Startup News & Analysis

Why Startup Catalyst is launching its first female-focused mission: “We want to showcase the best female entrepreneurs that we’ve got”

Angela Castles /

River City Labs

River City Labs chief executive Peta Ellis. Source: Supplied.

Female founders, investors, and members of the Australian startup ecosystem will get the chance to immerse themselves in the UK startup scene, with entrepreneurship organisation Startup Catalyst running its first ever female-only mission to London in November.

The week-long trip will take 20 female startup and scale-up founders, investors, corporate innovation leaders and policy makers to London, led by co-working space River City Labs chief executive Peta Ellis.

Startup Catalyst has run trips to Israel, London, and Silicon Valley in the past, and Ellis says the missions are designed to “take startup founders from Australia and immerse them in international startup culture” to help them cultivate a “transformational mindset”.

“The missions open up a whole new world of opportunities, changing how they [participants] look at business and markets. It makes people on the trip understand that the accessibility of global markets are only a few connections away,” Ellis tells StartupSmart

She says the focus of this particular mission is to highlight Australia’s female founders and introduce them to other female-led organisations in London.

“We want to showcase the best female entrepreneurs that we’ve got,” Ellis says.

“The UK has generated a lot of interest around female-led entrepreneur groups,” says Ellis, reflecting on her Startup Catalyst trip to London in June this year.

The November mission will harness these female-led groups, and Ellis says she is already working with London-based meetup group 10 Digital Ladies for the mission. Participants will meet with London startup accelerators and hubs, as well as corporate innovation labs, and fellow Australians who are running startups in the UK.

“The focus of women coming together adds a lot of value and attracts more women into the space,” Ellis says.

“Anything we can do to foster that we will. It’s nice to be supporting women specifically on this mission.”  

Tania Walter is a Brisbane-based entrepreneur who has registered for the trip, and hopes to use her time in London as a way to break into the UK market with her energy-monitoring startup Obzervr.

“I hope to access the UK and European innovation community and their channels to market — we have already received interest from the UK and US,” she says.

Walter is an alumnus of the female-focused Springboard accelerator, and says she is “really excited to gain traction” in the UK market, after previously accessing contacts in the US market through the Springboard program.

Walter believes this female-focused mission is “crucial” to supporting female entrepreneurs in the Australian startup ecosystem, a place where she says “unconscious bias” still prevails, including when it comes to pitching for investment.

“You have this group of people who are now not being judged on their male counterparts,” she says. 

We know that unconscious bias lends both male and female founders to ask male entrepreneurs ‘what are your strategic goals?’ and in turn ask female founders ‘what can go wrong?’,” she adds. 

Walter says she hopes to leverage the contacts gained on this female-focused trip to gain five new channel partners that will allow Obzervr entry into the UK and EU markets.

Registrations are now open for this female-focused Startup Catalyst trip, which will run from November 19 to 25 and costs $5500 per person, excluding flights. 

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Angela Castles

Angela Castles was a former Journalist at StartupSmart.

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