Australia’s Girl Geek Academy has successfully launched the world’s largest all-women startup incubator, following the resounding success of its #SheHacks hackathon. The incubator is designed to coach #SheHacks graduates to further develop their minimum viable product (MVP) and create more sustainable female-founded businesses in Australia.
Girl Geek Academy enlisted Startup Onramp founder and seasoned entrepreneur coach Colin Kinner to co-develop the incubator concept, along with their recently appointed Entrepreneur in Residence, Silicon Valley “unicorn” – and one of Fortune’s 10 most powerful women in gaming, Holly Liu, whose mobile gaming company Kabam recently sold for over $US1billion.
The #SheHacks incubator will run for seven weeks and will guide the startups through structured sessions delivered by Holly, Colin and additional mentors drawn from the Australian startup community.
The incubator will focus on giving participants the skills they need to launch and grow their company, and to avoid the many pitfalls often encountered by first-time entrepreneurs. It will cover topics including validation of ideas, growth hacking, how to build a team, marketing and branding, and pitching investors.
Most importantly, the program aims to provide women entrepreneurs with the confidence to commit to pursuing their entrepreneurial ambitions and build successful technology companies.
A showcase event will take place this September to reveal the startups that have emerged from the initiative.
Next step for the unstoppable #SheHacks movement
Sarah Moran, Co-founder and CEO of Girl Geek Academy said: “We’ve been working on the format for our #SheHacks incubator for some time and we’re really excited to announce its kick off. So many hackathons end after the event without a pathway for startup ideas to be fully explored. Our intention with the #SheHacks movement is to create tangible outcomes and generate more women-led businesses in Australia, which is why we partnered with Colin Kinner on this project due to his solid track record in training and coaching startup founders.
“It’s also a real coup for us to secure Holly Liu as our Entrepreneur in Residence – not only for her incredible insights into the startup and business world – but also as an example of a woman who has founded a US billion-dollar company from a pipe dream. Having Holly help drive the incubator will instil confidence in the women that they too can achieve this success.”
This year’s #SheHacks was a record for Australia, with around 200 women coming together to build 30 new startups – the largest event of its kind in the southern hemisphere. Australian corporates, including Deloitte, also submitted teams to boost their employee team building and intrapreneurship.
Speaking on the initiative, Holly Liu said: “I’m really looking forward to mentoring some of the startups that came out of the #SheHacks event. My initial reaction is that the tech community in Australia is much more accepting of women than Silicon Valley, plus there is huge local government support for the industry. Couple this with initiatives like #SheHacks incubator, and you’ve got a really strong platform to make Australia a great place to be a woman in a startup.”
Startup Onramp founder Colin Kinner added: “The incubator has two important goals: to encourage more women to become startup founders; and to give them a roadmap that will maximise the chances of their startup being successful.
“We’ve recognised that Australian entrepreneurs often lack the ambition of their overseas counterparts, so the program will focus on building confidence and encouraging participants to work on global opportunities from day one.”
Startups generated at #SheHacks and entering the incubator include virtual reality (VR) mobile games, apps to simplify property rental, B2B and B2C online marketplaces – plus social-good startups. The #SheHacks accelerator has extended its program to accept applications from startups who didn’t attend the main hackathon event.