Entrepreneur First, the UK not-for-profit initiative designed to help budding entrepreneurs launch their own technology start-ups, is launching a 9-week programme to teach female graduates and undergraduates the basics of programming.
According to Entrepreneur First, programming is one of the most vital skills for anyone wanting to build their own tech start-up or get into working in a start-up. However, the main disadvantage that most of the girls that take part in Entrepreneur First have is that they do not come from technology backgrounds, so they do not have these skills.
The idea of the new programme, known as Code First: Girls is to not only to equip young women with the skills to be able to build their own web app, but also give them the confidence to work alongside technical peers, and guide product management and development.
"We truly believe that if your start-up is basically building a technical product, everyone who's involved in that start-up needs to be involved in the basics of how that product functions," said Alice Bentinck, Chief Operating Officer of Entrepreneur First.
"I'm not technical by background and I spent last summer learning to code to a very basic level. What it showed me was that it's very easy to get stuck in, and you can build an understanding of how tech works that really facilitates and makes it much easier to work in this space."
Thirty young women will join the part-time course over the summer. From those thirty, eight will be selected to take part in the EF2014 programme, which will kick off in February next year.
The original Entrepreneur First cohort has now graduated, following 18 months of team building and idea generation and six months building their own start-ups. Eleven companies were formed through the programme and have been collectively valued at around £15 million ($27 million).
The companies range from social enterprise to flying robotics to collaboration software for management consultants. They have now raised seed funding and are looking to start growing their customer bases and take their start-ups to the next stage.
"We focus on really high growth companies, so we take those talented individuals and we help them go through the process of building a big scalable business," said Bentinck. "We also help connect them to big corporates, thought leaders, tech evangelists, and give them access to a much wider range of problems."
Previously, the big opportunity for investment came from a demo day, which was attended by nearly 100 investors. This allowed the entrepreneurs to showcase their products and drum up interest. Next year, however, Entrepreneur First itself will invest directly in the start-ups that come through the programme.
This money will be provided by a group of private investors, most of whom have been involved in the programme from the beginning. Current corporate investors include Microsoft, McKinsey & Company and the City of London Corporation.
"The way people think about their careers and the opportunities available in start-ups have come come crashing together, and that's creating a very special moment in which it is genuinely possible to change the way that top graduates think about what they do with their life," said Matt Clifford, CEO of Entrepreneur First.
"We're seeing people turn down jobs at big banks, consultancies, big technology firms - exactly the kinds of places that would be in anyone's top ten employers list. But people are actually saying I'm going to come and try and build a business, because that feels like the way to have the most impact, the way to learn the most, the way to develop most as a professional person, and that creates a really exciting opportunity."