Business turns male dominated trend on its head
THE Sunshine Coast's newest business incubator at Spark Bureau has turned the global trend of male-dominated start-up companies on its head. In its first cohort, 80% of founders are women.
"We're crushing all the stats," Spark Bureau founder and director Zach Johnson said.
"Eighty percent of my membership and my intake is female."
He said he did not select women deliberately and candidates had been assessed against a number of criteria.
"The reality, though, is there are a lot of women on the Sunshine Coast who have global ambitions (and) have drive and experience," he said.
Mr Johnson said the statistic reflected a more general trend in the Sunshine Coast business community.
People often wrongly assumed female business founders were stay-at-home mums, he said.
"The reality is that every single woman in our incubator is either the primary or a significant breadwinner in their family," he said.
The focus of start-ups in Spark Bureau's first nine-company cohort ranges from sports to fashion, finance and wellness.
The businesses were all at a similar stage of product development, with at least one person working full-time on a concept that had a clearly defined product and target market, Mr Johnson said.
The start-ups were all unique businesses and the founders were "good representatives of their own brand", he said.
"In a lot of cases, they've identified products through their own personal experience," he said.
As a result, they had an honest, original take on the market for their product.
Over the next four months, the Spark Bureau team will meet regularly with the founders, setting individualised milestones that will be monitored and reviewed every month.
Master classes will be held on topics from lean start-up principles to design thinking, growth hacking, law, finance, investment and delivering their pitch.
The founders will also work independently in their business with support from assigned coaches and subject-matter experts.
Just six months after launching the vision for his not-for-profit organisation, Mr Johnson's plan for an explosion of employment in technology-savvy industry on the Coast is one big step closer to fruition.
"To come in and see the support of people in the community…it's a very physical and tangible evidence of innovation on the Coast," he said.
"You walk into the space and you know that cool stuff is happening here."
The technology executive said working on the Spark Bureau project had "exceeded all expectations" for him personally.
"The reward, immediately, is being able to be involved with and see all these really amazing companies," he said. "Over time, financially that success will follow."
He said it was also establishing a model that showed how to foster innovation on the Coast.
Female start-up founders
- Chicago 30%
- Silicon Valley 24%
- London 18%
- Sydney 14%
- Global average 18%
Source: 2015 Global Start-up Ecosystem Ranking by Compass.co
Incubating at Spark BureauFeb-May 2016
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