Around 200 Australian women will have the chance to turn their tech ideas into reality thanks to a new initiative from Girl Geek Academy, an organisation dedicated to promoting women in the tech sector.
The event #SheHacks Victoria 2017 will bring together women from across Australia who are interested in building a business and finding their ideal co-founders. It comes after the success of a regional #SheHacks hackathon that united geek girls from Warrnambool, Warragul and Bendigo to share their experiences and learn from one another.
This new event will be the biggest of its kind, with around 60 universities, individual and corporate teams competing to address a specific tech problem and design a minimum viable product that can be tested in the market.
It’s a world-first, all-female hackathon that will put Victoria on the map as a global tech hub, says Girl Geek founder Sarah Moran.
“#SheHacks is unlike regular hackathons as it starts with an assembled team rather than team recruitment based on pitches,” she explains. “The initiative will showcase Victoria as the best place in the world for a woman to join a startup.”
A long-term opportunity
Finalists at the #SheHacks will have the chance to pitch their final idea before investors, corporates and the extended Victorian startup community––an opportunity that could potentially lead to an exciting new startup.
But win or lose, the bigger idea, says Moran, is to help female tech entrepreneurs build business skills and networks that can serve them in the long term.
“I don’t think building a business is about being tough and being a survivor. It’s about doing things for the long term,” says Moran. “This is an on-going process to wake people up with their business skills. We don’t want to run ‘flash-in-the-pan’ events.”
Celebrating women in tech
#SheHacks Victoria is part of a broader vision to promote women in the tech industry. By hosting the world’s biggest female hackathon, Girl Geek Academy hopes to improve gender equality in the male-dominated sector and send a message to those who continue to underestimate women’s capacity in tech.
“There’s already a lot of women who run businesses in Victoria and who believe there’s an economic opportunity to create an amazing future,” says Moran.
“But there’s an underrepresentation of female tech founders, and in other areas more broadly. We are hoping to deal with these issues by developing a positive environment to promote women.”
#SheHacks is particularly important to this goal because it “helps women take advantage of the value of an all-women environment and an equal playing field,” says Moran.
With this in mind, Girl Geek Academy also provides training and support for women at the beginning of their tech careers and education.
By fostering tech talent early on, Moran and the Girl Geek Academy believe they can build a new generation of female entrepreneurs in the startup ecosystem.
As part of this goal, Moran has also partnered with NAB as their first “girl geek in residence.” Through this partnership, Maran believes she can help to ensure more women take leadership roles in the tech sector.
Strengthening Australia’s tech future
The #SheHacks pilot program first launched in 2014 and since then, the event and the Girl Geek Academy community has grown significantly. In the run-up to the #SheHacks Victoria hackathon, the organisation looked to recruit over 1,000 women.
Indeed Girl Geek Academy hopes to teach one million girl geeks to build technology and create startups by 2025. To help achieve this, Moran has launched the world’s largest all-women startup incubator.
It’s a big goal, says Moran, but one that signals the amazing growth potential of the Australian and Victorian tech sector.
Thanks to support from partners like LaunchVic, Moran believes #SheHacks can continue to push the fast-growing tech sector forward and––more importantly––make sure women are leading the charge.
“We are so pleased to have the recognition and support of LaunchVic for #SheHacks Victoria, along with a very significant commitment from our partners GO1, plus 21 supporters throughout the Victorian startup community.
“This backing is a crucial step in rolling out our mission of helping more women to become a viable part of Victoria’s startup and technology ecosystem.”