I believe, as probably you do too, in the power of entrepreneurs. The power of people so bothered by a problem that instead of simply talking about it, they decide to take on the very challenging – and often quite crazy – mission of solving it.
This comes at great personal cost – from finances, to sleepless nights and hours spent away from family and friends, to an almost endless list of challenges that all founders have to go through to get their startup off the ground.
However, so many extraordinary people decide to take on that almost inexplicable step, when they see an opening for them. When they believe that if they try hard enough and with a bit of luck, they might succeed in solving that big, audacious, hairy problem that is bothering them.
At SheStarts, we have been providing that opening for the last three years, by breaking the barriers of support, funding, technology and visibility for Australia’s largest minority – women.
What we have seen is that what there is no lack of eager and competent women entrepreneurs – this year alone we received over 800 applications for our program – ready to unleash their talent, creativity and changing power on the world if they’re given the chance at a fair go.
Our SheStarts 3 graduates!
Last week we were thrilled to present the graduating founders of our third cohort at the SheStarts Investor Showcase hosted at the Australian Computer Society’s Technology & Innovation Hub in Sydney. We are so proud of what these incredible women have achieved so far, building products, brands and movements centred around issues they’re passionate about. They are building a future where:
- The diagnosis and treatment of children’s mental illness is done affordably using artificial intelligence – Gheorg;
- Commercial waste is easily managed, with the best environmental outcomes possible – Ardea Waste;
- Small farmers in developing countries can sell their crops predictably and profitably – Aggie Global;
- Technology leaves the realm of the screen and meets children in their world of active play – Grasshopper;
- Women are no longer left on the sidelines of the job marketplace after becoming mothers – Roundly; and
- People with a disability can find the most effective and relevant support at each stage of their lives – Sid.
In less than six months, the founders have validated their ideas, developed their technology, secured pilots and customers, and are now preparing to raise funding to grow their teams, their technology and their potential. We have seen up close how much they have given of themselves to be where they are today and we are looking forward to seeing them grow their startups and have a tremendous positive impact on the world. Keep an eye on them!
It takes a village
We are proud of what the SheStarts community and our startups have already achieved, but we still have so much more to do. For every female founder in Australia, there are four male founders – and a disproportionate allocation of funding continues to be invested in male-led startups. We can, and should, do better than this.
Read more: Gender equality in tech
But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we have built a powerful network of individuals and companies passionate about supporting, enriching, and cultivating an environment in Australia for women-led startups to grow and thrive.
We could not have created this incredible movement of change without our partners ANZ, MYOB, Google for Startups, Microsoft and LinkedIn. These businesses are true leaders in diversity and inclusion, and continually demonstrate that investing in initiatives that promote a more diverse and inclusive workforce is key to unlocking Australia’s innovation-led growth and economic prosperity.
Our founders have also been supported every step of the way by an ever-growing community of SheStarts advisors and supporters from across the startup ecosystem, who have provided them with expertise, advice and investment.
Last month, BlueChilli announced that we will be closing our venture studio and shifting our focus to later stage scale-up programs. SheStarts has formed an incredible community of change-makers and supporters, and many of you have asked how SheStarts will look under this new structure. We are still exploring our options and will be sure to update everyone once we lock it in.
It’s hard to believe that in just a few years, so many of our SheStarts alumni – such as Neighbourlytics, BronTech, TalkiPlay, BindiMaps, Theratrak, Pioneera and others – are well on their way to building multi-million dollar, global tech businesses that are changing the world. At the same time, it’s been incredible to watch the startup ecosystem continue to expand with organisations passionate about supporting women-led startups, and we’re so proud to have played a part in that.
It truly does take a village to help support, challenge, enhance, and foster an environment for startups to grow and thrive. Thank you.
This post was written by Filipa C. Araújo, the Program Director for SheStarts. Prior to moving to Sydney, she worked with founders and startups in Europe, Africa, and Southeast Asia. She is a strong advocate for entrepreneurship as a development driver and loves to explore the topic.