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Seed funding to support early-stage new businesses in tough market

State Library Victoria’s startup support service StartSpace has today opened applications for the Lisa Ring and Family Scholarships program which will be awarded to two early-stage new business founders from Victoria.

Generously funded by philanthropist Lisa Ring and her family and now in its second year, the scholarships comprise $10k seed funding, bespoke business coaching and StartSpace Loft Membership for six months.

Many support structures across the startup ecosystem are aimed at more established and growing businesses, this program provides support to founders at the very start of their business journey.

Last year’s inaugural program saw the scholarship awarded to David Hartley co-founder of SoundSmith, connecting musicians with viral creators, and Anna Taylor founder of Podcard which creates and sends personalised podcasts.

Since then, Hartley has been named a 2022 The Music Network 30 under 30 finalist. SoundSmith has been accepted into two accelerator programs: Melbourne Accelerator Program and Startmate Accelerator with a combined further investment of $140k. SoundSmith also took part in the Victorian Music Development Office Music Startup Amplifier Program.


StartSpace Community Lead Aun Ngo said the scholarship program aims to help emerging entrepreneurs like these get their business ideas off the ground.

“Just like StartSpace, this program is designed to help early-stage new business founders build the knowledge, skills and networks they need to overcome the major barriers to starting a business in Australia,” he said.

“We were delighted to see the success of the inaugural Lisa Ring and Family Scholars. Watching David and Anna progress their business ideas has been very rewarding. I can’t wait to see which business ideas will be nurtured by the program in 2023.”

Philanthropist Lisa Ring said the program aims to fill a gap in the market.

“With markets down and tech investors nervous, it’s been a challenging year for all startups so we want to encourage new talent to keep going,” she said.

“There are many avenues for established businesses to find the help they need, but when you’re just at the beginning – you might have an idea, or notion of what might be – it can be very hard to find the support you need. This program addresses a gap in Victoria’s support structure for new business founders to help get great business ideas off the ground,” she said.

“It’s a natural fit for State Library Victoria’s StartSpace, which promotes inclusion and access for all – which are also fundamental to my personal philosophy.”


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