On the eve of International Women’s Day, The Studio last night launched The Studio Women’s Network. This network aims to boost the number of female led tech startups and women’s participation in STEAM (STEM + Arts).
The Studio is a media and creative technologies incubator and anchor tenant in the Sydney Startup Hub. Last week, it celebrated its first birthday by announcing that resident startups had raised upwards of A$26 million since it opened its doors on year ago. 38 high growth startups and 135 residents occupy The Studio, a not-forprofit incubator for media, entertainment, communications and creative industries.
Disappointed but not surprised by the number of female founders and residents so far, the current figures of The Studio are typical of international averages. 22% of The Studio residents are female and 17% are founders.
The Studio’s founder and CEO, Chantal Abouchar said, “The Studio has an opportunity to encourage and foster women’s participation in tech startups. We know that cities like New York have higher rates of participation due to their media and creative industries focus. The Studio can do the same in Australia.”
Once launched, The Studio Women’s Network will hold quarterly events. In 2019, the focus is on female founders from the Asian region. The soon to be announced program will feature successful high growth female tech founders and a series of curated events.
Abouchar said, “Shining a spotlight on female founders, providing role models, celebrating success and creating networks are essential to increase female participation in technology and startups.”
Rebecca Pirrie, CoFounder of startup OIS, said: “Being able to navigate and knowledge share with other females in the tech space is hugely valuable. Having a female perspective adds immensely to our business and clients.”
Research shows that diversity of teams, leads to more successful outcomes and diverse teams out-perform those that are not diverse. And for a startup this can make or break their success as they grow and try to gain traction.
Studio resident Allison Reid from Equal Reality, a virtual reality startup focused on inclusion and diversity training said,” The value of your network is very important. Surrounding yourself with people who are honest and at different stages is so valuable. The opportunity cost of doing it alone is enormous and it’s great to have an office to go to like The Studio and people and a community to interact with on a daily basis.”
Abouchar said, “We’re creating a community who are supporting and growing our startups, helping connect them with industry, research and investment. We know collectively our community will be more successful the more diverse and inclusive it is.”
Lynda Coker, from Scale Investors said, “Women are the minority in tech but there are legacy reasons for this. We need to support, invest and incentivize women to become leaders in tech. Women bring domain experience and different thought leadership which enhances decision making and can lead to better comes.”
Current Studio resident and three times startup founder, Deborah Fairfull from Blisspot said, “It is harder for women to do business. We have unique challenges as startups in terms of funding, time management, the way we naturally present ourselves may not be the way investors want to hear it. We have to learn new skills to unlock investment and when we come together we can develop these and realise we have common challenges.”
The Studio is industry agnostic and supports the development of companies using advanced new digital media tools and technologies like Virtual and Augmented Reality, Surround Sound, Wearable Computing and Artificial Intelligence.
The Studio’s unique focus is a significant contributor to the Australian economy and is directly accelerating the creation of new high-value jobs, brands and intellectual property on a global scale.
Abouchar said, “Australia has already produced some fantastic media-tech female founders, including Cyan Ta’eed from Envato and Melanie Perkins from Canva and media leaders such Ita Buttrose, soon to be the ABC Chair. But we can do so much more.”
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