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Hitnet

Hitnet's CEO talks Accessible Technology, Mentoring, and Coworking

Hub Australia’s Impact Lead, Jan Stewart, spoke to long-time Hub member Julie Gibson, CEO and Co-Founder of Hitnet.

Hitnet is an organisation aiming to bridge the gap between technology and accessibility, and bring digital access and information to people who may otherwise miss out. They’re one of Hub’s many members working to change the world for the better through amazing impact initiatives.

What gap does Hitnet fill in Australia?

Hitnet delivers information and services to the hardest to reach communities around Australia. There are over 3 million Australians that aren’t online – as government and corporations digitally transform their services, many aren’t engaged with the digital world. This is where Hitnet comes in.

What brought you to Hitnet?

I started my career as a software developer for large insurance companies and was looking for something more interesting and challenging to apply my technology skills to. I began working with Hitnet over ten years ago when I was living in Cairns – back then it was a university research program rolling out technology to deliver health promotion information to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

What has your experience as an older, female entrepreneur and founder been like?

Hitnet

We transitioned Hitnet out of the university sector to a startup about six years ago. By then my daughters were older, I had completed an MBA, and I was ready to focus on running a business.

Recent research has shown that older entrepreneurs are more successful with scaling startups, though that success doesn’t necessarily translate to receiving investment, particularly for women.

Read more: Making an Impact on Entrepreneurs with The Founder Lab

How have women-focused business groups helped?

At a Hub Lunch and Learn last year I heard Deb Noller speak about her experience as a female technology entrepreneur seeking investment – she recommended women’s networks such as Springboard Australia.
I subsequently did Springboard’s E3 program and found this to be hugely beneficial on many levels.

Is mentoring other women in business important to you?

It’s really important to me to see other female-founded enterprises flourish, particularly those that have a scalable social impact.

There now seems to be more barriers to women having careers in technology than when I started out as a software developer. I’m keen to support women through mentoring so they’re not averse to founding technology companies, even if they don’t have an IT background.

What do you enjoy about coworking at Hub Australia?

While at the Hub I learnt about B Corp and decided that this would be a really good fit for Hitnet, as a for-profit, for-purpose company. Every two years we do our global accreditation and along with Hub Australia, enjoy being part of this burgeoning community of like-minded purpose-driven companies.’

After the confines of working in both corporate and university environments, coworking was a revelation all those years ago. After being a member for 6 years, it continues to suit me to have a mix – I travel, work from my home office, and get to be part of a coworking community.

Read more: How to Choose the Best Coworking Space
I’ve met many of my working business partners at Hub Australia over the years and have also met many fellow entrepreneurs who are now great friends and provide much-needed support and encouragement.

I also love being able to find a Hub as I travel around the country and have used related coworking spaces overseas as well.


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