Traditionally, a sponsorship is considered to be a transactional relationship in which a company pays to have its branding associated with an asset – typically a group, venue, event, personality or property. In this scenario, brand marketers measure the effectiveness of the transaction in terms of reach and strategic alignment to calculate return on investment.
But as MYOB shows in its sponsorship of SheStarts, these relationships can also generate a much deeper level of engagement with a community and create a variety of mutually beneficial outcomes for stakeholders on both sides.
SheStarts and MYOB: Delivering valuable support to female-led tech startups
SheStarts is Australia’s only venture-backed startup program for female entrepreneurs. Launched in 2017 as part of the BlueChilli Group, the program gives women, who don’t necessarily have a tech background, the opportunity to start a tech business and provides founders access to a large network of tech leaders, investors and advisors.
As a major sponsor, MYOB contributes funding support as well as the online accounting software on which it has built its reputation – but that’s not where the relationship ends.
According to MYOB Brand Experience Manager, Belinda Watson, the company goes above and beyond to deliver added value to SheStarts founders.
“MYOB is a business full of subject matter experts across a wide array of business and technology disciplines,” said Watson.
“As part of our sponsorship, we offer SheStarts founders valuable mentoring and immersion workshops on topics like branding, communicating value propositions and even how to create and distribute content via social media.”
Founders also gain access to MYOB’s 1,600-strong employee base, on which they can test hypotheses and conduct their market research.
“If their business offering is aimed at corporate clients, they also have
the option to test their initial products within our business to generate customer insights,” she said.
And the results are self-evident. Since launch, exciting tales of growth and entrepreneurism have poured out of the SheStarts program as founders like Anna Wright of BanjoMaps and Jessica Christian-Franks of Neighbourlytics continue to take their businesses from strength to strength.
Deriving value from doing the right thing
Certainly, reach and awareness is part of the equation, but Watson sees a range of benefits flowing back to the MYOB brand at a variety of levels.
“Yes, we get promotion of our brand from deliverables like online and social media content, events and so forth,” she said. “But we also see a range of benefits in the form of employee career development.
“Our employees benefit from the sponsorship by being trained on how to pitch their Hack Day ideas, and they also gain experience in delivering mentoring and support back to those entrepreneurs.
“We’ve even had one of our executives, Jane Betschel, recently travel with those founders to Silicon Valley on an investor tour that visited the offices of top tech companies such as Google, AirBnB and LinkedIn.”
And these direct corporate benefits are still only part of the equation for MYOB. As Watson explains, the sponsorship also plays an important part in how the company addresses its corporate social responsibilities.
“SheStarts is a program designed to accommodate women with great ideas who don’t necessarily have a technology background,” she said.
“Right now, women make up only 16 percent of the population holding STEM qualifications and not having a tech background is becoming a real barrier for women trying to start their own business.”
In these terms, MYOB’s support of SheStarts goes far beyond a traditional sponsorship equation of cost per reach.
“When we consider the value of goodwill generated as well as all the other outcomes of this sponsorship, there are suddenly many more dimensions to that simple brand marketing equation,” said Watson.
“Even better, it really just feels good to know we’re addressing a larger societal issue and helping to drive real change.”