Ask any owner what the most challenging thing about launching a small business is, and they'll likely answer: funding. Women are also notoriously bad at asking for money. And with only 2.2% of venture capital funds awarded to women-led ventures, we wanted to do our bit to even the playing field.
The MPowered Pitch Competition not only provided an avenue for women to pitch their business idea, more than 60 women received invaluable pitching advice from leading investment experts as well.
Judge Kevin O'Hara empowered all at the conference to participate as -virtual investors' and allocate funds as an investor would by thinking about who is the lowest risk of execution, which is the most compelling founder/founding team, who has the biggest market opportunity, who is going to get the highest valuation and who you would ultimately invest in.
The panel of judges who had the tough task of judging the pitch competition included Kevin O'Hara, Founder Techwitty, & Group CIO and Investment Portfolio Manager for Tulla Private Equity Group; Rachel Tonkin, Investment Director at AMB Capital Partners; Jeremy Liddle, Co-founder and Exec Director of CapitalPitch; Mark Maloney, founder & CEO of Intrepic Co.; Lynda Coker FinTech mentor, angel investor, Non-Executive Director for The and Non-Executive Director for Scale Investors Ltd.
Finalists Jenny Atkinson (Littlescribe), Aivee Robinson (Catalyser), Gabby Stein (Luboo) and Edwina Sharrock (Birth Beat) then had 5 minutes each to pitch, followed by 5 minutes of questions by the judges. They did a stellar job and Mums & Co thanks them for sharing their vision, and hopes everyone knows they were -a winner' in our eyes.
The final placements for the pitch competition were:
Jenny Atkinson, Littlescribe– First Place Prize & Audience Vote
$30,000 in kind prototype design and or build services from Techwitty
1 x 2 hr Strategy Session with Lynda Coker (The Studio / Scale Investors)
Media exposure with Kochie's Business Builders and Mums & Co
Edwina Sharrock, Birth Beat– Runner up Prize
$1,000 in kind media training from Sliding Door Media
1 x 2 hr Strategy Sessions - Kevin O'Hara (Techwitty/Tulla)
Media exposure with Women's Agenda and Mums & Co
Gabby Stein, Luboo – Highly Commended Prize
1 x 2 hr Strategy Session - Jeremy Liddle (CapitalPitch)
1 x 2 hr Strategy Session - Rachel Tonkin (AMB Capital)
Media exposure with Babyology, Kinderling Radio and Mums & Co
Question: What is Birth Beat?
Edwina Sharrock: Birth Beat is an online one-stop shop for expecting parents. We deliver quality prenatal education and support that completely replaces the need for attending outdated hospital classes before you have your baby.
Question: Where did the idea for Birth Beat come from?
Edwina Sharrock: I am a Registered Midwives and have worked with pregnant Mums and their support people for over 13 years. I know what Mums and Dads want to know before and after they have their gorgeous babies. As a gorgeous pregnant Mumma you get sick of everyone's opinions! At Birth Beat we let you know all the evidence-based facts; we let you know what you need to know in short easy to watch videos. So you can prepare for your best birth anywhere anytime.
My idea actually came about because when I was 36 weeks pregnant with my daughter Polly our local private maternity unit closed its doors. I wanted there to ba choice for Women in my community about where they did their classes so I started Birth Beat.
We taught face to face for five years in Tamworth but the demand for classes just grew and grew. We have couples driving from all over NSW to attend so we decided to take our classes online, and Mums and Dads all over the country are loving it.
Question: How does Birth Beat revolutionise the out-dated model of hospital and group based class learning?
Edwina Sharrock: Many Mums and Dads are busy and the outdated hospital models are often delivered over multiple evenings or sacred weekends. Mums and Dads are having to rush out of work to get to classes and Mums are often very tired by this stage of their pregnancy. Birth Beat is incredibly convenient you can come home and watch from the comfort of your couch at a time that is convenient for you and your support person. The beauty of the online model so you can also re-watch as many times as you like.
Question: What advantages will Birth Beat have over the current method?
Edwina Sharrock: We are the full package, Mums get 12 months access to the prenatal yoga, stretch and relaxation, plus everything they need to know from their Midwife (eg how to know you are in labour, what are the stages of labour, what are your pain relief options, what if things become complicated, role of support person, what to expect after birth) plus breastfeeding, sleep and settle support. Mums get all this and they can access it anytime and re-watch it. They also get to access this for 12 months.
Question: How does it feel to be an MPowered Pitch competition runner-up?
Edwina Sharrock: It was such a privilege to pitch among an amazing group of Women. It blows my mind how many awesome business ideas are out there and how many clever Women are quietly working on their side hustles, or building careers for themselves.
I would encourage everyone reading this to get involved next year and step out of your comfort zone and take a risk or two.
Question: What will you do with MPowered Pitch competition prize?
Edwina Sharrock: I was runner up - the media and consulting will be hugely valuable for sharing Birth beat with more gorgeous expecting Mummas and the consulting to help me focus on our strategy and growth.
Question: How have you gone about asking for money to fund your business?
Edwina Sharrock: I was fortunate to receive capital for 10% of my company in the pre-seed round with VC firm Artesian. This was through the HCF catalyst program powered by Slingshot.
Question: What advice do you have for other women who have great ideas but are bad at asking for money?
Edwina Sharrock: Women are not bad at asking for capital, it goes deeper than that. I believe it is more we undervalue our IP and our ideas. We lack the confidence that many men have to back themselves. An analogy I often share with women who come to me for business advice is this.
Picture this you have a group of friends over for a BBQ;
Exhibit A - Woman. She places a platter of delicious looking steaks and sausages on the table and says this "I am sorry the steaks might be a little overdone and the sausages, well I am sorry I think they might be a little crispy"
Exhibit B - Man. He places a platter of delicious looking steaks and sausages on the table and says this "Tah Dah" Everyone applauds his efforts and he beams with pride and quietly congratulates himselfon a job well done!
See our deeply ingrained differences?
Now Women reading this, listen to me.... walk into those investors and shine, show them your "Tah Dah" and own it. Be confident and back yourself. Remember what is the absolute worst thing that could happen? They say no?
So find someone else and ask again. I am not pretending any of this is easy but if you do not back yourself work hard and be prepared to take some risks and put yourself out there, you will not get the capital you are after.
Interview by Brooke Hunter