A new program has launched in Melbourne aiming to equip female entrepreneurs with the skills and mentorship needed to build successful businesses.
SBE Australia, a partner of US-based giant Springboard Enterprises, launched the E3 program in Sydney in May this year. The organisation is now bringing the same program, which will see participants taking part in a one day a week, two month program, to Melbourne.
The program involves weekly workshops with members of SBE Australia’s illustrious global network of alumni.
The Sydney version of the program is currently in its fifth week, with the pilot program seeing 15 female-led companies participating. SBE Australia general manager Julie Demsey said feedback so far has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Each week the women are working on different parts of their business and coming away really strong. The improvements from week one to week two were fantastic, and now up to week four has been phenomenal,” Ms Demsey told InnovationAus.com.
“They’re really strengthening their understanding and positioning of their business, and gain confidence in themselves and how they lead their business and communicate it to potential partners, customers and investors.”
Carrots Money co-founder Jacqui Park is currently taking part in the Sydney program, and said it has already provided invaluable advice and lessons.
“Having the opportunity to share this experience with other women who are similar-stage entrepreneurs provides a strong level of support. As a startup founder you want to talk to other startup founders who’ve been there, done that,” Ms Park said.
The E3 program was launched to cater to those that were not quite ready to take part in SBE Australia’s accelerator program, which has been running for nearly five years now. The program costs participants $2200.
“We realised they still needed some support and that we could add value in their journey, so we put this program together,” Ms Demsey said.
SBE Australia’s accelerator program runs out of Sydney, but can be completed virtually by companies anywhere in the country. The E3 program requires participants to be in the city for the entire eight-week program.
To apply, a company must be female-led, and have an MVP or validated idea. The program is looking to fit a gap in the Melbourne and wider Australian ecosystems, with programs like SheStarts offering to support to very early-stage female entrepreneurs, and a range of accelerators and incubators catering to more mature companies.
“If you think there is something here for you, or even if you think you’re not quite there yet, definitely apply. There’s no harm in applying and it gets you into the ecosystem. It makes us aware of the companies and see what we can do to support them,” Ms Demsey said.
Startup Victoria CEO Georgia Beattie went through the SBE Australia accelerator program, and said programs like it are crucial in helping the sector achieve gender equity.
“One pertinent learning I took away from SBE Australia was that we need to back ourselves. We need to shout out to ourselves, ‘hey, I’m really good at this. I am a CEO of a company and I am successful’,” Ms Beattie said.
“Female founders aren’t thinking big enough, they see what is within reach instead of setting big, audacious goals for themselves. I want to see more of the latter.”
SBE Australia launched in 2012 as a not-for-profit focusing on supporting women-led companies in the male-dominated tech world in Australia. Across this time, the sector’s gender diversity has improved, Ms Demsey said, but there’s still a long way to go.
“There’s always more work to be done. If you look at the percentage of capital that is going towards female companies in terms of funding, then we haven’t evened the playing ground. We’ll continue to support female founders with the hopes of getting that to an equal playing field,” she said.
SBE Australia is also looking to launch the E3 program in Brisbane and Perth next year.