Boosting Female Founders: The women-led startups that secured a share of $12 million

Boosting female founders

Ripple co-founder Skye Riggs. Source: supplied.

More than 35 women-led startups have secured a share of $11.6 million in grant funding in the second round of the Boosting Female Founders Initiative.

From more than 2,500 expressions of interest, 38 businesses were successful in securing the grants.

They will receive between $25,000 and $480,000 in grant funding through the scheme, to cover 50% of the costs of a specified project.

Founders are required to either self-fund or source the additional capital from outside investors.

Successful businesses in the second round include bubble tea startup Bubble Tea Club, which secured $400,000, and Smart50 Resilience Award finalist The Hacker Exchange, which secured $250,000 to build out its HEX Academy.

Amelio Health, founded by Aussie nurse Kathy Hubble, secured $400,000 to continue development of its digital programs for pain management and rehabilitation.

Elsewhere, youth accelerator organisation Ripple secured $269,000 for its program helping young people transition into ‘future focused’ and meaningful careers.

Speaking to SmartCompany, Ripple co-founder Skye Riggs says the funding will be “absolutely catalytic” for the startup.

“It comes to the moment where we’ve spent a couple of years building out our model and validating it,” she says.

It will allow her to build out the platform, grow her team and ultimately increase the number of young people the accelerator can work with.

Personally, she’s also feeling “excited and relieved”, and pretty lucky.

“There are so many amazing founders that submitted applications,” she notes.

“To have this opportunity, I just can’t even describe how much it means to me and I just really want to be able to do it justice.”

Bubble Tea Club

Bubble Tea Club co-founders Jenny Le and Pam Yip. Source: supplied.

A contentious grants scheme

The Boosting Female Founders scheme is indeed incredibly competitive, and hasn’t been without its criticism.

The requirement for a business to be at least 50% women-owned has been contentious, as it excludes businesses with a male co-founder that have already secured funding from a male investor.

One startup was previously deemed ineligible for the scheme because the founders’ shares were in a family trust, meaning 50% of their shares were attributed to their husbands.

In the application process for the second round of the fund, potentially thousands of women received letters saying their expressions of interest had been successful, only to find out hours later that the email had been sent in error.

Women supporting women

Riggs feels her application may have stood out because she has the backing of both The Obama Foundation and the Blackbird Foundation.

Both lend legitimacy to the brand, but they have also provided invaluable mentorship and guidance, she says.

At the same time, she credits Ripple’s success to her network of women founders.

When she found out the startup had reached the final round of the grants scheme, her daughter was two weeks old.

She reached out to a previous grant winner and another mentor, who helped her to finalise the application and sharpen her focus through the “cloud of sleep deprivation”.

“Lots of people talk about this, but we have this amazing community,” she adds.

“Because we had that in place, and we’ve nurtured that it kind of gave me the space just to focus on this process.”

The full list of round two recipients can be seen here.

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