Babson Breakaway Challenge Calls for Women-Led Businesses to Compete for $250,000 in funding at HUBweek Finale on September 30

Entrepreneurs / 29th June 2016

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, includingHUBweek Co-founder Linda Pizzuti Henry, Breakaway President John Burns, 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. 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.


  • Comcast
  • The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation
  • Gesmer Updegrove
  • Bombas
  • MOO
  • Babson College Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL)
  • Breakaway
  • The Diana Project
  • Babson Executive and Enterprise Education

About HUBweek

HUBweek is a creative festival that celebrates innovation at the intersection of art, science, and technology. Founded by The Boston Globe, Harvard University, MIT, and Mass General Hospital, HUBweek is a first-of-its-kind civic collaboration that brings together the most creative and inventive minds making an impact in Bostonand around the world.

At HUBweek, we believe that sharing accelerates innovation and creativity and that Boston is where the future is being built. We invite you to join over 70 organizations and 50,000 participants in 2016 for a look behind-the-scenes – visit our labs, our companies, our creative spaces. Meet those who are making an impact, from policy leaders and researchers to investors, founders and creatives. Explore, imagine, and exchange ideas that are shaping your tomorrow. Join us at HUBweek.

About Breakaway

Breakaway is a brand capital firm that invents, reinvents and reinvigorates brands. Our unique platform of strategy, creative, activation, venture investment, and talent placement builds brands, accelerates growth, and creates meaningful value for companies big and small. We invest our time, money, heart, soul, minds, lives, and futures into it day in and day out. We are believers in brand. We are investors in brand. We are brand capitalists.

About the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College

Founded in 2000, the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) at Babson College fulfills and extends Babson’s mission by educating, inspiring, and empowering women entrepreneurial leaders to reach their full potential to create economic and social value for themselves, their organizations, and society. The Center does this through innovative education programs, events, and by supporting and widely disseminating research about the unique skills and experiences of women entrepreneurial leaders. Additionally, CWEL supports and advances gender equality as a growth strategy for individuals and for organizations of all sizes, everywhere in the world.

About Babson College

Babson College is the educator, convener, and thought leader for Entrepreneurship of All Kinds®. The top-ranked college for entrepreneurship education, Babson is a dynamic living and learning laboratory where students, faculty, and staff work together to address the real-world problems of business and society. We prepare the entrepreneurial leaders our world needs most: those with strong functional knowledge and the skills and vision to navigate change, accommodate ambiguity, surmount complexity, and motivate teams in a common purpose to make a difference in the world, and have an impact on organizations of all sizes and types. As we have for nearly a half-century, Babson continues to advance Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® as the most positive force on the planet for generating sustainable economic and social value.

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