HOUSTON INNOVATORS PODCAST EPISODE 203
With a decades-long career in health care, Ayse McCracken's most recent professional chapter has been laser focused on finding, supporting, and accelerating female-founded startups in health tech with her nonprofit, Ignite Healthcare Network.
Originally founded in 2017 as a pitch competition, Ignite has evolved to become an active and integral program for female health tech entrepreneurs. Ninety-one founders have graduated from Ignite and gone on to raise over $550 million in funding for their ventures. Currently, Ignite has 19 women in its 2023 cohort, which concludes November 9 with the annual Fire Pitch competition.
"Having an impact in the health care industry and finding solutions is important to me," McCracken says of her passion for Ignite on this week's episode of the Houston Innovators Podcast. "The second aspect of that is there are so many women in health care, and yet you don't see them in leadership roles."
With Ignite, McCracken is actively seeking out these potential female leaders, and giving them the support — through mentorship, programming, and networking opportunities — they need to grow their business.
Each year, McCracken explains, she's pushing the envelope with what she can accomplish with Ignite. This year, she hosted a new event in Dallas to reach female founders there, and coming soon, Ignite will launch a platform that will extend its relationship with its founders and keep them looped in with potential customers, mentors, investors, and more.
"We're in the process of building our own platform that continues to connect our ecosystem so that we're not just an episode in the journey of an entrepreneur, but that we have the ability to help them along their path," McCracken says. "That path is a rollercoaster for a variety of reasons — whether it's gender or market related — and if we help to provide a community that can provide support for companies that have promise, our goal is to, over time, triple the money that female entrepreneurs are getting."
But McCracken says she wants Ignite to do more than just find investors for her network of founders.
"Success to me isn't just getting people an early stage investment," she explains. "Success to me is getting companies that actually commercialize, get their products in the market, and that they are actually making an impact on health wellbeing, patients, and so forth."
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- Houston health tech startup wins female-focused pitch competition ›
- Houston nonprofit launches accelerator program to give women-led startup a leg up within health care ›