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Breaking barriers to the future: Australia’s first Pride Pitch Night sparkles with LGBTIQA+ innovation

- March 21, 2024 3 MIN READ
Judge’s Choice winner, Duncan Orchard, pitching his startup ‘The Gay Agenda’
The first Pride Pitch Night dedicated to LGBTIQA+ founders in the Southern Hemisphere was a fantastic celebration of diversity, inclusion, and innovation, showcasing the untapped potential within Sydney’s LGBTIQA+ entrepreneurial community with an estimated 75% of LGBTIQA+ founders not comfortable disclosing their identity.

This is concerning not just for LGBTIQA+ entrepreneurs seeking funding but for its current and future impact on the viability of business ownership in the queer community.

Business ownership is an empowering opportunity to create a life on your terms and in promoting and supporting businesses through platforms like Pride Pitch Night we are showcasing opportunities and possible futures for our community.

Veronica Mason

Veronica Mason

Duncan Orchard, winner of the Judges’ Award for his startup, The Gay Agenda, a platform to consolidate LGBTIQA+ events in cities, encapsulated the essence of the night: “The Pride Pitch night was an eye-opening introduction into Sydney’s dynamic, talented, and inclusive start-up community.”

His reflections not only highlighted the success of the event but also the crucial support system that we aim to provide for individuals like him, navigating the complex journey of entrepreneurship as a member of the LGBTIQA+ community.

Mentwell, a digital gift card for health and wellness services where the receiver gets to choose how they redeem, took home the People’s Choice award.

Mentwell’s founder, Nikki Williams spoke of the night: “The event was an outright success in every meaning of the term. The room was filled with attentive supporters of the LGBTQAI+ community but also with those who were just interested in supporting the startup community.”

She articulated the nuanced challenges of being an LGBTIQA+ entrepreneur seeking funding in a fragmented investment landscape, underscoring the importance of events like Pride Pitch Night in amplifying queer voices and ventures.

Some new businesses were launched on the night, including Hank Paul’s TheyConnect.

On the event, Hank said: “As a genderqueer person, having the opportunity to pitch TheyConnect in an inclusive environment aligns with what our startup represents: helping people feel safe, seen, and celebrated for who they are”.

The judging panel consisted of James Alexander, co-founder of Galileo Ventures, Elizabeth Kaelin, top-rated mentor in Australia and Principal at Mums & Co, and Jarrod Lomas, president of Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association.

The judges echoed the sentiments of support that defined the evening. Lomas celebrated the diverse range of talent and ideas presented, while Kaelin remarked on the profound sense of inclusivity and empowerment she felt whilst judging.

“The inaugural Pride Pitch was a huge success and I can’t wait to see how this event grows in the coming years! The fact that this was the first pride pitch night in Australia shows how badly we need more inclusive startup events,” said James Alexander.

The Pride Pitch Night was also a fundraiser for the Pinnacle Foundation with over $950 raised for the LGBTIQA+ education charity that provides mentoring and scholarships to young, disadvantaged youth.

The Pride Pitch Night did more than just showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of the LGBTIQA+ community; it ignited a conversation about the importance of representation, support, and opportunity in the startup ecosystem.

By bringing together queer founders, allies, and industry leaders, we created a microcosm of the society we envision: one where the LGBTIQA+ community is not only accepted but celebrated for their contributions to innovation and culture.

The next steps for me include creating a directory of LGBTIQA+ entrepreneurs, business owners, community members, and allies. Anyone interested in supporting LGBTIQA+ entrepreneurs and business owners, or who is a LGBTIQA+ business owner themselves, are encouraged to get in touch with me at [email protected].

Photos from the event can be viewed here.