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How can Europe build a new generation of Saas unicorns?

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This year AlbionVC partnered with Saastock, a leading European software conference to unite women investors, operators and founders.

We hosted a dedicated ‘Women in Saas brunch’ which included a presentation on the state of European unicorns from a gender lense (more details below), a fireside chat on female leadership with a seasoned technology executive Christin Mullin and a panel on accelerating funding to women entrepreneurs with leading industry VCs (Annelie Ajami – Anamcara, Evgenia Plotnikova – Dawn Capital) & Andrea Reynolds, CEO and founder Swoop.

How can Europe build a new generation of Saas unicorns?

Today the European unicorn ecosystem has an aggregated valuation of over one trillion euros. It employs nearly half a million people, with an average a 1000 employees per unicorn.

While the rate of unicorn formation has come down since its peak in 2021, software as a service continues to be the most prominent business model for unicorn creation. 

Today in Europe there are over 450 unicorns, 38 of those have a female co-founder, and only 11 are in Saas.

Research conducted by Endeavour in 2023 looked at a typical unicorn founder profile. We felt it was important to consider a ‘typical founder profile’ with a gender lens to help understand why so few Saas unicorns are led by women. As it turns out women face obstacles at every pillar, from education to experience to funding.

Yet diversity is not a charity case. Multiple research from the leading global organisations points to the fact that diverse leadership leads to solid and more innovative businesses. It’s been estimated that if Europe could double the share of women in the tech workforce to about 45 percent, which is equivalent to an estimated 3.9 million additional women by 2027— the region could benefit from a GDP increase of up to €600 billion (McKinsey & Co).

These are staggering number on the value women in tech can unlock not only for the current generation of companies but importantly by supporting the creation and development of new ones

While today too few Saas companies are led by women, we believe there are reasons to be optimistic. Research conducted by us at AlbionVC, shows that number of women that have co-founded and exited Saas companies at of £50m or above is on an increase since 2005, with acceleration since 2015 (Dealroom data). The cumulative number of serial female Saas founders with an exit has been on the rise since 2010. On the investing side, more women GPs are expected across European venture capital funds by 2028.

While there are some good reasons to be optimistic, it is our firm belief that collectively by prioritising key levers can help accelerate change.

For more on how to accelerate change and to view the full report click HERE.

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