Dubliner wins Australia’s top award for women in tech start-ups

7 Aug 2019

Annie Slattery. Image: ConX

Annie Slattery’s start-up ConX connects contractors in the construction industry online and enables them to find work.

Annie Slattery, an entrepreneur who is originally from Clontarf in north Dublin, has received a top award in Australia for women in tech start-ups.

Slattery was presented with the award at Hopper Down Under, which was held in Australia for the first time last week. The event is part of the Grace Hopper Celebration, which is named after computer scientist Grace Hopper and is the world’s largest gathering of women in computing and tech.

Slattery received the award for her start-up ConX, which connects contractors in the construction industry online, with the aim of changing how construction contractors can find and win work.

Siliconrepublic.com spoke to ConX’s former CIO, David Stenson, about the technology behind the start-up in September 2015.

The award was part of a pitch competition, which saw more than 100 women pitching ideas in Brisbane on 2 August for a share in more than $100,000 in business support services, and the potential for further venture capital funding to grow their global businesses.

The business services will be provided by companies such as IBM and Alibaba Cloud, with mentoring opportunities from Main Sequence Ventures, manager of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Innovation Fund.

Eleven entrants made it to the final, which was hosted by the Australian Government’s lead agency for international trade promotion and investment attraction, Austrade.

Austrade’s CEO, Dr Stephanie Fahey, said that the agency is committed to driving higher representation of women in international business: “Elevating women entrepreneurs and innovators is critical to Australia’s ability to compete in international markets, creating new opportunities for industries and supporting high standards of living.”

Company expansion

Slattery said that following this award, she hopes to secure funding to make ConX a success in other parts of the world.

“This prize represents a fantastic opportunity for ConX to expand into global markets, with the United States top of our list in terms of the size of the market and the potential for digitisation in the construction sector,” she said.

“Keith Moore – my husband – and I settled in Australia by chance some 10 years ago. I was originally working in corporate finance and Keith had his own carpet business. We quickly identified an opening in the market for a ‘tradies’ recruitment site, dedicated to SME contractors. Now we have expanded into specialist services across a range of areas including online tendering.

“The market is now ripe for transformation and ConX is at the forefront, which was recognised by judges this week.”

The start-up’s core team consists entirely of Irish-born individuals. Apart from co-founders Slattery and Moore, the team’s CTO Jonathan Clarke hails from Kerry, while its digital marketing director Jonathan Slattery is also Irish. The company employs 12 people from its head office in Sydney.

ConX has now expanded its range of services to include tender management and automated take-offs, targeted at SME building contractors in Australia, but the company is also setting its sights on the US, with south-east Asia and China serving as follow-on markets. There are also a number of Irish SME customers using the company’s software.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic