SheStarts 2 AMA

Written by Lana Weal on the 2nd of November, 2017

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Earlier last week we hosted an AMA with SheStarts Director – Nicola Hazell, BlueChilli CIO – Colette and BlueChilli Head of Product – Claire to answer all your burning questions regarding SheStarts applications:


What does SheStarts look for when assessing applications & looking for a great founder?


At the early stages we are really looking for people who are knowledgeable. Do you understand the problem, the customer and solution and do they match up? Does that exist within a market that is growing and exciting? Do you understand how current solution might be working? Next we look at if you have skills, capabilities and network to execute on the idea.

Building a startup is a challenge, it’s tough and we looking for people who are really ready to take on that challenge and if you’ve got that special something which sets out apart from someone else.

Less is more, use bullet points and use nice succinct sentences – leave us wanting more.


I wanted to give some tips about the actual application process itself. Don’t try to cram everything into the application. There’s no need to put down every thought you’ve had and every bit of research you’ve done. Less is more, use bullet points and use nice succinct sentences – leave us wanting more.

Do a mirror test and read it out loud in front of a mirror. Does it read well?

If I can’t code, how can I be a tech startup founder?


BlueChilli is very unique in being the only accelerator to have its own embedded development team. So from day one you’ll be able to work with technical experts to with the technical skills to required to build your product – whether that is a mobile app or a web app or something else. We’ve helped launch over a hundred startups so we’re pretty good at knowing what to do and not what to do.

Gone are days you need a technical co-founder from the outset and gone are the days you need to learn to code to start your own business.

How much commitment is required to be part of a program like SheStarts?


One thing I say to founders is that you can have a side hustle but the startup you are building through SheStarts can’t be that side hustle. This is a big commitment for us to build a company with you and to invest in you both funding, team and expertise. We are going to wrap an entire community around you within our company and within the wider community through our advisors networks and corporate partners.

So you’ve got to be all-in within reason but we also know it’s really important to have other ways to pay for the mortgage, to look after the school fees to keep things afloat whilst you are building a business and that can take time.

We’re a here to make the environment flexible – we don’t believe building a startup has to be done the same way. That means we won’t expect you to be sitting in one of the spaces in our office from Monday to Friday. We do also provide virtual assistance and help.

There are certain times where we have emersion days in our offices across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane which we spend a few days every month to work closely with founders in person.

Half of the women in last year’s cohort had children and many of those were young children with one as young as 4 months old.

I’ve launched my startup already, am I too late to be part of a program like SheStarts?


As a general rule we work with really early stage companies so if you’ve just launched your startup and have a couple customers but are still out there working through the solution with customers, you would still be eligible for the program. We focus on the very early stage, looking at the foundation of your company. We make sure we’ve tested all the important assumptions for your business.

What happens if I know my problem and my market, but I don’t know “how” to get started?


The how is what we specialise in! Typically, the first sprint for a startup is a discovery sprint so which largely involves getting out of the building and speaking to potential customers completing surveys and in-depth interviews to find out what slice of value we can deliver to them.

The second sprint usually building a minimum viable product. So finding that thin slice of something that will give a customer value so we can get our foot in the door and build out more. That’s really what we are good at.

Do I have to be located in Sydney?


No, you don’t have to be in Sydney. Our entire business is based around how do we get founders from around the country with different experiences and draw them into a cohort because that’s also where we see some fantastic peer to peer learning where different perspectives can be brought into different businesses.

If you are selected for the top 20 will be expected to be in Sydney for the first week of bootcamp and again in the third week of bootcamp which is face-to-face for the pitching and the final showcase. For those coming from outside of Sydney we will be provided a travel bursary for this.

During the 6 month bootcamp we will be seeing you at a minimum at least once a month for emersion days but we will likely be seeing you more than that as you speak to large corporates and companies to secure pilots and partnerships who are often located in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

This is a national program and you don’t have to move here to do it.

Does SheStarts support physical product development like wearable tech?


Our last SheStarts cohort, Anna from BanjoMaps, and our team built an app that allows people to navigate space if you’re blind or if your senses are disabled for any reason. That project used a unique mix of hardware beacons and a smartphone app and is currently being trialled at UTS.

I always say we’ve got a really talented team which is able to throw their mind and efforts behind anything. Without knowing what your specific product needs are, I can’t say if we’ve done it before but it’s almost always not going to be the solution that you propose initially. Often we find there is a difference between what people say they want to solve their problems and what they actually need to solve their problems.

What if I have don’t have a co-founder, what if my co-founder is a guy?


That’s fine! We’ve had a number founders in the first cohort who were solo founders but also a number who had a male co-founder. The key thing is we’re investing in female led companies. That means you have to have a female CEO, a female lead or a joint co-founder relationship between the female lead and the male lead. You have to be able to have that majority or equal stake in the company. This about how we drive female leadership in a space where women are grossly underrepresented as leaders and not about working with women only.

Can I include another team member at a later date?


Absolutely you can build your team! In fact this program is about helping you to not only build technology and to build a business, but to also develop yourself as a CEO, as a leader and to help you understand what it takes to build a great company. We also work on your leadership and work with you to understand how team structures work and how to define culture.

We also work on your leadership and work with you to understand how team structures work and how to define culture.

If we make it through to the shortlist, do we have to create a presentation? If so, who are the audience?


We’ll talk you through what happens to the top 20. Once we have all the applications in, we have a massive review and select, alongside our corporate partners, the top 20 for bootcamp. The bootcamp is the first 2 days that happen here on the 21st and 22nd of Nov here in our Sydney space. You’ll come in and you’ll get a crash course where we pressure test your idea, the founder, introduce you to how we work in the SheStarts program and coaching you to pitch. You will then work with the Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) to develop a pitch deck.


You don’t have to prepare for the bootcamp! You’ll work with our EIRS’s and meet everybody here that will be helping you build your startup so you’ll get a very good cross section of advice on how you set a company up amongst other things. You’ll get advice on what to expect.


SheStarts is possible thanks to the contribution of ANZ, MYOB, Microsoft and LinkedIn.

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