Frequently asked questions


What is SheStarts?

SheStarts is one of BlueChilli’s flagship accelerator programs designed to help women build tech startups. Our mission is to ensure women are included in tomorrow’s economy, ensuring their incredible ideas, talent and skills are activated, elevated and inspired to get started.

Together with our partners and collaborators, we are addressing the serious shortage of women both participating in and leading startup companies by giving them access to their first investors, their first product launches and their first pilot and/or scaling opportunities.

Find out more about the details of the program here.

Who can apply to SheStarts?

Applications are only open to female-led startups. This does not preclude startups where female founders also work with and have male co-founders or team members – we firmly believe in the diversity of teams in producing brilliant work. The key here is that a woman is the CEO/ MD/ leader of the startup.

How do I enter SheStarts?

To enter the SheStarts competition, simply apply here. This will take you to BlueChilli’s application platform. Register an account and select “SheStarts” as the competition you are applying for. There is a written application of 15 questions about you and your idea to complete. All ideas are treated as confidential and you are the owner of your own IP.

Can I apply to SheStarts if I don’t have startup experience?

Yes! We value female founders from everywhere in Australia, with different working backgrounds and from all different ages, cultures and perspectives. We’ll provide you with all the resources you need help to launch and build your startup.

What ideas are suitable for SheStarts?

As much as we’d love to fund your [insert random business idea that does not involve any tech], SheStarts is all about launching the next wave of Australia’s most ambitious new tech startups. As such, we’re open to any idea as long as it leverages technology to grow a valuable and scalable company. For example, an idea to start a sports club will not be eligible, whereas an idea to start a team management app for a sports club would be eligible.

Do I need to have a business set up already?

You do not need to have a business set up to apply. In fact, the SheStarts program is best suited to entrepreneurs with early stage ideas that will benefit from validating their ideas before spending money on setting up company structures.

Do I need a team to apply for SheStarts?

Both teams and individuals can apply for SheStarts. The SheStarts program is designed to help you go from idea to launch and then support you to build the right team when your company is ready to grow.

Do I need to be an Australian or a permanent resident to apply for SheStarts?

No. However, to receive the equity investment, you must incorporate your business in Australia, which requires a director that resides in Australia. You are eligible to apply to SheStarts, but may be ineligible for equity investment

Where can I find the terms and conditions for the SheStarts program?

The terms and conditions can be found here.



How are SheStarts applications assessed?

After applications close, ideas are screened for eligibility, with evaluation broadly based on the problem, the opportunity, and the team. We look for the strongest applications that can demonstrate why their idea represents a real opportunity, that the right time for execution is now and why you are the best person to make it happen.

The top 20 finalists are then invited to take part in a bootcamp before founders pitch in front of a panel of judges for one of ten places in the program.

What happens if I am selected as a finalist for the bootcamp?

Twenty entrepreneurs/teams will be invited to take part in a rapid two and a half week bootcamp in Sydney where you’ll learn about startups, validation, pitching, business models, growth and many other topics to help you get more clarity and an idea of your roadmap. The bootcamp consists of masterclasses, workshops, talks from advisors, weekly one-on-one mentoring sessions with BlueChilli Entrepreneurs in Residence, tasks and group activities. At the conclusion of the bootcamp, 10 startups will be invited into the accelerator and will be offered the funding package outlined below.

Where is the bootcamp held and must I attend in person?

The bootcamp is run over two and a half weeks, and participation is mandatory to be considered for the accelerator.

The bootcamp consists of a minimum nine contact hours and works like this:

  • Tuesday 21 November (full-day in-person attendance in Sydney mandatory)
  • Wednesday 22 November (full-day in-person attendance in Sydney mandatory)
  • Tuesday 28 November (videoconference attendance mandatory)
  • Wednesday 29 November (videoconference attendance mandatory)
  • Wednesday 6 December and/or Thursday 7 December (pitch week in Sydney)
  • The third week of the bootcamp is “pitch week” and you will be required to pitch in Sydney to a judging panel on 6 or 7 December, and to attend the Selection Showcase event on the evening of 7 December.

We’re pleased to offer finalists living outside of the greater Sydney area who need to travel to attend the first week of the bootcamp and the pitch week $500 per startup to support travel cost

What happens if I am not selected for the bootcamp and/or accelerator?

Our goal is not just to find and fund the best ideas, but also to grow the pool of entrepreneurs focused on cutting edge technology solutions. Of those not selected for the bootcamp, we will provide complimentary access to our online startup training, StartupU (normally valued at $199) to all eligible applicants so you can keep progressing your idea and reapply in the future.



What do I get as part of the SheStarts program?

Founders accepted into the accelerator will receive $25,000 from the BlueChilli Venture Fund, for 5% equity. That is cash to be spent, at your discretion, on activities required to build your business. BlueChilli will earn a further 10% in sweat equity for loaning you a hands-on team of software engineers, developers, product managers, designers, growth hackers and entrepreneurs-in-residence who will work with you to validate and launch your idea so you can get customers within 12 weeks. You will also work with our partnerships and investor team for a further 12 weeks to facilitate pilot and investment opportunities.

All up, in exchange for 15% equity (non-negotiable), each founder accepted into the program will receive:

  • $AUD25,000 in cash to be spent, at your discretion, on activities required to build your business.
  • 12 weeks of product development by our expert teams across engineering, product management and design. These folks have loved building over 100 startups already and will challenge your thinking, help you validate your product-market fit assumptions and develop with you the right MVP to achieve fast traction.
  • Full placement in BlueChilli’s six-month accelerator program, a structured program designed to give your idea the best chance of commercial business success and to accelerate you into a good position for future investors. The program is delivered weekly by our expert in-house team of EIRs and community of global mentors in the form of cohort workshops, learning sessions, industry engagements, pitch practices and 1:1 weekly advisory sessions with an EIR.
  • Strategic support, insights and advice from the SheStarts program partners and collaborators
  • Software credits and services including Microsoft Azure, AWS and Hubspot, as well as accounting, financial and legal services and products provided through our partners at myob, ANZ and HSF. How you use these services is up to you, but together they are worth over $25,000.
  • Promotion and exposure via the SheStarts documentary web series, social media and other channels as facilitated by BlueChilli and SheStarts program sponsors.
  • A return economy flight from Sydney to San Francisco to take part in the SheStarts Silicon Valley Immersion program. Flights will be booked by BlueChilli and details of the flights will be at BlueChilli’s discretion in consultation with the finalists. This has been a highlight for previous founders, and the connections you will build are very valuable levers for you future success.

What will my idea be valued at?

From a financing perspective, your idea will be valued at $500,000 (post-money) when you enter the program. As the idea will still be pre-revenue and pre-product, your startup may be valued differently in an open market.

Can I negotiate the amount of equity taken?

No. We appreciate that equity is often negotiated between a single investor and an entrepreneur.  However, in an accelerator program, all participants come into the program on the same terms of investment.

What documents will I have to sign?

Finalists selected for the 6 month accelerator program will be announced at the showcase on Thursday 7 December. You will have 7 business days to finalise legal and other documentation, including a Shareholders Agreement, Service Agreement, Company Constitution (based on a default template), and Fund Option Deed. These forms will be provided to finalists at commencement of the Bootcamp on 21 November to get familiar with and seek independent legal advice on, and discussed during a legal workshop on 22 November.

Is there additional investment from SheStarts after the program?

Funding from the BlueChilli Venture Fund has the option to offer follow-on investment of up to $250,000, when equal or greater amounts are raised from three or more external investors.

To help you access those investors, the SheStarts accelerator concludes with an Investor Showcase to key customers, strategic investors and VCs that have been pre-screened and introduced to your business. You’ll receive bespoke investor-readiness training, by way of masterclasses, bootcamps and one-on-one mentoring as well as opportunities to pitch at our regular investor evenings in the future to a carefully curated suite of investors.

How much value do I get from having BlueChilli build my MVP?

The best way to get a product to market fast is to have a clear vision and direction from the CEO, a product manager who understands how to most effectively shape the product roadmap, great engineers who can test and deploy the right technology, and a hustling team to validate and get feedback from customers.

If you spend too much time on product, it slows you down and prevents you from launching and iterating. If you spend too little time, your MVP might not be good enough to convince customers. After working with over 100 startups, we have found that the ‘sweet spot’ between time to market and quality sits at around 300-500 hours of product R&D, testing and iterating.

You will benefit from our whole team’s expertise in how to build and launch the best technology solution for you, as quickly as possible. As shareholders in your business, we are here to help you succeed, and you will learn an enormous amount in terms of working with technology products and teams in the process.

Do I have to pay for product development?

No, BlueChilli earns sweat equity in your company by loaning you a team of startup experts to help you validate, build and launch your startup. All startups in the SheStarts program will have the benefit of working closely through a series of sprints over 12 weeks, with outputs agreed between the product manager, Entrepreneur-in-Residence and you.

What if I have my own product / technical team?

While we specialise in helping non-technical founders build tech startups, BlueChilli does work with teams who already have some of their own technical capability. Many of those startups choose to augment their existing tech skills with those of our team as we have 30 people that you can draw experience from across a range of disciplines. For example, you might have a developer on your team, but you could accelerate faster by developing a piece of AI software to use, so you would draw on those skills specifically during your sprints. Or you could have a technical team yourself, but benefit from having a product manager to help prioritise the roadmap, or designers to work on delighting users with the interface.

We’re proud to offer startups in the program the flexibility to work with the EIRs and Product Managers to figure out exactly what you need, so we can help you get to success faster.

How does it work if I don’t live in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane during SheStarts?

During the accelerator you will be assigned a BlueChilli Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) to guide you through your startup journey. We have EIRs in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Most of the communication with your EIR can be facilitated remotely through video conference, but at key dates during the 6-month accelerator you will have to attend meetings and events in Sydney, Melbourne and/or Brisbane.



Who are the SheStarts partners?

Our SheStarts program would not be possible without the support of a number of Australia’s industry leaders who are champions of diversity and innovation. Our foundation partners include two of Australia’s leading brands, ANZ and myob. We also work in collaboration with leaders in business, entrepreneurship and technology, including Google, LinkedIn, Herbert Smith Freehills, the BCA, the AICD, Springboard Enterprises Australia, Scale and Heads Over Heels. You can see and adore our partners and collaborators here.

What is the SheStarts documentary?

We were so inspired by the startups we encountered that we made an entire documentary series about these women and the destinies they were forging. Every week for 8 months, we followed their journeys from their homes all the way to Silicon Valley in a weekly online series. We watched them conquer fear, doubt and loneliness as they made the impossible possible. The entirety of the groundbreaking series can be watched here.

Based on the incredible support and feedback from our first series we will also be producing second documentary series, following the journeys of the second cohort! The series will released at the end of the accelerator. Keep your eyes peeled for it’s release by following us on social media or sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.

How do I stay up to date with SheStarts?

The best way to keep in touch with what’s happening in SheStarts – whether to follow our current founders in the program or be the first to hear about our next program opening – is to sign up to our newsletter. Visit the SheStarts homepage and sign up at the bottom of the page. Don’t forget to follow us here (Facebook), here (Twitter), here(Instagram) and here (LinkedIn).

Who is BlueChilli?

BlueChilli is a technology startup accelerator specialising in helping early stage founders build and launch their high growth, high impact ideas into market. We do this by providing their first investment, their first product build & launch, and facilitating their first customer and pilots.

Startups are in our DNA. Every year we hear over a thousand startup pitches from entrepreneurs who want to partner with BlueChilli to launch their technology startups. The team is proud to have built and launched over 100 startups and helped founders raise more than $64M to grow their companies with. We turn founders into CEOs, and have helped to grow the startups in our portfolio to over $500M in value.

BlueChilli runs a number of accelerator programs, including SheStarts and CityConnect.

Where is BlueChilli based?

BlueChilli have incubator spaces in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane whilst also having startup teams overseas.