The eight Springboard Australia winners

17 April 2013 — It’s what every start up dreams of, an angel investor with a “couple of million dollars spare that they can be creative with”.

Earlier this year an organisation designed to help spread those millions around to women, the US based Springboard Enterprises made its first commitment in Australia and four of eight women selected for the program are in the sustainability space.

Wendy Simpson, who pestered the US founder of Springboard Enterprises Kay Koplovitz to launch in Australia, said it’s a good time.

“We are seeing the second wave of investment since the boom in 2000,” Ms Simpson said.

“Many investors went off to lick their wounds but last year they were starting to come back.”

Even while investors were looking for a 20 per cent return, 83 per cent of women in the US program had found capital. “We are seeing people who have a couple of million spare which they can be creative with.”

In Australia the organisation is a collaboration with the Australian venture capital industry, business groups, leading corporations and universities, and sponsored by Grant Thornton, Westpac, Bloomberg and Kemp Strang.

The eight winning chief executive officers and their companies who won from a field of 100 are:

  • Samantha Cobb, AdAlta
  • Melanie Perkins, Canva
  • Tessa Court, IntelligenceBank
  • Georgia Beattie, Single Serve
  • Natasha Rawlings, StreetHawk
  • Deborah Noller, Switch Automation
  • Vanessa Wilson, Triplebackup
  • Fiona Waterhouse, Utilitas
Wendy Simpson

Ms Simpson said four of the final eight companies, Switch Automation, Utilitas, Single Serve and IntellegienceBank, had a strong emphasis on sustainability.

“Deb Noller [of Switch Automation] is 100 per cent about reducing energy consumption, while Fiona Waterhouse [of Utilitas] is challenging what we waste,” she said.

“Georgia Beattie [Single Serve] is offering eco-friendly products that are 100 per cent recyclable while Tessa Court is saving paper use through cloud technology.”

Ms Simpson said the intensive coaching, over a six-week period, involved a range of experts offering advice on specific aspects from whether the company’s financials were easy for an investor to understand, how the presentation should be done, how long each section should take and even physical appearance, posture and speech cadence.

“We are preparing these women to go to the financial industry and make a presentation to pitch for investment in their company,” she said.

“Once the presentation is ready we bring in people who have already invested in this area, and they may or may not be interested, but they listen and give advice on what worked for them.

“Then we bring it to another live audience and see what works.

“Finally we ask who needs what and we connect them to potential investors whether in Australia, the US or Israel.

“Israel has the highest number of patents in the world – they are very innovative.”

While Springboard believed talent was “evenly distributed between men and women” it was a fact that the investment community was traditionally male dominated.

“Men have their alumni, their school, their uni. If they have an idea they go to their mates and asked them what they think.

“Women don’t have that so we have to give women the chance to get the coaching. We are just trying to get more women in the game.

“And it’s a great way of connecting the best with the best.”

According to Springboar founder and chairman Kay Koplovitz the Australian women chosen for the program led the most promising high-growth potential companies in Australia.

“Now part of the global Springboard expert network, we believe they will serve as a catalyst for other Australian women entrepreneurs who have the vision to build billion dollar businesses.”

Since January 2000, Springboard has helped 509 women-led companies raise more than US$5.6 billion in equity financing.

Who’s who

Switch Automation – Deborah Noller

Deb Noller

Switch Automation is a market leading provider of building automation and energy management solutions for commercial, industrial and residential property markets. We lead the field delivering our software as a service platform through a flexible and scalable cloud-based global framework powered by Microsoft’s “Azure” infrastructure. Switch provides energy management for commercial and residential property with a combined value of more than $3B in Australia, Asia and New Zealand.

Ms Noller has managed the growth of Switch Automation from its inception in 2005 to present. She has a bachelor of Commerce with a Computing major so is adept in both business and technology. Deb has a deep understanding of the Green Building market that Switch is entering into and is skilled at sales and business relationships. She understands the growth and scalability challenges of taking a platform with a small team and limited resources to the global market.

Utilitas – Fiona Waterhouse

Utilitas Limited is a specialist biogas project development company turning organic waste into clean energy, helping clients put a lid on escalating power prices. The company uses  well proven engineered anaerobic digestion technologies widely deployed in other parts of the world over many decades.

Ms Waterhouse, a clean tech entrepreneur, founded Utilitas, Australia’s first specialist biogas asset development company in 2010 and is currently focused on listing the business. She is on the board of EcoFund Queensland, one of Australia’s largest providers of carbon and environmental offsets and is a member of the Commonwealth Government’s Clean Technology Innovation Committee. She worked with the Financial and Energy Exchange to establish its environmental arm, Envex, and to establish the SIM VSE, the world’s first clean tech themed, innovation focused equity market board. Ms Waterhouse has a Bachelor of Manufacturing Management from the University of Technology, Sydney, a Graduate Diploma in Environmental Studies from Macquarie University and a Diploma in Business from the Queensland University of Technology.

AdAlta – Samantha Cobb

AdAlta is pioneering a patented technology that uses modified shark antibodies and their human analogue, the i-body, for use in therapeutic interventions and as diagnostic reagents. The single domain shark antibody technology and the i-body have been developed into libraries containing over ten billion molecules that can be used to screen and identify binders to a particular target. These shark antibody and i-body binders bind to targets traditionally difficult for antibody technologies.

Ms Cobb is the founding CEO of AdAlta developing the company from a research spin-out to securing funding and contracts with industry partners to further develop AdAlta shark antibody technologies. She has a number of years’ experience in business development and technology commercialisation. Previously, Ms Cobb was the business development director at the Co-operative Research Centre Diagnostics. She has also worked for the biotech start-up company Nephrogenix and at the University of Queensland technology commercialisation companies, Uniquest and IMBcom.

Canva – Melanie Perkins

Canva is a disruptive online design platform which allows anyone with an idea or concept to create professional quality designs. Canva will be launching in mid-2013.

At 25, Ms Perkins is already a serial entrepreneur who raised one of Australia’s largest early stage venture capital fundraisers after pitching the concept of Canva to venture capitalists and angels in Silicon Valley and Australia. At 19, Melanie founded Fusion Books, an online design system for schools to create their yearbooks. This is now the biggest yearbook company in Australia and has expanded to France and New Zealand.

IntelligenceBank – Tessa Court

IntelligenceBank offers a range of cloud information management platforms for enterprises – making it easy for them to “broadcast their documents and data” to key stakeholders. IntelligenceBank offers three key solutions:  Knowledge Management, Marketing Management and Board Portal Governance Platforms. IntelligenceBank has been successfully rolled out globally to more than 40 clients. It has more than 6000 users.

Ms Court is an experienced executive in the data analytics industry. Prior to IntelligenceBank, Tessa was a member of the Hitwise executive team, leading Marketing, Research and Sales divisions. During her nine years at Hitwise, she also managed international expansion initiatives in Asia, the US and the UK. Before moving to Australia in 1999, Ms Court was based in New York City, where she managed new business and multi-national clients for Ogilvy and BBDO advertising.

Single Serve Packaging – Georgia Beattie

Single Serve Packaging is an innovative wine packaging company that offers a ready to drink, single serve glass of wine, which is hygienically sealed in a PET plastic wine glass. Single Serve provides established wine companies with a new alternative packaging solution that solves the problems associated with glass, liquor licence laws, health and safety and competitiveness in the wine export market. Single Serve Packaging also has the capability of filling other single serve beverages within the liquor segment such as cocktails.

Before founding her company, Ms Beattie completed a Degree in Entrepreneurship and a Diploma in International Trade at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, as well as entrepreneurship studies at the top ranking Babson College in Boston. Georgia is also driven in philanthropic projects largely focused around medical research and entrepreneurship. She is a Foundation Member of the Prince Henry’s Institute Foundation, Founder of Tummy Troopers and Mentor for the RMIT Social and Environmental Enterprise Developments program.

StreetHawk – Natasha Rawlings

StreetHawk is a total self-serve location-based marketing solution for retailers and brands, allowing them to drive business where it counts most – in-store. StreetHawk drives footfall by sending personalised, targeted messaging to shoppers when they are around stores. From shopper selection, to campaign ‘set-and-forget’, set-up and real-time campaign performance, StreetHawk has it covered.

Ms Rawlings is a direct marketing specialist who has held the top marketing positions in a number of the world’s largest direct marketing companies including Harlequin Mills & Boon, International Masters Publishers, Guthy-Renker and News Corporation. She is a big data specialist, who has used her consumer direct knowledge and data to manage and launch hundreds of products in her career, all with full profit and loss responsibility. Ms Rawlings  has been on the executive steering committee of three organisations and aims to revolutionise the shopping world by providing easy tools to retailers to acquire, keep and optimise customers, profitably.

Triplebackup – Vanessa Wilson

Triplebackup is the first scalable online disk-image backup service with virtual failover and free local backup. Post-disaster SMBs can rebuild their server in hours not days, work in minutes on a copy of their server in the cloud (virtual failover), and can recover files from their backup in seconds. The incremental backup is less than one 10th of others, so Triplebackup can protect office located servers better than any competitor. Triplebackup protects office located, virtual and cloud servers plus workstations, laptops and Windows 8 tablets.

Ms Wilson is an experienced corporate lawyer with degrees from the University of Western Australia. She has over 15 years of sales experience, including 10 years in start-ups creating and introducing new services and products into the market. Most recently, she was the second sales hire in Australia for ESI International, a large US company. Ms Wilson opened the New Zealand market and re-started the Australian market, designing and implementing the strategy, sales & marketing. She helped turn the business from a loss to over $3 million per annum, consistently sold over $1 million per annum herself, managed a national sales team and acquired many top Australian and New Zealand companies.

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  1. Brilliant article celebrating some of the nation’s up and coming women entrepreneurs. To be an entrepreneur requires bravery, courage and a resilient attitude so ‘hats off’ to you all.

    It is also inspiring to see the sustainability theme common throughout most of the businesses. All the best and may this be the springboard to a new wave of Venture Capital success from Downunder! We can see you Silicon Valley, you’re in our sights…