Female entrepreneurs are being encouraged to apply for the 2015 Springboard Enterprises accelerator program.
Springboard Enterprises was founded by successful US entrepreneur Kay Koplovitz in 2000 with the aim of teaching women how to pitch for capital.
Since that time its accelerator program has helped more than 500 female-led companies in America get off the ground.
In 2012 the organisation came to Australia, running an annual accelerator program to teach Australian women how to grow million-dollar tech companies through coaching and access to investor networks.
Now in its third year, the program has seen at least one third of its intake successfully raise between $1 million and $2 million in capital.
Participants undertake an intensive two-day boot camp as well as a two-month coaching program to help them pitch to investors.
Topaz Conway, the chair of Springboard Enterprises Australia, told StartupSmart the investor market is not as female-friendly as it could be.
She says some of the reasons given for why women don’t tend to build big companies include lifestyle choice, funding and confidence.
“Frankly, it’s probably because of all three. Springboard offers a place for women who have started companies and would like to grow them but lack the access to the networks, the support infrastructures and the confidence to do so.”
Conway says without a sustainable support network, women missing out on venture capital just becomes “a self-fulfilling prophecy”.
“We want to bring them [female entrepreneurs] out front and centre. We want to be a pipeline of qualified, investable companies to the investor community.”
The gender gap in venture capital funding has long been an issue for startups founded by women, with a recent study by Harvard Business School finding venture capitalists prefer funding handsome men rather than female entrepreneurs – even when the pitches are exactly the same.
This is despite longitudinal studies finding that companies funded by venture capital with women on the executive team perform better on multiple fronts.
Applications for the Springboard program are open from April 1. Between five and 10 women-led companies will be accepted into the accelerator.
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