Women looking to get a head-start in business will have the chance to learn from some of the best who have gone before them - including Slingshot co-founder Annette Presley.

The telecommunications entrepreneur, who knows what it takes to build a business from scratch, is one of the mentors who will take part in a new accelerator programme for females in business - Lightning Lab XX.

An offshoot of Lightning Lab, it has been designed to help women quickly succeed in their chosen fields through a 12-week scheme.

Programme director Laura Reitel said women were not well represented in technical or founder roles.

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"With Lightening Lab XX we hope to take a solid step towards changing the ratio of women in business in New Zealand."

According to a 2015 Global Startup Ecosystem Ranking Report, 18 per cent of the top 20 startups worldwide had a female founder in their team.

Ms Presley applauded the initiative's push to change this trend and said it was a good way to "target young women with brilliant ideas".

I really, truly believe that there are more girls like me in New Zealand, some of those girls might end up where I am, they might end up somewhere far more special, but maybe if we find one or two of them, then maybe we can help.

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When she first started her own business back in 1992, at the age of 24, there was no such support.

"I didn't have a lot of help, I sincerely didn't."

Ms Presley said while there were many times she could have called it quits, she refused to give up.

Eventually her hard work paid off, and the company she co-founded developed into Slingshot - one of the country's largest internet service providers - and challenged Telecom's virtual monopoly.

Her advice to others looking to follow her path to success was to not give up, "no matter what".

The new accelerator programme, which opens for applications today, will take up to 10 startups, each of which will have to have at least one female working in an executive role.

Each startup will be supported by the mentors and given advice around how to create a product with the customer in mind, how to build traction, how to raise capital and how to grow within a bigger market. Applications close on December 18. The programme begins on International Women's Day on March 8 next year.

Find out more, visit http://www.lightninglab.co.nz/xx