Women In Innovation & Technology South Australia (WIT-SA.org) has awarded its inaugural Winnovation Information Technology trophy to Leila Henderson, founder and CEO of news content platform NewsMaker.
Henderson won the award for her continual innovation within her own business, which started as a simple media database in 2004 and grew to become an innovative search-engine friendly press release and content distribution service with over 9,000 customers.
“The commercialisation path started at an ANZATech event in Silicon Valley where I met my first developer,” Henderson says. “We progressed to win a Yellow Pages Business Ideas Grant and Australian Government grants to assist with business planning and R&D.”
The former IT journalist and PR specialist with IBM says there have been plenty of challenges on the road to success.
“Like all business owners, I’ve had high and low points, but I’ve always had the same goal in mind – to provide solutions to the problem of reach and influence in the very over-crowded world of online media.
“When we started out, press releases were a very popular way to reach journalists, who would tell your story to the rest of the world.
“Now a press release is a launch pad into social media – and judging by the fact our service has grown by over 100% this year alone, press releases are not dead yet, as is often claimed.”
Henderson says her experience with NewsMaker has given her the confidence to explore other IT business innovations.
“NewsMaker is more than a press release service, it’s an engine for content distribution, analytics and email marketing that can be used across any industry.”
She is in the process of patent applications for a new online service that incorporates innovative mobile services for the PR industry.
WIT-SA President Lisa Kennewell said that the inaugural awards attracted over 100 entrants across seven categories, with IT being the most hotly contested.
“Our aim was to showcase female innovators finding new ways to forge the industries of the future, contributing to the South Australian and Australian economy and positioning the State as a place that supports business growth,” Ms Kennewell says.
“Leila has faced and overcome many challenges in building her business. Her guts and determination have inspired many other women to adopt innovative practices and start their own technology-related businesses.”
Henderson adds that one single innovation does not make a business.
“We are always looking to the future, what will our customers need next, not just what do they need today,” she says. “’Adapt or die’ is our motto.”
Henderson has a diverse background in journalism, from IPC in London and Toronto Star Group in Canada, to News Ltd, Fairfax, Australian Consolidated Press and Reader’s Digest Group in Australia.
In the PR field she has operated her own agency and worked for well-known firms such as Howorth, Blackie McDonald and Porter Novelli.
She is State President of the Public Relations Institute of Australia (PRIA), a mentoring partner of the New Venture Institute at Flinders University, and a Director of MGM Wireless (ASX:MWR).
The Winnovation Awards were sponsored by the Adelaide Advertiser and supported by Bendigo Bank.
Leila Henderson [email protected]
Ph. 0414 69 70 71 www.newsmaker.com.au
NewsMaker is a trademark of NewsGallery Pty Ltd.