Health industry focused early-stage startups have dominated the second cohort of BlueChilli’s female-led SheStart accelerator program.
After putting an initial 22 startups through a three-week validation boot camp, eight startups and its 10 founders and co-founders have been selected for round two. The founders come from across the country including Sydney, Melbourne, Hobart, and – for the first time – Canberra.
Other industries that are represented in round two of the accelerator program include AgTech, EduTech, HRTech and Smart Cities, with each adopting tech applications that include blockchain, data analytics, machine learning, wearable technology and robotics.
SheStarts director Nicola Hazell said while the representation for the second cohort is diverse, all of the co-founders share a genuine goal of solving specific problems.
“We have women here who have worked in many different industries, just as we did in the first cohort. This demonstrates that startup founders don’t all come from within the startup economy,” she said.
“If we can create opportunities for people with big bold ideas to solve problems that they have personal experience or understanding of, we can actually drive a really exciting shift in startups where we see people coming into this space that we wouldn’t traditionally be considered as your classic startup founder.
“All of the female founders selected for the second cohort of SheStarts have got a really strong passion for the problem they’re trying to solve, and yet they’re working across a real breadth of areas.”
Pioneera is one these selected firms. It is developing a platform that uses text analytics and machine learning to help organisations identify and address signs of stress, anxiety or unconscious bias.
Founder and former executive general manager of transformation at IAG Danielle Owen Whitford, said SheStarts gives her the opportunity to collaborate with other founders with a background in technology.
“I was quite deliberate in applying for SheStarts because I’m a non-technical founder, so I was looking for someone to help me build technology and for someone who has a great network that I could leverage, and create contacts,” she said.
“I have a strong corporate background and a great corporate network, but I don’t have a startup community network, and that’s what I was looking for from SheStarts.”
For Dr Annie McAuley, founder of Talk-i-Wear, a play-based learning tool using Near-Field-Communications (NFC) technology to help children with language learning, and who has a background in biomedical research, said she’s invested in using the SheStarts accelerator program to commercialise her tool.
“My aim in submitting to SheStarts really is pairing with the leading program in enabling women CEOs in the tech industry. BlueChill is also Australia’s leading startup and accelerator program, and I figured if I’m going to do something like this I need to pair with the best to make it happen.
“I’m really invested in making this tool available for other parents in Australia and worldwide. I want to put the tool in the hands of people who need it.”
The selected startups will each get $25,000 pre-seed capital, as well as access to BlueChilli startup experts and advisor networks, and a sponsored trip to Silicon Valley.
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