19 Women In Startups On Success & Progress As They Know It.
For International Women’s Day, we showcase the women unapologetically trailblazing their way to success.
High Growth Ventures chatted some of the leading women in Australia’s startup space to find out what success and progress looks like for them.
While their responses varied, one theme echoed throughout; all these women undoubtedly #PressForProgress every day and in every way; whether it’s pressing for flexibility in the workplace, increased awareness for maternal health or simply living a life their grandmother would be proud of.
Sarah Moran, Co-Founder & CEO at Geek Girl Academy
“I feel successful when I see the progress of my work: one more girl falling in love with technology because she’s been shown how to use it. I feel more successful when I can do this on a good nights sleep, with enough money to make it meaningful and without that stress in the pit of my stomach that “I’m not doing enough”. I am doing the most I can with what I have and hopefully that will inspire others to jump in and lend a hand.”
Christie Whitehill, CEO & Founder at Tech Ready Women
“Success for me is feeling happy within myself. I like to set goals that are in line with my values and measure my own success against my own individual achievements. I feel successful when I feel balanced and doing what I love every day.
At Tech Ready Women we’re working towards 50/50 women-led startups by 2025. It’s an ambitious goal, but in the words of Norman Vincent Peale, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
Holly Stephens, Founder & CEO of Triangles.xyz
“Progress is moving in the right direction, constantly learning and accomplishing your goals. Success is an ever-moving target of reaching new goals and helping others to reach theirs too.”
Rebekah Campbell, Founder & CEO at Zambesi
“Success for me is coming home and feeling like I made the best use of the day that I possibly could have. A couple of years ago I started asking myself if what I’d done today was the absolute best use of my energy and talents. I often didn’t like my answer so it was time to make a change! Now I’m in the early stages of a brand new company. It’s incredibly hard work and a massive personal shift to go from running something that lots of people know and love (Hey You) back to being a scrappy founder of a business no one’s heard of. But I deeply care about and believe in the mission so every night I feel great about how I’ve spent the day. That feels like progress and success to me and is much more important than money, security or notoriety.”
Anna Cheng, AP Growth at Spaceship
“Success is having the curiosity to experiment and the perseverance to turn failures into learnings. Progress in equality can be achieved by defining people by who they are, rather than who they are not. The definitions of femininity and masculinity can be scarily narrow.”
Rebecca SchotGuppy, Community Manager at Stone & Chalk
“Success for me is when someone in our community achieves a milestone, whether big or small. I define progress as breaking down stereotypes in the workplace, challenging tradition and seeing today’s workplace genuinely embrace diversity.”
Alyce Tran, Co-Founder & Creative Director at The Daily Edited
“I feel successful when my team and our customers react well to what we are doing for them, whether that be a new product, a new store or a new service we are providing. Progress is where a female in business is treated equally to a male and her opinions and experience are valued.”
Anne Moore, CEO & Founder at PlanDo
“What does success and progress look like for me? Meeting a growing body of people who get that we are on the brink of change, not just for women but for the world. Knowing that we’re on the cusp of a very new world. It will be a rocky ride for the next little while. I’m successful when people see age and gender as irrelevant to energy and passion. I’ve navigated a remarkable path and I’ve made progress when I can inspire others to take calculated risks and step towards their future with full self belief and confidence.”
Heba Shaheed, Co-Founder & CEO at The Pelvic Expert
“Progress is addressing the health inequalities facing women by pressing to improve menstrual health and maternal health. Success is a world where women are no longer suffering alone and in silence, a world where there is no stigma tied to pelvic health and a world where every woman in every country across the globe has access to high quality women’s health education and intervention.”
Holly Cardew, Founder & CEO at Pixc
“For me, progress is realising that I am able to work from anywhere in the world, a goal I set for myself a few years ago. I feel at my most successful when I am able to teach others from my own learnings and mistakes.”
Christy Laurence, Founder & CEO at Plann
“Being able to choose exactly what I get to spend my time on, (including what time of the day I can throw myself in the ocean, or what time I can open a bottle of wine!) is what success looks like to me! Creativity and autonomy are the two things I consider very important in my life and I love the sense of freedom and spontaneity this combination creates.
I’m thrilled we’re talking about and championing Women in Tech and we’re definitely making progress in making it a better environment, however I’m personally excited for the day we remove the ‘Women’ and we can all just be classed as ‘in tech’. Onwards!”
Imogen Baxter, Community Manager at Square Peg Capital
“What makes me the sparkliest version of myself is when I can identify the overlapping space between two human’s Venn Diagrams and can create something magical in between — be that a connection or something more substantial. When it comes to pushing for an equal future, I am most inspired by people who a) call it as it is and b) prop doors open for those who may otherwise have found them hard to open.”
Audrey Khaing-Jones, Co-Founder & COO at GlamCorner
“My grandmother was born and raised in British Colonial Burma, she’s now 97 years old. As the oldest of five siblings, she was taken out of high school when she was just 14 years old to help take care of her siblings because she told my great-grandmother that she might choose to get married one day. As a result of this, continuing investment in her education was considered a waste at the time.
I’ve however managed to finish high school and university, got married and have built a business that enriches women and helps reduce fashion waste. Because our society has come so far in its respect and admiration of women in just two generations, I am living a life that my grandmother was never afforded the opportunity to. In that respect, I feel that women have come very far in just two generations and I feel successful that I’m living a life that my grandmother had always wanted for us. I feel very privileged to have been born when I was while also feeling a deep sense of responsibility to make all of her sacrifices worthwhile.
When I look back at how different our stories have been, that is what success and progress looks like to me as a modern woman.”
“Success is social and economic impact. The impact my businesses, Inspiring Rare Birds and Startup.Business is having globally. Mentoring, education, access to resources and communities of practice. I feel successful watching other women and our next generation truly become who they really want to be through business and the vehicle of entrepreneurship. After all, women are the fastest growing discretionary spending demographic on the planet today. If business and politics understand what this means to our future, I will lay my hat down knowing my legacy work was deeply and personally successful.”
Cheryl Mack, CEO at StartCon
“I feel successful when I accomplish things that I set out to do that day. Progress for me means seeing women leading the way by example and being role models for the young generation.”
Lauren Capelin, Head of Venture Community at Reinventure Group
“As a new mum back at work, success looks like a happy healthy baby (and husband!) at home, as well as a flexible work environment where I can continue to be challenged, supported and propel my career forward to the best of my ability (and availability). Progress looks like a work force where this is the norm not the exception, and where working families are able to better integrate and balance these critical priorities of personal and professional fulfillment.”
Jess Ellerm, CEO & Co-Founder at Zuper
“Success and progress means building a culturally diverse and gender balanced team and community at Zuper from day one. Our business will be more profitable, sustainable and successful in the long term if we consider and represent view points from as many different backgrounds as possible. With no corporate baggage or entrenched thinking, we are in a position to achieve this. The ability to leverage gender and diversity inclusion is a super powerful and under utilised unfair advantage I believe startups have against incumbents.”
Jess Ruhfus, Founder & CEO at Collabosaurus
“Actions speak louder than words and that’s how we push for progress. Running a startup, it’s constantly apparent that ‘anyone can have an idea’ and ‘anyone can talk about the opportunity & how awesome the idea will be’ but a successful business is all about proving it with action. We have established dialogue, but just like the early days of a new business idea, it’s time we stepped up and proved it with action.”
Sian Priest, General Manager at Innovation Bay
“Success is when I am busy, making decisions, and helping others both in my professional and personal relationships. Progress is seeing more women in positions of power and influence. Startups are the engines for future job creation — we must press for progress by building diverse teams and inclusive cultures to continue to close the gender gap. On International Women’s Day we should thank the women who have come before us, champion the women standing alongside us, and inspire the young women following in our foot steps.”