Australian female founders have only attracted $3 million in funding compared to their male counterparts who have raised an excess of $50 million, according to a survey of 63 VC-backed Australian startups.

The report, Australian Startup Salary Guide 2019/2020 from startup talent and growth firm Think & Grow and Amazon Web Services also showed women are also underrepresented in executive positions in Australian start-ups.  

The research is based on the salary analysis of 1000 individuals working across 63 VC-backed Australian startups and provides insights into the salaries and composition of the Australian startup ecosystem.

While women may not be in executive roles, they account for the majority of low-level roles. 

The report said women comprise 66 per cent of accounting roles, 55 per cent in customer service and 77 per cent in office manager roles. 

Those startups surveyed who had raised between $10 million and $50 million, women were absent in roles including CFO, CTO/VP Engineering, VP/Head of Sales or Head of Operations.

Conversely, they held 75 per cent of senior marketing roles, 50 per cent of senior HR roles and 66 per cent of data scientist roles.  

Source: Australian Startup Salary Guide 2019/2020.

With the current economic climate impacting every business and every industry the technology sector is still producing career opportunities for Australians, without a drop in salary, says Jonathan Jeffries, Director and Partner, Think and Grow.

He said even with COVID-19 layoffs, they aren’t seeing current salaries reduce from the salary data reflected in the report. 

“Talent in tech is still a premium, despite economic decline across other industries. Tech jobs are still growing and skill sets are in high demand. The recruitment work we still have globally shows the same salary levels as was six months ago. 

“Instead of salary cuts, current employees (be it executives, key staff) are working reduced hours. While we’re seeing some temporary pay cuts, we’ve not seen a shift as yet in salary,” he said. 

Pay Packets 

Employees working in engineering or finance start-ups are earning some of the highest salaries in Australia with senior-level executives earning mean wages over $200,000, according to the new data. 

CEOs, CTOs and CFOs are amongst the most highly paid positions, with mean salaries of $227,551, $202,000 and $207,000 respectively. 

Jeffries said the report should demonstrate to the government the importance of looking after the tech sector in these difficult times. 

He said, “The tech sector is a driver for the future of Australia’s economy and it’s essential we support this industry for generations to come. 

“In light of this situation, work as we know it has significantly changed and we acknowledge that for many of us, this will be a tough time. 

“To support the Australian startup ecosystem during this period, Think & Grow is extending free career coaching services to those in the technology industry who have been made redundant,” he said. 

Australian founders who raise money earlier pay themselves better, give themselves more equity and generally have more gender diverse teams, the report noted. 

Early-stage founders who have raised $500,000 or less pay themselves a mean salary of $76,792, while on the top end of the scale, founders who have raised $50 million or more, earn a mean salary of $227,551. 

As more capital is raised, the number of founder CEOs decreases, indicating as startups mature, founders are either taking a backseat or exiting. 

When companies hit the $10 million capital raise mark- startups change, the report said. They start to get serious about HR, legal, finance, risk, compliance, customer support and strategy- and are willing to pay big salaries for them. 

Responsibilities that were once covered by the founder, or early hires wearing many hats, break out into distinct roles. The value of product, design, HR, sales, and marketing comes to the fore. 

From the report, 48 per cent of dedicated product, 82 per cent of HR and 55 per cent of sales hires occur at the $10 million mark. At earlier stages, these functions are often outsourced. 

At this point with CTO/VPs of Engineering (53 per cent) and CFOs (58 per cent) are also hired. COOs tend to make an earlier appearance, with hires in 77 per cent in startups who raise $5 million. 

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