Dr Catriona Wallace

From City of Sydney:

A training program sponsored by the City of Sydney has accelerated the growth and expansion of women-led startups, turning them into globally competitive firms raising more than $173 million in capital.

Not-for-profit organisation Springboard Enterprises Australia (SBE Australia) has received a City of Sydney sponsorship grant of $35,000 per year for the next three years.

“Less than 15 per cent of all venture capital investment is in companies led by women and statistics show that underfunded companies fail at much higher rates than those that are adequately funded,” Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

“We’re supporting Springboard to help bridge this gap with masterclass programs for women entrepreneurs.

“The City has supported the organisation for five years as part of its long term economic development strategy to build the skills of business people and increase awareness of business opportunities.”

Dr Catriona Wallace, CEO and founder of Flamingo Customer Experience, credits her involvement in SBE Australia’s Springboard 2014 Accelerator program with her company’s rapid success. Within two years of completing the program, Dr Wallace turned her three-year old startup into an ASX-listed fintech company with major US clients.

“For an early stage company like Flamingo, just under three years of age, to raise nearly $9 million in the Australian market is no mean feat,” Dr Wallace said.

“The Springboard process and the ongoing coaching support and mentoring was a massive part of me being able to successfully achieve that.

“Through the Springboard Accelerator program I learned about capital raising and the formula for getting your business into shape to scale globally. It absolutely revolutionises how you think, with a real discipline on metrics, finance and capital.”

Dr Wallace said the City’s sponsorship grant for SBE Australia would support the local startup ecosystem and the local economy.

“Startups don’t survive without a really effective ecosystem wrapped around them. Support from local government is enormously important,” she said.

“As a startup we are bringing jobs and finances to Sydney. Within two and a half years we’ve grown to have about 30 staff and 25 of those are based in Sydney. We build our software here but sell it predominately in the US, so we are bringing money back to Australia.”

SBE Australia Chair, Topaz Conway, welcomed the continued partnership with the City of Sydney.

“We share similar values in supporting female entrepreneurs in growing scalable businesses that bring capital and job creation to our fine city,” Ms Conway said.

“It is partnerships like this that allow us to achieve our unprecedented results. Over the past five years, more than 83 per cent of our 36 alumnae have raised over $173 million dollars and created hundreds of jobs.”

Participants have been successful in expanding their businesses, with most exporting overseas or establishing global offices.

The City of Sydney sponsorship grant goes towards SBE Australia’s early stage masterclass, an eight-week course involving up to 20 women. The Sydney-based program will help prepare women for the Australia-wide bootcamp program that supports companies to become investor ready for global expansion.

In addition to the sponsorship grant, SBE Australia will receive in-kind venue hire support from the City worth $7,500 per year for the next three years.

“We’re proud to support local businesswomen in their entrepreneurial journey, as they make global connections, gain greater knowledge and skills, and expand their businesses,” the Lord Mayor said.

“This initiative will support individual women and their companies, and in the long term it will help expand the city’s startup ecosystem and support the local economy.”

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