BlueChilli’s accelerator for female-led startups SheStarts has partnered with Google for Entrepreneurs, reportedly scoring ongoing funding of $100,000 per year, plus access to Google’s resources for SheStart’s participants, on an international scale.
The partnership was announced earlier today at a launch event at the Fishburners co-working space in Sydney, with Australian Innovation Minister Michaelia Cash calling on “all of industry” to play their role “when it comes to ensuring we have greater participation of females [in STEM roles].”
She praised Google as a company because it “puts [its] money where [its] mouth is”, saying the global tech giant has committed $100,000 in “ongoing, annual funding,” although Google has not confirmed nor denied this amount.
Through the new partnership, female entrepreneurs participating in the SheStarts program will have access to Google for Entrepreneurs’ international resources, including mentoring, programming and tech support, plus co-working spaces and support programs in 140 countries.
It is intended to give SheStarts founders the support required in order to take their businesses global, while also encouraging them to think globally from the offset.
Launched in October 2016 with a $1 million fund from BlueChilli, SheStarts focuses solely on offering a platform to female founders of tech startups. The accelerator has seen 18 startup founders so far, with its first cohort graduating in August last year.
Speaking at today’s event, SheStarts director Nicola Hazell suggested the partnership with Google for Entrepreneurs could increase the impact of SheStarts “10-fold”, taking “what we’ve done here into ecosystems around the world”.
“What we do here in Australia is being watched by millions of people around the world,” she said.
The idea is to “make it possible to think differently about how big an impact you might be able to make,” she added.
“That idea could have a trickle-on effect to people all around the world.”
Hazell also noted the importance of government support, in order to create change “at every level of the pipeline”.
In October last year, SheStarts secured a $500,000 grant from the Australian government, under its Incubator Support Program. The funding was intended to help SheStarts alumni make an impact on a global scale, providing resources to help them get established overseas, with a focus on the US and South-East Asia.
At the time, Hazell told StartupSmart the funding would “allow us to ensure we have the right personnel to support these founders”.
“We live in a globalised world and technology means any product we develop in Australia can, should and must be applied in global markets,” she said.
“We want to have people who are supporting these startups both here and abroad, working with them to make sure these companies are reaching into these international markets and becoming global juggernauts.”
At today’s event, Cash cited statistics that came out of a recent Boston Consulting Group report that found female-founded startups receive less investment from venture capital firms, but generally provide better returns, she said seeing more women active in STEM sectors is a “basic economic fundamental”.
But “you can’t be what you can’t see”, Cash said.
“Investment goes to creating the women who can be the role models for all the young women out there,” she added.
In this year’s budget, the federal government committed $4.5 million to increasing participation of women and girls in STEM studies and careers, including the appointment of a women as STEM ambassador, charged with advocating gender equality and championing women across the industry.
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