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The program is by and for women entrepreneurs and is all about mentorship and community support

Applications for XXcelerator, an accelerator program designed by and for women entrepreneurs at XXcelerate Fund, are now officially open.

XXcelerator is an education and mentorship program that focuses on growth, sales and action over how to get venture funding. It's all about one-on-one mentorship, community support and sharing experience and advice.

The founding board of XXcelerate Fund includes Robin Klemm as executive director, Judith M. Hutchison as lending director, and entrepreneurs Paige Hendrix Buckner, Genevieve LeMarchal, Astrid Scholz and Mara Zepeda. Jill Nelson, founder and CEO of Ruby Receptionists, is the fund's education and mentorship advisor.Klemm

Klemm has been an investor in the Oregon Angel Fund (OAF) for five years. In 2016, she was named Most Valuable Angel.

Before the Xxcelerate fund existed, the founders and a handful of other entrepreneurs would gather in LeMarchal's kitchen to teach and mentor one another through the hard, early years of business. They shared knowledge, resources and mentored one another. Not only did their businesses grow, but they gained a sense of companionship and community that they'd previously lacked.

They put out a survey to women business founders in Portland, and found 40 percent of them identify as underrepresented people of color, and most have been denied traditional funding sources despite nearly all having been through an incubator, accelerator of previous business training.

XXcelerate Fund is a revolving loan fund for women-owned startups. XXcelerate works on a membership basis, providing education, networking, peer consultations and peer support — fundamental help for startups.

More than 97 percent of venture capital funding has gone to male CEOs for decades, despite the fact that women-led, venture-backed companies were found less likely to fail, used less capital and had 12 percent higher annual revenues, according to the 2014 Babson College Study.fund

According to the 2016 Oppenheimer Funds Study, women started businesses at twice the rate of men last year, launching 1,300 businesses per day in the U.S. — and yet, women receive only 5 percent of the total dollars in conventional small business loans, according to the Senate Report: 21st Century Barriers to Women's Entrepreneurship.

The Dow Jones Women at the Wheel study of 15 years of venture-backed companies shows that a company's chances of success increase as the percentage of females holding executive positions increases.

The 12-month program begins Friday, Nov. 10, but applications close on Oct. 17. Apply online at: xxceleratefund.com/xxcelerator-application.

By Jules Rogers
Reporter, The Business Tribune
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