Kim Jackson wins business award, calls for more VC funding for women

Kim Jackson wins business award, calls for more VC funding for female founders

Kim Jackson

Investor and co founder of Sky Capital, Kim Jackson was named the 2019 Veuve Clicquot Business Woman of the Year earlier this week, where she declared the amount of capital going to female-led businesses is “not good enough”.

The prestigious prize recognises women with entrepreneurial pioneering qualities, and has honoured more than 300 women in 27 countries since its inception in 1972.

Two years ago, Jackson started the multimillion-dollar fund Skip Capital with her husband, Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar. The Sydney-based private investment firm funds starts-up that concentrate on transformation and technology across a wide range of industries and sectors.

So far, half of all investments have gone to female-led companies. Typically, less than 2 per cent of global venture capital goes to female-led businesses.

In 2018, the firm invested $40 million in 11 startups, including gender equity recruitment start-up WORK180, founded by Gemma Lloyd and Valeria Ignatieva and MetaOptima, a start-up that uses AI to develop tools to detect skin cancer, co-founded by Iranian-born Canadian Maryam Sadeghi.

When I started Skip Capital I had one goal: to invest in great founders with big ideas,” Jackson said on winning the award.

“To date, we have invested in 14 incredible start-ups, from tackling skin cancer detection to gender equality recruitment. I consider myself fortunate to be surrounded by such an inspiring pool of entrepreneurs. I’m particularly proud that around half of our start-up investments are in female-led companies, compared to a shocking industry average of just two percent.

“The industry statistic is not good enough given the number of great ideas and female talent I’m seeing.”

Having spent a career traversing male-dominated spaces and industries, Jackson was eager to tip the balance of power. “90% of Venture Capitalists are male”, she recently said in an interview with Sydney Morning Herald’s Cara Waters.

Jackson studied a combined commerce and engineering degree at ANU, where she was president of the Engineering Society, and was one of only a handful of women in her classes.

After graduating, she worked at an aluminium smelting operation in her home state of Queensland, before moving on to become an analyst at Citigroup, then Investment Director at Hastings Fund Management. Before joining the board for companies including NSW electricity operator Transgrid and NZ-based electricity distributors Electronet, Jackson was also a keyboard player for alternative rock/pop band Sydney based, KRILL.

Jackson is also a mentor at Startmate Accelerator Program, a 12-week immersive mentorship program that is powered by its mentors who invest their own time and money. This year, she has set up a scholarship for rural and regional women interested in engineering studies at her Alma mater ANU.

Her diverse and unique background signifies her creative outlook when making decisions on who to invest in. “[We] back people who are making the world a better place…exciting companies with creative solutions.”

Jackson said in her speech that attracting women into the field of engineering and technology must be done at all levels. “It starts with getting girls involved in technology from an early age. It’s also good for male founders to have a woman as an investor.”

The Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award was first created in 1972, to recognise bold female entrepreneurs and their professional successes.

Jackson was chosen from a field of finalists including Kate Morris, CEO & Founder of Adore Beauty, Dr Catriona Wallace, CEO & Founder of Flamingo AI, Emma Welsh,  Co-Founder of Emma & Tom’s and Grace Wong, CMO & Co-Founder of Liven.

It was presented by actress, activist and producer Kate Bosworth at the Museum of Contemporary Arts. who described the process of making her latest film ‘Nona’ with her husband, a director himself, Michael Polish. The film was self-funded, which was, Bosworth claimed, to ensure ‘the right decisions were made.’

“The world is in perpetual motion, and we must invent the things of tomorrow. Act with audacity,” she told the audience.

It’s an apt lesson in the importance of women to maintain their creative and professional power in key decision making situations. Her audacity in producing the film reflects Jackson’s own career trajectory from her days as a university student to today’s leading venture capital investor.

Jackson has been awarded a trip to France to visit Veuve Clicquot’s headquarters, where she will have her vine baptised in her name, as well as a trophy and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame 2008.

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