This Female-Only Accelerator Doesn’t Take a Stake in Your Business


And they’re looking for new recruits.

Woman grasping coffee in a cafe

Any aspiring business owner would love the chance to take a crash course in entrepreneurship, and that’s what Australia’s SBE (Springboard Enterprises) is offering.

The not-for-profit startup accelerator is launching E3: Empower, Evolve, Escalate – a new program aimed squarely at early-stage female tech founders. While the community is well-versed in educating young female founders (they’ve already held five bootcamps), this new program helps onboard early businesses to the Springboard community by focusing on early-stage teaching and mentorship.

“Based on the success of the Springboard Accelerator program, we are launching the E3 program to expand our offerings to support more female-led tech companies,” explains SBE’s general manager Julie Demsey. “We observed two things over the five Springboard classes: [firstly,] there are a lot of earlier stage companies needing help to get themselves into market here in Australia and [secondly,] we needed a stronger pipeline of high-growth women-led companies to take through Springboard.”

Globally, Springboard Enterprises, which launched in 2000, has assisted almost 700 companies in raising $7.7 billion in funding. SBE Australia, which launched five years ago and is still strongly linked to Springboard Enterprises’ accelerator in the US, exists to support local female tech founders to help grow scalable, sustainable businesses into internationally minded startups, getting them ready for the all-important investor stage. But the new E3 program welcomes female-led startups that are just getting started.

“We are looking for businesses with good product, a strong female founder, and a market that can scale,” Julie explains. “Ninety per cent of businesses will fail, we will give you the skills and confidence to help make sure your company is in the 10 per cent. We will empower you to evolve and escalate your business.”

Crucially, both the competition and the institution welcomes only women in both the mentor and mentee arena.

“Having run the Springboard Accelerator for the past 5 years – we understand the female mindset,” Julie says. “We know the type of support they need most and how to help them build their confidence and business case to successfully grow and scale their business.”

General manager Julie Dempsey

Why women only? “Many women often underestimate their potential and that of their business. We support them in gaining the knowledge and confidence to properly represent their value,” Julie says of the difference between male and female entrepreneurship. “Women still face inequality, unconscious bias, and often access to networks that have been traditionally male. Our programs work to even the playing field.”

“Diversity is good for business,” she adds. “Women bring many skills to the table in business – including the (well researched and documented) intuitive problem-solving skills that most women inherently have, but are rarely valued for.”

The main concepts the eight-week program focuses on are building female-specific skills of confidence, lasting connections, and getting strong foundations for launch in order.

“Participants will use and learn new tools and put into action techniques used by entrepreneurs to better understand customers, test business models, lead teams, and strengthen their company to manage growth and risk.”

What makes SBE additionally unique is the fact that the company doesn’t take any stake in the businesses they help to build.

“We want to arm women with the tools they need to properly value their business and understand terms they are being presented, before they start considering equity,” Julie says.

If you’d like to be a part of E3, enter here. Entries close this Sunday, June 18.

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