Female Innovators Lab
Barclays and Anthemis are committed to bringing more women into entrepreneurship and closing the fundraising gender gap.
The Female Innovators Lab is a US, UK and Europe based studio, dedicated to cultivating entrepreneurial talent in women from all sides of the financial services ecosystem. The Lab’s mission is to identify female founders at the idea stage of their journey and match them with the resources and mentorship required to develop a company and bring it to its first round of fundraising.
Anthemis’ track record as early-stage FinTech investors and venture builders, coupled with the power and global footprint of Barclays, makes this an exceptional opportunity for prospective founders to progress their business ideas.
Participating startups will have access to Barclays’ world-class FinTech hub Rise, and Anthemis’ dedicated office spaces, with unparalleled mentorship and networking opportunities.
Meet some of our participants
“It has been the most valuable partnership I've ever had”
As the Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis celebrates its first birthday, we speak to two innovative founders about their experiences of starting their fintech startups.
Helping Black America achieve financial parity
With US $5m in seed funding from investors including the Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis, neobank First Boulevard aims to provide innovative banking services for Black communities in the US.
Learn about the further support Barclays offers women in Fintech, from networking to mentorship.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
What is the Female Innovators Lab?
The Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis (Lab) is a venture fund and studio dedicated to investing and cultivating entrepreneurial talent in women across the financial services ecosystem. Entrepreneurs who join the Lab will receive human, intellectual and financial resources, backed by an extensive network of advisors and experts from Anthemis and Barclays. Additionally, entrepreneurs will receive support and guidance around product, operations, hiring, marketing and more, all of which will be focused on helping founders to build their business.
How is it different from accelerators and incubators?
The Lab is a venture fund and studio, not an accelerator or incubator. There is no cohort cycle associated with the Lab. Entrepreneurs enter and exit on a rolling basis, not as part of a group of companies on a given schedule.
Where is the Lab based? Do you have to be based in NYC or London to apply?
Entrepreneurs have the flexibility to spend time working from the Anthemis or Barclays offices in New York City or London but do not need to be based there to participate in the Lab. With regards to COVID-19, we continue to follow the government guidance in each jurisdiction that we operate and the health and wellbeing of residents and visitors to our Lab is our priority.
Why should founders participate in the Lab?
Founders should join the Lab for capital, dedicated resources, mentoring, networking, and investment opportunities.
How much money will founders get from participating in the Lab?
The Lab will make an upfront investment in founders. The amount will vary founder by founder, business by business. Follow-on capital is available to support the business as it grows and approaches their next fundraising round.
What kind of support will the founders receive?
Entrepreneurs who join the Lab will receive human, intellectual and financial resources, backed by an extensive network of advisors and experts from Anthemis and Barclays. Additionally, entrepreneurs will receive support and guidance around product, operations, hiring, marketing and more, all of which will be focused on helping founders to build their business.
How many founders will the Lab be backing?
There is no hard limit on how many founders we will accept for the Lab. We will evaluate candidates on a founder-by-founder basis.
What kind of founder are you looking for?
There is no one-size-fits all when it comes to identifying successful founders, in terms of age, education, or work experience. We expect to invite founders into the Lab who have worked at, or potentially founded, startups, as well as those who have had more traditional careers and are embarking on their first venture. The Lab welcomes founding teams or solo entrepreneurs. Founders should be ready to make a full time commitment to their company.
Do you have to be a woman to apply?
The Lab is designed to bring more women into entrepreneurship. Our definition of “woman” is the broadest possible and includes any female-identifying, nonbinary, and genderqueer founders.
Do you have to be a fintech expert to apply?
No, you just need to have a great concept that could be applied to the fintech sector, which we define very broadly. For more information, view the Anthemis “6+1” subsectors of fintech on our investments page. If you’re not sure, share your concept, and we can help to determine if there is a fintech application.
Does your concept or company have to match Barclays’ core business?
No, there does not need to be immediate alignment to Barclays’ core business. We are looking for great concepts or companies doing something exciting in the Fintech sector. During your participation in the Lab you will get access to Barclays subject matter experts and the Barclays innovation team who can help identify possible collaboration opportunities either with Barclays or their clients.
Will the Lab help to identify co-founders?
Yes. A big part of early stage company creation is finding the right founding team. Anthemis and Barclays have deep networks inside the fintech ecosystem and will help to match founders with each other.
What stage companies are eligible for the Lab?
The Lab is best suited for founders who have a business concept they would like to build into a venture-scalable business. We will also consider founders who are a little further along in that process and actively raising capital.
How long will founders be in the lab?
Our intention is to create venture-scalable businesses that are ready to take on additional investment. A typical timeline is 12 months or their next round of financing, though that will vary company by company.
Who is leading the Lab?
Katie Palencsar joined the Anthemis team in September 2019 to lead the Female Innovators Lab. She was the founder and CEO of Unbound Concepts, acquired in 2017 by Certica Solutions. Katie’s experience as an entrepreneur from concept stage, to fundraising, scaling and exit gives her an unparalleled understanding of what early stage companies need to achieve success.
From Barclays you will have a dedicated point of contact in the Barclays Innovation programmes team which is led by Sonal Lakhani. The team is highly experienced in working with fintech founders, they currently have 220 startup alumni in their portfolio and navigate Barclays to develop collaboration opportunities with startups to build new services and products for Barclays and their clients.
In order to provide extensive support for founders, the Lab offers a dedicated venture studio platform team including expertise in talent, marketing, product, tech, operations and more.
Will Anthemis and/or Barclays be investing in the companies?
The Lab will make an upfront investment and follow-on capital is available to support the business as it grows. The amount will vary business by business.
What gives Barclays and Anthemis the credibility to run this Lab?
Since 2010, Anthemis has made more than 100 investments in early stage fintech companies and funds to advance its mission of transforming the financial system. Additionally, in 2014, Anthemis opened its own discretionary venture studio in London and a few years later expanded to build companies in collaboration with outside partners.
Barclays is a British Bank with a global footprint. A household name in the UK with its consumer banking and payments operations, Barclays also has a strong global corporate and investment banking presence in both the United Kingdom and internationally. Barclays recognizes the importance of partnering with fintechs to drive innovation in their products and services. They have a robust fintech offering including Rise, a global community of top fintechs, physical co-working spaces in London and New York, investment through their Principal Investments business and dedicated fintech programs to drive collaboration between fintechs and the Bank.
Where did the idea for the Lab come from?
In addition to investing in early stage fintech companies, Anthemis has had its own venture studio since 2014, building businesses on a discretionary basis as well as with outside partners. Anthemis’ commitment to women in fintech, however, has been a part of its DNA since business was founded by former Barclays executive, Amy Nauiokas, and her cofounder, Sean Park. Additionally, Barclays and Anthemis have become natural partners in developing a solution to remove some of the key growth barriers of access to capital and support for female fintech founders, with the hope this will drive a more diverse set of products and services that Barclays can collaborate with to appeal to a wider audience.
Why do we have a venture studio for fintech female founders?
In 2020, only 2.1 percent of all venture capital dollars went to female founders according to analysis by Pitchbook. In fintech, female founders raised .9 percent of venture capital dollars according to Crunchbase. The Lab intends to set female founders up for success by providing access to capital, ecosystem and resources,and recognizes that diverse founders are fundamental to developing tech solutions that will build a more inclusive future.
Why is it important for Barclays and Anthemis to continue to back female founders?
Anthemis and Barclays are committed to transforming the industry from the Industrial Age to the Information Age. Information Age-businesses break down consolidated power structures to create new business models that do not reinforce the zero-sum games of the past. This means that the companies themselves, as well as the people who create them, must be reflective of today’s society. We believe that women will play an increasingly important role in the transformation of the sector, as will other underrepresented groups in the history of financial services, and we want to do everything we can to encourage them to bring their entrepreneurial concepts forward.
Will Barclays and Anthemis be looking to support other types of underrepresented founders?
Barclays and Anthemis are continually looking for ways to support new voices in fintech.
Meet the team
Barclays Innovation team
Barclays Principal Investments team