Aussie Start-up & Venture Capital Summary | 15th July 2023
3 New Venture Funds & $100M+ of capital deployed
G'day and welcome to Overnight Success! A big shout-out to the 24 new subscribers who’ve joined since the last edition.
Some exciting news this week….
Gemma is moderating a SXSW Sydney panel in October with Kirstin Hunter (MD @ Techstars), Alex Khor (Partner @ AfterWork Ventures) and Chris Gillings (Five V Capital & Cut Through Venture). Tickets are available here!
🤑 The FY23 Australian equity crowdfunding report was released (Birchal)
The last financial year saw $64 million raised across 85 crowdsourced funding (CSF) campaigns.
The report headline was that crowdfunding declined by 26% in the last year, but compared to drops in VC funding (~70% in H1) & ASX IPO activity (57 deals vs 85), these numbers don’t look too bad.
The average CSF deal size in FY23 was $763k, and the average individual investment was $1739, with Birchal facilitating ~70% of those deals.
Chairman of Tesla Motors calls for more government support & increased risk appetite for Aussie start-ups to thrive (AFR)
At a business forum in Brisbane this week, Robyn Denholm was very bullish on the economic importance of Australia’s tech industry and growing start-up ecosystem, positioning the current economic downturn as an opportunity for a disruption of Australia’s traditional reliance on mining and agriculture to grow and sustain GDP.
Denholm is also the chairman of the Tech Council of Australia and an operating partner at Blackbird Ventures.
Australian and Indian innovation ecosystems join forces in a new accelerator program. (Australia Today)
A partnership between Australia’s CSIRO and an Indian government initiative, Atal Innovation Mission, will deliver the RISE Accelerator and help tech start-ups from both countries “fast-track their cross-border impact”.
The program will initially focus on supporting start-ups working on environment and climate technologies – areas of importance to both India and Australia.
🔥 PLUS 4 start-up raises + 5 wins + 3 new funds! Read on! 👇
Lyre’s lands $34.5M to meet the rising non-alcoholic spirit demand
The Sydney-born non-alcoholic spirits brand Lyre’s has secured $34.5M in funding, backed by investors including D Squared (London & Dubai), Morgan Creek Consumer Fund (US), and existing shareholders. The start-up is now incorporated in the UK but maintains its largest office in Sydney. Lyre’s is known for its range of spirits, including Gin, Bourbon, Amaretti and Italian Spritz.
Lyre’s is now stocked in over 50,000 venues globally and has seen massive growth riding the growing tailwind of more consumer interest in non-alcoholic alternatives. Many venues look to the brand to maintain a quality offering of non-alcoholic options on their cocktail menu. Local drinkers can taste Lyre’s in the Qantas Lounges and Accor Hotels. Otherwise, check this map for a local drinking hole; many offer a free Dry July drink. Cheers to that!
The funding will help the company deal with its growing pains as it maintains its momentum in Australia, North America, Europe, and the Middle East.
EdTech / Developer Tools
Secure Code Warrior settles Series C with a $73M raise
The cyber skills platform Secure Code Warrior, which provides security education for developers, has completed its Series C. Paladin Capital Group led the $73M round with investment from Goldman Sachs and Forgepoint Capital. The two latter both invested in the 2019 $70M Series B.
Secure Code Warrior's platform provides developers with the tools to understand and mitigate known vulnerabilities, employing an agile learning method tailored to individual business needs. The platform has learning activities for all levels, even using missions and coding tournaments to motivate students. The platform can also integrate into developer tools and provide contextual security training.
The investment comes amid increased demand for cybersecurity following significant hacks in recent years. The funding will be allocated towards research and development of an AI-backed secure code writing system to go up against ChatGPT and Bard. The business model is to sell directly to organisations offering enterprise plans.
Secure Code Warrior is a great name for a TV show where developers navigate through an obstacle course. Does anyone want to fund that?
MedTech / EdtECH
International Medical Robotics Academy (IMRA) secures $5.6M to help surgeons train like pilots
International Medical Robotics Academy (IMRA), founded by robotic surgery pioneer Professor Tony Costello, has raised $5.6M, primarily from VC firm Trefor Capital. The funds will boost the production of synthetic organs and torsos used for surgical training simulations.
IMRA, which started as a non-profit to train doctors on surgical robots, also creates and exports realistic synthetic organs. The realistic models enable surgeons to practice complex procedures risk-free. Matt Gray, Chief Training Pilot for Qantas, is assisting in designing the company's curriculum, which includes VR training for complex robotic surgical procedures.
The company also incorporates Hollywood techniques in its synthetic organ production. IMRA's reusable torso costs about $20,000, with individual organs priced between $200 and $500, disrupting the current methods using cadavers ($10,000) or humanely euthanised pigs ($7,000).
IMRA has endorsement from the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Expanding into Europe and America is next on the chopping block (excuse the pun). According to Costello, there is a 17% complication rate for major surgery, a number he is keen to bring down.
Due Diligence: AFR
D2C / Supplements
The Best of Moi secured a $850K pre-Seed (May 2022) to supercharge its consumer goods wellness brand
Sydney-based D2C brand, The Best of Moi (TBOM), raised $850K in pre-Seed funding in May 2022 to boost the development of its liquid dietary supplement, Fabulous Moi. The product, approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, has 11 active ingredients to enhance immunity and brain health. Now TBOM is supported by the TGA, the website has been officially launched, and the product is selling.
The 'Daily Super Shot' comes in a small aluminium canister and contains vitamins, minerals, nootropics and more goodies. The shots are priced between $4.35 - $6 and sold in packs of ten, with the option to subscribe.
A key differentiator for the brand is focusing on eco-friendly practices, using fully recyclable packaging materials. The Best of Moi has gone even further to partner with Evertreen to offset carbon emissions. The fresh capital will help develop new products and expand sales channels now in the market. Expect The Best of Moi in local supermarkets soon; international expansion is on the cards for 2024.
Due Diligence: Business News Australia
If you're a founder or investor who has just closed a round, please reach out to us at [email protected]
New Fund, Who’s This?
The new fund will primarily follow previous investments, including DeathTech Bare, FinTech Bridgit, LegalTech Josef and PropTech Mastt.
Black Nova focuses on B2B business and takes a hands-on approach to invest in ‘boring’ businesses.
The growing team now spans Sydney, New York, Seattle and San Francisco.
🏡 Athena Home Loans
The mortgage lender that offers lower rates with minimal fees is looking to raise $20M from existing investors.
Previous investors include Square Peg, AirTree and Hostplus.
NZ-based Reactory, which sells reactors that can mature spirits to exceptional quality in days, not decades, is looking to raise $4M to build larger reactors.
To help get investors over the line, those who write a $1M cheque get a bottle of the extremely limited edition 'lost whiskey'.
📦️ Get it Fast
Same & Next Day Delivery logistics business, Get It Fast, is looking to raise $5M off the back of 465% growth.
Get It Fast operates a series of 120 retail hubs that deliver within a 15km radius and takes a fixed fee per package. The platform currently works with Kmart, Anaconda, Kidstuff and Kitchen Warehouse.
Compete 💰 A real-time compensation benchmarking tool that integrates data from its customers' HRIS’s, providing rich and dynamic insights, has launched in Australia. Read more from AirTee’s Zach Rose here. (LinkedIn Post)
Diolog 🥳️ The much anticipated “world’s first two-way investor communication software” has officially launched this week. The start-up’s founder, Amy Benson, gained significant recognition after winning SmartCompany‘s early-stage start-up competition the Pitch in February. (Smart Company)
Magic Valley 🥩 The cultivated meat producer, which imminently expects to close a ~$4.5M raise, has struck up a game-changing strategic partnership with US-based Biocellion. Biocellion conducts virtual experiments via computer simulations of living system behaviours and operates in more than 13 countries. (Business News Australia)
Bae Juice 🍐 Will soon be distributing its hangover-alleviating juices made from Korean pears in the New York Tri-state area following an agreement with US-based company Gold Coast Distributors. The company recently received a $500,000 strategic investment from Honan Capital. Apparently, if you drink the juice before consuming alcohol you will “wake up fresh AF” - one for the organised drinkers among us…😜. (Business News Australia)
The Australian Sports Technologies Network (ASTN)🏅 The peak body of Australia’s sports-tech sector has been announced as a recipient of an X-TEND WA Program which will go towards a program designed to support WA’s innovation community by supporting entrepreneurs and stimulating private investment in innovative local projects. (Press Release)
KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)
Gemma’s Pick 💁♀️ ESOP 101
Lucy Wark (Founder, NORMAL) put a call out on LinkedIn last week for the best Aussie ESOP resources, and boy did the ecosystem deliver! This link is a summary of all the suggested resources, organised by whether they’re best suited to employees, founders/managers or both.
A fascinating exploration of the invisible ceilings of growth that companies may face using Amazon, Twitter, Snapchat and Facebook.
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‘Til next time,
👋 Will & Gem