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Great Expectations well founded

13 March 2013

GDP fails to take into account, for example, human capital, wellbeing, a country’s ‘Smarts’ – and a host of other factors – all of which play their part in determining the actual strength of a modern economy. 

In fact, according to Fairfax Lateral Economics: The Wellbeing Index, human capital is the Australian economy’s largest asset, prompting journalists to write a number of pieces on the need to support and develop our ‘Smarts’, our knowledge economy potential. 

We must, the experts agree, support the ‘Smarts’ of the entrepreneurs and business people out there dreaming up ideas, investing in them and making them happen.

Springboard Australia’s Wendy Simpson is doing just that. In late February, 2013, with her US counterparts, including Springboard founder Kay Koplovitz, she kicked off the inaugural accelerator program for women entrepreneurs raising equity capital.

Springboard has operated in the US since 1999 and came to Australia at the instigation of Wendy Simpson, now chairman of Springboard Enterprises Australia, in 2012.

Sydney Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, introduced the final eight entrepreneurs at a reception attended by business community leaders. 

Westpac is one of the initiative’s chief supporters and was on one of the selection panels that whittled down the 56 formal applications to the following eight young women – most of them are igniting the technology sector. It’s not surprising when you think about where the ‘Smarts’ in this country resides.

The eight women are:

Samantha Cobb, founder of biotech company AdAlta

Melanie Perkins of consumer technology company Canva

Tessa Court, founder of cloud computing company IntelligenceBank

Georgia Beattie, founder of wine product company Single Serve Packaging

Natasha Rawlings of mobile marketing company StreetHawk

Deb Noller, founder of Switch Automation

Vanessa Wilson, founder of cloud computing company Triplebackup

Fiona Waterhouse from clean tech company Utilitas

All the women attended a bootcamp held at Bloomberg Sydney’s offices under the watchful eye of Bloomberg Sydney’s General Manager, Amanda Dobbie. 

The bootcamp, conducted by Amy Millman, Springboard Co-founder and President, enlisted a team of 10 entrepreneurs and investors from the US to conduct the training sessions. Some of the selected may well seal funding as a result of the networking. They are all receiving ongoing coaching from their “personal advisory boards”, preparing them for presentation to investors around May/June this year.

According to Westpac’s Mike Baldwin, who was on a selection panel and who briefly met the final candidates at the Sydney reception, “I’m not sure if the candidates began life with the maturity and wisdom they displayed or whether entrepreneurship cultivated these traits in them, but the combination of youth and achievement was remarkable.

“The business ideas were tech heavy,” he says, “partly because of where we are as a country and the world today. We’ve been through the industrial revolution and manufacturing and are now in the information age. In a first world country, if you ask what are the needs of business today and from where are the solutions coming? The answer is IT.”

Bloomberg’s Amanda Dobbie agrees: “It’s so important for Australia to be a smart country to have more than the ability to suck stuff out of the ground. These women had to prove their ideas were scalable that they were the sort of CEO who could launch on a global platform and handle growth.”