Startmate Enlists 3 Successful Start-Ups To Support Its Female Focussed Fellowship Program

By Michael Sheather
on 26 July 2020

Startmate, a ground-breaking Australia-New Zealand start up accelerator company, wants to transform the tech industry with a surge of women employees.

Startmate, one of the most innovative start-up accelerator companies in Australia-New Zealand, wants to provide 300 more women with jobs in technology start-up companies by the end of 2121.

And to help get the job done it has enlisted three successful start-ups Secure Code Warrior, AWS Startups and SafetyCulture to support its women-focussed Fellowship program.

These new partners will help Startmate’s popular Fellowship program to achieve its stated goal of rebalancing gender inequity in technology start-ups across Australia and New Zealand. According to a 2018 report, only 29 per cent of tech workers are women. 

“Having such a formidable partnership team will help us take the Fellowship to new audiences and tap into a wider talent pool,” says Startup chief executive Michael Batko. “We’re excited to have the support of these leaders as we work to get 300 women in Australian tech startups within the next 18 months. Their involvement means we have an opportunity to create tangible change on a bigger scale.”

The announcement comes as Startmate launches its first Liminal Conference in partnership with leading venture capital fund Blackbird. Held between 27–31 July, the free virtual summit promises attendees the opportunity to hear first-hand accounts of career defining moves and meet like-minded people.

Startmate focuses on including women founders
Startmate,Yan Zhai, Sophia Witherington, Michael Batko CEO, Sascha Kerbert

Sophia Witherington, community lead at Startmate, says the conference includes a stellar line-up of talent. “We’ve brought together some of the most inspiring and intelligent women to speak on their experience and deliver insights and knowledge, including Jodie Auster, who will speak about her career journey from emergency doctor to becoming Uber Eats’ Regional GM for APAC, and Blackbird Ventures partner Sam Wong, who will talk about her progression from law to venture capitalism,” says Sophia.

“Break-out sessions are designed to get like-minded attendees to virtually meet and build their network. On the last day, I will host an AMA on the Fellowship to answer any questions on the program for those who are curious about how it works,” she adds.

Startmate, women in tech

Startmate, Australia’s leading start-up accelerator, offers two Fellowship rounds a year, alongside its accelerator programs.

The program, which runs for three months and is open Australia-wide, offers accepted candidates intimate access to some of Australia’s best founders and top venture capitalists as well as first-hand insights, optional internships and 1:1 sessions with start-ups including unicorn design software company Canva and workplace safety provider SafetyCulture.

Since its launch in 2019, the Fellowship program has attracted more than 700 applicants to produce 40 graduates, most of whom found positions in a range of the country’s leading start-ups, from unicorns (privately held startup companies valued at more than  $1 billion) such as Canva, to early stage companies including Eucalyptus and Dovetail.

Melanie Perkins, Canva CEO and Cofounder

In February 2020, Startmate decided to make its Fellowship program open to women only, with the goal of increasing the number of women in top positions with the country’s brightest tech startups.

As a result, application for the first women-only Fellowship doubled compared to the previous Fellowship program, demonstrating a clear community passion for career pathways that provide greater employment opportunities for women in tech.

Along with sponsoring the Fellowship program, leaders at AWS Startups, SafetyCulture and Secure Code Warrior will offer their time as mentors to the Fellows in the upcoming spring cohort, which will be run virtually in line with social distancing requirements.

 “SafetyCulture is excited to be a part of the next fellowship. We see this as a great opportunity to give back to the tech community that we love, plus support women of diverse backgrounds who may not have access to the type of support networks that would allow them to truly shine,” says Anna Wenngren, VP People & Culture at SafetyCulture. “

We are proud to support initiatives that drive better diversity outcomes in the tech industry, and equally we are passionate about creating opportunities for our own talented leaders to grow their mentoring skill set. It’s a win-win,” Anna says.

Startmate’s community lead Sophia Witherington says the commitment to run women-only Fellowship programs directly addresses the need for Australian tech startups to improve gender equality by providing access to diverse skill sets from a range of demographics and cohorts.

Statmate team in San Francisco
Statmate team in San Francisco

“Startups exist and thrive due to their higher risk appetite, speed of experimentation, and believing in a better solution,” Sophia says.

“We created this program with the understanding that gender equality can only move forward with intersectionality at the forefront. We invite women of all ages, races, cultural backgrounds and LGBTQIA+ identifying women to apply.”

Indeed, the outcome that Startmate is striving to achieve is a surge of female tech employees. “Instead of incremental gains, the female-only Fellowship is aimed at making a tangible impact on gender parity by flushing the ecosystem with up to 300 talented and ambitious women,” says Michael Batko, Startmate CEO.

“We know that one of the biggest challenges start-ups face is finding excellent hires. The Startmate Fellowship works to create pathways for talented women to find their sweet spot in a rocket ship startup. It does this by providing access to leading mentors who help train Fellows to become exceptional candidates who can thrive in a fast-paced start-up atmosphere.”

Startmate began in 2010 as a collaboration between some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists who wanted to establish a company to create a world-class community that helps start-ups grow from their first dollar to their first billion.

Startmate shares that knowledge through its 12-week accelerator program, one-to-one bespoke coaching and in-person events. Startmate encourages ambitious founders to hit their next milestone, and offers invaluable resources, advice, and support along the way.

Carrie Gray completed Startmate’s first women-only Fellowship at the end of May, successfully landing the Executive Assistant role to the Chief Experience Officer and the Head of Craft Practices & Learning at Atlassian. Carrie applied to the program to expand her local network as she returned to Australia from time spent overseas as a growth-focused operations leader.

“After 12 years abroad working in London, Jakarta and Singapore, the Fellowship was a space to explore and unlock my fit into the Australian startup / scale up tech ecosystem. From engaging and insightful conversations with a diverse group of mentors I was able to identify which industry, company and career path aligns best with what I am great at,” says Carrie.

“As long as you have a willingness to share, learn and be open to feedback, the fellowship can suit all: from rising stars, senior executives, expats returning to Australia and people wanting to return to work after a career break. In essence, the more of yourself you give in the fellowship the more you’ll get out of it,” she continues.

The announcement of the Fellowship partners and first Liminal Conference comes as Startmate confirms over 40 per cent of applications for its Melbourne 2020 and New Zealand’s 2020 accelerator cohorts come from companies co-founded by women, up from 28 percent from the previous cohort. Five out of 11 companies in the upcoming MEL20 cohort, and four out of five in the upcoming NZ20 cohort, are co-founded by women.

Applications for Startmate’s next Fellowship open from 20 July 2020. Registration for Liminal is now open.

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