Mums & Co member Lija Wilson is a visionary female founder enabling Australian companies to embrace a more flexible and productive approach to recruiting for their workforce.
A passionate diversity advocate, mum of two boys and a baby girl, and alumni of the Mums & Co Be MPowered pitch ready program and 2019 pitch competition winner, Lija is the founder behind Puffling, a sophisticated talent matching platform improving Australia’s gender diversity in the biggest companies at the highest levels.
“Without Mums & Co, I wouldn’t have been able to bring forward my platform development and build by six months, fast tracking the close on the gender diversity at leadership levels.”
Puffling was created as a result of her personal experience. As someone who had spent 15 years building a career she loved before having kids, she simply wasn’t able to return to the same opportunities or level of seniority or salary on a part-time basis.
“I wanted to pitch Puffling and showcase the solutions we have developed in supporting women returning to work or anyone wanting to work flexibly at senior levels.”
As the advocate for business owning mothers in Australia, Mums & Co knows first hand that only 2.2% of venture capital funds are awarded to women. Some of the factors holding greater female participation back include imposter syndrome, family financial considerations and the difficulty in accessing early phase investment. In response, Mums & Co provides pitch training, confident community support and access to capital for new and existing mum led small to medium enterprises across Australia.
As an alumni of the signature Mums & Co pitch program, Lija describes the program as incredible - “we had pitch coaches and industry experts take us through intensive sessions as a group and some 1:1. It was intense but so supportive - a chance to focus on my business and bond with an inspiring cohort of other female founders. This helped me challenge my goals and celebrate every small moment of success. The support of this Mums & Co program was amazing in helping me navigate the path ahead with greater confidence and community goodwill.”
Mums & Co was recommended to Lija by Marisa Warren of Elevacao. She applied and was selected as one of the 20 founders from across Australia and ultimately crowned the winner, collecting a prize pool which included $10,000 cash for Puffling, pitch training, investor access and business exposure.
“What I found throughout the program was a supportive and inclusive event to champion more women leaders in business, close the gap in pitching knowledge as well as reduce the challenges with funding a business”.
“Honestly, every single one of the 14 other pitches I watched through the coaching and workshops had me thinking ‘Wow, that is such a brilliant business idea – this will be huge’.
Lisa Qi who pitched Share with Oscar has an incredible style and the most fantastic business idea addressing such a pain point. Kym Hunter from Champion Life blew me away with both her passion for health and fitness in children and what she has achieved nationally. The first time I heard Sarah Cummings pitch Teach Ted I had tears! The greatest combination of passion and purpose when supporting parents with children with medical needs or treatment requirements.”
“Working on a startup is really hard. Working on a startup as a female (and especially a mother also juggling family life) is exceptionally hard. Mums & Co provided the relevant support to perfect my pitch, have the confidence to keep going with my startup and open up access to venture capital and other sources of business capital and investment.”
One direct connection made by Mums & Co to Lija was IAG, who Puffling now counts as a client. “ IAG incredibly focused on diversity in their teams and approach to hiring but they continue to be open to flexibility at all levels in all forms - an imperative in 2020 and beyond for big business to attract and retain talent and an opportunity that I’ll forever be grateful to Mums & Co for providing.”
Lija continues to give back in support of the community by speaking at events, hosting local meetups, contributing to the Future of Work roundtable and to the Mums & Co community.
Lija is very generously now available as an expert for Mums & Co members to have 1:1 access to in free, 30 minute sessions. Visit mumsandco.com.au/expert-advice for all information and to book.