Tech background not essential to accelerating your great idea
With Nicola Hazell, SheStarts Director at BlueChilli
“Curiosity is the essence of entrepreneurship… curiosity to look at problems in the world and see if you could solve them,” says Nicola Hazell, SheStarts Director.
Have you ever come up with a great business concept, but no idea how to get it off the ground? Or have you been apprehensive about the male-dominated world of technology, not sure how to get your foot in the door?
SheStarts, a ground-breaking accelerator program for female-led startups, is all about creating world-class tech business founders. "It's about accelerating a great idea into a scalable, and sustainable startup business," says Nicola Hazell, SheStarts Director at BlueChilli. "We work one-on-one with our founders, helping them to gain traction so we can go from a business idea to a commercially viable product in 6 months."
SheStarts follows the journey of 10 women and their co-founders, working to turn ideas into action and build game-changing, tech-enabled businesses. Led by expert advisors, the founders follow a step-by-step process to rapidly accelerate their idea from concept to launch. Each startup receives $100,000 of pre-seed funding, access to corporates for customer distribution, and a global network of investors.
"People might have had an idea for some time, and then they reach a point where they're ready to see if their idea can cut the mustard," says Nicola. "We can tell you quick-smart if your idea is investable, and then we're going to push you really hard.”
1. Focus on solving a problem
A key priority when starting a business is looking at pain points. In other words, you might have a great idea for a business, but is it solving a customer problem? This is particularly relevant for tech-based businesses. "Then it's about validation," says Naomi Stuart, founder of FARMpay and one of the startups in the SheStarts program. "I've spent a lot of time talking to my customers, to work out if the product meets their needs."
2. A tech background is not necessary
You could be forgiven for thinking that starting a tech-based business means you have to come from a tech-based background. That’s not always the case. "I don't come from a technical background," says Jessica Christiansen-Franks, co-founder of Neighbourlytics, another SheStarts startup. "What I learned is that technology is really an enabler. What you need to nail is the problem, and understanding if the market wants to fix it."
SheStarts is a flagship accelerator program at BlueChilli, where the team also provide technology solutions for building tech start-ups. "This means we can work with non-technical founders to build the technology they need, while also supporting them to create a scalable business," says Nicola. "On the other side of the coin, we do have founders with a technical background, and they benefit from working with our startup experts, learning the core principles of how to accelerate a business, connect with corporates and customers, and attract seed investment."
3. Overcoming personal doubts
The program shines a light on the challenges and opportunities for ambitious women. For some, this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity means travelling great distances, time away from family, and leaving stable careers behind.
Although SheStarts provides a solid support infrastructure, taking the plunge and surviving on a reduced income can be intimidating. "You're driven by your purpose," says Naomi. "When things are difficult and you feel as if you're struggling, remember your purpose and that keeps you going."
Remaining focused on goals and the time frames to achieve them is also a good motivator. "Keep checking in with your time-horizons," says Jessica.
4. Don’t wait, give your idea a try
For anyone who thinks they've got a great idea for a business, Nicola's advice is to simply give it a try. "Get out there, get started, start talking to people," she says. "Find out if your idea really has potential to turn into a scalable business."
As one of the foundation partners of SheStarts, ANZ is committed to helping entrepreneurs turn their ideas into reality. If you have a business idea the ANZ Be Business Ready site can help get you started in one day.
Find out more about SheStarts and follow the stories of the 10 female founders.
Not only is Nicola the SheStarts Director, she's also the Head of Diversity and Impact at BlueChilli. Nicola has more than a decade of experience in the media, government and not-for-profit sectors, and is a leading voice on gender equality in tech and innovation.
Naomi founded FARMpay, a secure online platform that enables farmers to receive real-time payment for on-farm grain sales, reducing the risk while also improving cashflow. From a farming family, Naomi knows better than most the importance of innovation in agriculture and sees the significant role technology will play in the sector’s evolution.
Jessica co-founded Neighbourlytics with fellow urban designer Lucinda Hartley. With a shared desire to transform cities, they left their traditional careers to pursue higher impact opportunities. Jessica has dedicated the last decade to understanding the social impacts of urbanisation, including identity construction and social participation of urban migrants.