Mining billionaires Andrew and Nicola Forrest are backing female founders in the latest Startmate accelerator program in a bid to close the funding gap for women.
The Forrests have signed a strategic partnership deal with Startmate through their private investment vehicle Tattarang.
The Summer23 cohort includes Raj Bagri from Kapture, who is working on decarbonising 83 million diesel generators worldwide; Fionnuala Quin from Kelpy, who is replacing single use plastics with compostable biopackaging; and Jessica Dove from Turnto, who is democratising medical breakthroughs by building the cutting-edge conversation for every single health condition.
Startmate invests $120,000 into each startup to help accelerate their growth. The Tattarang funding comes a week after the 2022 State Of Australian Startup Funding report revealed that that female founder participation hit an all-time high last year, with 23% of all pre-seed and seed funding featuring startups with at least one female founder. However, their share of funding fell dramatically, with the slice of the funding pie for women falling to 10% — from 21% in 2021 — and they raised a median amount 39% lower than for all-male teams.
Those numbers align with SBE Australia’s analysis last year, which found that while 22% of startups were founded by women, they received just 0.7% of $10 billion in private sector startup funding in FY22.
Startmate Head of Investments Brady Flockart Startmate said the program prioritised initiatives that amplify the success of women. As a result 45% of their 105 investments went to women-founded or cofounded startups, amounting to 43% of total capital invested since 2021.
“The true impact occurs before any of our investment decisions” he said.
“These outcomes are driven by our time and energy building communities of ambitious women that support founders or become founders themselves. That’s what’s making a difference.”
Nicola Forrest said Tattarang will work with Startmate to close the funding gap for women-led startups.
“The disproportionately low share of venture capital received by women stalls economic progress and prosperity,” she said.
“It is refreshing to see Startmate taking a truly equitable approach and we want to help them back female founders. There is a strong correlation between gender equality and organisational success and when female-led businesses succeed it benefits all of society, both women and men.”
Startmate CEO Michael Batko said the funding gap is a structural issue on the investment side.
“Our First Believers program has seen 65 women launch their angel investing journey,” he said.
“In the last two years, these angels have gone on to make over 100 investments into the ecosystem as a community, often believing in founders before they believe in themselves.
“Startmate’s Women’s Fellowship program has also enabled 530 ambitious women who want to have a more impactful career move from corporates into startups.”