2020 Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Founder and CEO, Brighte
Bachelor of Arts / Bachelor of Commerce (Japanese, Economics & Management), 1999
With a profound passion and exceptional entrepreneurial talent, Katherine McConnell is placing sustainable energy innovations and home improvements within reach of more Australians.
Katherine is the Founder and CEO of Brighte, one of the nation’s fastest-growing and most innovative fintech companies. Brighte exists to make solar, battery and home improvements affordable to all, launching four years ago with a unique marketplace platform that connects homeowners with vendors and also provides on-the-spot finance with zero per cent interest payment plans. Homeowners can quickly find the right vendor at the best price with rapid financing, while vendors benefit from a sophisticated point of sale tool which supports their business cashflow and a steady stream of customer leads.
The first to bring a fully digital, instant financing option into the home, Brighte has utterly disrupted the relentlessly growing market for sustainable home energy improvements. It has since obtained an Australian Credit License and also launched a personal loan for residential homeowners making home energy or improvement purchases.
In just four years, Brighte has approved more than $500 million in finance for more than 60,000 Australians – saving customers over $30 million in energy expenses annually and generating more than 240 megawatts of clean energy to date. In the last three years, its growth rate has run at almost 9,000 per cent, with annualised revenue above $20 million.
Katherine has captured the attention of top-tier investors and is widely recognised by industry for her entrepreneurial excellence. She has received a slew of awards since 2016, most recently named 2020 Telstra Medium and Large Business Award winner for NSW and a finalist in the Veuve Cliquot BOLD Woman Awards.
Last year, she won the Australia Fast Female category for fastest-growing technology business with a female founder and took silver in the Australia overall category for second-fastest growing technology business nationally in the 2019 Deloitte Technology Fast 50. Brighte was also awarded fourth-fastest growing technology business in the Asia Pacific in the 2019 Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
In a sector where female leaders are chronically underrepresented, Katherine is both influential and inspiring. She has built a predominantly female C-level executive team, supports flexibility for working parents, and actively champions the development of female leaders through involvement in a diversity of groups. She also supports the start-up community, providing advocacy to new founders and speaking regularly on panels and at events.
Chancellor, Katherine McConnell is an extraordinary entrepreneur and innovator, building Brighte from the ground up into a phenomenally successful entity with genuine impact – not only for consumers, businesses and investors, but for a brighter future for our planet.
I am honoured to present Katherine McConnell for the Alumni Award for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.