Wellington – November 2021: Wellington is bucking the trend with women currently making up the majority of founders participating in Creative HQ’s innovation and startup programmes at Wellington’s innovation hub. Nationwide women make up 17% of business founders.
Further, women-founded or co-founded startups through Creative HQ innovation programmes raised $1,390,000 in pre-seed capital in the last financial year, figures from June 2020 to June 2021 released by Creative HQ found.
This equates to nearly 60% of all capital raised by early-stage startups through Creative HQ in Financial Year 20-21 and was through a combination of angel and capital investments, R&D grants and other government support. The capital was raised to support early-stage, primarily pre-seed startup ventures.
Since 2016, the majority of Creative HQ-run innovation programmes have seen women make up the majority, and in some cases all, of the startup founder participants. Three-quarters of the attendants in Creative HQ’s 2021 Climate Response Accelerator were women, and in this year’s The Incubator programme, 60 percent are women.
Creative HQ CEO, Catherine Jones, says it’s great to see women entrepreneurs in Wellington, exceeding global statistics and inspiring other women to do well in this space.
“We live in the age of increasingly complex, increasingly urgent problems. There’s more support than ever for those looking to be innovative with their solutions to those problems,” says Jones. “As such, we’re seeing more women take the helm of scaleable, investible startups, and strong investment interest despite Covid.”
“Ideally we wouldn’t even need to talk about gender equality in our programmes,” continues Jones. “However, the reality is that our programmes still stand out for more women founders participating than men on average. We know from research that this is still not the case in business nationally.”
Startup Genome ranked New Zealand as 12th place globally for its percentage of women founders in New Zealand’s startup ecosystem, with women making up 17% of business founders nationally. Chicago currently sits at first place at 25%. “There’s still a lot of work globally to do,” says Jones.
“We’re seeing more women take the helm of scaleable, investible startups, and strong investment interest despite Covid.“
CE, Creative HQ
The capital is benefitting from the gender equality split in its startup programmes, with research showing that women-led startups perform better, and despite accessing less capital tend to provide higher returns on investment and higher revenue than male-owned startups.
“What we’re seeing is certainly reflective of broader changes in the innovation ecosystem worldwide,” says Jones. “New Zealand has a strong history on a global stage of women leadership, so it’s great that we’re seeing this represented in women entrepreneurship.”
“At Creative HQ, we don’t choose entrepreneurs for our programmes based on gender. We choose them based on their ideas, their resilience, the progress they’ve already made on their business, the potential to scale,” continues Jones. “But it’s great that when we look at those other factors, women are coming out on top.”
Kiwi founder Michal Garvey of Foodprint, a two-sided app allowing hospitality outlets to sell surplus food to users at a discount, managed to launch her startup in new regions despite the pandemic hampering business efforts.
“Startup success should be about having a good idea, and not having your opportunities limited based on your gender,” says Garvey, who was recently named one of Auckland University’s 40 Under 40.
“We’ve had record-breaking downloads of the Foodprint app, and dozens of Wellington eateries sign up to use our platform to sell discounted food that would otherwise go to waste. I’d like to think that my gender hasn’t dictated the success of Foodprint, but rather the market demand for my product.”
Creative HQ supports startups of any size but has a specific focus on wrapping support around early-stage startups in the pre-seed stage. As an innovation hub, Creative HQ seeks to connect these businesses with experts, a workplace, and angel investors to progress the development of their startup ideas.
Other Creative HQ graduate women founders who call the capital home include Brooke Roberts (Sharesies), Samantha Jones (Little Yellow Bird), Rawinia Ratene (Girl Native), Shalini Divya (Tasmanlon), Amber Marie Naveira (Granary TV), Lane Litz (Chatterize), and Derelee Potroz-Smith (Woolchemy).
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