BMO Harris Bank and 1871 are now accepting applications for WMN•FINtech, a mentoring program for women-led startups and the latest evolution of the BMO Harris/1871 Innovation program. This marks the first time BMO and 1871 have partnered on a program focused on women.

A significant gender gap persists in the startup and tech community. BMO and 1871 created WMN•FINtech to help address this gap and give more women entrepreneurs the opportunity to bring cutting-edge technology and products forward.

The program is designed for startups that have created services or solutions for the financial sector, offer insights and advice to customers or help identify customer needs.

WMN•FINtech will provide selected startups with:

  • A three-month mentoring program with guidance from industry experts at BMO Harris Bank
  • A four-month membership and working space at 1871, which is a private business incubator
  • Curriculum focused on teaching enterprise sales cycles, vendor management, information security and risk and regulatory requirements
  • The opportunity to pitch venture capital investors for feedback, mentoring, continued connections and/or funding

“Women face unique challenges when running any business, especially startups,” Niamh Kristufek, head of U.S. business banking for BMO Harris Bank, said. “We designed this year’s program to help women innovators and entrepreneurs overcome barriers and bring new ideas to market. Working in partnership with the startups enables us to continue advancing our digital strategy and building industry-leading customer experiences. It’s a win-win.”

Participants also will have access to 1871’s new “PYROS” initiative, a 13-week series of workshops, seminars and one-to-one mentoring built for founders to help them gain and grow customers and investor traction. PYROS will offer WMN•FINtech participants with a path to scale financial technology or service business.

Eligible startups must have a woman founder or cofounder and be U.S.-based. Up to five startups will be selected to participate in this year’s program. The program includes a pitch day designed for startups to gather feedback from and network with BMO senior executives. Participants may also have a potential future opportunity to pilot their product with BMO.

“We are so excited to launch our first WMN•FINtech cohort, doubling down on women founders focused on solving the hardest finance problems,” Betsy Ziegler, CEO of 1871, said. “The time is now, and BMO Harris Bank is the perfect partner given their strength as a financial institution and their long held mission to provide opportunities for women to come up and be powerful.”

WMN•FINtech applications are due by May 11 at 4 p.m. CT.