Girl Geek Academy overcomes rejection with $1.3 million to build world’s leading startup destination for women

Girl Geek Academy has raised $1 million of in-kind investment from supporters across the startup sector including GO1.

The investment comes at the same time as the academy locks in $300,000 in grant funding from the Victorian Government’s LaunchVic.

Since 2014, Sarah Moran and her team have been running women-focused hackathons, workshops and events to help address the lack of gender diversity across the tech and startup sectors.

Despite failing to capture the imagination of Advance Queensland, the group will now set up a “world-first” state-wide startup hackathon program for women in Victoria.

Read more: Startup rejected by Queensland government calls for more transparency and better communication

Two hundred people across 60 university, corporate and individual-led teams are expected to participate, while Girl Geek Academy also works to engage as many as 1000 women through its #SheHacks Victoria online program, which launches this month.

“A series of bootcamps and mentoring sessions across Melbourne and three regional locations [Warrnambool, Warragul and Bendigo] will help prepare individuals and teams for participation in the #SheHacks Victoria hackathon taking place in June 2017,” Girl Geek Academy chief executive Sarah Moran said on LinkedIn.

“#SheHacks is unlike regular hackathons as it starts with an assembled team rather than team recruitment based on pitches. The initiative will showcase Victoria as the best place in the world for a woman to join a startup.”

At the hackathon, teams will develop early stage solutions to identified problems, test the market and build a minimum viable product, after which they will receive ongoing support from Girl Geek Academy for two months.

In July, finalists will pitch at the #SheHacks Showcase—a demo day event for everyone to reflect on the experience, celebrate women in tech, and meet with investors, big companies and the broader startup sector.

“This backing is a crucial step in rolling out our mission of helping more women to become a viable part of Victoria’s startup and technology ecosystem,” Moran says.

“It is currently very challenging for women to find fellow founders, which is often crucial to starting and succeeding in a new tech venture. The #SheHacks Victoria program will provide multiple touch-points throughout the year for women to find co-founders and receive valuable support for taking their business ideas to market.”

It’s a proud investment for GO1 chief executive and co-founder Andrew Barnes, who recently raised $4 million for his own venture.

“Providing more opportunities for females to get into programming is not just about filling the widening gap in job vacancies in our country—it’s about enriching business and innovation with greater diversity,” he says.

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