Startmate has launched its first women-only Fellowship program to assist 30 ambitious women to land top positions at leading Australian tech start-ups.
Commencing in March 2020, the Startmate Fellowship program will run for three months across Sydney and Melbourne, offering accepted candidates intimate access to some of Australia’s best founders and top VCs.
Startmate Fellows will gain first-hand insights, optional internships and 1:1 sessions at start-ups including unicorn design software company Canva and workplace safety provider Safety Culture. At the conclusion of the program, an optional trip to San Francisco offers the cohort an opportunity to meet some of the world’s largest and most renowned start-ups and investors.
“The Fellowship is perfect for anyone who thrives on autonomy, rapid growth, feedback and has always dreamed about joining a start-up with a world-changing mission,” said Startmate CEO Michael Batko.
Startmate, Australia’s leading start-up accelerator, offers two Fellowship rounds a year, alongside its accelerator programs. Since its launch in 2019, the Fellowship program has seen 395 applicants whittled into two cohorts resulting in 16 alumni – most of which have found positions with a range of the country’s leading start-ups, from unicorns such as Canva, to early stage companies including Eucalyptus and Dovetail.
The women-only winter program comes at a time when Australia’s tech workforce is still unevenly weighted towards men. A 2018 report showed the female share of total technology workers was sitting at just 29 per cent. A McKinsey report from the same year showed that more diverse and inclusive teams correlate with increased financial performance, while a Boston Consulting Group study found that companies with more diverse management teams have 19 per cent higher revenues due to innovation – a significant finding for start-ups and industries such as tech, where innovation is the key to growth.
Batko believes now is the time to focus the program on leveraging new opportunities for women who have a desire to work with tech-focused business.
“As leaders in the start-up industry, we firmly believe it’s our responsibility to drive change. What the research demonstrates is that diversity is not just a metric to be strived for, it is actually an integral part of a successful business,” Batko explained.
“We made the decision for this particular Fellowship to focus on providing women new pathways and key networks in the world of tech, so they can land the job they really want,” he continues.
The cohort will be open to women from a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences, with the aim of creating new pathways for undiscovered talent from a variety of high-demand industries. In seeking applicants of varied skills and backgrounds, the cohort selection will be inclusive of age, experience, and education.
“Whether you’re a software engineer whose real passion is an open-source project you’re working on after hours, or a recently graduated bachelor or masters students with huge dreams and a strong desire to work on something you love, the Fellowship program is designed to get you to the next stage of your career,” said Batko.
For Startmate, which has a holistic remit of supporting emergent businesses, the criteria for acceptance into the Fellowship program, as well as the program itself, is built on a strong understanding of the needs of both employees and founders.
“We know that one of the biggest challenges start-ups face is finding really talented hires. We focus on finding people who are passionate, tenacious, quick-thinking and hungry for opportunity, and then train them to be exceptional candidates who can thrive in a fast-paced start-up atmosphere,” said Batko.
An optional paid internship will be offered at selected participating start-ups throughout the duration of the program.The internships will offer additional value for participating start-ups through a trial period ahead of hiring, and for the cohort participants in offering a real-world insight into the company prior to employment.
The Startmate Fellowship runs outside work hours, and timings will be flexible for mothers. Accepted applicants will be required to pay a $1,000 program fee, however, up to 10 scholarships are on offer to alleviate the financial burden.
“We want to make sure that anyone who could not attend or afford university has an opportunity to open the door to a much more real, practical learning experience and the chance to join the future economy,” explains Batko.
Recent alumni from the program include Nicole Liu, who took her career from management consulting at McKinsey to launch products at early-stage startup Eucalyptus, Jess Liu, who transitioned from financial planning and analysis at TransUrban to the San Francisco based fintech start-up LendingHome, and Jeremy Gruenfeld, who moved from his role as a lawyer at Minter Ellison to Head of Product at InsideSherpa.
“Without a doubt, the Startmate Fellowship program has been the most valuable and enjoyable thing that I have done in my professional career,” said Grunfeld.