Startup Catalyst Female Founders recap

I’ve come back with bang – let’s go. I have to go faster. I have to go harder.

The participants in the Startup Catalyst Female Founders trip to London gave their panel sessions recap yesterday.  Similar to what was shared in the Future Founders panel the day before, common themes emerged of confidence, connections, and urgency.

The panel shared how the growth in confidence came from hearing shared stories in the cohort, pitch practice through the week, and seeing examples of successful communities. The scale is larger, but the opportunities are similar.

The immersion impact of a Startup Catalyst trip is designed to rapidly shift perspective. As one participant stated, it’s like “Disneyland on steroids for startups“. You can read more details on what goes into the trip in a recap by Peta Ellis on The Catalyst Effect.

Trips like Startup Catalyst are valuable for anyone working on a business that has global customers. As stated by one of the cohort, “Go to where people are actually socialising. Don’t wait for an invitation. Buy a ticket and go. If you don’t promote yourself no one else is going to.”

Particularly in London, we heard that “The UK responds well to brand Australia and brand Queensland.” The support provided by UK International Trade and Investment is significant, with everyone from banks, government, corporations sharing that the UK is open for business.

Female focus


After the panel sessions, I had lunch with one of the previous Future Founder Startup Catalyst alumni. He raised an interesting point that an area that was not explored in the conversation was the “female” aspect of cohort. What was the value in having an all female trip? What was the benefit? What was missing?

The panel session felt like a standard Startup Catalyst recap with a panel that just happened to be female. And to me this speaks to the need. For years, we have seen countless technology-related sessions where the panel members just happened to be male and no one gave it a thought. Except this was not by design, but by embedded structural biases.

I attended an awards program for a management association last year. The nominations of the “emerging leaders” were all female.  The male MC made sure to make a point of the fact and congratulate the women for their efforts. We then had the nominations for the “successful entrepreneur”. The candidates were all male. Gender was not mentioned.

If you are running a panel session, looking for speakers, or holding an awards program, the participants and their networks on the Startup Catalyst Female Founders mission would be a good place to start. If you are a guy on a panel, ask who else is on the panel.  If you look to either side and it’s all male, consider a female you might recommend as additional panel speaker or to take your place.

Focused trips like Female Founders missions intentionally build capability in leaders, create a support network, and raise awareness. This needs to continue.

Feature image credit Tiah Gold’s Twitter feed.



One thought on “Startup Catalyst Female Founders recap

  1. Hey Chad

    You raise an important point in regards to embedded structural biases. I don’t think guys want to impede the progress of women or minorities. I just think men need to be more aware of the presence of conscious and unconscious biases. As Dr. Mzhzarin Banaji of Harvard University noted “discrimination is veiled, not explicit, bur rather more implicit, unconscious, because we are ourselves unaware of it”.

    With greater diversity on panels and more generally in the startup world, everyone benefits. If you walk into a room and the majority of people are white and male, (which has been my experience), then there is work to be done, as it does not mirror the people on the outside. Only when the startup world reflects the demographics of the population, can we truly say we have nailed it!

    So the first step is to acknowledge the presence of conscious and unconscious biases.

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