One of the most challenging aspects of being a founder is fundraising. In particular, female-founded companies face a significant funding gap. In Silicon Valley in 2016, companies founded solely by females accounted for only 3% of the total dollars raised by startups. This is a not a unique issue for the Valley, but is systematic across startup ecosystems around the globe.
A simple search online will deliver copious amounts of information on the subject of fundraising, but the information available is often quite generic or US-oriented. Much of the available resources also focus on the challenges of raising, and can be quite disheartening to founders.
MAP is helping The Franklins to cut through the noise and negativity on the issue of fundraising, by sharing with our founders how it can be done, and how to do it well. By selecting ‘Fundraising’ as the topic of our second Female Founders Leadership Dinner, we provided some much needed Australian and Melbourne-specific advice to our Female Founders seeking to raise.
We all need champions and advocates who support us when we’re feeling low and are the first to celebrate our successes. For startup founders, straight talkers are equally essential. Mentors who can look at you and your business and tell you the truth (versus what you want to hear), while sharing the benefit of their experience, are rare gems. We’re thrilled to welcome two fantastic mentors to The Franklins: Session II:
Kate Morris, CEO & Founder, Adore Beauty
Kate Morris, founder of Adorebeauty.com.au, started Australia’s first beauty e-commerce site in 1999 from a garage in Melbourne at the age of 21. Starting with just $12,000 and two little known cosmetic companies on board, Adore Beauty has grown to more than 160 brands, 12,000 products, and annual turnover of $24m. A university job on the cosmetic counters led Kate to realise that most women found department stores intimidating and unpleasant. Kate was inspired to create a disruptive beauty shopping experience that empowered consumers.
Kate was awarded the Business Innovation Award for Victoria at the Telstra Business Women’s Awards in 2014, and was inducted into the Australian Businesswomen’s Network Hall of Fame in 2015. Adore Beauty has also been awarded places on high performance lists such as Deloitte’s Tech Fast 50 Australia, Tech Fast 500 Asia-Pacific and the SmartCompany Smart50.
Kerri Lee Sinclair, Chief Investment Officer: Technology & Innovation, Kin Group
Kerri Lee has over 15 years experience working across the high-growth eco-system, from co-founding her own startup, to working with some of Australia’s leading tech businesses, including Intelematics and Aconex.
She recently has moved into leading technical investment/venture capital in a family office. An alumnae of the Springboard program in 2000, she has been involved since the early days of the program being in Australia, and sits on the Board.
Kerri Lee is a MAP mentor and is also an Innovation Expert on the Victorian Government’s Innovation Expert panel.
MAP is proud to partner with One Roof Melbourne to deliver The Franklins: Session II (Fundraising).
One Roof is Australia’s leading co-working space dedicated to women-led businesses and is currently home to 78 businesses at different stages and across an extensive array of industries. One Roof provides everything a woman-led business needs to thrive including office space, tailored business support and a daring, disruptive and passionate community, all under one roof.
Joining us from One Roof is co-founder, Sheree Rubinstein. Inspired by the difficulties she faced when making the decision to leave a stable and financially secure job, Sheree subsequently co-founded One Roof Coworking, a place where she can now provide other aspiring entrepreneurs with the professional support and inspiration women in business need to thrive. Driven by her ambition to close the gender gap in entrepreneurship, Sheree curates and facilitates One Roof’s mentoring programs that support other female entrepreneurs to succeed. She was recently a Victorian finalist in the Telstra Business Women’s Awards.
A defining characteristic of a startup (as opposed to a small business) is the focus on scalability, and inevitably, growth. The exact conditions and steps taken to achieve growth, however, are a common challenge shared by many startup founders. Once a startup has achieved product-market fit, what comes next?
For the first session in The Franklins, MAP’s Female Founders’ Leadership Series, we set out to address this topic with our founders – many of whom run established startups with international reach, but who may be considering how to sustain their growth in the long run, or how the decisions they make today, impact on the future of their business (and personal life) in years to come.
In the startup ecosystem, women in the middle can sometimes feel left out – but it as this point that they’re often in the midst of tremendous growth as leaders and as business owners. There is incredible support for businesses that are just starting out, and recognition flows steadily to a select number of female leaders in technology or media sectors, so we have made a conscious effort to acknowledge, support and share our learnings with the women doing the hard yards between ‘startup’ and ‘success’.
Post product-market fit, as a startup transforms into a business, culture changes, new processes are required, and hiring and firing challenges present themselves. This transition can be tough on the business, and especially taxing on the founders. By giving The Franklins some positive role modelling and a reference group of fellow female founders at similar stages in their businesses, we hope to make a small contribution to their journey. We felt it was critical to provide these women on the front line with some timely growth advice, and in turn, we hope that they will share their learnings within their own networks, as we share it here with you.
For the first session in our Female Founders’ Leadership Series, we wanted to introduce The Franklins to an experienced founder who would share their advice for growing a sustainable business (and global empire), but who has also balanced aggressive growth with a consistent vision, a desire to create true impact, and a commitment to quality and leadership. Encouraging everyone to play to their individual strengths and stay focused on their own game, the delightful Amanda Coote shared her learnings with our lucky founders.
Amanda Coote, Entrepreneur & Angel Investor, Co-Founder, Forever New
Amanda is the co-founder of Australian fashion retailer Forever New. She led the company for the first seven years as Managing Director – from conception of vision and business plan in 2005, to start-up in January 2006, then through prolific growth into 8 countries with 2,500 employees and over 300 stores.
In 2013 Amanda established Forever New’s corporate responsibility programme and philanthropic foundation, supporting YGAP and Save the Children. In 2014 she established the Forever New Scholarship at RMIT University, awarding one scholarship in 2014 and two in 2015.
Amanda exited Forever New in August 2015 to complete her Masters degree and pursue her interests in social enterprise, start ups and angel investing. Together with the Wade Institute, Amanda established the first Impact Entrepreneurship Scholarship for candidates entering the Master of Entrepreneurship degree at The University of Melbourne. Amanda has been a MAP mentor since 2014 and is a leading advisor on MAP’s Impact Entrepreneurship initiatives.
MAP is proud to partner with Scale Investors to deliver The Franklins: Session I (Growth).
Scale helps investors and entrepreneurial women to connect, invest and succeed. Founded in March 2013, Scale is a female focused angel investor network. The founding members of Scale are women, but they welcome and include men who share their vision of maximising returns by supporting early stage businesses that value gender diverse leadership.
Representing Scale Investors is Amanda Derham, Co-CEO (Interim). Amanda is an experienced director, business owner and investor of more than 30 years having worked in mining, dairy manufacturing and financial services who believes in the power of innovation. Amanda has a background in marketing and communications and is currently a director of Anglicare Victoria Inc. and a Life Member of the Museum of Victoria. Amanda’s previous directorships include VLine Pty Ltd, Burra Foods Australia Pty Ltd, Golf Victoria Inc, and the Scotch College Foundation.
From The Franklins
“I just wanted to say a big thank you for inviting me to the dinner. It was so lovely to hear from Amanda Coote and Amanda Derham and to be surrounded by so many like-minded female entrepreneurs!” – Valeria Ignatieva, DCC Jobs
“Amanda Coote said “to succeed you need to be a little bit scared and a hell of a lot excited about what you’re doing”. I’ve just put that on a post-it note on my wall” – Christie Downs, Handdii
“A HUGE thank you for tonight’s event – truly inspirational and it was so great to meet so many talented women, and also to hear insights from Amanda Coote and Amanda Derham!” – Anna Reeves, That Startup Show
MAP’s Female Founders’ Leadership Series (The Franklins) offers mentoring, introductions and practical entrepreneurial education for up to 60 high-potential female entrepreneurs each year. The series is designed to motivate, inspire and connect Australia’s ambitious female founders, helping them to address the challenges of scaling and sustainability.
The Franklins is for women who are disrupting industries, thinking BIG, and making an impact.
We look forward to sharing the stories of our female founders (#FF) in the next few months as we bring together an incredible group of women to support each other, learn and reflect across a series of intimate dinners.
By sharing success stories of female founders, we can encourage other women. By discussing our challenges, we gain perspective, solutions and solidarity.
MAP is pleased to announce that we have selected the following 10 teams for the MAP17 Startup Accelerator:
Carbar Autos – a virtual dealership revolutionising the used car sales industry.
Cabaro – creators of refined and elegant mechanical and quartz watches at affordable prices.
FirstStep – a FinTech solution to help users save and invest their money.
George Robotics –manufacturers of hardware and software that makes sophisticated electronics devices more productive and accessible.
MimicTec – improving poultry farming productivity through a world-first agricultural infrastructure product that mimics maternal care on commercial farms.
Rebotify – an Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) chatbot or ‘Virtual Customer Service Agent’ that offers users a simple and coding-free communications solution.
RefLive – a software and smartwatch app that allows sports officials to track time and record match information digitally.
Reqfire – a purpose-built platform that facilitates software, website and app design through improved communication between developers and clients.
Smileyscope – harnessing Virtual Reality for paediatric care, Smileyscope’s VR visualisation helps children to remain calm and still for injections, allowing doctors to administer care successfully.
UmpsHealth – a machine learning platform helping older people to live in their homes for longer through clinical insights and predictive risk analysis.
Each team selected into the MAP Startup Accelerator will receive $20,000 in early stage funding to support the founders in accelerating their businesses, in addition to office space and a comprehensive 5 month program involving structured mentoring, development workshops and pitching opportunities.
Founders from the 10 startups will present their pitches on-stage to a live audience at the MAP17 Accelerator Launch at the Plaza Ballroom at the Regent Theatre on May 31. Register now to support these startups and connect with our vibrant community of experts, entrepreneurs and enthusiasts!
Now hiring: Social Media Assistant MAP is seeking a kick-ass Social Media champion to drive rapid and sustainable growth in our online communities. Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn… if it’s social, you’re on it and owning it! Witty wordsmiths, please read on…
More details We’re looking for someone to blow up MAP’s social media presence. You’ll be tasked with amping up our brand awareness and engagement online with a view to providing more people with great startup related content. You’ll be stepping into a busy role that requires initiative and multitasking, so experience in a similar role and plenty of ideas and creativity are a must!
We’re looking for someone who…
Lives for social (and can demonstrate their impact on existing channels)
Has mad copywriting skills and a sense of humour
Is creative, entrepreneurial, friendly and likes to work in awesome team.
Is action oriented – walk the walk, don’t talk the talk.
Is comfortable with social media and design tools – Adobe suite, Canva, schedugr.am? Yes please!
What you’ll be doing…
Contributing towards the development of a social strategy and tactics that help MAP achieve its business goals.
Developing content (video, photographic and audio) that fits with MAP’s brand and is relevant to our target audience.
Flexing your copywriting muscle to create content for the MAP blog, newsletters and community case studies.
Engaging relevant influencers and brand advocates and working with talent to build content and influencer marketing campaigns.
Managing our community through all social media platforms. You’ll be on the front line for the MAP brand online.
Executing social media promotional campaigns to grow and engage MAP audiences online and at events.
Reporting against set KPIs and identifying what’s working and what needs to be changed.
What you’ll get in return…
Unparalleled access to an amazing startup community.
Experience working at the top ranked university accelerator in Australia at the top ranked university in Australia.
A fantastic work environment where there are no limits to what you can contribute / do should you wish.
Please note that this is a casual position with good pay and we expect initially 10 hours per week.
Revealing the best that Melbourne has to offer: from the City of Melbourne to the University of Melbourne and the Melbourne Accelerator Program.
MAP recently hosted Masters Candidates from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business on their Australia Study Trip. MAP Director Rohan Workman and the Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management from Stanford, Professor George Foster,answered their burning questions about the Australian startup ecosystem.
At Stanford it has been difficult at times to get students from different Schools (eg. Business or Engineering) to engage. How does MAP approach this issue?
RW: It can definitely be a challenge to get cross-faculty engagement. MAP’s founder open mic nights have helped encourage students and alumni to mingle more. Any time we provide a forum where people can get to know each other, whether that’s networking, drinks, talking before and after events and getting to know each other… it all helps. It’s really the activities around the content we deliver that helps the most.
Stanford offers coursework that gives students a chance to try building something. Is this available at Melbourne?
RW: Absolutely! In 2016 the University of Melbourne launched the Master of
More broadly we’re also finding more entrepreneurially-focused classes on offer across a variety of Master programs in different faculties. This is where MAP comes in too. We’re focused on providing experiential education and giving people an opportunity to learn how to be an entrepreneur in a relatively risk free environment.
GF: What Stanford does perhaps better than anyone else in this respect is bring venture capitalists (VCs) and industry experts into the classroom. We have the cases written for students to study, but then we also bring the entrepreneur into the classroom to co-deliver the classes. This is what I see MAP building up to, and that’s what makes for a great entrepreneurial education.
How do startups feel about operating in Australia, rather than going over to Silicon Valley?
RW: There are a number of reasons why Australian founders choose to stay in Australia. There are favourable R&D tax incentives for being based in Australia where you can get up to a 43.5% refundable tax offset. Visas for entrepreneurs and more entrepreneurial activities in high schools are also helping to build awareness and understanding about entrepreneurship as a career path in Australia.
Many of the difficulties Australian-based startups face are linked to geographic location and a smaller market size. Australia has a population of 24m and the US has approx. 330m, so it is a vastly different market and so people from Australia will travel there to explore it.
Because of Australia’s geographic proximity to Asia, this presents a strong opportunity for our startups. Naturally there are cultural and business lessons to be learned in this space, which is where MAP is partnering with institutions like the University of Melbourne’s AsiaLink and Asia Institute to deliver content to Australian founders.
Also, Australians are typically used to travelling. A number of the startups who have come through our program spend a lot of time in the US but they’ve maintained a base in Melbourne simply because it is cheaper to do so. Tax incentives coupled with lower labour costs for highly skilled Australian workforce (paid in Australian dollars) make it more affordable to be based here and just travel back and forth.
GF: In my opinion there is also greater loyalty in Australia too. In Australian-based companies you would expect to see less turnover than you would in Silicon Valley, where everyone is looking for their next move. In Australia, if you make a good hire, they’re more likely to stick with you.
Are major investors domestic investors or do they come from the US or Asia?
RW: Recently we’ve seen a major influx of investors from China, but there’s no doubt that the best VCs in the world are in Silicon Valley. The best entrepreneurs in the world will raise funding from these top tier VCs, so a sign of success, in my opinion, is not seeing more Australian VC firms start up, but seeing top tier VC firms open offices in Australia because the there is a critical mass of quality deal-flow.
The current debate in Australia is about whether we have enough venture funding. I’m a strong believer that if you have the quality, the deal flow and funding will follow. We’re also seeing an increasing number of Asian investors demonstrate interest in Australian startups – especially where they see opportunities to link back into china for production or scaling purposes.
There is a high likelihood of failure in startups. How do you normalise the idea of failure, especially in a risk averse culture?
RW: I’ll start with the silver lining here in that a greater aversion to failure does result in more tenacious entrepreneurs, who will doggedly pursue an idea. This can be beneficial because they are just determined to make it work when others may give up earlier.
We also see more bootstrapped companies here in Australia than you typically see around the world, so you find ways to mitigate or minimise the risks.
For MAP, the focus is always about the individual’s development as well. While we support and encourage them to take risks during the program, we’re equally preparing them with an entrepreneurial skill set that is equally useful and increasingly valued in other areas (be that joining a different startup, founding a new company or joining a larger company).
Is there much interest in the double or triple bottom line in Australia?
RW: There is a growing impact investing scene in Melbourne. This is attributed to both a long history and legacy in philanthropy and the growth in startups that impact driven and mission focused. Work needs to be done around translating what impact investors are looking for so that startups can better understand and showcase their value in order to access the available funds that exist and are growing.
GF: The Australian ecosystem has also adapted. Smaller pools of VC funding have been offset by startups appealing to or approaching private families. There are a large number of families that immigrated to Australia in the early 20th century and made their fortune in more traditional businesses. These families now have private offices to manage their wealth and have made investments in startups.
Tell us about Australia as a destination for startups from overseas.
RW: There are a few factors that help Australia attract entrepreneurs. Firstly, people tend to like Australians – not sure why but we’ll take it.
Australia is also a great place to live. Melbourne has been named the world’s most liveable city for 6 years in a row now, with a number of other Australian cities also listed in the top 10. This ranking is turning into an economic advantage in that several international companies are now using the Australian lifestyle as a reason to set up their offices here. Go Pro, Slack, Square and Stripe are all companies that have set up their regional HQ in Melbourne in the last couple of years.
People tend to underestimate and therefore underplay the cultural differences between Australia and the US – there are actually a lot of differences but they tend to be nuanced. With our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region the cultural differences are more obvious and as such we tend to spend more time trying to understand and navigate them. The Australian Government has been proactive in encourage primary and secondary schools to include Chinese as a language and there are many soft diplomacy initiatives between specific markets.
GF: I would also add that in the last 20 – 30 years, Australian Universities have been a favourable destination for Asian students for their tertiary educations. This means that we now have a heritage of Asian students and alumni who are open to Australia and who view Australia favourably, so are keen to pursue business opportunities and connections with Asia and Australia. As Universities across Asia get better, the concern and challenge for Australian Universities will be to continue to attract the best students from the region, to ensure these relationships continue to be built from an early age.
What is appealing about the Australian lifestyle?
RW: The beer is cold, the food is amazing and Melbourne is the cultural capital of Australia with events on every week in a range of areas. It’s just a great place to live. Although the cost of living is slightly higher than other cities the average wage is too so it evens out in the end.
GF: Australian startup culture is much the same as in New Zealand. Entrepreneurs work to achieve the three Bs: beach house, BMW, boat. Once entrepreneurs get to this stage, they tend to sell up and live happily ever after. There is less serial entrepreneurialism than in the US. Aussies and Kiwis really respect the weekend, and the focus is on lifestyle, so it takes a very strong person (entrepreneur) to break away from that culture and push on.
MAP’s Director Rohan Workman has given (and asked for) his fair share of introductions. Happy to oblige and connect, he shares his advice below on the art of the warm introduction, or as he calls it…
NEVER ASK FOR AN INTRODUCTION WITHOUT READING THIS.
One of the reasons why I love the startup ecosystem is because it is one of the most proactive industries in terms of people willing to help each other out. The reason is pretty simple: no entrepreneur has ever succeeded without the help of many others. As a founder, it is impossible to know everything you’ll need to know about how to make your business successful. Every entrepreneur who has succeeded over the years will have received help from others without the expectation of anything being provided in return. It’s a simple pay it forward philosophy. It’s awesome.
One of the key components of this philosophy is that of the introduction. If you need help you may need an introduction to the person who can help you. Yet, for the most part, I’m left underwhelmed about how people (especially those entering the ecosystem and who have very little to offer but their manners) go about doing this.
Due to the sheer volume of poor introduction requests I receive I’ve decided to write this blog post to help explain how to put a good introduction request together.
Here are the key things that you need to consider regarding introductions.
1. BEFORE THE INTRODUCTION REQUEST
Introductions are personal validation.
If somebody is going to introduce you to somebody else they are staking their reputation that you will not jeopardize their existing relationship. It is important to keep this in mind when framing an introduction request.
How do you keep this in mind?
If you hardly know the person that you’re asking for an introduction you need to determine if that person is best placed to intro you. If they are the right person you need to be very careful with how you frame the intro.
Have you thought about whether it is appropriate for the introduction to be made?
Always be courteous of the existing relationship.
Just because somebody knows somebody / is connected to them, it doesn’t mean they can make the introduction.
There are two issues here:
Social media is misleading in regards to quality of relationships. How many people are you connected with on LinkedIn or Facebook that you hardly know? Instead of asking somebody for an introduction to somebody else that you can see they’re connected with, ask them if it would be appropriate for them to make an intro.
A person may know somebody but is unable to provide an introduction without an appropriate reason (this relates to more senior stakeholders). It is difficult to make introductions to some people (more likely to be senior people) unless it is worth their while. Have you thought about why they would want to meet with you? The more senior the stakeholder the better reason you need (above and beyond them providing you with charity / pity) as to why is in their interests to meet you.
When asking for an introduction, you must do the groundwork.
Do you know the person you’d like to speak with? I.e. Do you need an introduction to somebody at a specific company but you’re not exactly sure who it is? If so, do some googling to find out who at that company you’d like to speak with, or at the very least what department they are in. Don’t just say “I need to speak with somebody at Australia Post, can you introduce me?” LinkedIn can be very helpful here.
2. REQUESTING THE INTRODUCTION
A simple two step process.
If you don’t know the introducer that well / know if the introducer is able to make the intro, then email something like this:
I noticed that you’re connected with ABC at XYZ company. I’m hoping to speak with them and was wondering if you could intro me? The reason for the intro is [insert a well thought out reason].
If able, let me know and I’ll send through an email which you can forward on to them with bio, dates, details, etc.”
That email is lovely – I wished I received more of them.
2. If you know the introducer relatively well / believe the intro shouldn’t be an issue / the person has already offered the intro, then you can jump straight to the second step:
I’m traveling to the Bay Area in the week beginning Monday 23 January and would welcome the opportunity to connect with ABC.
By way of background, I’m [insert who you / company background are in one or two sentences]. The reason why I’m keen to connect is [insert why you want to meet them and if possible why it is in their interests to meet you].
I noticed that they are located in San Francisco and I’ll be there the week beginning Monday 23 January. At this stage either of the below options would work well but I should have some further flexibility if neither suit:
– 2pm on Tuesday 24 January
– 10am Thursday 26 January
I can meet at a location convenient to them and please let me know if you’d like any further information.”
The key thing about this email is that it allows the introducer to forward it straight on. They don’t need to describe who you are and why you want to meet somebody they know.
YOU HAVE MADE IT EASY FOR THEM TO INTRODUCE YOU. THAT IS GOLD.
Some additional tips.
Be specific with dates and times. Sometimes people early on in their entrepreneurial careers don’t want to impose and are therefore more vague under the false pretense that it is more courteous. This is not true.
Don’t say “If you have time for a coffee in the next few weeks that would be fantastic”. Say, “How are you placed for a chat at either 2pm on Thursday 26 January, or 10am on Friday 26 January?”
This makes it very easy for people who have busy schedules to see if they have a gap. If they can’t make those times work but are happy to meet with you they will offer an alternative.
Keep meetings short. 20 minutes is ideal for busy people and forces you to get straight into the specifics. It takes a lot more preparation to be concise, so do your homework first (see above).
Be flexible. Giving someone the option of a phone call rather than a face-to-face meeting might be the difference between making a connection and not… and if you impress on the phone, there’s always the chance of a follow up meeting.
Prepare in advance. If you’re traveling make sure you provide the dates and send the intro request email well in advance. Prepare your pitch, refine your questions and do your homework. Meetings should not be about information that’s already readily available on the company website.
NEVER be late for the meeting. This is so important, it needs repeating. Never be late for the meeting! Being late for a meeting shows that you are:
Don’t value their time
Neither of the above are desirable for a first impression.
3. AFTER THE INTRODUCTION REQUEST / MEETING
Follow up with the person you met with to provide any information you agreed to provide. A lot, dare I say, most people don’t do this.
Follow up with the person that made the introduction thanking them again and letting them know how it went. Very few people do this and if you do it will buy you serious brownie points and help establish greater trust with the person who introduced you that you are worthy of their introductions.