Julie Dorsey is a winner of Microsoft’s Female Founders Competition

Julie Dorsey
Julie Dorsey (Photo credit: Rebecca Wilkowski)

Computer science professor Julie Dorsey is one of two winners of the first Female Founders Competition organized by M12, the investment arm of Microsoft. The competition focused on companies transforming enterprise tech.

Dorsey, founder of the digital drawing company Mental Canvas, will receive $2 million in venture capital funding, as well as access to additional resources. Dorsey was chosen from a group of several hundred applicants. Microsoft, in partnership with EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group, announced the winners of the competition Dec. 11.

Mental Canvas is a software company that reimagines sketching for the digital age by augmenting it with spatial strokes, 3-D navigation, and free-form animations, all drawn with the ease of pencil and paper. The company is developing a new form of graphical media and a system for authoring such media. Applications for Mental Canvas range from storyboarding and product design to architecture and visual journalism.

It is a great honor to be recognized in this way,” said Dorsey. “Of course, we are pleased with the funding, but even more, we are thrilled by the recognition and affirmation this prize provides. It says to me and our team that the technology Mental Canvas is developing to bring sketching into the digital age is groundbreaking and impactful.”

Organizers said one of the goals of the competition was to find and fund innovative female entrepreneurs. Another goal, they said, was to bring attention to the funding gap that exists for female entrepreneurs and push for a more equitable distribution of capital.

Organizers narrowed the field of applicants down to 10 finalists in November. Teams from each startup pitched their company to a group of judges at the Microsoft Reactor in San Francisco.

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Jim Shelton: james.shelton@yale.edu, 203-361-8332