It's not too often that you find a strong personal resonance with a brand, as well as the opportunity to work with them. But earlier this year, this is exactly what happened to me.
I was working at BCG Digital Ventures at the time, being treated to glorious harbour views and free-flowing Kombucha.
The offer on the table was to launch Antler, a relatively new player in the ecosystem but with huge expansion plans and a mission, I could not ignore: Democratise entrepreneurship, identify those with a spike (excelling in an area) and grit, and enable them to become founders of great tech companies. It was a refreshing idea.
BCGDV leverages corporate assets to create startups with an unfair advantage. This model is unique in Australia and last year BCGDV launched three new companies into the ecosystem and already one in 2019. As Talent Acquisition Lead I had a dual role in securing talent for the company and the founding teams of the startups it created. This was an awesome experience. I built an incredible network and worked with many technologies across different sectors. But the chance to work with Antler was too great to pass up.
As a talent professional, playing a part in selecting the world's most brilliant and determined people, helping them find the right co-founder and connecting them to a top-tier network of advisers and experts worldwide to rapidly launch and scale their ideas is an unparalleled opportunity. I could literally harness my skills to unlock the next big wave of tech companies in Australia. So of course, I made the leap.
I moved to Australia 2.5 years ago having never been here before -- so was not my first experience taking the plunge into a new adventure. My husband is an engineer and we were seduced by a glorious relocation package and promise of sun, beaches and lifestyle. Thank you Sydney, you came good!
In the UK, I had specialized in executive search within the payments sector, recruiting for global banks and scaling fintech startups. My value was my industry knowledge and contacts. This created a challenge when I left London. Sydney's fintech scene has developed considerably over the last couple of years but on my arrival Afterpay, for example, was still in its infancy and not displayed on most retailer's websites and storefronts.
What could I offer? The spike and determination that Antler seeks in our founders. I could demonstrate a history of achievement, and I am told my passion and drive is rather apparent. Nick Ingall, Head of People at SafetyCulture gave me the opportunity I needed to break into the Sydney tech scene, and BCGDV soon followed.
Then there's the personal challenges that moving to Sydney created.
As the mother of two young daughters, Tabitha and Jemima (yes I am a Beatrix Potter fan!), securing childcare was similar to a fledgling startup trying to get its first funding. I did a lot of door-knocking. I was repeatedly told no. For those where I did get my foot in the door, the terms were ones I could not accept with some centres charging up to $350 per day. This was not an option while we were on a temporary visa with no rebate. I felt truly defeated at times, however, we eventually secure both my girls a place and were able to restart my career.
This is what we also look for at Antler: determination.
When interviewing our potential founders, their war stories are as important as their triumphs. After all, it is often from our failures that we learn the most. I ask them questions such as, "How did you respond to failure?" Or, "Why did you try again?"
As for how we manage as a family with two full-time working parents and our support network on the other side of the world, well, it's hard! At times it feels like a constant compromise but part of my drive to restart my career in Australia came from, what I am sure to my daughter, was a harmless observation. When Tabitha was two, shortly after Jemima's birth she said, "Mummy stands in the kitchen, Daddy goes to work". Oh, the innocence of her words. I hope the equality they now see at home will lead to a positive impact on their futures.
Without knowing it, I have been living by the grit philosophy that we look for in Antler founders. I have constantly removed personal and professional barriers to achieve success, and ultimately it has led me to Antler.
If this also sounds like you, and you've always wanted to start your own business or want to apply your "spike" to scale a startup, Antler's program could be the leap you've been looking for. Our first cohort starts June 3, followed by another Jan 2020.
Sydney, let's shine. Apply here and become a founder with Antler.