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A new Springboard for Australian female entrepreneurs


It might be the best of times for Springboard, a 12-year-old American nonprofit group synonymous with its support to women entrepreneurs, to be entering the Australian market. Just consider the following:

  • In 2010, women launched nearly twice the number of new firms men did; and businesses run by women grew at a 4.8% annual rate, nearly double that for firms operated by men, according to a Bankwest report.
  • Over 40% of women entrepreneurs set out with less than $5,000, according to a survey by the Australian Women Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
  • A Queensland University of Technology, led by Rebekah Bennett and Susan Dann in 2000, identified some positive qualitative traits. Firstly, women entrepreneurs increasingly come from business education backgrounds, compared to predominantly liberal arts backgrounds in the past; and these women are breaking into “male industries” such as manufacturing, decisively moving away from traditional “female industries.”

Clearly, Springboard Australia will significantly add to their strength, given its sterling successes, notably in the U.S. but elsewhere around the world, too.

Since 2000, Springboard has helped 503 women-led companies raise more than $5.5 billion in equity financing, including 10 IPOs. Eight of the companies are listed on the Nasdaq, two on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, and 26% merged, acquired or were acquired. Of the companies, 82% are still in business, generating $4 billion in revenues and creating thousands of jobs.

The American group, which made a formal entry into Australia in May, has set a 15 December deadline for the first round of investments, to be awarded early next year. To be eligible, companies need to “women-led” – which means a woman should be in a senior position with significant equity stake. Firms can be in any of the below domains:

Biotechnology, Ecommerce & Internet Retail, Medical Devices & Equipment, Business Products and Services, Financial Services, Mining/Engineering Tech,

Clean Tech/Renewable Energy, HealthCare Products & Services, Security

Consumer Products and Services, Internet Content & Gaming, Social Networking,

Digital Media, Medical Diagnostics & Therapies and Telecommunications.

Successful applicants will be accepted into a four-month accelerator program with in-person and virtual events, starting with a bootcamp in February and culminating in a Springboard Winners’ Circle Dinner in New York in October.

Springboard has assembled a board in Australia consisting of: Kay Koplovitz, Wendy Simpson, Mina Ames, Topaz Conway, Paul Gooley, Rosemary O’Connor and Bill Trestrail. It has signed on so-called “pipeline partners” that include Women as Entrepreneurs (We); Women in Global Business, Head over Heels, several state and city government agencies, iAccelerate, Starfish Ventures and AVCAL.