6 women at Antler winning in life by breaking the bias of their self-limiting beliefs
Believing in our unlimited potential is one of the most powerful mindsets that one can possess to own our impact and ultimately win in life. It all begins with reframing limits and scarcity as opportunities for growth. At Antler, we invest in people by enlarging their capacity to not just be competent founders but also rise up as great leaders. In honour of International Women’s Day, we asked female founders at Antler and Antler team members how they overcame challenges to live out their true potential.
We hope you’ll find these stories as inspiring as we do!
Rachel Soon, Founder at SISU
“When I decided to start SISU - the fully guided meditation and mindfulness platform - it was not an easy decision to leave a cushy job which pays better than average, has great coworkers and a fantastic manager and mentor.
I have always had that ambitious streak so I knew for the longest time that I want to build something of my own, something meaningful that can change the world and break down barriers.
Initially, I found myself justifying my background and my reasons to venture out due to the many preconceived notions of what a founder profile and experience should look like.
But I asked myself what do all successful entrepreneurs have, regardless of age and gender? A growth mindset and that was my innate strength.
That's what SISU embodies — having sustained courage no matter how high the odds may be. SISU wants to tap on a growing, underserved market looking for meditation and mindfulness.”
Jennifer Widjaja, Founder at Just Dabao
“Entering an industry with zero experience and professional connections was one of the biggest challenges I faced when I started Just Dabao, which is a social enterprise platform that aims to reduce food waste from eateries.
I have never worked in F&B or the sustainable industry, so it was quite daunting at first. I had to build credibility and network from scratch and the learning curve was steep.
That was when I knew I had to put myself out there. I had to network my way through the industry and ask all the right questions.
It took me more than 1 month to onboard my first F&B merchant and countless rejections to get to where Just Dabao is now.
Currently, I’m proud to say that we have more than 400 merchants with over 2000 plus products on our platform. This was not an easy journey, but it was definitely a fulfilling one."
Andrea Hajdu-Howe, Co-head of Antler Capital
“I started “adulting” unusually early when I moved away from my home country and family to attend secondary school and have been self-sufficient ever since.
This happened in an age when online dictionaries were part of sci-fi movies, when long distance phone calls took place at pre-arranged times and lasted only a few minutes and when libraries were the go-to source of new information.
So you looked up words one by one as you quickly mastered a new language. You thought long and hard of all the important things you wanted to share on a phone call and you wrote letters and waited for responses. You were never fully informed in real time - unanswered questions lingered for longer.
It taught me that perseverance pays off, that being different is a super-power and that when you fall (and fall I did many times) you dust yourself off and try again and again.
Of course this is all written with the beauty of hindsight and the lack of memory of the daily grind. Yet the daily grind of a formative period is the lesson here because it teaches you discipline and the value of taking small steps towards large future goals.”
Rosalind Bazany, Director at Antler
“Growing up with a paratrooper as a father meant I was on assault courses as soon as I could crawl and, unsurprisingly, I was a tomboy. When it came to entering the workplace, I was therefore happy to work in the male dominated world of finance, in fact this was an environment where I felt most comfortable, given my background. I never saw my gender as an obstacle for my progression, as long as I delivered results.
Everything changed when I fell pregnant with my first child. I panicked - how would this affect my opportunity for promotion? How will my colleagues treat me? How will I deal with the work/life balancing act? Despite many years in the industry, my female network was very small, so I consciously and proactively sought to expand this, and ask for advice and guidance.
This network of women has naturally expanded over the years; I have moved countries, changed roles, and had another child. Networks are both powerful and empowering, they can offer support, friendship, guidance and even job offers. It was someone in my female network who I have to thank for introducing me to Antler. I wasn’t looking for a job, I didn’t come from the VC industry but she knew my values and ambitions, what I was passionate about and thought I would be a good fit for the team. I haven’t looked back since!
Start a conversation today, build your network and be curious about the people you meet. Every single person you speak to will have something to teach you, regardless of where they come from, what they do, or their gender. Keep learning and I promise excitement will follow.
Happy International Women's Day to my firecrackers!”
Noviyana Halim, Founder Scout at Antler
“Growing up, I was a shy individual and was afraid of approaching strangers. I started my career as Financial Analyst that pretty much kept me in the back office with little human interaction.
After 24 months I decided that I need to face my fears to brush up on my professional and networking skills. Being comfortable in the uncomfortable is necessary for my growth. So I decided to be a Recruitment Consultant role which required me to face clients and candidates. Establishing an instant connection and maintaining good relationships became my bread and butter. It was exactly the 180 turn that I needed.
Soon after, I decided to make an even bigger leap by joining the VC world which led me to Antler. As a Founder Scout, I had to interact with more people than ever. Finding the right talent for a company to grow is one thing, but finding potential founders to believe in and to build the company from scratch is another thing. At times I’d be speaking to hundreds of applicants, most of them highly experienced executives, to determine their fit as potential entrepreneurs.
The point is: realising your goal requires sheer hard work. Taking action is the only way for change to happen.
So the daily choices we make have to be a conscious effort; ensuring that each step we take brings us closer to our goals.”
Jessica Irfan, Program Lead at Antler
“I have been in the startup industry for over 4 years and when I first started, I had very little understanding of the landscape. However, I have been fascinated by the startup scene from Day 1 and was determined to learn more.
I researched deeply about it by speaking to a lot of founders and VC partners. As an introvert, the process definitely got me out of my comfort zone as I had to network extensively, which also grew my understanding and footing in the industry.
The more I learned, the more I was determined to excel in the VC world. At the same time, I realized how much more there is for me to learn. That motivated me to apply as an analyst at one of the most active early-stage startup investors, to gain more business skills.
Throughout my career journey, there were many other challenges I had to overcome and I pushed through each time by focusing on the learning opportunities to keep expanding myself.
Today, I am leading the founder's program in Indonesia to coach and assist other founders, all while pursuing my masters degree in business management, with an intention to contribute to the startup scene as it had molded me into the person I am today, and I hope that my experience can elevate the local startup ecosystem for our future founders.”
Must-read articles from Antler
Browse our collection of founder stories, industry insights and latest startup successes from Antler Australia
Sharon Li & Vanessa Chen: Empowering employees to be their healthiest and most productive selves
“People sometimes think the emotional and professional are conflicting, but what we believe is when people love their organization, the emotional value will actually make them productive. It will make them give their full self to the organization and make the organization grow for the long term.” —Sharon Li, co-founder and CEO of CHOYS
Piet Hein van Dam: The seasoned data entrepreneur aiming to eradicate type 2 diabetes
Our content series "It All Starts with People" delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. Bringing a clarity of vision to our latest spotlight is Piet Hein van Dam, co-founder of Clear, the award-winning digital self-help tool for diabetes patients.
Unpacking the $80+ billion ONDC opportunity: India’s next startup catalyst
India's approach to unbundle payments made the world look up and take notice. Now it's time to disrupt commerce with the Open Network for Digital Commerce or ONDC. In our latest Theory of Next deep dive we mapped, researched, and reached out to every network participant live on ONDC right now.
And we're excited to share with you a comprehensive what could be India's next unicorn catalyst with inputs from Vibhor Jain (COO of ONDC), Sujith Nair (Founding member of Beckn Protocol), and founders building on ONDC!
Co-authored by Nitin Sharma (Partner, Antler) and Gokul Kumaravelu.
Five steps investors can take to support more diverse founders
Despite growing calls to create a more inclusive venture capital ecosystem and remove the barriers to entrepreneurship, only a fraction of funding is raised by founders from underrepresented communities.
The first step towards change is quantifying the challenge. While in-depth research has been conducted about women founders and founders from ethnic minority backgrounds, data has never existed about tech founders from the LGBTQ+ community—until now.
A record year for Europe's leading day zero investor
A look back at 2022, a record year for the leading day zero investor in Europe—showcasing investment activity and key predictions for the early-stage tech ecosystem in 2023.
Antler and Microsoft for Startups partner to back women founders
Antler is proud to join forces with Microsoft for Startups to support rising entrepreneurs—starting with 23 non-dilutive grants to women founders in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and North America—and reduce the barriers to startup success. Meet some of these founders.
Tanika McLeod: The educator empowering the next generation with an on-demand social learning platform
Our content series—"It All Starts with People"—delves into the passions, motivations, and vision of the exceptional founders we have the privilege of partnering with around the world. In our latest spotlight, we spoke with Tanika McLeod, one of the three co-founders behind MinuteSkill, a Toronto-based social micro-learning platform that uses bite-sized content and knowledge-sharing communities to empower the next generation.
Venture capital as an engine of positive transformation
Antler's second annual ESG and Impact Report shares learnings on how VCs can focus on creating sustainable value from the outset, and celebrates our portfolio companies' work in this space.