Stone & Chalk has developed a world class impact network to support startups and scaleups across all emerging tech sectors.
Since 2015 Stone & Chalk has helped 140 founders raise more than half a billion dollars in capital. Founded in fintech, they have expanded to become the voice of the emerging technology sector in Australia.
Stone & Chalk offers mentorship, capital raising support, relationship brokering, advocacy and workspace for startup founders and corporate partners across finance, insurance, energy, defence, aerospace, agriculture, AI and cybersecurity industries.
They have offices and workspace in Sydney, Melbourne & Adelaide, and their services to residents are available onsite and via virtual platforms so they can be accessed from any location.
We spoke with Cheryl Mack, Head of Community at Stone & Chalk, about how they’ve created one of Australia’s largest tech and startup community, what they offer startups and founders, the importance of networking, how COVID-19 has impacted their business and how they’re handling it.
Demi – What services does Stone & Chalk offer?
We provide commercialisation support, capital raising, mentorship, advocacy and workspace for startup founders and corporate partners in the emerging technology sectors.
Demi – How can others get involved?
Founder – If you’re a founder who is transforming the industry through disruptive and innovative tech, we would urge you to consider our residency program.
Mentor – Corporate leaders wanting to engage with startup-founders single minded focused on solving the most pressing problems in business today, we can connect you with the right people.
Investor – For investors or industry leaders looking to get involved with the right company, we welcome you to join our mentorship program.
Demi – What programs do you offer & who are they most suitable for?
We offer a residency program, S&C COLLAB, that includes support across 5 pillars; Customers, Capital, Talent, Expertise & Community. This includes access to our capital raising support, mentorship program, advocacy, public relations, marketing and relationship brokering services for startup founders.
We also offer corporate partnerships for large organisations who want ground-floor access to innovators working in their industries, either as investors or customers.
Demi – Is there a fee for Stone & Chalk services?
The cost of the S&C COLLAB residency program begins at $580/month for full access to our services and collaborative workspace.
Our corporate partnerships are negotiated individually with partners depending on their needs, interests and resources.
Demi – Does Stone & Chalk assist with funding?
We help startup founders obtain funding and assistance from third-party, public and private sources. As part of the program, startups are supported to become investor-ready and then matched with the right investors from our huge network of angel, VCs, and others.
Demi – Why should founders choose Stone & Chalk?
Stone & Chalk provides residents with a network of contacts and services that maximises the impact of their company. Rather than simply providing a mentor, or a workspace, we provide 360-degree value that supports a founder at every step in their commercialisation journey, from pre-seed stage to IPO.
Demi – What are the key benefits of working with Stone & Chalk?
We welcome residents and partners into an impact network that provides 360-degree value. We support commercialisation, capital raising, business transformation and customer acquisition in a way that no other organisation can.
Our residents and partners are on the bleeding edge of emerging tech and are building the future one day at a time. We are there to make sure they have the support they need to thrive as a community.
Demi – Who is the ideal candidate for Stone & Chalk ?
Stone & Chalk is ideal for everyone who believes in transforming their world and building the future.
Demi – What are some of the greatest challenges startups/entrepreneurs face?
Founding a startup can feel like you’re building the airplane at the same time as going off the cliff. We have been there, and we know what it’s like. It can be confusing and bewildering to navigate capital-raising, compliance, government assistance, team-building and customer acquisitions at the same time as building a product.
When you take up a residency at Stone & Chalk you become part of a network that drives commercial outcomes, accelerates startup growth and fosters transformation for Australian business.
We can provide you with the community you crave and the expertise you need as a founder.
Our impact network has helped more than 200 founders raise half a billion dollars in capital, so we know what works.
Demi – Things to keep in mind when starting a business?
You have to solve an existing problem. The startup graveyard is full of elegant solutions that didn’t have a real problem attached to them. Make sure you’ve done your research and that there is a genuine addressable market for your product before you start building it.
WHAT IT TAKES
Demi – What does it take to start & grow a successful business?
You have to know what you don’t know. Part of leadership is having a clear-eyed view of your own limitations and being able to access the expertise of people who have the knowledge and experience that you lack.
Finally, you need determination – lots of it.
Building a business is rarely a straightforward journey. You will experience setbacks – even failures. Everyone does. What matters is how you handle them. Anyone can succeed well. It’s how company founders handle failure that really sets the leaders apart.
Demi – What advice would you give new founders?
The first thing is to do it, now. If you have done your research and you’ve got an idea that looks like it can work, there’s no other way to find out than by doing it.
There isn’t going to be a perfect time, so don’t wait for one to come along.
The second would be to continue learning through the community. We are so much stronger and smarter together than we are alone. Build your network, become part of it and contribute to it. You will go a lot further and have a lot more impact as part of a networked community than you will if you spend all your time working in isolation.
Demi – Tell us about any new programs, events etc.
We are supporting the formation of a new industry association for proptech companies, incubating some companies in the burgeoning spacetech and defencetech scenes in Australia whilst continuing to lead advances in finance and insurance technology.
We are also currently accepting new applications for Stone & Chalk’s COLLAB Residency Program.
Demi – Have you had to make changes at Stone & Chalk due to COVID-19 and what are they?
When COVID-19 hit we virtualised all our services for residents. Virtually every onsite residency service and package available at one of our three locations was made available online and it’s going to stay that way permanently.
We know people want space to work in, but they also don’t want to be tied to an office. We want resident founders to have the space they need when they need it, and to have access to our programs whether they’re in the office, at home or in any part of the world.
All of our events, advisory sessions, mentoring and support groups are always available virtually for our residents.
COVID-19 WORKING REMOTELY
Demi – What measures did Stone & Chalk put in place during COVID-19 to accommodate those working remotely?
Our focus quickly turned to virtual tools, maximising the use of online applications, ensuring we delivered the same level of service via digital applications and resources. We moved all our services online, running all our sessions and events virtually, which meant increasing the use of video conferencing software tenfold to meet demand. We also virtualised our office support, investor meetings and our mentoring programs via simultaneous member video calls.
COVID-19 STAY CONNECTED
Demi – How important is it for businesses, new & old to stay connected with their team, mentors etc. during the crisis?
Staying connected while being physically removed is really important for our team, residents and network. By virtualising all our programs, making all events available online and fostering digital connections in place of physical ones, we have been able to maintain connections between everyone in our network throughout the lockdown.
We know that many residents are keen to get back into the office, but we’ve also seen some incredible connections develop between founders and partners in different parts of the country that may never have occurred without the measures we took to virtualise services. We want these kinds of connections to continue, which is why we are pushing ahead with virtual as well as physical, services for our network.
Demi – What advice & tips would you give business owners & employees on how to keep going during the crisis?
Times of change and upheaval require quick thinking and decisive action.
You can’t hunker down and wait for a return to normal that probably isn’t coming. We’ve seen huge leaps in the adoption of software as a service and we expect digitisation and transformation to continue at an accelerated pace over the coming months and years. Our sector has a vital role to play in a tech driven recovery and we need to remain strong, united and resourceful to play our central role in that.
Demi – What are you doing at Stone & Chalk to stay positive during these difficult times?
It’s about remembering that there will always be good and bad times, in life and in business. It’s how you handle each that make you who you are. Also remember that it takes up more energy to be negative than positive, and you need all the energy you have so don’t waste it. I make sure to celebrate the small victories and to remember that this will also pass. I also try to maintain a good routine like exercising.
Demi – Do you have any inspirational words during COVID-19 crisis you would like to share?
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning how to dance in the rain. – I can’t remember who said it but it stuck with me.
Demi – Is there anything else you would like to share with our audience?
Find your support networks and use them. There are so many people & organizations out there that are all about helping others. Helping you personally, helping your business, and everything in between.
Find those networks and tap into them and you’ll be far better off.
Hit LINK to view Stone & Chalk’s Innovation Hub, Startup Support & Programs, Networking Opportunities, Event Spaces, Workspaces…
Never underestimate… Women in tech. Ever.
On collaboration… With collaboration we’re stronger together.
On Purpose… It’s best to have a purpose. Find it and pursue it.
On Startup funding… Reports of death have been greatly exaggerated.
On attitude… If you can balance humility and confidence you’ll be okay.
Success means… Doing what you love to change the world for the better.
When starting a business one must… Seek out fellow travellers and share the journey.
On mentors... Indispensable, you need to tread in the footsteps of those who went before.
I never go to work without… A sense of gratitude for my role supporting amazing founders.
On networking… A network is something you give to and take from in equal measure. It’s generative, not extractive.
Never be afraid of… Going against the grain. Don’t listen to people who tell you “that’s how we’ve always done it”. Often there is a better way.
I love what I do because… Every day I get to work with founders who are building the future, and that’s an immense privilege.