Imposter syndrome under the spotlight
Entrepreneurial women meet at UOW's iAccelerate to discuss boosting female start-ups
Female founders typically receive less publicity in the media and have a harder time accessing funding than men. This gender gap means that even though women are as likely as men to turn their business ideas into innovative start-ups, they struggle to build and scale them up. A Deloitte report commissioned by SBE Australia showed that only 22 per cent of Australian start-ups are founded by women – and shockingly, only 0.7 per cent of start-up funding went to women-founded companies in 2022.
That’s why today (Wednesday 5 April), the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business accelerator and incubator program iAccelerate hosted an Entrepreneurial Women’s Breakfast, an event for women and by women that aims to connect them around a shared interest in entrepreneurism.
Entrepreneurial Women’s Breakfast was hosted at iAccelerate to share the insights and stories of successful entrepreneurial women.
The Entrepreneurial Women’s Breakfast series was first launched in 2014 to share the insights and stories of successful entrepreneurial women. After pausing during the pandemic, the conversation series has now made a comeback.
Today’s event, opened by UOW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson, was organised to inspire a conversation about how female entrepreneurs can combat imposter syndrome and thrive in their careers.
During a panel discussion, successful local businesswomen and thought leaders – Kylie Flament, Leanne Isabella, Hayley Rodd, Nandeeta Maharaj and Deanna Maunsell – discussed various topics related to entrepreneurship, including funding, marketing and scaling a business. They also shared their experiences of navigating the male-dominated business world and overcoming gender biases.
UOW Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Patricia M. Davidson opened the event and encouraged the women to lift each other up.
Deanna Maunsell, CEO of Provum Ventures and General Manager of Operations at All Care Health Group, joined iAccelerate’s business incubator program in 2017. In 2018, alongside UOW commerce graduate Christopher Murphy, she co-founded All Care Health Services Group, a provider of innovative and personalised in-home care for the elderly.
In just over four years, the company has scaled incredibly quickly to become a stable job provider for the region. Now, it employs 234 people from the Illawarra and Shoalhaven (82 per cent of whom are women), delivering more than 5400 unique health appointments per month.
For Deanna, pursuing a career that aligns with her values, interests and strengths helped her succeed as a female entrepreneur, as did having a supportive community of other business owners at iAccelerate.
“I strongly believe in staying on top of education – the more you learn about entrepreneurship and business, the more confident you will feel. It’s also important not to shy away from risk and always set realistic goals. And taking care of my mental and physical health is non-negotiable,” Deanna said.
Dr Tamantha Stutchbury, Director of iAccelerate, said as a highly entrepreneurial society, Australia could no longer continue to have the solutions the world needs to be developed by only half of the population.
“We know that all-women start-ups receive only a tiny amount of venture capital funding, yet the data also shows us that having women founders or co-founders increases the likelihood of start-up success,” Dr Stutchbury said.
“We have been working hard to ensure female entrepreneurs know that at iAccelerate, they have a supportive and inclusive environment to develop and grow their ideas.”
The organisers noticed one of the challenges most female entrepreneurs face – apart from external problems such as access to funding and market changes – is imposter syndrome. Identified as a phenomenon by two American psychologists in the 1970s, imposter syndrome is loosely defined as self-doubt over one’s abilities and feeling like a fraud.
Hayler Rodd is an UOW alumna, a Senior Partner Manager at Easy Agile and a co-founder of Sillagong Valley, the community initiative connecting entrepreneurs and professionals in the Illawarra.
Hayley Rodd is a Senior Partner Manager at Easy Agile, one of Wollongong’s burgeoning software companies, as well as a co-founder of Sillagong Valley, the community initiative connecting entrepreneurs and professionals in the Illawarra. She thinks imposter syndrome often happens because women can’t see other successful female entrepreneurs who have started businesses and made it successful.
“I think without role models, it’s difficult to imagine yourself as a founder or an entrepreneur. Also, it’s a lot of work that requires time and effort. For some women, particularly those with family commitments, it can get very difficult. We need to recognise and address the hurdles women face if we want to create bustling and buzzing entrepreneurial hubs.”
Professor Davidson encouraged the women to support and lift each other.
“When women come together, great things can happen. I look forward to seeing the future female founders coming out of these programs, the companies they create and the positive changes they bring to the world.”
To find out more about iAccelerate or to join the next program intake visit https://www.iaccelerate.com.au/
ABOUT THE PANELLISTS
Kylie Flament, CEO, Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT
Kylie is a social enterprise leader and sustainability expert with a background in managing large teams and projects in the corporate, government and not-for-profit sectors. Currently, she holds multiple positions, including CEO of the Social Enterprise Council of NSW & ACT and an Expert in Residence at iAccelerate.
Nandeeta Maharaj, CEO, Goods 4 Good
After a 20-year career in marketing, Nandeeta started her entrepreneurial journey when she founded the social enterprise Goods 4 Good, an online marketplace selling brands in the hope of making the world a better place. She attributes her success to her unwavering passion for the ethos of Goods 4 Good.
Deanna Maunsell, CEO, Provum Ventures and General Manager Operations, All Care Health Group
Since 2017, Deanna has created several highly successful businesses in the healthcare industry. Her first start-up, All Care Health Services Group, has now grown to a company of close to 250 staff, delivering innovative personalised in-home aged care technology services to the in-home aged care sector.
Leanne Isabella, Head of People and Culture, FinoComp
As the Head of People and Culture at FinoComp, Leanne has helped build an award-winning culture transforming the wealth management industry with cutting-edge microservices technology. Throughout her career, she has supported businesses as they scale to grow locally and overseas. Outside of FinoComp, Leanne mentors start-ups at UOW’s iAccelerate.
Hayley Rodd, Senior Partner Manager, Easy Agile
Hayley is a Senior Partner Manager at Easy Agile, one of Wollongong’s burgeoning software companies. Her commitment to entrepreneurism extends beyond her work at Easy Agile. Hayley is the co-founder of Sillagong Valley, the community initiative designed to connect and encourage entrepreneurs and professionals in the Illawarra to make Wollongong the ideal base to develop and grow companies.
ABOUT IACCELERATE’S COMMITMENT TO FEMALE ENTREPRENEURSHIP
iAccelerate has an ongoing commitment to supporting underrepresented groups within the entrepreneurial space. Currently, iAccelerate has an outstanding 52 per cent of companies in the program with an active female founder, which is well above the national and international average.
At the start of this year, UOW was awarded two $1million grants to deliver two key initiatives – first, to adapt and deliver iAccelerate’s existing education program to UOW students and second, to support women’s engagement in STEMM and entrepreneurship.
The University of Wollongong is firmly committed to addressing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The Entrepreneurial Women’s Breakfast series demonstrates UOW’s commitment to SDG 5 (Gender Equality), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities).