The Antler Sydney Demo Day was a celebration of many things - one was women

"You don't need to do anything special to help women. Just open the door." Learn how women are leading the way at Antler.

Adele Moynihan

November 11, 2019
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On November 7, startup generator and VC fund Antler unveiled to the world the 12 companies created within its Sydney program.

These businesses covered health tech, Insurtech, deep tech and more. The event attracted 1,000 people to Sydney's iconic Town Hall, and an additional audience of 1,100 via live stream. It was a showcase of what talented and inspired people can achieve when driven by an ambition to create a global tech company. These teams deserve acknowledgement and should have a huge sense of pride in what they have created in just 12 weeks.

However, there's one component that I must highlight - of the 12 companies which presented on stage five were represented by a woman in a CEO role.

Why must I accentuate this?

Women hold less than 5% of CEO positions across the UK, Europe and US. Here in Australia, just 6% of ASX-listed companies are represented by a female CEO.

The women leading companies as a result of the Antler program are:

Cortina McCurry, Co-founder and CEO of Caia Health

Skye Theodorou, Co-founder and CEO UpCover

Shivani Gopal, Co-founder and CEO UpStreet

Lara Solomon, Co-founder and CEO Story Antics

Erin Corcoran, Co-founder and CEO Nuzzl

The Antler Sydney program started in June this year with 70 people, 25% were women. At the end of Phase 1, when Antler makes pre-seed investments, 50% of the companies had a female co-founder.

To see the evolution of these numbers surpass 40% when looking at the presenters at Demo Day, demonstrates that women in tech leadership roles thrive, and we need to do more to show examples of how others can follow a similar path to success. As one of Sydney cohort founders Siobhan said "you don't need to do anything special to help women. Just open the door". This is what the Antler program does.

Why is this important?

To make the major societal shift to achieve gender balance many things need to happen. A key driver will be having women-led companies, as within these companies the voices and needs of women will be understood from the top.

Looking at the Demo Day event as a whole, of the five who presented from Antler two were women. I was honoured to have been one, with the other being Partner and Head of Capital, Andrea Hajdu-Howe. Now, in typical female fashion, I did not raise my hand for the opportunity, I needed to be asked, but when I was, I jumped at the chance.

Let's keep giving the women around us opportunities to step up.

This chance let me practice in front of my two young girls, Tabby and Jemima, and for them to see me up on stage. I can more easily get up on that stage in front of a thousand people than shield them entirely from the gender profiling that is still pushed upon them by society. I hope to see me and other women in leading roles and on stage at high-profile events sends a stronger message to them about what they can achieve in life.

As this is an article to celebrate women I must highlight a few more.

There is a core Antler team of 11. Alongside me on the female front, there is our Director of Technology Harini, Program Manager Luddy and Director of Communications Sarah. This Demo Day was the vision and flawless execution of Sarah.

To let you know how recruiting efforts are going for our next Antler program starting in January, we are currently sitting at 30% of offers made being to a woman. It's an increase on last time but imagine if this was even higher!

About the author

Adele Moynihan

Adele is responsible for leading Scouting and Angel fundraising. Scouting is a pivotal function for Antler to secure exceptional founders to build businesses with the Fund. Turning to fundraising, Antler holds a powerful angel community that deploys post Antler's initial investment. Prior to Antler, she was an early hire of now unicorn SafetyCulture and with corporate VC the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) Digital Ventures.

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