Kate Morris co founded Adore Beauty from a garage 20 years ago when she was 21 years old.
This month the online beauty business listed on the ASX, becoming the most valuable float of 2020 so far and the largest listing by a female co founder ever.
There is a lot to love about this story – particularly how Kate came to start the business via a $12,000 loan from family members, well before the full opportunity of online retail was obvious.
But also there’s a lot to love in how this is a story of women supporting and choosing to invest in women in business, with many of those that took shares in Adore saying they’re investing in shares for the first time in order to back the company. As Kate tweeted, women are contacting her saying they are setting up trading accounts in order to own a piece of Adore. “Bloody love it,” she said.
Then there’s this other news: that prominent female entrepreneurs including Kate, along with Shebah founder George McEncroe, have backed Monica Meldrum, as she chased a $500,000 equity crowdfunding goal for the next stage of her Whole Kids business. More than 594 investors have signed up for the kids’ snack food company so far, raising $1,100,794 at the time of publishing. Kate openly outlined her support, stating on Whole Kid’s website that “I’m really pleased to invest in a values-led, female-founded business like Whole Kids. We need to see more women-led businesses getting the funding they need to scale.”
While pursuing different means, both Kate and Monica have opened opportunities for women to invest. And these opportunities are not just for women who are excessively wealthy or have the time, funds or expertise to get involved in backing female-led startups or acquiring significant stakes of existing businesses.
Another opportunity for such investing this week came via Pronto, a tech business that’s created a self-cleaning baby bottle, founded by Shannon Gilleland who, as a mother herself, set out to innovate and disrupt everything we’ve been told to accept about baby bottles by creating a self-cleaning product. Pronto has also launched an equity crowdfunding campaign and is currently taking expressions of interest.
On social media, Shannon shared that’s she’s had a lot of support from people, including from the startup community, as well as startup and medtech networks.
“It says to you how important it is to network and to bring value to those networks, to not just take value from them,” she said.
“It can be very hard to raise funds and to start your own business. When you get support around you it really helps pull you through some difficult times.”
And personally, I came across Pronto and Shannon only this week, after seeing a LinkedIn update from another female founder, Christina Hobbs at Verve Super. Those social media updates supporting women-led businesses are worthwhile.
Adore’s listing success, as well as what the success so far of Whole Kids, Pronto and Shebah’s own crowdfunding campaign in 2019 that raise millions and came about after male VCs failed to get on board, are just the tip of what’s to come in Australia from women in business. Especially if trends continue on women specifically looking to target women-led businesses and brands they feel align with their values and the products and services they already support.
Indeed, it’s worth noting also that there have been a number of other female-led businesses listing on the ASX in recent weeks: including respirator developer CleanSpace, led by Dr Alex Birrell, and Nutritional Growth Solutions, led by CEO Liron Fendell. As we heard recently from Chief Executive Women, just 5% of ASX 200 organisations are led by women, these new listings can help to change that in the future.
These founders and leaders bring something the business community needs more of: a genuine desire to give back and support other women.
Like all the women mentioned in this piece, Kate speaks up on issues she cares about. She advocates for childcare and wants to see more support generally for the women who have most suffered through COVID. She’s long called out everyday sexism and campaigned against all male panels. Kate also puts integrity at the heart of everything. Sharing in a 2017 university speech that “the universe will reward you for having integrity, and being bold enough to stand up for yourself and for others.” She goes on to say how she’s been fired, twice, for refusing to tolerate managers who mistreated their staff.
Today, the Australian Financial Review has published its annual Rich List and, once again, there are very few women included. While Gina Rinehart takes the top spot, you need to get to position 25 to find another women, and from there few have created their wealth from entrepreneurship.
With success stories like Kate’s Adore Beauty along with these equity crowdfunding campaigns, that gender ratio can change.