Written by Nicola Hazell on the 14th of December, 2016
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Ten incredible female-led startups have now been selected to take part in the SheStarts accelerator program, each receiving $100,000 in pre-seed capital to take their business from idea to launch. The final selection was announced at a special showcase event at University of Technology, Sydney on December 8, attended by leaders from across Australia’s political, business and innovation sectors.
Here’s a behind the scenes account of what took place…
The room was electric.
An auditorium full of 240 guests from all over Australia had come to see who would be the next big thing to burst onto the Australian startup scene.
Almost thirty entrepreneurs – the founders and co-founders of the top twenty businesses vying for a spot in the SheStarts accelerator – sat patiently, waiting to hear if their idea was about to be rocketed into the startup stratosphere.
As the event began, the words of one of Australia’s most prominent business and political leader’s echoed into the crowd.
“It’s a justice issue, it’s a fairness issue, but it’s also an inclusionary issue and it’s an economic issue.”
Chair of Greater Sydney Commission, former Sydney Lord Mayor Lucy Turnbull AO joined a powerhouse panel of female leaders and entrepreneurs, setting the scene for the evening’s events. With the audience at attention, she looked into the eyes of the women waiting to find out if they had been selected for the SheStarts accelerator program, and told them, their success was a national priority.
“The empowerment and enablement of circumstances to promote the full participation of women is absolutely essential, particularly in the innovation, startup and STEM ecosystem,” Mrs Turnbull said.
In the audience sat a group of teenage girls. Their eyes were glued to the stage as some of the country’s most impressive women in tech shared their stories about leadership, innovation and social change.
“It’s a really important time to teach young girls that they can have a future in these really exciting, dynamic industries,” Mrs Turnbull said.
It was a message reiterated by fellow panellist, Google Engineering Community & Outreach Manager Sally-Ann Williams, who emphasised the need to showcase women in tech and encourage the next generation.
“We need to expose young girls to this because they have amazingly big ideas and they are passionate about solving problems in the world.”
This passion for problem solving was abundantly clear, as the audience was treated to a special edition sneak-peek of the SheStarts documentary series – showcasing the stories, ideas and talents of the women who had just been through the rapid validation bootcamp, in preparation for their final pitch.
On the big screen, SheStarts startup advisor Claudia Barriga-Larriviere summed it up perfectly.
“Every single one of these women want to solve a problem that is real and is a problem for humanity,” she said.
All twenty startups demonstrated potential to become great tech businesses, able to create impressive change in the world. But only ten would make the final cut.
As MC Janice Petersen, from SBS World News, returned to the podium to announce the successful startups, the energy in the room went up a notch.
One by one, the women were invited onto the stage, to introduce their startup ideas to the world – the audience erupting into wild applause as each additional startup was announced.
The women spoke of their passion for tackling problems, for improving lives and for creating globally successful companies. Through the excitement and nerves, they demonstrated why they have what it takes to become leaders in the startup economy.
For the women selected, it’s the start of something big – the opportunity of a lifetime. For everyone else who took part in the bootcamp, it was acknowledged this was not the end, but only the beginning.
New doors were opening and networks formed right across the group. Dozens of people were now rallying around all the women, determined to see them succeed.
Those who weren’t selected for the final ten celebrated the success of their peers – inspired by each other and determined to power on with the support of the community they had now joined.
This is what SheStarts is all about – building a pipeline of support for female entrepreneurs and changing the face of the startup economy.
And we’re only just getting started.
You can watch the special edition SheStarts trailer from the Showcase event here:
And to make sure you catch the launch of the web series in January 2017, make sure you join the SheStarts community for the latest news and alerts.