-

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 New York City-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.

Once established, the startups will move into Barclays’ newly expanded Rise building in New York’s Silicon Alley, where they will have unparalleled access to mentoring and networking opportunities from the world-class FinTech hub. 

The Female Innovators Lab is spearheaded by Katie Palencsar, Anthemis Principal and Studio Lead of the Female Innovators Lab, and Mariquit Corcoran, Executive Sponsor of the Female Innovators Lab, and Managing Director, Group Innovation at Barclays. 

Katie Palenscar
Katie Palencsar

Katie leads the Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis. She was the founder and CEO of Unbound Concepts, acquired in 2017 by Certica Solutions. Katie’s experience as an entrepreneur from idea stage, to fundraising, scaling, exit and integration gives her an unparalleled understanding of what early stage companies need to achieve success. 

Mariquit Corcoran, Barclays' Innovation Head of Partnerships, Programs and the Rise FinTech Platform
Mariquit Corcoran

Mariquit is the Executive Sponsor of the Female Innovators Lab. She is a Managing Director at Barclays, and is Group Innovation Head of Partnerships, Programs and the Rise FinTech Platform. Mariquit has spent nearly two decades in the financial services industry, holding positions and leading teams in businesses spanning across fixed income, operations, risk management, finance and banking. She was featured in the HERoes 100 Women Executives List 2019, supported by Yahoo Finance, as a result of being an active and vocal champion for initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion.

 

How to apply

There is no formal application process, and inquiries are accepted on a rolling basis. To be considered for the Female Innovators Lab, tell us a bit more about you and your project

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

  • What is the Female Innovators Lab?

    The Female Innovators Lab by Barclays and Anthemis is a New York City-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.

    How is it different from other accelerators and incubators?

    The Lab is a studio, not an accelerator or incubator. That means it operates at an even earlier stage of venture building — taking ideas and turning them into companies. The Lab welcomes solo entrepreneurs before they have built a business plan or assembled a team. There is also 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?

    Anthemis will house the entrepreneurs in its studio in SoHo, NYC, until they are ready to move into Barclays’ newly expanded Rise New York fintech workspace in Flatiron, NYC.

    Why should founders participate in this program?

    Founders should join the Lab for the dedicated resources, mentoring, networking, and initial investment opportunities available to participants.

    How much money will founders get from participating in the program?

    The Lab will make an upfront investment in founders who join, and follow-on capital may be available to support the business as it grows and approaches an outside, seed-stage fundraising round. The amount of any investment will vary founder by founder, business by business.

    What kind of mentoring will the founders receive?

    Entrepreneurs who join the Female Innovators Lab will receive hands-on mentoring and support from leading global fintech investor and venture builder, Anthemis, as well as access to Barclays’ teams and expertise. The mentoring will be focused on helping founders fully develop their concept and refine it in advance of pursuing outside funding.

    How many founders will the Lab be backing?

    There is no hard limit on how many founders will be accepted for the studio. We will evaluate candidates on a person-by-person 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 solo venture. What matters to us is finding people who have an idea they’d like to pursue and are ready to put dedicated time and energy toward that passion.

    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, non-binary, and genderqueer founders.

    Will the Lab help to match cofounders?

    Yes. A big part of early stage company creation is finding the right founding team for an idea. Anthemis and Barclays have deep networks inside the fintech ecosystem and will help match founders with each other. While the lead founder of the company must be a woman, we encourage diversity in the co-founding team, and welcome both men and women as cofounders.

    Do you have to be based in NYC to apply?

    Entrepreneurs should be prepared to spend substantial time working from the Anthemis and Rise, created by Barclays offices in New York City but do not need to be based there to participate in the program.

    Do you have to be a fintech expert to apply?

    No, you just need to have a great idea 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.

    Do you have to be interested in building a fintech company to apply?

    As above, you just need to have a great idea that could be applied to the fintech sector. If you’re not sure, share your idea, and we can help to determine whether or not there might be a fintech application for it.

    Does your idea have to match Barclays’ core business?

    No, we will accept ideas that are not core to Barclays’ business “sweet spot.” We are looking for ideas that can 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.

    How soon will you announce the first founders?

    We do not announce founders at the stage of our initial investment. Founders will be announced once they have raised their seed capital, around which time they will likely begin promoting their business publicly.  

  • What stage companies are eligible for the Lab?

    The Lab is best suited for founders who have an idea they would like to refine and need help turning into a venture-backable business. We will also consider founders who are a little further along in that process.

    Should idea-stage founders apply to the Lab?

    Yes, that’s who we are looking for!

    Why does the Lab stop at seed stage?

    Our intention is to create venture-backable businesses that are ready to take on outside seed investment. By the time that happens, the Lab will have achieved its mission.

    How long will it take to get from idea to seed stage?

    A typical timeline is 12-18 months, though that will vary company by company.

  • Who is leading the Lab?

    The Lab is spearheaded by Katie Palencsar, Anthemis Principal and Studio Lead of the Female Innovators Lab, and Mariquit Corcoran, Executive Sponsor of the Female Innovators Lab, and Managing Director, Group Innovation at Barclays.

    Katie 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 idea stage, to fundraising, scaling, exit and integration gives her an unparalleled understanding of what early stage companies need to achieve success. Katie will be supported by members of the Anthemis and Barclays teams who will serve as mentors to the companies in the Lab.

    Mariquit is the Executive Sponsor of the Female Innovators Lab. She is a Managing Director at Barclays, and is Group Innovation Head of Partnerships, Programs and the Rise Fintech Platform. Mariquit has spent nearly two decades in the financial services industry, holding positions and leading teams in businesses spanning across fixed income, operations, risk management, finance and banking. She was featured in the HERoes 100 Women Executives List 2019, supported by Yahoo Finance, as a result of being an active and vocal champion for initiatives focused on diversity and inclusion.

    Will Anthemis and/or Barclays be investing in the companies?

    The Lab will make an upfront investment in founders who join, and follow-on capital is available to support the business as it grows and approaches an outside, seed-stage fundraising round. The amount will vary founder by founder, business by business.

    What gives Barclays and Anthemis the credibility to run this Lab?

    Since 2010, Anthemis has made more than 90 investments in early-stage fintech companies and funds to advance its mission of transforming the financial services industry. Additionally, in 2014, Anthemis opened its own discretionary venture studio in London and a few years later expanded it to build companies in collaboration with outside partners. Alumni of Anthemis’ venture studio include New York City-based Kindur, founded by Rhian Horgan. 

    Barclays drives a number of initiatives focused on innovation, including Rise, created by Barclays, and the award-winning Barclays Accelerator, powered by Techstars program. Rise includes four state-of-the-art workspaces in London, New York, Tel Aviv and Mumbai, which are home to approximately 150 fintech companies from around the world.

    Members receive unparalleled access to training, workshops and events, and an exclusive opportunity to connect into the wider Barclays network of top-tier clients, partners, investors and experts. The Barclays Accelerator has more than 160 alumni companies and 16 programs completed to date, and is one of the largest single-bank-powered portfolios globally, with a portfolio valuation of over $1 billion.

  • 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 the business was founded by former Barclays executive, Amy Nauiokas, and her cofounder, Sean Park. You can read more about the origins of the Lab in this post by Jillian Williams, principal on the Anthemis investment team.

    Barclays is focused on diversity and inclusion, and recognizes the importance of helping female entrepreneurs succeed in the early stages of launching a startup. Barclays sees this partnership with Anthemis as an opportunity to further support women in the fintech industry.

    Why do we need a venture studio building female-founded startups versus just investing in them?

    Women are underrepresented in fintech, and, in our experience, the female-founded fintech startups that do come to market are failing to close fundraising rounds. The Lab intends to set female founders up for success by providing them access to the people and resources they need to develop companies that have been “bulletproofed” and are ready for outside investment.

    Why is it important to back female founders?

    Anthemis and Barclays  are committed to transforming the financial services 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 ideas forward.

    Will Barclays and Anthemis be looking to support other types of underrepresented founders?

    Barclays and Anthemis are always looking for new ways to support championing new voices in fintech.