A place for all founders to flourish


Director of MAP, Rohan Workman, welcomes the audience to MAP16 Demo Day at Melbourne Town Hall on October 27.

Removing Restrictions and Upping Diversity

Since removing the restriction of our startup founder’s affiliation to the University of Melbourne from students, staff and alumni of 5 years to students, staff and alumni of any year, we have welcomed a record number of applications and selected one of the most diverse MAP cohorts yet.

The MAP16 founders tick a lot of boxes – they are global citizens (from Mexico, Norway, Holland, Italy, New Zealand and Australia), are different ages (from students to seasoned professionals), have different specialisations (from law and science to engineering and design) and, true to MAP style, these founders are building businesses in emerging sectors (from artificial intelligence and socially accessible solar energy to medical health and diagnostics).

The transfer of knowledge across this diverse group has been rapid, but we know it could be faster and that we could support future startups to have an even greater chance of success by ensuring one more element of diversity is present in the mix – gender.

Why True Diversity Matters

We are proud to have built a MAP team that ticks all the boxes – we have an international outlook (from Malaysia, Ghana, UK, China, US, Australia and New Zealand), are at different life stages, have a range of educational experiences and expertise, and are cultivating a great set of female leaders.

We believe true diversity in a startup’s founding team should encompass age, gender, education, and specialisation. We also believe that once a team with this competitive edge is set up, mentored and given the right support, they will produce a better, more sustainable business. It is our vision that these businesses will in turn help us to achieve our vision for a more prosperous Australia for all.

Evidence consistently shows companies that are led by women and embrace diversity of all kinds demonstrate improved levels of innovation, creativity, and quite simply, better bottom lines (by as much as 30% on average). Once companies like these attract investment, an incredible 63% of those with female founders perform better than those with all male teams.

Turning up the Heat on Gender Diversity

As our Director Rohan Workman highlighted at our Demo Day this year, having no women pitch that evening was upsetting. We know there’s a lot of work to do; we are up to the challenge.

We want MAP to be the place for female founders to flourish; founders of Melbourne, make yourselves known and prepare to apply for 2017.

MAP startups gain access to $20,000 in funding, office space and mentorship for 5 months, and have the opportunity to pitch to investors here in Melbourne and in Silicon Valley. MAP has a public benefit mandate that extends to the accelerator program. As such, we do not take equity in the startups in our program and we support startups of all kinds.


To date, we have supported 34 startups with 8 female founders who have gone on to employ another 29 women. These statistics can be improved, and have in the past few years – for example, the number of women in our applicant pool this year more than doubled, which is an important first step. We do not want and cannot allow any more female founders to miss out on this opportunity as your success is ours. We are excited to be in the position to build and shape the future of startups where doors are kept open and an even wider group can participate. 

Opportunities for Female Founders at MAP

How are we actively working to create this shift? We have focused our efforts on developing and preparing exceptional talent to enter the accelerator program and have been excited to see that we are quickly approaching gender parity in our development programs (56% men to 44% women).

There are many ways in which we welcome aspiring entrepreneurs and female founders into the MAP family and you’ll notice we’ve taken things up a notch this year. Take a note of the following initiatives we have developed over the past 5 years and share them with your networks:

Female Founders Meetup: The importance of founder wellbeing, October 7.

Female Founders Meetup est. 2013

Our renowned Female Founders meetup, founded with Google, is one of the largest in the world. The events are for women and men at all stages of their startup journey and are designed to inspire and inform you or introduce you to amazing female founders who are blazing the trail. Sign up here.

The Velocity Series est. 2013

The Velocity Series programs are tailored to support aspiring entrepreneurs to become well-rounded founders of early-stage startups. The Velocity Series includes three streams: Startup Velocity – for the frameworks and practical skills to get the ball rolling; Escape Velocity – to help founders with customer validation and building traction; and Social Velocity – merging the worlds of startup and social enterprise. Startup Velocity is offered multiple times per year across two consecutive evenings, whilst Escape Velocity and Social Velocity are both 6-month programs that use the lean startup methodology and mentorship to push teams past ideation to validation and traction.

Escape Velocity est. 2013

In former iterations, Escape Velocity was a light touch, 3-day program. The program has since been redesigned to support high-potential teams with a clear methodology and mentorship as they search for product market fit. Express your interest or refer a friend.

Social Velocity est. 2016

This competitive-entry program is designed for mission focused founders building startups with social or environmental impact. The experience pushes teams to better understand their social issue, sets them up with experienced mentors, connects teams with Escape Velocity, and introduces them to the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Express your interest or refer a friend.

Social Velocity team ‘Climates’ discuss their impact gaps canvas, September 20.

The Franklins est. 2016

This program is especially for women entrepreneurs at all stages. The skills-based program is co-designed with participants to sharpen their entrepreneurial acumen, and to connect them with supportive peers and mentors. (The Franklins are inspired by the story of Rosalind Franklin, whose pioneering scientific work went largely unrecognised in her lifetime. We want to support and celebrate our female entrepreneurs and innovators!) Express your interest or refer a friend.

Open Mic Night est. 2016

This has been a successful new addition to our talent development repertoire – branders and marketers, wheelers and dealers, coders and programmers, and everyone in between are welcome to pitch their skills and expertise to startups. Startups also have the opportunity to find their next team member at this event. Express your interest or refer a friend.

Open Office Hours est. 2016

For those of you who have a startup that is past the proof of concept stage, we are more than happy to take a meeting with you to learn more about your idea and to provide advice for applying to MAP at our Open Office Hours. Feel free to book a session here – http://map.youcanbook.me

(If you’re not yet past proof of concept, check out the opportunities above and let us help you get there!) 

MAP x Notable Media Workshop with Amanda Gome, Building your personal brand, April 29.

Starting up and Leaning in

We are lucky to have an incredibly committed network of high-profile and up-and-coming women – and men – who are working with us to bring about real change on this front. We want to recognise them and thank them for their faith and their energy. Without them, the additional initiatives we have designed and run, would not be possible.

With 1-in-4 startups being founded by women in Australia, MAP’s activities alone will not provide the silver bullet in changing the status quo. We encourage all of you who are participating in Australia’s flourishing entrepreneurship ecosystem as founders, funders or mentors to lean in and help us achieve our vision. Tap female founders in your network on the shoulder and encourage them to join the MAP family.

If you are interested in mentoring the next generation of founders with truly diverse backgrounds, we cannot wait to work with you, please get in touch. We are working towards showcasing startups that represent a broad cross section of society and who have developed the skill-sets necessary to grow successful businesses into the future.

Sign up for our newsletter, follow us on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook or get in touch with us to see what’s in store for 2017!



The Melbourne Startups Making Their Moves – Only at MAP 2016 Demo Day

You’re invited to
MAP 2016 Demo Day
Thursday 27th October 2016, 6pm
Melbourne Town Hall  

What do some of the hottest sectors in innovation have in common? How are medtech, clean energy, extreme sports and big data linked? Answer: they’re all found at the Melbourne Accelerator Program!

On Thursday 27 October, mingle with the founders driving Melbourne’s entrepreneurial scene, as you witness pitches from Allume, Honee, Axon, Deliciou, Shacky, Black AI, Bajaboard, CNSDose, Onolytics and Simple. Marking the official conclusion of the 2016 MAP program, this is your unique opportunity to delve into the world of MAP and see what this extraordinary group of founders have been working on this year.


The MAP startups this year have exceeded our expectations. The founders have grown together as a cohort and we were blown away by the level of collaboration and camaraderie across the group.  Each of the founders have experienced a unique journey – either through applying their learnings to achieve product-market fit, exceeding their growth targets or accelerating product development and expanding their teams.” – Maxine Lee, MAP Accelerator Manager.

With investors, founders, corporates, and champions of Melbourne’s wider entrepreneurial community present, the MAP 2016 Demo Day is your chance to be connected with the best and brightest minds from across Australia. Meet and support the people making Melbourne a world-class startup hub.

Be a part of something big.

Register online today. General admission and limited investor tickets available.

MAP startup Black AI wins leadership award in Tech23 competition

MAP16 startup Black AI were this week awarded the Enterprise Mobility Leadership Award at Tech23’s startup competition in Sydney.

Black AI CEO and co-founder Keaton Okkonen pitches at Tech23.

Black AI have created Ani, an artificial intelligence system that can watch and understand human behaviour. Ani automates the direct observation of people movement and flow through environments, detecting interactions and notable events, reporting on them in real time. The technology focuses on context driven insights, which in essence, provides an efficient system to capture and simplify big data. Ani is already in preliminary market tests, with Black AI securing a partnership with the University of Sydney in a study for early detection of Alzheimers and Dementia.

“This is a hugely scalable program that can be plugged in to any living space to collect the data that you actually need. It shifts our relationship with data from being reactive to proactive”, said Black AI CEO and co-founder Keaton Okkonen, who opened up the 2016 Tech 23 program with his presentation on Smarter Data.

The Black AI team in Seattle at the Imagine Cup World Final 2016.

In July this year Black AI were amongst the 35 teams selected worldwide to compete at the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals. Competing in the Innovation category in Seattle, to compete on the world level. From tens of thousands of competitors around the globe, representing Australia as a finalist at the world cup demonstrates the impact of this young team and the potential of Ani to make a positive impact across industries such as healthcare, retail, urban planning and entertainment.

Celebrating Australian innovation, the Tech23 competition attracted over 400 delegates in 2016, its eighth year of operation. Black AI were amongst 23 high-growth potential and technically competitive startups selected to pitch their innovative solutions. Keaton will once again pitch Black AI’s Ani at the Melbourne Town Hall on October 27, as part of the upcoming Melbourne Demo Day featuring the 2016 cohort of MAP’s startup accelerator.

As part of his prize, Keaton will travel to Boston, Massachusetts to learn more about the startup scene on the US East Coast. He will also receive mentorship from Tech23 alumni BigtinCan – the sponsor of the award – and will attend a special Boston Product Management Association event. In addition to the leadership prize, Black AI were also awarded the MYOB award and will receive a personalised session with a MYOB Executive Leader.

Congratulations Keaton and the Black AI team!