Address for success – The Deal
This network gives start-up women a forum that helps open doors.
When Dr Dharmica Mistry stood up to pitch in front of a group organised by the Heads Over Heels network last year, her main goal wasn’t more funding for BCAL Diagnostics, the breast cancer blood screening business she helps run.
Like many women entrepreneurs, Mistry was looking for the crucial know-how, advice and connections that can still be elusive in the maledominated start-up space.
That’s why a group of women set up not-for-profit Heads Over Heels in 2010.
“It offers access to a broad network of investors, clients and business advisors who can help open doors – all connections that they need to grow their businesses,” says CEO Fiona Boyd (pictured).
“Women find it difficult to break into these networks because it’s still quite dominated by men.”
Studies show venture capital still goes mainly to men, Boyd says. A report by Babson College in the US found that over a two-year period, companies with a female CEO received $US1.5 billion in venture capital while those led by men received $US49.3 billion. And the Startup Muster report estimated women make up only about 24 per cent of start-up founders in Australia.
Boyd recently moved her office to the Sydney fintech hub Stone & Chalk, in the CBD. “The group here is very dynamic and they are trying to launch Women in FinTech
– 90 per cent of the start-ups here are male.”
The aim of the HOH portfolio events is to get men involved and showcase women-led businesses they may not otherwise see.
“Our target is having 40 per cent men at our events, and trying to get the men to come along and support women entrepreneurs,” says Boyd. “In some cases they have elected to provide more hands-on advice, or even investment.”
When Dr Mistry pitched last year, she garnered 70 offers to help build the business; and Rebecca Wilson, founder of media site Starts at 60, attracted 80 offers after her presentation. Demand for the events has been so high the network is also launching in Melbourne.
Originally Published in ‘The Deal’ – The Australian 17th March, 2017
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