We Have Opened 10 Additional Semifinalist Spots - Apply Now!

Babson College’s Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) and Breakaway, a Boston-based brand and venture capital firm, have opened 10 additional semifinalist spots in the Babson Breakaway Challenge - the first and only competition to promote gender parity in the venture capital industry, and award $250,000 plus in-kind prizing to a high-potential, women-led business. All semifinalists will be announced on Thursday, September 15, followed by a Demo Day at Boston’s District Hall on Friday, September 23.

The 23 semifinalists will be given the opportunity to pitch their businesses to a panel of judges, including HUBweek Co-founder Linda Pizzuti Henry, Breakaway President John Burns MBA'05, and more. Several female entrepreneurs will be named finalists, and each will then compete for the ultimate title at the Babson Breakaway Challenge Finale—a featured HUBweek event on Friday, September 30 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

Check out the 13 semifinalists that have already been selected »

The Babson Breakaway Challenge was launched in 2015 by Susan Duffy, executive director at Babson’s Center for Women's Entrepreneurial Leadership, and John Burns, president of Breakaway Ventures, in direct response to Babson’s Diana Project report, Women Entrepreneurs 2014: Bridging the Gender Gap in Venture Capital (pdf). The research revealed that while women entrepreneurs are majority owners of nearly 36 percent of all U.S. businesses, they receive only 2.7 percent of all venture capital funding.

The Babson Breakaway Challenge is open to U.S. owned and operated consumer businesses of which at least 50 percent of the founding team are women, active in the company. Preference will be given to businesses that have made it past the business plan stage and for whom the $250,000 investment and award would be impactful.

Apply by September 10 » 


  • $250,000 in funding plus marketing services, including the creation of a customized brand identity platform from Breakaway;
  • In-kind prizing from Comcast including a three-month advertising campaign in the Boston DMA; production of one thirty-second commercial; and more;
  • $1,000 in MOO print and design products for the winner, plus $250 for each runner-up; and
  • Bombas merchandise.


  • John Burns, President of Breakaway Ventures, a brand-focused growth equity investment firm;
  • Linda Pizzuti Henry, Managing Director at Boston Globe Media Partners; Co-founder of HUBweek; Director of the John W. Henry Family Foundation and the Red Sox Foundation; Member of MassChallenge’s Board of Advisors; Early-stage impact investor and television producer;
  • Nicole M. Stata, Founder and Managing Director of Boston Seed Capital, LLC;
  • Alicia Syrett, Founder and CEO of Pantegrion Capital, an angel investment vehicle focused on seed and early-stage investments;
  • Plus more to be announced.