Seattle's Female Founders Alliance, which runs the Ready Set Raise accelerator for women and non-binary founders, has acquired New York's Monarq, an incubator with similar goals and origins. The latter will be integrated into the former, but it seems to be a happy collaboration rather than a consolidation of necessity.
Monarq was founded three years ago by Irene Ryabaya and Diana Murakhovskaya, and 32 companies have gone through its process. FFA has accepted half that number into its program as of the second cohort, with a third underway for 2020. I covered graduate Give InKind in November when it raised a $1.5 million seed round.
"Monarq and FFA share a common sponsor that introduced us years ago, and we've been connected and supportive of each other since," explained FFA CEO Leslie Feinzaig to TechCrunch. "This year, Diana and Irena's side gigs started to take off — Diana raised a $20 million VC fund, and Irena's startup, WarmIntro, started signing up substantial customers. It made strategic sense for FFA to solidify our national expansion and strengthen our network of investors and mentors that are East Coast based."
Ryabaya and Murakhovskaya will be focusing on The Artemis Fund and WarmIntro respectively, and Monarq's accelerator will be tucked into the Ready Set Raise brand. The merge will create what FFA claims is the country's largest network of female and non-binary industry folks, which should prove an asset for those in the program.
It's possible to see this as consolidation within a specialized branch of the startup industry, but Feinzaig said business is booming.
"The market for women's leadership is absolutely growing, and creating a lot of opportunities in the process," she said. "What's different now is that there is a recognition that this is good business, not a charitable cause."
The FFA's stated goal of gender parity among founders only grows more achievable with increased reach. It may be that the increased scale also improves results in an already impressive portfolio.