Robust ThemeDec 09, 2019 2020-04-08 7:40
Introducing our 2021 Entrepreneur in Residence, Priyanka Ashraf
We are excited to announce the latest addition to our team - our Entrepreneur in Residence at Tech Ready Women - Priyanka Ashraf.
Priyanka is an award-winning ex-lawyer turned technologist who has spent over 10 years in the startup ecosystem. She is currently growing The Creative Co-Operative, Australia’s first 100% migrant Woman of Colour-owned, led and operated social enterprise and marketing agency that exists to lift the barriers of economic access faced by migrant Women of Colour.
Priyanka has worked across various startups and gone through Antler, BETA (Victoria University Pre-Accelerator), Catalysr and RMIT Activator to take her startup from concept to a revenue and impact-generating business within its first month of operation.
Priyanka, please could you tell us about your background and professional experience?
I’ve lived in Australia for almost 20 years now. As an international student from Bangladesh, I studied law at the University of Canberra. It was during this time that I started participating in hackathons, which led to me starting a successful online clothing business after identifying a gap of accessible high street clothing in Canberra.
It was at that point that I knew entrepreneurship was something that excited me but I also had to finish what I started.
So I completed my law degree then moved to Sydney, where I was admitted as a solicitor.
I practised for several years, growing increasingly frustrated with how outdated our legal infrastructure was. And that is how I came across Blockchain, which then exposed me to Fintech.
Next thing I knew, I was in New York participating in an MIT scholarship and exploring how to apply innovative technology solutions to improving everyday industry operations.
When I returned to Sydney, I transitioned out of law and into startup land. I worked across a number of startup or startup community organisations including Faethm, Stone & Chalk, FinTech Australia, ConsenSys and She Loves Data. In between, spending a stint in PwC’s Emerging Technology team exploring corporate scale applications of emerging technology.
What are you up to now?
When COVID19 hit, I was eyeballing the next step in my career - to attain Director level at a scaleup on the rise. Rejection letter after rejection letter, I kept going.
Then Black Lives Matter happened - the catalyst that changed my path forever as a self-identifying Woman of Colour.
I was tired of my extensive professional and technical capabilities and experience being underestimated.
So, instead of placing my future in the hands of someone else who did not understand how to identify or assess my talent, I decided to place my future in my own hands and that is how The Creative Co-Operative was formed.
Since forming last year and in less than 6 months, we have already created 25+ paid opportunities for other migrant Women of Colour.
Was the pandemic a bad time to start? It was the best time to start.
Women are resilient. We’re multi-taskers. We get sh*t done and we make excellent financial decisions and this is exactly what is going to see us come out of this pandemic completely fine.
Why did you decide to join as an EiR with Tech Ready Women?
Apart from being one of Australia’s first major startup program for women with demonstrated results of founders successfully raising capital and scaling their startups?
There’s actually a story.
Back in 2018, a friend had 2 passes to attend a Tech Ready Women event. She was unable to attend and asked if I wanted the passes.
At that late stage, none of my other friends would have been able to join me as a +1 and the ticket would have gone unused (and it was valued at $600).
Around that time, I had been liaising with The Social Studio, which said friend knew about. The first thing she suggested was to ask if anyone from their team would be interested in the ticket.
Which is exactly what I did and is exactly what ended up happening.
Tech Ready Women isn’t just a program that enables non-tech female founders to build tech startups.
It's a community of peers that look out for one another so that we, as female founders, can make space for one another and grow together.
That day when I heard from Blaise McCann, founder of Hear Us Roar, share her story, I found myself thinking back to that time in university when I had a successful business with real legs, but I set it aside because I “needed” to finish law.
Well, come full circle, turns out I ended up exactly where I was meant to be. Supporting the next generation of female founders like you to get to where you know you can be.
Be sure to pre-register for TRW’s upcoming 2021 programs.