June 27, 2022

Only 7% of B2B soonicorn founders in Europe are women

Based on an analysis of 100 soonicorns — future unicorn companies — published by Sifted

Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, founder of Proximie

This piece is an accompaniment to our newly launched ranking of European B2B future unicorns. Check it out in full here.

Only 7% of founders at Europe’s future unicorns are women, according to the ranking of 100 VC-backed, B2B European future unicorns published by Sifted. 

Out of the 100 companies, only six have a female CEO (or co-CEO). Sixteen companies on the ranking were founded by mixed-gender teams, and in total 19 of the cofounders in the cohort are women — representing 7% of the total number of cofounders among the 100 companies. 


There are no all-women-founded companies, but there is one company founded by a solo female: Nadine Hachach-Haram, at AR surgery company Proximie (#78). Proximie just raised an $80m Series C led by Advent Life Sciences and with participation from SoftBank. 

The other five female-led businesses are French-based Pigment, Sweep, and Skello, along with Lifebit and Leapsome.

The analysis was based on several key metrics, including companies’ financials, cap table strength, product differentiation, momentum and market opportunity. The report and research were sponsored by VC Sapphire Ventures.  

Gender parity in the C-suite at Europe's future unicorns is extremely rare

Sifted also asked ranked companies to confirm their gender balance at C-suite level: out of 67 respondents, 57% said they have a 70%+ share of male executives, and only 4% said they had gender parity in their top teams. 

Only 4% said they had gender parity in their top teams.

On the brighter side, only 4.4% of companies said they had no women on their executive team, though the largest share of companies still has between 21 and 30%. 

The effects of the market downturn and company location

This year’s big tech selloff will probably change the fortunes of some of the companies on our ranking. Startups on our list, however, remain bullish on growth (with 56% saying the down market will “not have much impact” on their growth in the next two to three years). 

The only companies that answered with “significant impact” operate in the real estate sector. Startups in fintech, enterprise software and health sectors are most optimistic about their chances.

Our 100 companies were further polled on the impact of HQ location on future success. Some 58% of respondents say location has at least some impact, with 21% believing that it will have a significant effect on growth. Three companies were founded in Europe but categorised themselves as fully remote. 

It’s likely that a similar poll taken pre-pandemic would have yielded different results. But the home-office explosion, aided by a wave of SaaS tech startups — some of which appear on the ranking — has created a re-evaluation of geographic value.

👉 Download the full report to find out more.

You won't want to miss Nadine Hachach-Haram speaking at our upcoming Sifted Summit. Get your tickets here.