10 NZ Female entrepreneurs to keep on your radar

Celebrating the empowering and inspiring women in startup who are paving a way for future founders.

Out of approximately 582 million in the world, there are about 252 million women-owned businesses around the world.

Though the percentage of women entrepreneurs has increased by 114% in the last twenty years, men still dominate the startup field.

We’re taking the time to recognize some of the top Kiwi women who’ve made a significant impact in innovation and are pioneering a pathway for future female founders.

Image: Little Yellow Bird social media.

Samantha Jones, Little Yellow Bird

Sustainable, fair trade, ethical clothing that you can feel good about wearing.

Founded in 2015. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2016.

Little Yellow Bird took part in the first Lightning Lab XX accelerator programme for women-founded startups.

The startup went into the programme having sold around NZ$10,000 worth of product in total. At the end of the incubator, Samantha didn’t ask for investment and instead continued to pursue her company in her way with 100% ownership. 

In 2019, Samantha launched an equity crowdfunding campaign with a minimum target of NZ $300k. The campaign closed with a total of NZ $470,818 raised. Little Yellow Bird now supplies its ethically-produced uniforms to more than 400 organisations across New Zealand, Australia, the United States and Canada.

Their impact:

  • To date LYB has saved more than 5,800kg of textile waste from being sent to landfill.
  • Saved over 12 million litres of water
  • Eliminated the use of over 12,000kg of toxic chemicals
  • Generated 20,000 hours of fairtrade labour.
Image: Via WellingtonNZ

Rawinia Rimene, Girl Native

Girl Native is built on inclusive beauty products and puts Māori women and their beauty needs at the forefront.

Founded in 2019. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2019.

Rawinia connected with the Porirua business community through the Porirua Launch Lab programme, which was run through Creative HQ and The Settlement co-working spaces. Launch Lab was a six-month incubation programme created to help start-up businesses owners validate ideas and build a sustainable business from Porirua. After the incubation programme, Rawinia continued to develop her inclusive and empowering range, Girl Native.

Their impact:

  • Highly Commended in Inclusive Make-up Product at the 2020 Pure Beauty Global Awards.
  • Creating a collaborative community around the space.
  • Sustainable beauty range which uses resources from around Aotearoa.
  • Finalist for Emerging Gold Products at Wellington Gold Awards 2022

Shalini Divya, TasmanIon

TasmanIon aims at commercialising aluminium-ion batteries (AIBs) that offer a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to the increasing battery demands.

Founded in 2020. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2021.

In the next ten years, automakers are expected to invest US$300bn to accelerate electric transport- implying a shortage of lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) for other applications.

Shalini built her first battery using aluminium four years ago. “I just could not understand why no one was thinking of commercialising these batteries… Someone has to do it, and why not in New Zealand?”

Selected for the 12-week 2021 Climate Response Accelerator, Shalini set out to maximise and advance the growth of TasmanIon.

Their impact:

  • Development of aluminium batteries which will provide a sustainable alternative to lithium-ion batteries.
  • Finalist in the 2021 KiwiNet Breakthrough Innovator award.
Image: via Stuff NZ

Brooke Roberts, Sharesies

Sharesies is a low-cost investment platform that allows new investors to sign up and start investing in minutes.

Founded 2017. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2017.

Sharesies came through the first Lightning Lab Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator programme in 2017. Their vision is to give someone with $50 the same investment opportunities as someone with $50,000. Sharesies makes it easy to start investing – no jargon, $5 minimum buy-in and all online.

“Being part of the Kiwibank FinTech Accelerator helped us turn our idea into a business. Providing us with the momentum, tools and support we needed along the way.”

A capital raise is currently underway to help fund its expansion into Australia. This is following a drive late last year that saw Sharesies bring in $25 million from both existing and new shareholders. Sharesies currently has 164 staff working in the Wellington office, and over 400k users on the platform.

Their impact:

  • Enabled over 220,000 Kiwis to invest over $700,000,000 in funds and companies.
  • 2019 Wellington Gold Awards, Cyber Gold winner.
  • In April 2019, Sharesies became New Zealand’s first financial company – and just the 23rd Kiwi company overall – to qualify for B Corp certification.

Michal Garvey, Foodprint

Foodprint is a two-sided marketplace app where hospitality and retail sectors can sell surplus, imperfect and short-dated food to prevent it from being wasted.

Founded 2020. Took part in Creative HQ Climate Response Accelerator 2021.

After operating for two years in Auckland, Michal took part in the 12-week Climate Response Accelerator to expand in Wellington with the help of Creative HQ.Though delayed due to COVID, Foodprint launched during Level 2 with 30 eateries in Wellington signing up on its first day, along with record-breaking downloads of the app.

Their impact:

  • Reducing some of the 192 tonnes of food and green waste that goes to Wellington’s landfill each week.
  • Connected 35,000+ consumers in Auckland with 400 eateries.
  • Winner of Best Design Awards & AgTech Breakthrough Awards.
Image: via Stuff NZ

Amber Marie Naveira, Granary TV

Granary TV is a full-service Virtual Production Creative Tech company empowering creativity

Founded 2016. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2020. creativity.

Granary TV went through Creative HQ’s incubation programme to help them validate the potential within this emerging market as well.

They’ve also been building a business model that doesn’t lose sight of their values through Kōkiri, a Māori business accelerator for start-ups that have high-growth potential and are impact-positive ventures in Aotearoa.

Their impact:

  • Helping  local creatives realise projects on modest budgets – projects that may have once been out of reach.
  • Upskilling film technicians and giving graduates and the next generation future opportunities.
  • Helping to build worlds through their technology, to develop high-concept Indigenous-driven stories.
  • Creative Gold 2021 Finalist.
Image: Via Careers.govt

Jo Mohan, Spout Milk

We help kiwi businesses reduce their plastic waste and become more sustainable by supplying milk in 100% reusable kegs.

Founded 2019. Took part in Creative HQ Venture Up 2019.

Jo was part of the Venture Up business accelerator in 2019, where she met Nick and Luka, forming a team which would work together to develop Spout Milk.

Since then, they’ve been working hard to bring zero waste milk to New Zealand. 

Only 24 years old, Jo and her team are working towards expanding the Spout Milk whānau by partnering with cafes and eateries around New Zealand. Spout Milk is currently available in 8 cafes in the South Island, with new places being added each month.

Their impact:

  • 14,840 plastic milk bottles saved from waste streams.
  • 2,520 kg of CO2 emissions eliminated.
  • 278,091 coffees made with Spout Milk.
Image: Via Idealog

Angie Judge, Dexibit

Billions of people visit the world’s visitor attractions each year. At Dexibit, our insights inspire decisions to get more visitors through the doors, engaged in rich experiences and loyally returning.

Founded 2016. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2015.

Angie was standing in the Smithsonian when she saw the security guard counting people through the door with an old fashioned clicker-counter. This observation provided her with the inspiration to create Dexibit, and bring technology to visitor attractions with the latest in big data analytics and AI.Angie took her idea through the Creative HQ Incubator in 2015, then went on to win the Fintech Innovation Challenge in 2016.

Dexibit currently has 24 staff members, working in offices from New Zealand, United States and United Kingdom. The company is in the process of  going through early stage VC.

Their impact:

  • Winner, Business and Enterprise (CEO) – Women of Influence 2018.
  • Winner, Inspiring Women Leaders – NZ International Business Awards 2019.
  • Gold, Enterprise Technology – American Alliance of Museums MUSE Awards 2020.
Image: Via Stuff NZ

Derelee Potroz-Smith, Woolchemy

Woolchemy creates intelligent eco-logical materials for personal care products, using the superpowers of sheep wool to advance the health of people and the planet.

Founded 2010. Took part in Creative HQ Incubator 2020.

Inspired by a love of the land and versatility of sheep, Derelee founded Woolchemy to transform an underutilised traditional natural fibre (crossbred wool) into truly innovative, multi-use products. The woven materials of Woolchemy replace fossil fuel-based nonwovens with planet-friendly bio-composite fibres.

With Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor announcing plans to revitalize New Zealand’s strong wool sector, Woolchemy is setting a new course for its future growth by trialing a patent process to re-engineer wool for use in non-woven hygiene and medical products, including nappies. The non-woven fabric sector is currently worth NZ $72 billion a year.

In her spare time, Derelee is a mentor to students through the Young Enterprise Scheme that want to venture into entrepreneurship.

Their impact:

  • Development of a non-woven re-engineered wool material for use in hygiene and medical products. A more sustainable alternative to their woven counterparts.
  • $80,000 in funding from the Sustainable Food & Fibre Futures programme.
Image: Via Stuff NZ

Emily Blythe, Pyper Vision

Empowering airports, airlines and ATC to move aircraft without fog interruptions.

Founded 2019. Took part in Creative HQ’s Venture UP 2015.

Emily Blythe took part in Venture Up 2015 as a young founder, developing networks and connecting with expert mentors to help maximise her startup journey.

She went on to win Icehouse Ventures’ First Cut Startup Challenge in 2018 and raised $700,000 following her presentation to 1000 investors at the annual Icehouse Ventures Showcase event. Pyper Vision has developed an environmentally friendly absorbent which is dispersed via drone and clears runway fog so that pilots and air traffic controllers have the visibility required to operate safely. They plan to launch at its first airport early 2022.

Emily has won Innovator of the Year at the YES 2021 Alumni Awards and most recently won Innovator of the Year Te Pou Whakairo o te Tau at the 2023 New Zealander of the Year Te Pou Whakarae o Aotearoa Awards.

Their impact:

  • $690K in airline costs saved.
  • $34K in airport aeronautical revenue retained.
  • $88K in improved safety benefits.
  • $1M+ in retained community expenditure.
  • 10% reduction in total airport disruptions.

Interested in giving your startup a go? Register your interest or check out what applications are currently open.

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