Australian wine entrepreneur ready to Springboard to bigger things

Melbourne-based entrepreneur Georgia Beattie is among the first group of Australian businesswomen selected to participate in the US-founded Springboard Enterprises program.

Springboard Enterprises was founded by US entrepreneur Kay Koplovitz, who is in Australia this week to raise the profile of Springboard’s Australian arm, which launched in May last year.

Koplovitz founded Springboard in 2000. Since then, it has helped more than 500 female-founded US companies get off the ground.

These companies have raised more than $US5.8 billion, with a third sold to larger companies or listed on the sharemarket.

Springboard Australia is the country’s first venture forum program for women-led, technology-oriented businesses seeking investments for product development and expansion.

It is led by Sydney businesswoman Wendy Simpson, who has remained vocal about the plight of Australian female entrepreneurs since stepping into the role.

After encouraging businesswomen to apply for the program, Springboard has selected eight standouts from more than 100 applications.

Among them is Georgia Beattie, whose start-up offers single serve wine packaging.

This idea came about while Beattie was at a festival, where she witnessed the limitations of wine packaging when a bar manager couldn’t serve wine because “it was too hard at outdoor events”.

Since then, Beattie – whose father and brother also work in the business – has launched the brand Lupè Wines as well as the contract packaging arm of the company, Single Serve Packaging.

But it wasn’t until she launched Lupè as a trial in Japan, Korea and Singapore that she realised the potential of the brand in the Asian export market.

Now Beattie has become part of the Springboard Enterprises network. In addition to receiving advice from successful entrepreneurs and investors, she will be offered support from specialist mentors on an ongoing basis.

When asked how much money she hopes to raise, Beattie told StartupSmart it will be “definitely over the $3 million mark”. But the value of the program goes far beyond funds, she says.

“The past 24 hours have completely changed my perception of how big my company can be,” she says.

“I’ve gone from being a little bit afraid of the idea of getting venture capital to, ‘This is the only way I’m going to be able to achieve the fast growth my company needs’.

“There are past alumni [of Springboard Enterprises] who have flown in from the states and these guys are just absolute killers. They’re such an inspiration.”

The other women selected for Springboard Australia are Samantha Cobb, Melanie Perkins, Tessa Court, Natasha Rawlings, Deborah Noller, Vanessa Wilson and Fiona Waterhouse.

Their businesses are spread across a broad range of categories including biotech, clean tech, cloud computing, consumer technology and marketing.

Noller’s business, Switch Automation, received a $2 million Commercialisation Australia grant in 2011, while Rawlings’ start-up, StreetHawk, was among the 2012 Tech23 companies.

According to Koplovitz, Australian female entrepreneurs need more support in order to access global venture capital markets.

“There are plenty of people who are willing to invest in young companies at the very [early] start-up stage,” Koplovitz told The Australian.

“What is needed is to help women at the next level of growth who need to raise formal capital, equity capital.”

This article first appeared on StartupSmart.


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