Kara Miller, who launched a Boston program to help women entrepreneurs, is adding another women’s entrepreneurship program to her resume.
Miller, who launched Women Entrepreneurs Boston in 2015, has been named the new director of Babson’s Women Innovating Now Lab Boston program. The WIN Lab is comprised of 20 teams of women entrepreneurs whose companies are at least in the beta stage, with the ability to scale. Miller will be leading the Lab’s Boston cohort finale on May 2.
Here’s a Q&A with Miller about her new role and why positions like hers, and programs like this, are important to the startup ecosystem. (Please note that Miller’s answers have been edited for length and clarity)
What prompted you to accept this position?
Having had the opportunity to partner with Babson while working for the city, I saw that they are really trail blazers in the world of women’s entrepreneurship, and I saw the tremendous impact they’ve had on WIN participants. With Babson being the number one college for entrepreneurs, I really couldn’t imagine a more perfect next step for my career.
What will you be doing in this new position?
In my position, I will be director of the Babson’s WIN Lab Boston. I will be leading the program. Right now we are recruiting for the next class. Applications are live and open until May 31. We are also currently finishing up with our current cohort of 20 women-led business and preparing for our finale event that will be held on May 2 at 6 p.m. at Babson’s Boston space.
If you wouldn’t mind just telling me a little more about the WIN Lab program?
The WIN Lab program is an eight-month accelerator program designed for women entrepreneurs. The WIN Lab places a gender lens on the entrepreneurial experience, and aims to foster a culture where women founders will thrive. To do that, we provide a road map, expertise, inspiration and community so they can successfully reach their entrepreneurial goals over the course of the program. We do this through weekly curriculum, regular milestones, to really track progress through the program. And each “WINner” also gets a coach that they work with at a minimum of an hour or two each month. We also bring in experts on a regular basis to speak with them, including CEOs and other women who have successfully led entrepreneurial ventures.
What do you hope to bring to this program?
I spent time working in Boston’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. I have really good understanding of the resources out there that are available to support women entrepreneurs, as well as many of the barriers that women continue to face. I hope to bring ways to continue to strengthen our women’s entrepreneurial ecosystem in Boston, in general, and help individual business scale and grow. Because I would like to see more high growth women entrepreneurs in Boston and more women seeking investment as well.
Why are programs like this so important?
I think it’s very important because currently only three percent of venture capital dollars go to women-led ventures and only 20 percent of angel investments. Also, only 19 percent of seats in the nation’s biggest accelerator programs are held by women and that’s incredibly important, one third of startups that have raised a Series A round have gone through an accelerator program. It’s something we definitely need to tackle, and I think there is such an economic opportunity to support women entrepreneurs. In Boston, women are 52 percent of our residents and are the primary earnings in 50 percent of our households. There is tremendous economic impact to be had with supporting these women-led ventures, and helping them scale and grow.