Women are encouraged to apply to Startup Reykjavik

For the fifth year in a row, we at Arion Bank host Startup Reykjavik. For me, spring is an enjoyable time. Reading applications filled with people’s dreams and aspirations, meeting a group of curious teams and subsequently selecting a group of ten exciting companies that will share a “home” during the summer building their businesses. I love my job.

For most parts, Startup Reykjavik looks for diversified teams that have strong execution powers. The business model should preferably be scalable and with an international focus. The market being focused on may be small or big, yet the business needs to be have relevance in the market.

Industry breakdown of Startup Reykjavik portfolio

Insofar, just over half of the companies participating in Startup Reykjavik are software companies, although the range is quite big, as this picture reveals.


Gender breakdown of Startup Reykjavik applicants & participants

Now, here is the disappointing part. Women are a minority of Startup Reykjavik applicants. There is no one reason for this fact and I’ll leave it to others to speculate, but I sincerely would like this to change. This sheer gender imbalance in applications to an accelerator needs consideration and action. Over 60% of university students in the two largest universities in Iceland are female, and women are increasingly becoming more visible and influential in various businesses. In addition, many surveys have shown that companies run by women are more likely to succeed. My message therefore is clear: I encourage women to apply to Startup Reykjavik.

Helga Árnadóttir from Tulipop presenting to Startup Reykjavik participants

For clarity and transparency, I present figures of applications and participation of women in our last three cohorts. Data from 2012 is (technologically) harder to attain and present as in the table below, although I can reveal the number of female applicants was only 12% then and the same in participation.


These are the teams that have had female participation in Startup Reykjavik so far:

  • EskiTech (2012)
  • Aevi (2012)
  • Florealis (Herberia) (2013)
  • Þoran Distillery (2013)
  • Another Creation (2013)
  • Zalibuna (2013)
  • Inspirally (2014)
  • Mulier (2014)
  • SuitMe (2014)
  • Spor í sandinn (2015)
  • Ludis (2015)
  • Elsendia (2015)
  • hún/hann (2015)

My message is clear: I encourage women to apply to Startup Reykjavik.

Figures for females/males in University of Iceland & Reykjavik University (page 69)

Needless to say, we welcome all applications. It’s easy to apply, we look forward to your application.

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