Startmate’s Winter cohort is backing a majority of female founders for the first time

- July 22, 2022 4 MIN READ
Butter Insurance cofounders Steph Skevington and Cassie Bell 
Premier local accelerator and investment program Startmate has backed a majority of startups founded by women for the first time in its history for the latest cohort.

Seven of 12 Australian and New Zealand startups are helmed by a woman. Each one receives a $120,000 investment at a $1.5 million post-money valuation if its the startup’s first raise or Startmate matches the latest valuation of founders who have raised. 

Entrepreneur in Residence Megan Woff said they deliberately selected companies with a focus on big, world-changing impacts, from renewable energy to loneliness among the elderly. 

“When we make our final selections for the Accelerator program, we’re really looking for those companies who are ready for a trajectory-changing moment,” she said.

“The Winter ‘22 cohort is impressive, not only because a majority of founders are women – we’ve also got some of the youngest founders we’ve ever had come through the program applying exciting, innovative thinking to a range of the biggest challenges we collectively face.”

Woff said that over the last three years Startmate had looked to increase the number of women involved across the ecosystem. 

“Our first majority woman-founder cohort is a real milestone, not just for Startmate but for the ecosystem as a whole. It represents years of work in bringing more women into the landscape through programs like the Women Fellowship, which has now seen more than 660 women participate,” she said.

“Our women founders in the Winter ‘22 cohort demonstrate how new thinking can be applied to technology.

“We’ve got Grace at Andromeda taking a human-centric view of the application of robots, Steph and Cassie from Butter revolutionising insurance for young people, and Kimberley unlocking full VR immersion. And that’s just to name a few. It really excites us for what’s coming in the pipeline in 2023 and beyond.” 

The swing in the pendulum towards female founders comes as former principal Lauren Capelin departs Startmate after two years for AWS, having driven the focus on greater representation for women in the startup sector.

Here are the startups in the Startmate cohort

Andromeda (AU) is a robotics startup seeking to develop a fleet of universal humanoid robots. Andromeda Robotics’ first prototype, Abi, is a companion robot who aims to alleviate feelings of loneliness from elderly residents in aged-care facilities through social interactions and hugs! Andromeda predicts humanoid robotics have the potential to improve quality of life for vast numbers of people. 

Cofounders: Grace Brown and Tasnim Ahmed 

Aquila (AU) is building a wireless energy-transmission system using lasers and adapted solar panels. Aquila’s ambition is to create a global energy-transmission network by bouncing laser energy around the world with orbiting mirrors, which it hopes will make energy instantly transportable worldwide and shift the global energy mix to renewables dramatically faster. 

Cofounders: William (Billy) Jeremijenko and Nelson Smith 

Butter Insurance Pty Ltd (AU)  is an insurtech startup providing seamless, commitment-free cover for young people and renters. By challenging a notoriously oligopolistic industry, Butter aims to simplify insurance products and processes, so that young people and renters (finally) get cover that’s made for them. 

Cofounders: Steph Skevington and Cassie Bell 

Dennisson (NZ) is a wearable-device company using smart-material technology to develop low-profile and cost-effective Force-Feedback Platforms for Virtual Reality and Human Capability Augmentation. It is currently creating the most low-profile, affordable Force Feedback Haptic Gloves on the market; unlocking full VR immersion today, with sights set on redefining human capability as a whole in the near future. 

Cofounders: Anvil Bañez and Kimberley Bañez 

Dexta (AU) is Australia’s production and entertainment marketplace, connecting production professionals with creative businesses spanning advertising, film, TV and events. 

Cofounders: Jack Phillips 

Eggy (AU) aims to ‘unscramble’ life for busy parents through an app that automates life admin tasks such as paying bills, remembering appointments, saving receipts and collaborating on shared lists. It aims to connect service providers with consumers and organise billions of busy households all over the world. 

Cofounders: Kate Morgan and Kirk Reynoldson 

Femmi Co (AU)  is a fitness startup building a digital app that will host and connect millions of women around the world while they track and train according to their menstrual cycle. It aims to empower women around the world to feel confident and educated in their bodies through the knowledge of women’s health experts and a tight-knit supportive community.

Cofounders: Lydia O’Donnell and Esther Keown 

SoundSmith (AU) is a creator marketplace designed for musicians to promote their music on TikTok. It aims to become a key revenue source for content creators, power a music economy where musicians can earn a living wage from their music, and build strong network effects with AI matching algorithms to better serve musicians and creators.

Cofounders: David Hartley, Gajan Nagaraj and Michael McSweeney 

Storipress (AU) is reinventing how easily digital media is created by giving aspiring publishers the tools they need, out of the box, without code. With aspirations to be the world’s most beautifully simple publishing platform, the interface has a unique workflow-management system, intuitive site-builder and payment rails built-in. It has been designed with scalability in mind, being able to serve millions of requests per day with sub-second load times.

Cofounders: Alex Pan, Kevin Chang and David Peng 

Tutero (AU) is an edtech startup building a suite of products for P-12 teachers and students. Tutero pairs school students with an online tutor, and creates for them a personalised pathway for learning. Soon, they will be launching a free classroom product to help teachers perform data-driven classroom planning. 

Cofounders: Joey Moshinsky, Sonny Moshinsky and Richard Mathieson 

Wriveted (AU) is an edtech startup using machine learning to create a ‘bookbot’ that makes it fun for children to find books they love. Wriveted is on a mission to improve child literacy rates and become the number one destination to find a book for a child in Australia and other major global marketplaces. 

Cofounders: Meena Tharmarajah and Caroline Kinny-Lewis 

Xylo Systems (AU) is a cloud-based platform using artificial intelligence analytics to turbocharge threatened species management. It aims to become the go-to platform for anyone to participate in the preservation of wildlife through management, funding, impact reduction and offsetting. 

Cofounders: Camille Goldstone-Henry and Jada Andersen 



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