Aussie Start-up & Venture Capital Summary | 14th October 2023
G'day and welcome to Overnight Success, your weekly wrap on all things Aussie start-ups! 🇦🇺
So you don’t miss them, this week’s edition includes two OS originals you won’t have seen yet:
👉️ Exclusive insights from a 1:1 interview with Marisa Warren, co-founder of ALIAVIA Ventures, who just closed a $13.5M fund this week
👉️ A comprehensive list of every SXSW Sydney startup ecosystem ‘side event’ you can attend without a badge. This includes an Morning Coffee Startup Mixer we’re hosting with our friends at Qapita. Come and get yourself a free coffee and say hi!
Housekeeping: Does your OS newsletter get cut-off by Gmail’s pesky mobile app? You can read the full version without interruption here.
This week’s newsletter is brought to you by…
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🤑 Atlassian acquires US-based Loom for $1.5B
The deal represents 2% of Atlassian's market cap and comes at a ~30% discount to Loom’s previous $130M USD Series C valuation led by a16z.
Loom provides async video recordings for work communication and has almost 200,000 customers.
This great post on LinkedIn by Phil Haslett highlights the valuation multiples each investment stage returned on this exit. TL:DR Seed-stage investors returned 64x while Series C investors returned 1x
🐄 Milkrun investors see less than 20% return on the dollar invested.
The cash returned was “in excess of $10M” according to the AFR.
✈️ Aussie startups seek off-shore employees in Manila, following Canva’s lead.
The operating models of some of Australia’s most well known startups are shifting as they look to cut down on wages and look overseas for customer-service, legal, sales and engineering support.
Canva now employs 850 people in Manila but has also hired 1,100 Aussies this year alone.
🇺🇸 America on the brain (and in the news…a lot!)
💸 One bright-spot for some in the current macro environment has been the weakening Aussie dollar, providing a tailwind for Australian-based startups with customers billed in USD.
👋 Turnover of active global investors in Australia, coupled with tougher capital raising conditions, has seen anecdotal evidence of the introduction of harsher terms - such as guarantees new investors will be able to take money (and juicy returns) off the table first in the event of a sale.
✅ Hunter Watkin (Rampersand) shared insights into what he’s seeing US investors looking for in Aussie and Kiwi startups looking to raise a Series A. Some key metrics that caught our eyes: 💰 $1M (in USD revenue), 📈 15% (m/m growth) and 🪄 the magic #2 (spending less than $2 for each new $1 of revenue).
🌉 The F5 Collective sponsored a Californian bill that became law this week, which mandates that any VC who operates in the state or receives any money from a Californian entity (so, a large share of VCs globally) must report diversity statistics for the founders in their portfolio 🙋♀️🌏🙋♂️.
😰 Unhappy investors…
Prominent investor, Adir Shiffman is taking his portfolio company Sleeping Duck to the Supreme Court of Victoria next week over a dispute surrounding the unexpected dilution of his shares and a difference in opinion around how much direct impact the investor could resonably expect to have on the company’s day-to day operations. Read this piece from Capital Brief to learn more.
NewsCorp is no longer considered a backer of betting app, Betr, just 12 months after it’s original investment. It doesn’t come as a huge surprise as Betr has been the subject of a few controversies during that time.
☀️ VC money flows to Queensland
The AFR’s Street Talk has reported that the Queensland Government Venture Capital Fund, managed by QIC, was overwhelmingly oversubscribed with 55 VCs pitching over $700 million in commitments, when the fund was originally slated to be worth just $75 million. Perhaps VCs are predicting an inflow of opportunities ahead of the ramp up to the Brisbane 2032 Summer Olympics…
Electronics / Consumer Goods
Circular snags $7.6M to expand electronic subscriptions business across Australia and Singapore
Circular, a Y Combinator-backed service that offers subscriptions for high-end electronics like iPhones and MacBooks, has secured $7.6M in Seed funding. The latest round was led by AirTree and had participation from the YC Continuity Fund, Global Founders Capital, Partech Ventures and January Capital. The round also included angel investors like the founders of PropertyGuru, Funding Societies, Stashaway, Carousell and Nutmeg. This latest round brings the total valuation to $30M.
Circular has sustainability at its core and offers users new and refurbished products. The subscriptions also include damage protection, covering 90% of repair costs. The latest funding round will allow Circular to capitalise on its first-mover advantage in the Asia-Pacific region, where the tech subscription model is still relatively new. With the latest capital injection, Circular aims to triple its growth in Singapore and Australia in the next year. Growth is also expected to come from its new B2B offering.
Cultural challenges in Asia will need to be overcome. Often, ownership of physical goods is associated with status. However, governments like Singapore are focused on reducing e-waste, which could aid the adoption of Circular's business model.
Due Diligence: TechCrunch
AirTree backs Phasio with $2.5M Seed round to bring the manufacturing design process into the future
Phasio, a Singapore-based company, has raised a $2.5M Seed round led by AirTree Ventures. Phasio aims to simplify the workflow for SME manufacturers by layering automation into customer communications and design requests.
The platform incorporates channels like WhatsApp, SMS, and emails into its manufacturing interface. Its AI chatbot, ManufacturingGPT, engages customers to gather requirements, suggest fabrication technology, and provide instant quotes.
The platform has even more time-saving smarts, including integration with CAD software like Fusion360 and accounting software like Xero and Quickbooks, which offer the ability to provide users with real-time status updates, instant quotations, and design collaboration. It also partners with shipping providers such as Australia Post, UPS, and FedEx, allowing a more coordinated manufacturing process. The entire focus of these integrations is to cut down on the time and costs associated with manufacturing a product.
Phasio has strong traction with 50 manufacturers across Singapore, Australia, Germany, and the UK, focusing primarily on the additive, vacuum casting, and moulding segments.
CLT Toolbox secures $1.5M Seed round to make mass timber construction simpler to design
The structural design software CLT Toolbox has secured a $1.5M Seed round to make mass timber construction designs as easy as conventional concrete or steel. The raise was co-led by BluescopeX, Gravel Road and Archangel Ventures. Also participating in the round were Flying Fox Ventures and LaunchVic-supported Ecotone Ventures.
CLT stands for cross-laminated timber, which is the process of layering wood together to make a stronger, engineered wood. The CLT Toolbox platform streamlines the construction process with its cloud-based software by digitising workflows, improving transparency, and enhancing collaboration. The software can also calculate and efficiently solve complex construction problems using timber. During the construction process, CLT can also assist with procurement and payments. The CLT Toolbox is also a decarbonisation play; using timbers in buildings can cut emissions by up to 75%.
Australia has pioneered the use of timber in office buildings, with Atlassian's new hybrid timber skyscraper reaching a height of 180 metres. The backing from industry leaders like Leigh Jasper and BlueScope also brings valuable experience and network opportunities to the startup, positioning it well for future growth.
Due Diligence: AFR
Renewable Energy / Infrastructure
Gridmo lands $500K Seed round to connect renewable projects to the grid
Gridmo, a grid modelling platform, has secured $500,000 in its inaugural external funding round led by Grok Ventures. Gridmo emerged as part of the Startmate accelerator program and aims to expedite the grid connection process for renewable energy projects.
Australia is on the brink of a monumental energy transition but faces a major bottleneck - connecting renewable projects to the grid can take up to two years. Gridmo, founded by power systems engineers Jarman Stephens and Damien Vermeer, is addressing this by offering a standardised software solution for grid connection studies. Since its launch six months ago, the company has onboarded five firms, including Beca, Node, Grid-Link and ElectroNet. Gridmo has aided the connection of wind farms, solar farms, and batteries nationally.
Over 100GW of renewable projects are in the queue; another 100GW is needed for a full transition. Australia could take half a century to complete its energy shift at its current rate. The existing network is built around large coal and gas power stations and is still being prepared for the influx of renewable energy projects. Renewable energy projects must create key models around their impact on the grid to ensure against failures like blackouts. Gridmo plans to help connect more than 10GW to the grid by 2028.
Humpday rasies $225K pre-Seed to create an ‘anti-dating’ dating app
Dating app Humpday has secured a pre-Seed funding round from Antler VC to kick off its mission to make an ‘anti-dating’ dating application. The key difference with Humpday’s approach is the application involves no swiping and only activates for 24 hours a week on Wednesday. Yes, the app only works on “humpday”.
According to the founders Kara Zervides and Charlotte Vieira, over 3 million Australians use dating applications but many feel they are wasting their time. Humpday combats this with a focus on prioritising real life events and limiting the time when the application works.
Antler’s investment comes as Humpday has hosted several sold out singles parties and rapidly grows its waitlist.
Due Diligence: Smart Company
X-Hemp, the female-founded startup that sells hemp biocomposite building and industrial materials, has raised $1.5M on the equity crowdfunding platform Birchal.
The funding comes from 962 investors and follows a strong campaign touting the benefits of the carbon neutral and natural building material.
X-Hemp works with licensed hemp farmers to convert grain stubble left from harvest into building materials. So far, hempcrete has been used for ~30 new home builds.
👾 Immutable has secured a strategic partnership with Amazon, giving them access to AWS’ pipeline of gaming leads plus extra resources for developers building on their Web3 gaming platform - including up to $100k in cloud service credits for each game. (Immutable Announcement)
New Fund, Who’s This?
ALIAVIA Ventures back female founders with $13.5M fund (hopefully the first of many) (Overnight Success)
OS Guest Writer, Lea Rausch has written this fantastic piece following an interview with one of the fund’s co-founders, Marisa Warren. She reveals behind-the-scenes insights that no other publication has covered so far.
WA-based Purpose Ventures tops up their fund with an extra $8M (Startup Daily)
Six months ago the fund announced a $37 million fund but this week revealed they’ve secured an additional $8 million.
The team have just closed their third investment (IDEAcademy) and expect to announce a few more before the end of the year, so watch this space!
📆 Overnight Success now co-hosts the Aussie & NZ Startup Events calendar, created by Startmate and supported by The Community Collective.
If you’ve got an event coming up - add it to this awesome crowd-sourced resource. It could end up on our Noticeboard!
SXSW Sydney's website UX was killing me, so here's all the conference events in a google sheet:
— Liv Grivas (@oliviagrivas)
Oct 12, 2023
KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)
Gemma’s Pick 💁♀️ How to approach your first pitch meeting with Tribe Global Ventures
In this video, Aaron Birkby and Don McKenzie outline a simple yet productive way they’re now going to approach all first pitch meetings with founders. While they don’t expect all VCs to follow their lead, I think it’s a great guide for first-time founders on the essential components you need to cover upfront in these calls to get the most out of them.
Will’s Pick 💁♂️ How to be an investor at Blackbird
I’m a sucker for a good recruitment strategy. Blackbird have just released a blog post with an accompanying Google Sheet that highlights the values and key skills their investment team need to display as they progress from an Intern to General Partner. It’s a rather detailed ‘look under the hood’ and a great resource I’ve already shared with a few people looking at entering the world of investment.
Have we missed something? Got some feedback? We love emails, so send one over!
‘Til next time,
👋 Will & Gem