NYC Immersion “Female Founders” Program – Annette McClelland, Co-Founder, Tekuma

A Week in New York – Annette McClelland, Co-Founder Tekuma

Five female founders, four companies, three industries, two flights to one amazing week.

Halfway through May we thought we were well prepared, we’d studied our companies, our industries, our competitors and knew we were in for a truly immersive week in New York. The first two days were jam packed, every hour brought a new advisor for the legal, immigration, insurance, brand, finance, hiring, and fundraising implications of coming to the US east coast. All of the founders are at different stages, all have diverse skills and we all have unique products. However, being unique in its own right is not enough in New York and those first two days had some of us reeling with the magnitude of the market and how difficult it was going to be to break into. Day 3 brought promise though; our companies had individual meetings with market experts, potential customers and venture capitalists. It ended with us each pitching to a valuable network brought together and trusted by FD Global and Lab 1492 to support us and support us they did and do. The last two days we filled with further meetings, followed up on contacts made the first few days and fit in as much as we could into the rest of the week.

My company Tekuma, is in the business of hardware, innovative, invent-new-technology, disrupt an eighty-year old industry sort of hardware and we’ve been developing our technology for over two years now. We have spent a lot of time in China and Hong Kong over the last 15 months, 9 sponsored trips in fact, experiencing what some call ‘entrepreneurial tourism’. Different levels of government, private companies and competitions sponsor our flights, accommodation, expenses in various districts and tour us around their innovative sectors, take photographs, video interviews and show us why we should bring our company to their cities. In December 2017, I went to San Francisco for the first time, partly to do the last subject of my MBA and partly to explore the opportunities of the USA. At that time, 7 trips to China had borne us contacts, possible manufacturers, some recognition and a national TV appearance but it had not earned us what we really wanted: customers. So I went to the US seeing if they moved faster. I believe this is true. People in the US are genuinely willing to help you and if they can’t, they will tell you straight up, they aren’t going to waste either of your time with false promises, busy work, or coffees that lead to nothing. In the US, Australians are valued for being honest and hardworking and this puts us in good reputation entering the US.

I came to New York expecting a taste of the market and clues for my early-stage company to consider over the next 12-18 months and found myself considering that these opportunities would have me returning sooner than I thought. Being a founder is being on a rollercoaster that has not slowed down over the last two years and it does not look like it’s going to let up.

With the support of incredible people we meet along the way like Trena Blair and others from FD Global, Lab 1492 and our fellow founders we are in a better position to succeed and I am glad there are others along with me for the ride.