tech community. Learn more about Belinda on her website – www.beingagile.co.uk – or follow her on twitter @belindawaldock

Rachel Delacour

General Manager and Co-Founder, BIME Analytics

Rachel is the General Manager and Co-Founder of BIME Analytics, a SaaS cloud Business Intelligence (BI) startup originally located in Montpellier, France. BIME Analytics was acquired by Zendesk in October 2015.

As a young, female financial controller, Rachel saw a real business need for BI tools in the age of Big Data. This led her to found BIME in 2009. The company offers true cloud BI service and was the first front-end analytics partner of Google BigQuery. BIME Analytics became an international success story via Paris, Montpellier, and Kansas City. Rachel is a firm believer that today, a business can be built from anywhere, and that by using the Cloud to connect teams and reach global markets, geographical boundaries no longer exist in the world of startups.

Rachel is also one of France Digitale’s board members, an association of startups and VCs lobbying for pro-startup legislation in France and beyond. Prior to BIME, Rachel held finance positions at Carrefour and FM Logistics Russia. She holds a Masterʼs degree in Finance from the Euromed Management Business School in Marseille.

Jason Leder

Head of VC and Startup Partnerships (US), Google

Jason Leder has over 20 years experience developing and launching new businesses, products, and strategic partnerships. He is currently Google’s Head of VC & Startup Partnerships (US) based in New York City. Jason works across Google to accelerate partnerships with startups’ C-Level Executives/Founders and their teams by up-leveling support, uncovering new product opportunities and generating custom partnerships.

Maci Peterson

CEO and Cofounder, On Second Thought

Maci Peterson is the CEO and co-founder of On Second Thought, a messaging app that lets you take back text messages before they get to the other person. In 2015, she was named “Tech’s Newest Innovator” by Essence Magazine and recognized among Washington Business Journal’s “40 Under 40”. On Second Thought won First Place at SXSW’s annual pitch competition #StartupOasis in 2014, was named “The Texting Savior” by AT&T, and won 1st Place in the inaugural Women Who Tech Startup Challenge, in partnership with Craig Newmark of craigslist and Fred and Joanne Wilson. Before launching On Second Thought, Peterson was a brand manager at Marriott International and a marketing strategist for The Root. Peterson received her Bachelor of Arts in public relations and advertising from Chapman University.

Follow Maci on Twitter: @OnSecondThought

Jen Consalvo

Cofounder and co-CEO, Established

Jen is cofounder and co-CEO of Established. Previously, she cofounded, operated and sold Tech.Co, a news, content, and events organization focused on better connecting and educating entrepreneurs, and amplifying startup communities everywhere. Consalvo is also a startup investor and advisor, and a founding member of NextGen Venture Partners.

Prior to Established and Tech.Co, Consalvo led product development teams in a range of product areas such as digital imaging, community & social platforms and personalization. Much of her career was at AOL, planning and building products used by millions of people globally.

Jen has served on the digital advisory boards for The Nature Conservancy and for the Master of Arts in Media Entrepreneurship at American University. She was nominated by Nevada’s TBAN for 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year, listed by Business Insider in their 100 Most Influential Tech Women On Twitter, named a 2013 and 2011 Tech Titan by Washingtonian Magazine, was has been featured in Forbes, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, DC Modern Luxury Magazine, and others.

Frank Gruber

Cofounder, Tech.co

Frank Gruber grew up in the Midwest heartland and is an entrepreneur, new media journalist and angel investor. He is the author of Startup Mixology: Tech Cocktail’s Guide To Building, Growing and Celebrating Startup Success published by Wiley. He cofounded Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail) in 2006, which has grown into a hub for the creative class, offering tech startup focused news, events, and resources. Frank has built and launched products for the masses while at AOL, Tribune and Classified Ventures along with startup efforts like Thankfulfor, Splog Reporter and more.

As a journalist his works have been featured in a number of top media publications like Tech.Co, TechCrunch, Fortune, HuffPo, etc. Frank is an advisor to many startups including TurboAppeal, Zuldi, and Umba. Frank was nominated for 2013 Entrepreneur of Year in Nevada, honored as a “Washingtonian Tech Titan” in Washington, DC in 2009, 2011, and 2013, and was named by Forbes as one of the most connected people in tech. His alma maters include Purdue and Northwestern respectively.

You can find him on Twitter at: @FrankGruber and @TechCoHQ.