The CCO announces the winner of the second Anyone Can program

Priyanka Ashraf, founder of CCO and Anyone Can

Anyone Can, Australia’s first Community Startup Program 100% by and for Women of Colour concluded its startup program for its second cohort and unveiled Dr Kyal Agraval as the winner of the 8-week program at The Creative Co-Operative (CCO) Pitch Night event held in Sydney. The CCO also announced Rachel Castelino from Blume as the runner-up.

Sponsored by private investment company Tripple, Cohort #2 consisted of 30 founders who were all selected from a total of 261 applicants to go through the 8-week highly-curated program designed to deliver 101 startup education by and for BIWOC founders to help advance in the ecosystem and break through the barriers in accessing initial funding. 

Who were the six finalists?

The final six participants of the program had the opportunity to take part in a pitch competition at Stone & Chalk in front of investors, stakeholders, judges including Bec Milgrom, Rupal Ismin, Adelide Mutinda and Caroline Tran, where Dr Kyal Agraval was declared the winner, taking home $10k in cash, and a 6-month subscription to Sydney Knowledge Hub co-working space. Runner-up Rachel Castelino from Blume received a cash prize of $2,500.

The six finalists were founders across Ag, Wellness, Health and MedTech plus Consumer and Lifestyle, each had three minutes to convince the judges to invest in their businesses.

The finalists were:

  1. Carolina Ferreira, Founder and Director, Octopusbot

  2. Dr Kyal AgravalBranding in progress

  3. Valerie Weyland, Founder, Brown Girl Bloom

  4. Rachel Castelino, Founder, Blume Prebiotic Tonic

  5. Lisa Watson, Pure Vibes Dating

  6. Regina Cheah and Ling Miao, Co-Founders, Alle Lane

As Anyone Can starts to prepare for Cohort #3, Priyanka encourages any aspiring startup founders or STEM professionals who identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander Women, Black Women and/or Women of Colour to submit their expression of interest for the program which provides a psychologically safe space to unpack and navigate the ins and outs of the startup ecosystem and aims to normalise the advancement of BIWOC within the sector.

What were the stakeholders’ thoughts on the program?

Commenting on the program, Winner Dr Kyal Agraval said, “We’re excited to have built a platform that facilitates timely access for patients to great healthcare. This grant awarded to us greatly assists in advancing our vision, and subsequently improving the patient experience through the healthcare system. Congratulations to Priyanka and her team for creating a warm, dynamic and collegiate space for this community of inspirational BIWOC founders.”

Runner-up Rachel Castelino said, “Blume is a low calorie and low-sugar soda filled with prebiotics and plant fibre to support your gut health in the most delicious way. The program has proved invaluable in helping me articulate my story and get feedback from other women as I transition from just an idea to achieving scale. I’m looking forward to growing my firm with the new skills and network of incredible women that I’ve gained from this program.”

What were the executive’s thoughts on the program?

Priyanka Ashraf, founder of CCO and Anyone Can said, “I’m still on a high from Pitch Night, feeling so inspired by the amazing BIWOC founders who showed ambition, grit, determination and creativity over the past 8-weeks of doing the program. I would like to extend my congratulations to Kyal and Rachel. I can’t wait to see where they take their start-ups.”

“Anyone Can wouldn’t be successful in its mission without the support of our partners and investors who believe in the work that we do and see value in supporting BIWOC founders to shift the needle in the Australian start-up ecosystem,” Priyanka Ashraf further commented.

Priyanka further added, “CCO still has the ambitious goal of getting $700 million into the pockets of BIWOC within the next 10 years in order to level the playing field for women who are disproportionately impacted by the effects of intergenerational inequality.”

“And Anyone Can is one of the avenues we are leveraging and offering in order to hit that goal while tearing down the range of systemic barriers including lack of awareness of and access to funding opportunities and lack of mentoring opportunities for BIWOC.”

The Anyone Can program is funded by the Department of Industry, Science and Resources through the Women in STEM and Entrepreneurship Grant Round 3. Expressions of Interest are still open for the Cohort #3 of Anyone Can, where Bla(c)k Women and Women of Colour are given access to 101 startup education and are set up for success and advance in the ecosystem. Expressions of Interest close at the beginning of October. You can submit here