Pumped to be representing Melbourne University's Wade Institute with a stellar 2016 female cohort at Startup Victoria's kick-off event at One Roof's Southbank co-working space next week (April 12, One Roof, Southbank).

One Roof’s vision is to be the centralised workspace for female-led Female Founders, and to fulfil their mission of “More Founders, Better Founders” by creating environments that allow women to feel welcome, inspired, empowered and fuelled up enough to fulfil their high-growth business dreams. 

I'll admit I'm deeply biased because I'm XX, but I do believe it's time to not just Lean In but Lean Out, so we can set a new precedent, shake up the structure of old, balance the gender inequity amongst the VC gatekeepers, and change the rules around women and the way we do business (and maybe, just maybe, change the world at the same time). 

This has some context. 

For those who don't know, this year I'm blowing my mind at Melbourne University's Wade Institute undertaking a Master of Entrepreneurship. Shared value, design thinking, BMCs, lean methodology, human-centred problematisation and relentless quests to find innovative solutions to wicked problems is filling my brain space. I'm getting my beta on, thinking til I'm almost thunk out, and learning stacks. A collaboration between Melbourne University, Melbourne Business School and Ormond College, in short, it's the new-age MBA - but we're learning to do business in a brand new business world.

Interestingly, a lot of people are asking me how you learn entrepreneurship. How can it be taught? But I think the ball-back question is 'What do you think entrepreneurship is?' Because it's often misunderstood and over-stereotyped, and my answer is it's not an ever-Uber, never-graduated-from-college, brazen Bransonesque island life or Jobsian utopian market out there. Entrepreneurship is not chancery or wizardry.

Entrepreneurship has rigour and formulas and lean methodology and diligence and strategy and hard, hard work, like any business, and the people who lead successful startups may be audacious visionaries in part, but you can guarantee there's a strong team working just as hard on that vision alongside them. Women and men.

To create the new enterprises of our economies and start up the startups that will drive us into an unknown future business landscape, we need diversification, ideation, collaboration, creativity, more balanced gender representation, and a very good dose of measured risk-taking within the context of rational thought. Yes, this is about ideas, but it's also about good business sense and a robust scaffold to underpin that ideation. Not every business will fly, Not every business will disrupt. Not every idea is innovative. (In fact, some ideas are just plain bad.) 

But we do need ideas to fuel our quests toward user-centric problem-solving. To find the salves for the pain points. To challenge and test the status quo. And it would seem that Melbourne is ripe with possibility right now, with a range of incubators, accelerators and co-working spaces (like One Roof) building an eco-system rich with possibly and support and globally recognised research and data seams, all ultimately bolstering the chances of idea commercialisation. Women and men.

Additionally, with more than 327,000 students, 13 major independent medical research institutes, 10 teaching hospitals, labs of the Defense Science and Technology Organisation, the Cynatron and a range of CSIRO divisions there are few other cities in the world with a similar density of universities, labs and researchers driving the innovative that sits at the heart of enterprise. Our local ICT industry now comprises over 8000 companies with around $30bn of revenue (2014) and climbing. This is all very good news. Especially for entrepreneurs.

So in a shifting, fast-moving marketplace that has its own currents where consumers are captains, and the world is awash with products and services people don’t want or need, we need the entrepreneurial thinkers and Business Model generation to lead traditional businesses toward the adoption of agile thinking, and an ability to ‘pivot’ to stay relevant, differentiate from competitors, identify problems and find innovative solutions to understand and better meet the changing needs of their customer segments. We need less big ships and more flotillas, less ego and more endurance, less getting stuck inside the building and much more real-world, real-user, real-life applications and testing of our ideas.

Because in this context of uncertainty, the valuable entrepreneurial tools and practices of testable ideation, design thinking, lean methodology and strategic management must be employed in order to innovate to solve complex and emerging problems, and to take current practice into imagined future solutions. And if it's the gamut of entrepreneurial humans who hold the answers to the human-centric challenges of our age, then women need to stand up, speak up and lean out to not just mind, but find the gap.




Registration essential.

Startup Victoria Female Founder Co-working Space Event Series: One Roof