Peggy Johnson announces M12 Female Founders Competition winners

Earlier this year, our corporate venture fund, M12, took an important step in helping identify promising women entrepreneurs and accelerating their access to capital. Partnering with EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group, we launched the Female Founders Competition, awarding $4M to two women-led companies building innovative software solutions for the enterprise.

Those following this industry are well aware of the hard truths women founders face when seeking funding: just 17 percent of all startups boast a single female founder; and of that small percent, only 2.2 percent of total global venture capital funding went to female founders over the past two years. While the numbers clearly indicate there’s a need to do more, many investors struggle with where to start.

There are plenty of women entrepreneurs focused on solving enterprise technology challenges, but we needed a better way of finding them. With the previous success in sourcing incredibly promising portfolio companies from our Innovate.AI competition, we decided to try a competition again, but this time focused on surfacing female founders. And the results spoke volumes.

We received hundreds of submissions from female founders building enterprise solutions that spanned a multitude of industries and countries. This competition, while a small step to shift how we sourced deals, not only showed us that there is more than one way to effectively discover talent and expand networks, but it’s our responsibility as venture capitalists to begin leveling the playing field so those companies receiving funding are a truer reflection of the world in which we live.

Today, it’s my pleasure to share the results of the Female Founders Competition, and the stories behind the two incredible women whose companies will now join our portfolio.


Greta Cutulenco, CEO and co-founder of Acerta, began her journey as a software engineering student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, where she developed an interest in robotics and autonomous vehicle systems. While working on a research project with Sebastian Fischmeister, a professor at the university, she became fascinated with recent developments in connected and autonomous vehicles, sparking a career that led her to work with and learn from automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and Tier-1 manufacturers before returning to her roots in research. Cutulenco, Fischmeister and another colleague, Jean-Christophe Petkovich, would go on to create Acerta, using machine learning to provide real-time malfunction detection and failure prediction in vehicles. To commercialize their work, Cutulenco spent time in local incubators and attending business and sales courses before securing Acerta’s participation in the Techstars Mobility accelerator in Detroit. Just over two years later, Acerta has grown from a team of three to nearly 20, with Greta recently being named to Forbes 30 under 30 for Manufacturing and Industry, the company gaining traction with some of the largest auto manufacturers as customers, and now becoming a winner of the Female Founders competition.

“We are thrilled for the opportunity to work with M12, EQT Ventures, and SVB Financial Group,” said Cutulenco. “The funding and ongoing support will bring a big boost to the company’s long-term growth.”

 Greta Cutulenco, CEO and co-founder of Acerta

Greta Cutulenco, CEO and co-founder of Acerta

Mental Canvas

Julie Dorsey, founder and chief scientist of Mental Canvas, trained as an architect before becoming a world-class computer scientist specializing in computer graphics. Her appreciation for, and expertise in these two disciplines inspired her to create the core technology behind Mental Canvas, which reimagines sketch for the digital age by augmenting it with spatial strokes, 3D navigation, and free-form animations. As supported by its early customers, Mental Canvas is a platform that addresses a wide and varied market, with early customers spanning a variety of industries from architecture, concept development for movies, animation and games, product design, education, and scientific illustration. Dorsey is also a professor of computer science at Yale University, and previously was on the faculty at MIT, where she held tenured appointments in the departments of Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and Architecture. She is an inventor on more than a dozen awarded and four pending patents, and for the past two years, has devoted herself full-time to her vision of enhancing visual communication by fundamentally elevating the way people draw.

“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 sketch into the digital age is groundbreaking and impactful. We look forward to working with M12, EQT Ventures and SVB Financial Group to make our company’s vision a reality.”

Julie Dorsey, founder and chief scientist of Mental Canvas

Julie Dorsey, founder and chief scientist of Mental Canvas

This afternoon, I’ll join the next generation of female leaders at a forum focused on building and nurturing this community and preparing them for what’s next. While it’s a great way to welcome our winners to the M12 portfolio, it’s also an opportunity to continue this journey – one that is very personal to me – of doing our part to ensure that everyone has a seat at the table.

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Video: Watch The Amazing Moment Yacht Club Games Discover Shovel Knight In Smash Ultimate

Shovel Knight has become an incredibly successful and well-loved series in its own right over the last few years, finding a natural home on Nintendo’s platforms. We’re sure that the team over at Yacht Club Games are beyond proud of their success, but that doesn’t stop them from getting ridiculously excited at seeing their character appear in a major Nintendo release.

The team recently took to Twitch to stream some Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, when Shovel Knight – who is included in the game as an Assist Trophy – appears on screen. Things get pretty crazy as the excitement rushes through the team, but it only gets better from there. We don’t want to ruin the fun (we came away from this video with huge grins on our faces) so make sure to simply enjoy the moment for yourself by watching below.

Catastronauts Is Bringing Its Crazy Co-op Space Action To Switch This Christmas

Inertia Games Studios has revealed that its upcoming multiplayer party title Catastronauts will be arriving on Switch later this month.

The game is described as “a fast-paced, chaotic couch co-op experience” with one to four players assuming the role of an intergalactic starfleet, locked in an epic battle with an invading enemy vessel and unrelenting disaster.

Players will need to keep their craft together by putting out fires, repairing systems, and loading and firing space cannons, much of which can only be done by working as a team. The whole thing seems like it could be a lovely little blend of Overcooked 2 and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime – we’ll have to see how it plays when it launches.

Catastronauts arrives on the European eShop on 24th December, with the North American release coming just after on 3rd January 2019.

Will you be treating yourself to this one for the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

Here Are The Best And Worst Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Characters According To Pro Players

With such a diverse roster, knowing where to begin in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can be an incredibly daunting prospect. There are already over 70 characters available to choose from in the game, and this number is only set to rise in the coming months, so how on Earth do you actually go about choosing your ‘main’?

Well, one tactic could well be to follow the guidance shared by some of the series’ top players. Both Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios, often cited as the world’s best Super Smash Bros. for Wii U player, and top Super Smash Bros. Melee player Leffen have shared their “day one” tier rankings, ordering each character in the game by their overall competitive potential.

In each case, these tier rankings have been created after careful play with as many characters as possible, but are only advised to be used as a quick day one guide. In a YouTube video explaining his choices, Leffen notes to “not take this too seriously”.

Gonzalo “ZeRo” Barrios

Notable Smash 4 player ZeRo has presented the following table for your early consideration, using experience with each character from preview builds to help its creation. Characters are ordered in Top, High, Mid, and Low Tiers, as well as a ‘Not Sure’ section. We’ve listed each character by name for you below.

Top Tier Pikachu, Olimar, Chrom, Peach, Daisy, Richter, Simon, Inkling, Mewtwo, Sheik, Palutena, Lucina, Marth, Wario, Roy, Ken, Ryu
High Tier Diddy Kong, Rosalina & Luma, Pit, Dark Pit, Lucario, Zero Suit Samus, Meta Knight, Link, Young Link, Luigi, Ness, Fox, Falco, Snake, Pichu, Shulk, Sonic, Mii Gunner, Isabelle, Villager, Donkey Kong, Bowser, Captain Falcon, Pokemon Trainer, Ike, Yoshi, King K. Rool, Cloud, Bayonetta, Dr. Mario, Greninja
Mid Tier Mario, Lucas, Samus, Dark Samus, Incineroar, Mega Man, R.O.B., Mii Swordfighter, Mii Brawler, Ganondorf, Jigglypuff, King Dedede, Mr. Game & Watch, Toon Link, Wii Fit Trainer, Wolf, Zelda, Ice Climbers, Corrin, Bowser Jr.
Low Tier Kirby, Little Mac, Pac-Man, Ridley
Not Sure Duck Hunt, Robin


Leffen’s approach was slightly different, this time spreading the roster across a higher number of tiers. Each character has received a ranking from S to F, with several placed inside a ‘???’ category. As we mentioned above, Leffen has made a video explaining his choices.

S Falco, Richter, Simon, Diddy Kong, King. K Rool, Meta Knight, Pokémon Trainer
A Yoshi, Mewtwo, Roy, Chrom, Pikachu, Pichu
B Marth, Lucina, Ike, Shulk, Icineroar, Luigi, Inkling
C Bayonetta, Sheik, Peach, Daisy, Corrin, Greninja, Toon Link, Dr. Mario, Cloud, Wolf, Fox, Snake, Young Link
D Ness, Lucas, Mario, Donkey Kong, R.O.B., Jigglypuff, Lucario, Captain Falcon, Zero Suit Samus, Pit, Dark Pit
E Zelda, Palutena, Isabelle, Villager, Ganondorf, Ridley, Kirby, Rosalina & Luma, Olimar, Duck Hunt, Mr. Game & Watch, Pac-Man, Bowser, Robin, King Dedede
F Little Mac, Bowser Jr., Mega Man, Link, Samus, Dark Samus, Ice Climbers
??? Ryu, Ken, Sonic, Wario, Wii Fit Trainer, Mii Brawler, Mii Gunner, Mii Swordfighter, Piranha Plant

So, there you have it. It looks like you might want to ditch Little Mac for one of the Belmonts if these tables are anything to go by, although it’s worth noting that there are some pretty big differences between the two opinions. Naturally, at the end of the day, the best advice we can give is to practice, practice, practice. Oh, and most importantly, have fun!

Do you agree with these lists? Are you shaking with rage that your beloved Ice Climbers haven’t made it to God-Tier status? Share your thoughts with us below.

Video: Here’s How Smash Ultimate’s World Of Light Trailer Might Have Looked On Game Boy Color

Despite having now owned the game for several days – and having beaten up more innocent Jigglypuff than we care to admit in that time – we still find ourselves occasionally reminiscing over that wonderful World of Light trailer. It’s hard not to fall in love with a video depicting so many of our beloved childhood characters, even if most of them do end up getting brutally dissolved in the process.

What if Super Smash Bros. Ultimate had released years ago, though? Not for Nintendo Switch, but for the Game Boy Color? Well, the video up above shows a demake mock-up of the trailer as if it were for that very system, presented by the folks over at Nintendo Wire. From the little dialogue boxes to the retro bleeps and bloops, we’d certainly be up for playing the game on our trusty old handheld machines after seeing this.

Should we start some kind of angry, online petition to demand the game be ported to Game Boy Color now, as seems to be the norm these days? Or perhaps we should simply sit back and dream about what might have been? Let us know your thoughts on the video in the comments below.

This Awesome Hand-Drawn Ninja Gaiden Guide Brings Back Lovely Pre-Internet Memories

Before strategy guides and that pesky, know-it-all internet came along, completing tricky games was a serious challenge. There was a time when players couldn’t simply Google “how do I unlock Simon Belmont’s luscious locks in Smash Bros.“, and instead had to figure everything out by playing over and over again.

Often, though, players would use good ol’ pen and paper to create their own guides for themselves, drawing out level designs and scribbling down anything that could turn out to be useful in the future – hence why game manuals used to come with notes sections at the back. As a way of preserving this dying trend, and to create something rather beautiful to share with the world, artist Philip Summers is releasing a new, hand-drawn guide to NES classic Ninja Gaiden.

The whole guide is written from protagonist Ryu’s perspective, not only featuring maps for every single stage, character profiles, and art for every single character, but also a set of journal entries to “flesh out the story that is told in the game”. Just like Summers’ other hand-drawn guide for Contra, this work will be available from Gumroad under a free / pay what you want download model.

It launches tomorrow – coinciding with the release of Ninja Gaiden on Switch – so make sure to check back and download it for yourself to make your way through the game.

Do you have memories of drawing your own guides? Do you now find yourself searching online for the answers you need? Let us know with a comment below.