Sparking Entrepreneurship

Written by Liz Derks on the 23rd of October, 2017

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Australia’s startup ecosystem is growing rapidly, delivering new and exciting opportunities for female founders to access support, training, and investment.

At SheStarts we’re lucky enough to collaborate with a number of programs supporting female founders across their entrepreneurial journey. Last Wednesday, as part of Spark Festival, we heard from Fiona Boyd of Heads Over Heels, Liz Kaelin of Springboard Enterprises Australia and Nicola Hazell of SheStarts about the Australian startup landscape.

Here are some of the questions and insight we drew from the event…

Liz Kaelin of Springboard Enterprises Australia sharing her insights

What type of opportunities are available to me?

With so many opportunities out there, it’s important to find the program that is the right fit for you and the stage of your business. SheStarts, Heads Over Heels and Springboard all have programs which all come in at different stages of a business, which are:

  • I have an idea to solve a big problem through technology, but don’t know how to get started! SheStarts will help you build your MVP (prototype), get you from idea to launch into the market and ready to grow a high-impact global tech company.
  • I’ve got a startup up and running and want to take the leap towards growth! Springboard’s E3 (Empower, Evolve, Escalate) might be the right choice for you. The program will equip you with the confidence, tools, and connections to give your business the best foundations for growth and future success.
  • I’m ready to scale my business! Heads Over Heels will provide you with an incredible network of businesses and mentors to open doors that would otherwise take you years to knock down.

I understand the importance of technology in business but I don’t know how to code!

One of the biggest changes over the past five years is the use of technology as an enabler to build and grow businesses. Fiona explains “If you look at our cohorts now, there aren’t any businesses in our portfolio that are not enabled by technology in some way. In order to really scale your business, you have to leverage technology.” However, you don’t necessarily need coding skills to build a tech business.

“It’s really about understanding the connection between people, processes and technology and in the business you’re building.”

Nicola points out, “It’s really about knowing your business, but you don’t need to be in every element of the business; you don’t need to be an accountant and a PR manager and a technologist and a salesperson and HR. You need to learn about all of those elements, understand how they can fit together in your business and then attract incredible people with those skills who will help you build and grow that business as you go.”

“Great founders are passionate about solving a problem and finding the right people and levers that they can pull around them to turn their solution into a game-changing company.”

Liz, having been a startup founder herself, echoes this and adds the importance of having the confidence and resilience to successfully build and grow a startup. “I started my business 4.5 years ago. It takes a certain amount of confidence to start and I had that. However, it also takes a certain amount of confidence to scale which I didn’t have.” Her lack of confidence eventually led her to decline an investment offer:

“I was too scared to take it. I was running a catering platform, which was logistically very challenging and I didn’t have that background. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, so ended up not taking the money that could have really accelerated my business.”

Should I be thinking global?

Another important shift is the need to think global from day one. Nicola recalls a conversation she had with Topaz Conway, chair of Springboard: “It would make a world of difference if, by the time a founder comes and knocks on our doors, they’re already thinking global… That way they don’t come and say ‘We’ve been building this business, we’re doing really well, we’re happy and we’ve put the kids in a good school, so this is where we stop’. Then we won’t have to try and convince them to smash through that ceiling and go global”.

The key to thinking is global from day one is encouraging collaboration to get female founders ready. “Not only are there more opportunities but there’s also more connectivity and opportunities to learn from others in the ecosystem,” Nicola says. “The generosity of spirit I see constantly between women in the ecosystem and means that any of us can say ‘We’ve got a founder in this space which I don’t have the answer to her question, but I think you or maybe one of your founders do’. And together we can solve those challenges much quicker and help these businesses to grow and scale globally”.

“By working together, we’re stronger! I think that is a realisation that women feel – there is a tribe there and an opportunity for all if we address this as a group.”

Noga Edelstein from UbranYou speaking


With less than 4% of founders attracting venture capital in Australia and US being female, organisations supporting female founders have to work together. SheStarts, Springboard Enterprises Australia, and Heads Over Heels have a shared vision to change the ratio and see more amazing women there building incredible companies. As Nicola states “By working together, we’re stronger! I think that’s a realisation that women feel – that there is a tribe there and opportunity for all if we address this as a group”.

We excited about the amazing opportunities which are now available to female founders at all stages of their business! If you’re a female with a burning passion to solve a problem with technology and an idea to tackle it we want to hear from you for SheStarts 2! Apply now.

Make sure you head to our Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for all the info and news as we continue to follow the success of our founders and updates regarding the next cohort for SheStarts!

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