Startup News & Analysis

Startup supergroup TechSydney partners with global charity ELEVACAO Foundation to inspire hundreds of women entrepreneurs

Dinushi Dias /

Startup super group TechSydney has joined forces with global charity ELEVACAO Foundation to drive the number of global tech companies founded by women in Australia.

ELEVACAO Foundation, led by founder and chief executive Marisa Warren, collaborates with major players in the tech sector such as TechCrunch to help women entrepreneurs grow their ventures and get pitch-ready for investors.

It currently has chapters in Sydney, Melbourne and New York, with plans to launch in Singapore underway.

Warren, who is currently in New York, says the partnership with TechSydney will play an influential role in its journey towards empowering 750 women entrepreneurs in Australia by 2020.

Clinivid founder Dr Katja Beitat recently told StartupSmart the ELEVACAO program played a significant role in getting her pitch ready for investors. Beitat secured $350,000 in late March.

“All of these types of partnerships are important for us,” Warren tells StartupSmart.

“We see ourselves as a pipeline feeder … You can’t do it alone.

“Especially, if we want to have a real impact on these women’s businesses and help supercharge them, we have to be collaborating with these other organisations.”

A core part of ELEVACAO Foundation’s focus is on encouraging women entrepreneurs to strive for “world domination”, says Warren.

“If you want a global business, you can have it,” she says.

“Don’t limit the scope of your business.”

Warren says the partnership will see founders in ELEVACAO Foundation’s Sydney programs gain access to TechSydney’s powerful network of advisors and mentors to help them build global thinking ventures, whether or not they have a tech background.

“What I see with our women that come to our program is 95 percent of them don’t actually have a tech background,” she says.

“Either they’re working in the corporate space or they’re working fulltime as a mother [and] they’ve discovered a gap in the market and know how to solve it.”

Warren believes getting first-time founders in this space the “right advice” early on is incredibly important.

“Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing other elements [of the partnership],” she says.

TechSydney, which raised more than $500,000 through crowdfunding last year and previously suffered some heat over the apparent lack of diversity in its own team, has bolstered its efforts to change the landscape internally and externally.

“In the early days of TechSydney we made mistakes ourselves. Our founding group was evenly balanced between male and female entrepreneurs but we put out a media release with a photo that showed only one woman,” McEvoy said in a statement.

TechSydney reports its current staff and board is 50% women and its founding group was 45% women.

“We have done a lot of learning since then and we think the tech community would benefit from hearing how it can change from people that have been there,” McEvoy said.

Sydney intensifies support for women in tech and startups

In line with its partnership with the ELEVACAO Foundation, TechSydney is also developing a new diversity and inclusion resource, which will aggregate solutions in recruitment and culture from industry heavyweights such as Atlassian.

Atlassian’s head of diversity Aubrey Blanche says this will be a powerful force for Sydney’s tech sector.

“These resources will help current founders build inclusivity into their cultures from the beginning, and this partnership will help grow a new generation of founders that’s more diverse than what’s come before,” Blanche said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the City of Sydney announced this week it will continue its support for a separate non-profit to run masterclasses for women entrepreneurs.

Springboard Enterprises Australia, which has been supported by the council for the past five years, has received a sponsorship grant that will provide $35,000 per year for the next three years in addition to $7500 worth of annual venue hire in-kind.

Flamingo founder and chief executive Dr Catriona Wallace, who completed a Springboard accelerator program in 2014, says the mentoring and support provided by the program has been instrumental to her success.

“For an early stage company like Flamingo, just under three years of age, to raise nearly $9 million in the Australian market is no mean feat,” Wallace said in a statement.

“The Springboard process and the ongoing coaching support and mentoring was a massive part of me being able to successfully achieve that … I learned about capital raising and the formula for getting your business into shape to scale globally. It absolutely revolutionises how you think, with a real discipline on metrics, finance and capital.”

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a freelance journalist and a former StartupSmart reporter and multimedia content producer. She is the co-founder of Melbourne-based production house Dinushi & Power.

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