Selecting Europe’s most promising female-led startups

After only 2,5 years, we proudly look back on five successful cohorts of our startup accelerator, Grow F. The program is now represented by 59 alumni from 16 countries in 12 different industries. Grow F is the investment readiness accelerator for female-led startups in Europe with innovative and scalable solutions. In order to be considered for our program, startups need to have at least one female founder on their team, an MVP with first traction and be ready and eager to raise their first institutional round.  

As we are preparing for the upcoming sixth batch, we want to share our journey of scouting and selecting Europe’s most promising female-led ventures. (Interested in comparing the process between our cohorts? Check out batch #4 and batch #5 here). Throught this post we will talk about the application process, our two step selection process, our new fast-track referral program, the dealflow we saw this round and what’s coming up next for the Grow F program. 

Application→ Selection

For round six of Grow F, we received 230 applications, a record amount! This would not have been possible without our great community partners, the venture capital companies we work with, as well as the mentors and experts of the program – so we want to say a big thankyou to all of them. In each application the founders share info about their startups, a pitch deck, details on their traction, previous fundraising rounds and goals for future investments. 

In order to review and evaluate all of the applications we follow a two-step selection process. For the first round, we have composed a jury panel consisting of experienced individuals from our trusted investor partners located across Europe as well as internal members of our team.

Step 1: scoring the startups

To gage the potential of the startups, we are using a standardised criteria. Each startup is given between 1-5 points for each of the following categories: 

  • team
  • business model
  • market size
  • degree of innovation
  • scalability
  • KPI/traction achieved
  • impact

Next to evaluating the startups using the selection criteria, the jury gives us valuable insights for the applications. This involves detailed comments about potential opportunities and risks involved. 

Step 2: Face to Face Calls

With the support of this awesome panel, we narrowed down the 230 applicants to a shortlist of 40. The second step of the selection process is then a 1-hour video call with all startups. The purpose of these calls is to understand more about their businesses, ask critical questions, get to know the founder team, give the applicants a better understanding of how they can benefit from Grow F and ask us any questions they have. 

Using the information from both stages of our two step process, the jury rating and video interview, we have now selected the 10 startups who will participate in Grow F! We are extremely excited about the upcoming batch and will announce the participants very soon!  We want to say a big thank you to everyone who took time to apply for the program and again emphasize how grateful we are to each member of this jury for their help in the Grow F process so far! The program wouldn’t be what it is without the help of our community. 

Fast-track via our new referral program 

After 6 rounds of accepting applications and choosing startups to work with, we have realized that many of the top applications are coming directly through referrals from our close network. Because of this we decided to introduce a referral program for our 2021/22 cohort. Applicants coming through a recommendation of one of our ambassadors, the experts and mentors we are working with got fast-tracked directly to the interview stage.  We are constantly blown away by the qualitative recommendations and grateful to our close network for their support during the application phase.  


We saw an impressive increase in international applications from across Europe and beyond compared to the last batch. Out of the 230 potential candidates, there were startups representing over 12 different industries coming from 31 countries across Europe and a few from North & South America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. 

 We also noticed an increase in maturity of the startups applying to Grow F. We saw a lot of startups with very impressive traction and numerous serial entrepreneurs applying for the program. We are thrilled to continue to have such a strong reach among female founders and that we are able to reach more international startups with outstanding backgrounds.

What’s Next

With the sixth batch of Grow F participants finalised, it’s time to get the program started. The kick-off event will take place on October 5th, where everyone gets to know each other and commence the journey together! We are excited to see the growth that happens over these next three months. Stay tuned for updates throughout the program! 


Think your startup could be a good fit for Grow F? Apply here for Batch 7!

Are you an investor and want to know even more about our dealflow or have any other questions? Contact us for more info. 

Are you a corporate and got interested in how we can help you to scout for promising startups? Contact us for more info. 

 Sign up for our newsletter below to stay tuned for the Batch 6 Demo Day.