From Idea to Start-Up

Insightful. Engaging. Entertaining.

With an interesting panel comprising of panel host for the evening Charlie Gunningham (co-host of Startup West Podcast) and three panel members - Beth Caniglia (Global Marketing Manager at VROC AI), Dr Sofie De Meyer (CEO of MALDIID) and Louise Daw (co-founder of MiPlan) - it was a fascinating evening delving into the broad and collective experience of each start-up journey.

Our event sponsor WRAYS, kicked off proceedings to a sold-out event with Rebecca Hembling, Head of Marketing and Business Development at WRAYS, revealing a sobering statistic about women in the STEM arena. 


Only 16% of STEM graduates are female and only 27% of the STEM workforce are female!

Yet promisingly, all members on the panel described the WA start-up scene in a positive light. There is a lot of activity and a huge support network at our fingertips with a high value placed on having an industry mentor to bounce ideas off. All agreed that for WA there is an urgent need for more venture capital and investors. Comparisons were drawn between the difference in the mindset between Australian and U.S. VC's and investors. By way of example, failing as a start-up was seen as a strength in the U.S. in comparison to a failed start-up on Australian shores.

Where do good ideas come from?

Sofie De Meyer's passion as a researcher is problem solving, with her ideas stemming from trying to resolve "real world" problems. Transitioning from university researcher to business person was a very different experience for her. She had no prior business background and experienced a huge learning curve when she first joined the start-up scene. 

"There is a great network here in Perth WA" 

Sofie refers here to the availability of a wide network of workshops, organisations, accelerators and incubators in the WA start-up scene. "I think I've almost done just about all of the workshops on offer that you can do." 

Following eight years in Australia, Sofie reflects that the networks here in WA are a great way to learn business lingo, as well as tips to gain traction within the start-up scene. Since then, Sofie has participated in the Curtin Ignition Program, CERI Program and Harvest Accelerator program. Impressively she was also a winner of the WA Innovator of the Year Award. 

Louise Daw cited that her ideas stemmed from her general frustrations with the limited options available to capture data out in the field and wanting processes to work more efficiently. Louise and her business partner applied for several awards over the years, including the Business News Rising Star and a Commercialisation Australia grant. They were unsuccessful in their attempts. However, in 2017 Louise was awarded the West Australian Entrepreneur of the Year by EY.


When pitching a start-up idea, Beth Caniglia emphasised the importance of having a good business plan in place capable of solving an actual problem. If you get that right, then you increase the chance of the business being worthy of recognition and have the ability to attract paying customers. 

When questioned about the age old elephant in the room – gender bias when pitching to male investors – overall , the panel was split. Louise’s style is to remain gender neutral and to tune into levels of interest and investor engagement. When answering tricky questions, Louise’s tip is to reframe the question in her mind before answering but to ensure she is confident in her knowledge and numbers behind the business idea.

Beth referenced a TEDx talk by a researcher in the area of gender biased questions. According to the research, questions tended to be framed in a more defensive manner toward women (i.e. What will you do if something goes wrong?) as opposed to male counterparts getting asked positive questions along the lines of 'What does the future look like?'. She supported Louise's answer of reframing the final answer and felt that this was a good way around this issue.

Ready, Set, Launch...

The first time Louise and her business partner launched, they sold the idea of their product to existing customers before going away to build the actual product. Building took three months. However, after that experience MiPlan decided 'never again' and worked at building the product first, having it proven to a few clients. This in turn helped to build product credibility. 

Sofie advised having a strong solid market research base to work from was important and how imperative it is to understand the size of the market.

Beth's past experience included helping her previous start-up employers to build the technology/product. She underlined how having a road map was so vital when first starting to get your business off the ground - you know where you're going and how you plan to get there.

Why apply for awards?

It was timely to have the panel members discuss awards they'd won and how they felt winning an award was beneficial in the long term. Especially with the launch of the WITWA 2019 Tech [+] 20 Awards on the same night!

Beth confirmed that having Jennifer Reyes, of VROC, win WA Innovator of the Year in 2015 was quite critical in building credibility and solidifying the product on offer. Especially as it was a time where VROC was taking clients on board. Winning an award was an external validation from within the industry.

As Sofie couldn't tap into any existing networks, moving to Australia only 8 years ago, she sees winning awards as a way to generate recognition and belief in the work you're doing. Winning an award is a strategic move in getting investors on board and attracting staff to working towards the end goal.

Louise figures forewarned is forearmed; while she made it clear that the award application process is arduous, the plus side of winning is definitely a strong addition to one’s business profile within the market.

Top Tips on Winning Awards

WiTWA was lucky enough have Anne Furey,  Principal Consultant with Grant Smart treat our audience to her valuable industry knowledge on awards and the pro's and con's. While Anne reflected Louise’s sentiments in that award applications are time consuming and do not always attract cash offerings, the benefits were plentiful.  

  • The application process can help you with road mapping where you are going with your idea;

  • Lifts your profile if a winner or finalist on the award website. You can use the logo on your own website and promotional material;

  • Think about what you want to achieve. There are some awards that industry-specific and some that are not.

  • Look to both local and state government awards. Some awards could then move onto national awards and events.

Anne's application tips include:

  • Make it easy for the award judges. Ensure you make your application interesting, but don't make the mistake of relying on any attachments.

  • Answer the questions asked. Explain your answers clearly.

  • Point to evidence to support your claims. Remember: this is not a marketing pitch!

Anne suggests having an independent review of your application, so that an external critique can be provided outside of your team. 

Leap forth boldly!

WITWA encourages you to either nominate a worthy applicant or even yourself for the WITWA 2019 Tech [+] 20 Awards.

Lacey Filipich takes every opportunity to remind us of the female role models surrounding us. Enticing those in attendance to realise that if we can get more women into STEM careers, we are giving 14-year-old girls the chance to #ifyoucanseeheryoucanbeher by nominating at least two women who are working within the STEM space. Using her infectious smile and vivacious presence, her mission should you accept it, is to find at least two women to nominate - if you can't, you aren't trying hard enough!

Lacey also gave a shout out about the upcoming WITWA [+] 2019 inaugural conference. Tickets are now on sale! Visit the website at and secure your early bird tickets for a limited time only!

Veronica Ennor, WITWA member 2019

Another sell-out: Turning ideas into Start-ups and Winning Awards


Continuing with our 2019 theme of “If You Can See Her, You Can Be Her” we were really pleased to have Charlie Gunningham, co-host of Startup West podcast, lead our panel discussion with Dr Sofie De Meyer (CEO of MALDIID), Louise Daw (Co-founder of MiPlan) and Beth Caniglia (Global Marketing Manager at VROC AI).

These fascinating individuals will shared their start-up experiences and talked us through how they have positioned themselves and their companies, to win industry awards or achieve grant funding.

In the second part of our discussion, we heard from Anne Furey (CEO of Grantsmart) who has not only been a judge on many grant and award panels, but works on a daily basis with start-ups, individuals and organisations working on submitting winning applications.

Another event with a fantastic vibe, energy and insights. Here are some of the highlights.

Full house at Data Science Week event

We had a full house for WiTWA's Data Science event last night! Thank you to Bankwest for hosting, and both Bankwest and Water Corporation for their sponsorship of this event.

Our inspirational Patron Professor Lyn Beazley kicked off proceedings with a welcome address. Pieter Vorster set the tone for an evening of data and diversity and Luke Edwards on the inception of Data Science Week hashtag#dsw19 -

Dr Liz Dallimore expertly facilitated an informative panel discussion with Elsa Jordaan, Rimma Shafikova and Bruce Wright, all sharing their different journeys into data science and their views on addressing the STEM skills shortage.

One common theme was that to interest more people - and in particular women (and girls at school level) we need to recognise the importance of raising awareness of the multitude of problems Data Science can solve and the impact that can have to help community/society.

For anyone looking to get into Data Science, our panel have recommended the following resources:

👩🏽‍💻Source a Data Scientist Map and tackle each area of learning.

👩🏽‍💻Online courses such as:

👩🏽‍💻Kaggle competitions -

👩🏽‍💻KDNuggets -

👩🏽‍💻Data Science Central -

🤝29th June- Women in Machine Learning Workshop -

Also, keep an eye out for courses to be released by the WA Data Science Innovation Hub.

Thank you to all that joined us on the evening. We hope you had fun and heard something or saw/met someone that inspired you!

Shining a spotlight on the talent pool at AOG 2019

The Australasian Oil & Gas Exhibition & Conference wraps up today in Perth and we had the wonderful opportunity to meet and speak with so many enthusiastic, curious and talented people while showcasing the amazing talent pool that is Women in Technology WA Inc. (WiTWA).

Thank you to the NERA - National Energy Resources Australia team for making us feel so welcome as part of the NERA Innovation Station.

Diversity and technology are both central to enabling us to unlock the exciting opportunities that the future holds. We invite your company to join us as a WA Diversity Champion. Simply click here for further information.

Jennifer Reyes, Pia Turcinov, Maree MoRrell and Gry Stene talking WITWA [tech+] at the 2019 Australian Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition in Perth.

Jennifer Reyes, Pia Turcinov, Maree MoRrell and Gry Stene talking WITWA [tech+] at the 2019 Australian Oil & Gas Conference and Exhibition in Perth.

Gry Stene, Communication Sub-Committee WITWA

Gry Stene, Communication Sub-Committee WITWA

NERA Innovation Station Wall

NERA Innovation Station Wall

Miranda Taylor, CEO, NERA

Miranda Taylor, CEO, NERA

Pia Turcinov, Chair WITWA

Pia Turcinov, Chair WITWA


Diversity in the workforce + Cyber resilience + Jobs of the future

The Australian Financial Review in partnership with the Australian Computer Society last year published a series of articles on Diversity in the Workforce, Cyber Resilience and Jobs of the Future. The content is thought provoking, challenges many myths and preconceptions, and lends itself as an excellent springboard for further discussion around these topics.

Thank you Erica Smyth AC for bringing this to our attention and Arnold Wong for the thought leadership in this space. You can access a pdf copy of the articles here.

Happy reading,

The Women in Technology WA Team


Techtrails STEM incursion visits the South West of WA

On Thursday 22 November the WITWA team had the pleasure of visiting Manjimup Senior High School to deliver our penultimate STEM & Future Skills incursion for the year. Our fabulous group of local STEM professionals, industry experts and entrepreneurs shared their stories and experiences with an energetic and enthusiastic cohort of year 9 girls and boys. The Manjumup-Bridgetown Times joined us for part of the day to capture the magic of Techtrails. Click here for their full story.

Photo courtesy of Manjimup - Bridgetown Times  Picture:  Tari Jeffers, Tari Jeffers Women in Technology speaker Kay Hargreaves talks to Manjimup Senior High School students about potential careers in technology.

Photo courtesy of Manjimup - Bridgetown Times Picture: Tari Jeffers, Tari Jeffers
Women in Technology speaker Kay Hargreaves talks to Manjimup Senior High School students about potential careers in technology.

Curious as to who our speakers were? Take a closer look at our Manjimup SHS STEM & Future Skills Program Handbook.   You can view more photos from the day at

Perhaps you would like to be part of a future Techtrail incursion in 2019? We would love to have you involved. Simply reach out and get in touch. We promise it will be fun!

20 in 20’ Gala Awards Night a resounding success!


On Saturday 3 November 2018, the fabulous WiTWA community celebrated 20 years since founding by awarding female STEM and Innovation role models. Below you’ll find our ‘22 in 20’, awarded with a trophy on the night. Dr Danielle Meyrick who was awarded the ‘First Among Equals’ winner with the highest score from the judges. Allyson Woodford took out the ‘People’s Choice’ award with the highest number of votes from the public (over 4,000 people voted!)Thank you to all who celebrated with us.

We also made two exciting announcements on the night:

Diversity Champions Program

A comprehensive list of all 87 amazing nominees for the ‘20 in 20’ Awards – you will find real-life, inspirational STEM and Innovation leaders in WA. Check out our inspiring role models! To build on this initiative, we also launched and are now accepting applications from companies that identify as “Diversity Champions” and would like to showcase their brilliance and support of our mission. For further information on how you too can make your mark as a Diversity Champion click here.

The inaugural WiTWA[+] Conference 2019

This exciting addition to our events calendar will be held in Perth, October 24 2019. An all-inclusive one-day event where we bring together extraordinary women – and men – to lead the charge on progress towards diversity and equality. We will showcase local, national and international speakers that challenge and provoke us to action. While we are currently busy making this event awesome, we welcome you to nominate yourself or anyone else you think can add value to this event. In line with our commitment to promote STEM in schools, we will include high school and university students in our audience; this is a great opportunity for all our attendees and embodies our message ‘If you can see her, you can be her’.

Please contact us for a chat if you would like to be part of this exciting initiative in 2019.


A massive thank you to all our sponsors who helped us make the WiTWA 2018: 20in20 Awards a reality and cast a spotlight on the amazing, talented women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Innovation right here in Western Australia. The amazing people and companies who support us with incredibly generous sponsorship included: Accenture, Department of Communities, Edith Cowan University, SAP, Woodside, Accelerating Commercialisation, Amazon Web Services, Hexagon Mining, ImpRes, SEQTA, Valrose, Sentient Computing, Red Piranha, RSM and Optika Solutions.

Oh, what a night! WITWA 20in20 Awards Night Photo Gallery

Thank you to all who joined us to celebrate our recent milestone - 20 years of Women in Technology in Western Australia! Here are some wonderful images that capture the joy of the evening. As you can see, there were well deserved smiles all around!

WestTech Assemblage 2018 is back: Nov 1

Once a year the community comes together for the West Tech Assemblage to make new connections while celebrating WA’s diversity of talent and our spirit of innovation. It’s also a chance to hear from leaders of government and industry about job creation and small business opportunities in the coming year.

WITWA is proud to support this initiative and the intent of connecting and enabling more of us within the innovation ecosystem - you never know, that first conversation could be the start of a beautiful collaboration!

Tickets available via this link.


The WA Brain Gain: attracting the world's brightest minds ...and keeping them?

The five-strong group of PhD and post-doctoral researchers on our panel on Tuesday 16 October were uniformly eloquent, engaging and inspiring.

So too was the building currently housing them and our panel event, the delightful Forrest Hall, the home of the Forrest Research Foundation

Our panelists were:

Ranging from bioscience to archeology, their chosen topics might be baffling to most of us on paper. But as each of the researchers explained their topics and added their personal brands of contagious enthusiasm, it was hard NOT to get equally excited about things we knew almost nothing about previously, like power distribution, sawfish and animal representations in rock art. 

Skilfully facilitated by Events sub-committee member Tracey Naidoo, the audience had the opportunity to delve deeper into the experiences of panel, including what brought them to their STEM careers. All described a curiosity or fascination, often beginning in childhood, with their chosen areas. 

We hope the Australian government is proactive in making it possible for these incredible minds to stay in Perth so they can continue to add immense value, as they are now. 

Negotiating your worth demysified

Last night Women in Technology WA Inc. (WiTWA)  held our bi-monthly TECHXchange event on the topic of ‘Negotiating Your Worth’.  This theme definitely resonated with our network, with another sold-out event at the Globe. 

Our MC Tracey Naidoo led a fabulous conversation with panellists Sam Moody, Neville Smith and Anna Ross-Adjie.

If you missed it, our top 7 takeaways were: 

1. Always have a number up your sleeve as to what you are worth

2. Know what you are willing to walk away from

3. Hiring is like dating; it's the nicest they are going to be to you

4. Close your capability gap

5. Be open to feedback, research, practice and prepare

6. Be able to demonstrate and articulate your value

7. Build you brand 365 days of the year

Our next TECHXchange event will be on 19th September on the topic of "THE FUTURE OF MONEY" and hosted by Bankwest. Ticket sales go live later this week. A special note of thanks also goes to Department of Communities WA for their support and sponsorship of our WITWA TECHXchange event series. 

Data Science Week Event Photos

A serious topic: "Data - good, bad or indifferent?", yet an evening where many a laugh was shared! The photos say it all. Together with Bankwest and Startup Grind we hosted a special event for Data Science Week. Thank you to everyone who joined in on the night!

Latest Techtrails STEM Newsletter out now

Our bi-monthly WITWA Techtrails STEM Newsletter is out with a great overview of recent events and incursions delivered, plus more in the pipeline. Significant updates include:

  • The release of a new STEM Skill Strategy for WA
  • Techtrails STEM incursion success at Duncraig Senior High School
  • Our next WITWA event on Portfolio Careers set for 20 June
  • Snapshot of our recent Data Science Week event
  • Showcasing a great short video interview about Space, Micro-Satellites & WA

If you did not receive your copy CLICK HERE to access our Newsletters and make sure you subscribe for future editions.

Thank you to our Techtrails Sponsors:


Marking the 2018 Data Science Week milestone with WiTWA, Bankwest and Startup Grind

Opened by WiTWA’s Pia Turcinov and Bankwest’s GM of Everyday Banking, Lousie Vegar, we saw more than 100 Women in Technology WA (WiTWA) members and friends gathered in Bankwest’s beautiful outdoor courtyard for networking, drinks and the best party pies ever as we waited to hear from four esteemed and delightfully different panellists in the field. 

Teresa Harding from BankwestChris Nelson from CSIRO's Data61, and Elizabeth Antoine from Microsoft were facilitated by Andy Lamb from Startup Grind and Diana Adorno from WiTWA and ThoughtWorks. The topic? The age-old question: Data - good, bad or indifferent? 

The session was presented in an entirely accessible and inclusive manner to a mixed audience heralding from a variety of backgrounds. Whilst I can safely say no-one in the room last night was indifferent to the value of data and the myriad of ways it is being used, there were certainly some people that were more vocal in the Q&A session than others on the various degrees of evil it represents. ‘When data goes bad’ quickly became the secondary theme to the evening. 

In summary Chris Nelson’s view was that as long as corporates are driving data collection and third party use for profit in the market, their intention is not likely to be aligned with the greater good.  Andy (King of Disrupters) Lamb agreed that clever tech has a place in our modern society and said, “the future is bright and data is certainly part of it”. Theresa Harding summed it up with; “Kids of the future will be unconscious consumers of the world around them. Their data and behaviour in the public sphere will profile them within an inch of their lives”.

We canvassed the opt-out for data collection services too. For example that message that pops up asking permission to drop cookies on your desktop when you peruse a new site, and the geotech data that tracks your every move when your mobile is in your pocket, allowing restaurants to offer you specials when you’re in the neighbourhood, or your phone to predict your driving patterns so when you jump in the car at 5pm on a Friday it can inform you that the traffic is heavy and it will take you 22 minutes to get home.

And Google’s recent example of the newly announced feature called Google Duplex was also cited for debate (good, bad or indifferent?). It uses artificial intelligence technology to generate a natural-sounding voice assistant, able to make a phone call on a user’s behalf, hold a conversation, and book a restaurant reservation or hair appointment without you needing to even pick up the phone. Other than pranking and inappropriate calls, the security industry and the individual concerned with ethics and privacy will need to consider the downsides of this new tech.

Artificial intelligence expert Hussein Abbass of the UNSW Canberra told the media; …"AI Duplex collects people’s voice signatures to continue training the robot and even its own voice seems to be a synthesis of one or more human voices. (People) need to be aware how their data gets used and they need to offer explicit consent for the collection of the data and for the intended use of the data”.

The #witwa committee are Kay Hargreaves Donna Edwards Lucie Hammond Anitra Robertson Diana Adorno Pia Turcinov Maree Morrell and Lacey Filipich.

The next event will be a TechXchange gathering on Disruption and the Rise of Portfolio Careers, featuring Melissa Langdon from Bossmama, Josh Richards, our resident and much loved Mars One Astronaut candidate, and Shona Rowan, Peak Performance Specialist and Ballroom Dancing Champion.

More details can be found on the WiTWA website.

witwa data science.jpg

Level up for greater good say WiTWA role models

Women in Technology (WiTWA) recently packed Spacecubed to the proverbial rafters while hosting a panel of top-notch local female role models in the tech and innovation ecosystem. 

This event is one of several in the popular boardroom series, which WiTWA run to support its mission to promote diversity and equality in WA. The level of interest and quality of questions were testament to two points worth highlighting:

  1. The rise and rise of Perth as an ideas hub with top talent, and
  2. The appetite for women to lift the bar through contributing to diverse teams and business agendas. 

We are thankful to all the role models on the panel who kindly gave their time to share their stories and inspire. 

We look forward to seeing you all at our next shindig to celebrate International Womens Day in conjunction with the Australian Computer Society (ACS) at the Hyatt Regency. Please see the WiTWA website for more details and to register.

Here are the highlights from the panel:

  • Even though things are slowly improving, there is still a definite lack of female role models in the tech sector. 
  • We need to stop competing against other women and instead work together to help and encourage each other to get ahead. The old ‘leave the ladder down’ approach for female colleagues is a good place to start. 
  • We may need to reconsider what a role model looks like - a tech role model may actually be younger than you and not fit the stereotype you once imagined. 
  • If you cant find a role model within your organisation, you need to network and look outside your organisation for inspiring role models. It may not be a ‘one size fits all’ but instead you may find several role models useful for different aspects of your development. 
  • Being stubborn, and resilience were key themes the panel members shared, which had enabled them to get to where they are today....doing the things that people said that they couldn’t do, and using this to drive themselves forward to achieve even greater things.


PM’s Prizes for Science Opening Soon

PM Science Image.jpg

Nominations for the 2018 Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science are opening on 21 February 2018! Do you know or work with a humble science hero, promising early- or mid-career researcher or someone forging their way along the innovation trail that you would like to see celebrated on the national stage? Help them get the recognition they deserve by nominating them for the Prime Minister’s Prizes for Science.

Past recipients include Professor Jenny Graves AO for her pioneering investigations of the genetics of sex, and Associate Professor Kerrie Wilson for her work optimising the global allocation of scarce conservation resources. This year the Prize for New Innovators has also been amended to better acknowledge Australia’s innovators for their contributions.

Check out the criteria for all prizes at and think about who you might know that is eligible for nomination!

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First techtrials for Teachers event at John Curtin College in Fremantle

On October 31, 2017, the first techtrails for Teachers STEM & Future Skills Event which aimed to inspire, connect and demystify the jobs of the future for our educators was run at John Curtin College in Fremantle. This event was attended by school principals, deputy principals, teachers, careers counsellors and educators. 

WiTWA’s techtrails incursions program is designed to generate passion, excitement and interest in technology and science based careers to motivate secondary students to explore and pursue related study and career opportunities. Acknowledging the declining numbers of students choosing technology, science and engineering career paths, WiTWA has been able to excite and inspire in excess of 2,000 WA students to increase their awareness and participation in STEM as a career option whilst broadening their knowledge of and participation in the innovation system as a whole since it’s inception in 2011.

Thanks to Australian Government grant funding and industry partners, WiTWA is able to supplement the techtrails STEM incursion program with techtrails for teachers events in October and November 2017. This techtrails for teachers events was specifically designed to enable teachers, careers advisors and educators to hear from and network with a range of technology and entrepreneurial STEM professionals, showcasing a current industry perspective and tangible examples of the application of STEM skills in future proofing our next generation.

To make this event such a success, our thanks go to:

  • Prof Lyn Beazley, Patron of WiTWA
  • Anitra Robertson, Surgical RealitiesJessica Baldwin & Jennifer Davies, Kinetic IT
  • Susan Kreemer Pickford Engineers Australia (WA)
  • Erica Haddon, RAC
  • Swati Sharma & Kate Langdale, British Telecom at Fiona Stanley Hospital and
  • the wonderful teams at The Institute for Professional Learning and
  • John Curtin Secondary College.