It never hurts to ask.

That’s the mantra of Julie Trell, the 17th person I’ve met on my journey to have lunch with 500 strangers.

You might be asking for help, Julie says, or you might be asking for business – but just ask.

Getting into the asking habit not only increases your chances of hearing the word ‘yes’. It also forces you to expand your thinking and dream bigger dreams.

Coincidentally, most of the people I’ve asked out to lunch have said no, but I’ve kept asking. I’m glad that I asked Julie, and I’m glad she said yes, because she’s incredibly impressive.

Julie is not only the head of muru-D (a startup accelerator sponsored by Telstra), she also runs the Australian arm of SheEO (a new-model group that champions female entrepreneurs).

SheEO pairs ‘activators’ with ‘ventures’. Activators contribute $1,100 per year; this money is used to fund five-year interest-free loans for ventures. These ventures must have majority female ownership, must have majority female leadership and must be addressing one of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

How do you win funding from SheEO? The first step is to ask.