Budding female founder wins $30k to grow her business
Female founder Hailey Brown has pitched her way to win $30,000 in seed capital at a Shark Tank-style event in Canberra today. The 23 year old from Brisbane will use the funding to expand her accessibility travel app designed to give everyone, including those with a disability, the opportunity to have a holiday.
The tourism and psychology graduate is the founder of Vacayit, an audio storytelling platform that allows people who are blind or have low vision to enjoy the benefits of travel. The idea was inspired by Hailey’s friend Henry who expressed his frustrations surrounding the lack of experiential information online and how imagery is used to market destinations.
“It’s very exciting. I’m feeling very grateful especially when the four other finalists were so impressive,” said the founder of Vacayit, Hailey Brown.
“This funding boost will mean we can pay our blind and low vision editing team to edit more content and ensure we get to market as soon as possible, allowing everyone to have equal opportunities to enjoy the magic of travel,” she said.
“Participating in the Accelerator for Enterprising Women program not only validated my business, but also validated me as an entrepreneur,” said Hailey who cites Canva Co-Founder and CEO Melanie Perkins as her role model.
At the event, industry experts made up an impressive judging panel, including Sophia Hamblin Wang who is the Chief Operations Officer at Mineral Carbonation International.
“It was very close, but in the end we selected Hailey Brown’s audio storytelling app for blind and low vision travelers for its scalability, as well as its benefit to the community,” said Ms Hamblin Wang.
The four remaining finalists each took home $7,500 in funding for the following businesses:
– El Adrift A sustainable swimwear brand using repurposed ocean waste
– The Dough Co. A ready-to-bake cookie dough company created during lockdown
– Nana Pad Biodegradable pads to end period poverty in the developing world, and
– Escollate Technology to help healthcare workers escalate problems and find solutions.
The Kickstarter Challenge is an initiative of the Accelerator for Enterprising Women – a Government supported initiative designed to support and encourage women aged 18 to 24 to pursue entrepreneurship via the Kickstarter Challenge, a national series of Summit Events and Incubator Workshops.
“Today’s five presentations are an indication of the high standard of entrepreneurship that exists in this country and an exciting insight into what lies ahead for Australia when it comes to cutting edge businesses,” said the Accelerator for Enterprising Women’s spokesperson Jessica Tancred.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Senator the Hon Marise Payne, said the Government was pleased to commit an additional $5 million under the 2020 Women’s Economic Security Statement to expand the Accelerator for Enterprising Women initiative. This investment builds on initial funding of $3.6 million provided in the 2018 Women’s Economic Security Statement.
“Starting a business is no easy task, and we know female-founded startups face even greater challenges in getting the finances they need to expand, that’s why we are very proud to be supporting the Accelerator for Enterprising Women initiative,” said Minister Payne.
In addition to the funding, Hailey Brown also won a custom made suit by fashion designer entrepreneur Effie Kats, as well as mentoring opportunities courtesy of the program’s industry partner Visa.
“At Visa we believe that economies that include everyone, everywhere, uplift everyone, everywhere, and we’re proud to partner with the Accelerator for Enterprising Women in their mission to empower more women entrepreneurs. In addition to receiving access to Visa’s Practical Business Skills resources, each finalist will be paired with a Visa mentor who will help them grow their industry network and provide expertise and support as they continue on their business journeys,” said Visa’s Group Country Manager for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, Julian Potter.