Female Founders Alliance acquires Monarq Incubator to expand national reach

Female Founders Alliance CEO Leslie Feinzaig stands on stage with the program’s accelerator CEOs and mentors at the Ready Set Raise Demo Night in Seattle last year. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper)

Seattle-based Female Founders Alliance (FFA), an organization and accelerator for early-stage women-led startups, is growing its national presence with the acquisition of New York City-based incubator Monarq.

Irene Ryabaya (left) and Diana Murakhovskaya. (Monarq Photo)

FFA said the deal will make it “the largest network of women and non-binary venture-scalable founders, investors and industry leaders in the U.S.”

Monarq runs an accelerator program for women, with 32 companies graduating since 2017.

“We chose FFA as our buyer and partner because their mission perfectly aligns with Monarq’s mission of supporting women founders so we know our community is in good hands,” Monarq co-founder Irene Ryabaya said in a statement.

Ryabaya started Monarq with Diana Murakhovskaya. Both will focus on their new projects — Murakhovskaya recently launched The Artemis Fund, a venture capital fund for female-led companies, and Ryabaya launched Warmintro, a mobile-based tool to connect community members.

“With Monarq being based out of New York and its community concentrated in the East Coast, it made strategic sense for FFA to balance our geographic footprint and strengthen our accelerator with a larger New-York base of mentors, investors, and alumni,” said FFA founder and CEO Leslie Feinzaig. “And it allows Diana and Irene to pursue their own rocket ships full time.”

The combined FFA and Monarq community will live under the FFA brand. FFA’s accelerator, Ready Set Raise, will be the flagship accelerator.

FFA initially started as a private Facebook group of women who wanted to help support female founders and entrepreneurs. It now has a community of more than 20,000 founders, investors, partners, and supporters across North America since launching in 2017. Powered by a 10-person team, FFA has also inked partnerships with groups such as Microsoft for Startups and Bellevue, Wash.-based venture capital firm Trilogy Equity Partners.

“We have lots of exciting things lined up for 2020,” Feinzaig said. “We’ll be heading to six cities, testing two new programs in Seattle, and doubling down on Ready Set Raise after the success of last year’s cohort.”

FFA is a social purpose corporation, a type of profit corporation the state of Washington created in 2012, and is funded primarily through corporate partners.

FFA doesn’t take equity from companies participating in its Ready Set Raise accelerator program. However, it asks startups to grant pro rata rights: the opportunity to invest up to $200,000 in a future round, at a 20 percent discount from the lead investor’s terms in the round.

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