Aussie Start-up & Venture Capital Summary | 30th September 2023
G'day and welcome to Overnight Success, your weekly wrap on all things Aussie start-ups! 🇦🇺
An exciting announcement… 🥁
We’ve been teasing this one for a while, but the day has finally come to officially launch our Guest Writer Program! 🎉
This program invites anyone looking to build their profile in the Aussie start-up ecosystem to contribute to OS with their own writing so that together we can elevate even more start-up stories. We soft-launched the program a few months ago and already have four amazing participants on board, including Lea Rausch who has published two articles in the last two weeks!
Want discounted tix to SXSW Sydney? 🎟️
As a perk of hosting a panel event at the upcoming SXSW Sydney conference, Overnight Success has access to a bunch of discounted Platinum or Industry Badges (currently worth $1,895 and $1,295, respectively at full price). If you’d like to grab a cheaper ticket - let us know by responding to this email!
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 supported by…
Celebrating 10 years, MedTech Actuator Origin offers an opportunity for emerging healthcare founders to turbocharge their startup. The winner will receive a cash and in-kind prize pack worth over $20,000.
🏆 LinkedIn launches list of 20 Top Aussie start-ups with only 1 female founder
The list was compiled internally by LinkedIn Australia and assesses data from the platform including employee growth, jobseeker interest, and how well the start-up pulls talent from bigger, more established competitors.
LinkedIn’s Cayla Dengate, a careers expert, said the list “offers a reflection of the venture capital ecosystem, its makeup and its challenges”. Check out the list here.
🏦 NSW budget falls flat for start-ups & the Federal Government Employment White Paper glosses over them too
Last week’s NSW State Budget had most in the local start-up ecosystem underwhelmed, if not disappointed. Articles from Capital Brief and Startup Daily provided useful summaries and slightly contrasting views on the key takeaways - both a worthwhile read for those based in NSW.
This week, the Feds released their Employment White Paper, which laid out their plan to help Aussies who want jobs, and employers who want staff to be able to hire them. Again, mentions of the role of start-ups were limited, despite their out-sized positive impact on employment growth and ability to provide a breadth of future-focused opportunities.
🥩 The stakes have never been higher
Stake.com clapped back saying the global brand abides by the laws of all countries it operates in and will “vigorously defend” it’s rights.
Stake.com now sponsors Everton FC and Alfa Romeo F1 and according to court documents is looking to gain a sports betting licence in Australia.
⛓️ Fireblocks acquires BlockFold for $15.6M
Blockfold is a Melbourne start-up founded in 2021 that helps financial institutions build blockchain-based systems.
Blockfold and Fireblocks have already worked together on projects including NAB’s recent cross-border stablecoin transfer.
OwnHome, which counts CBA’s x15ventures as investors, launched quietly and has begun loaning customers their home deposits.
The funding platform offers up a deposit to those with high incomes and low savings who don’t quite have a deposit together.
For a 20% deposit loan, OwnHome currently takes a hefty annual interest rate of 13% for 15 years (compared to banks currently charging ~6%).
Energy Infrastructure / Drones
Infravision lands $36M to connect powerlines using drones in North America
In a pivotal move to fast-track power grid modernisation, Sydney-based Infravision has secured $36 million in Series A funding led by Energy Impact Partners, with participation from Equinor Ventures and Edison International.
Founded in 2018, Infravision utilises drone-enabled technology to install and upgrade power lines, offering a safer, more efficient alternative to traditional utility helicopters and teams of linesmen. The drone system, known as the TX System, was utilised in areas north of San Francisco during the 2023 storm season to rebuild damaged power lines quickly.
The capital will be used to expand the capabilities of the drone-based platform and intelligent grid monitoring solution. American and Australian utilities companies already utilise the platform, including Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E).
The growth opportunity is evident, with 10 million miles of new power lines needed by 2030 to hit net-zero targets. Infravision is also currently hiring to meet its growing demand.
Aquaculture / Finance
Oceanfarmr secures impact investment to bolster growth and offer more Aqua farm finance
Sydney-based Oceanfarmr, a key player in the sustainable aquaculture tech space, has secured investment from impact platform Builders Vision. The financial backing will bolster Oceanfarmr's mission to empower shellfish and seaweed farmers with specialist financing.
The company offers a range of innovative Farm Finance products designed to provide crucial resources and support to aquaculture enterprises. With financial access often cited as a key obstacle to growth in regenerative aquaculture, Oceanfarmr's solutions are making a notable difference. Presently, over 85% of natural shellfish and seaweed habitats are lost.
This new investment will enable Oceanfarmr to broaden its product offerings and outreach.
The partnership aligns perfectly with both companies' commitments to fostering a sustainable blue economy and restoring ocean ecosystems. As Oceanfarmr continues to scale its solutions worldwide, Builders Vision's investment marks a significant milestone in the journey toward a more sustainable and prosperous future for aquaculture.
"We believe this company will be catalytic in accelerating the growth of shellfish and seaweed farms globally," says Peter Bryant, Oceans Program Director at Builders Vision.
Due Diligence: Press Release
Neara tops up Series B with $15.25M to improve electricity grids and expand into the US & EU
Sydney-based Neara, a climate and energy tech specialist, has secured over $15 million to fuel its expansion into the US and European energy markets. The round adds to a previous $20M raised in late 2022 (Series B), and brings the company's total funding to date to ~$45 million. New investor Prosus Ventures led this most recent round and also saw participation from returning backers Skip Capital and Square Peg Capital.
Neara's tech stack, which leverages 3D simulation, AI, and machine learning, aims to optimise electricity grids for better efficiency and resilience against disasters like bushfires. The platform can also address decarbonisation issues by identifying network bottlenecks and facilitating the connection of new clean energy projects to the grid. The company has previously collaborated with major utilities in New South Wales and recently announced a US partnership with Southern California Edison to model wildfire risk digitally.
Ajust raises $700k to centralise and handle customer complaints leveraging AI
Sydney-based start-up Ajust is shaking up the customer service game with its AI-powered platform that aims to streamline the complaint resolution process. Founded by Tom Kaldor, a former lawyer and product head at law start-up LegalVision, Ajust serves as a free conduit between consumers and businesses. The start-up has raised $700,000 in pre-Seed funding led by Carthona Capital and was part of AWS's ANZ Generative AI Accelerator program.
The start-up aims to close the gap between customer frustrations and business inefficiencies, significantly reducing the time and emotional burden of resolving issues. When a consumer lodges a complaint via Ajust, the platform leverages AI to parse the specifics and facilitates a swift resolution by directly contacting the business. Platform users receive an average of $100-$200 in refunds or compensation and also claims to increase a company's net promoter score (NPS) by 4 to 5 points on average, translating to increased customer loyalty.
Ajust has resolved customers' complaints with over 100 different businesses, carving out a new niche in customer service. Its solution is well-timed as businesses grapple with rising consumer expectations and frequent complaints. Upcoming features include a freemium version for businesses and a more personalised AI experience tailored to specific industries.
Due Diligence: Smart Company
Boson Ventures is raising a $30M fund (PR Wire)
Boson Ventures has raised one previous fund with headline investments including Osara Health and Kite Magnetics.
This second fund coincides with the addition of Curt Shi to the team as a general partner, who brings with him experience in leading a fund from inception to exit, a feat Boson has yet to achieve.
Cyclion has launched a $1.5M equity crowdfunding campaign via Birchal (Business News Australia)
The start-up has developed technology designed to turn plastic waste (like that stockpiled by the now defunct REDcycle) into diesel fuel and is currently seeking expressions of interest for a raise that will help progress the commercialisation of its patent-pending technology.
💃🏻 Cicada Innovations has named Dr Catherine Woodthorpe as its first female chair (Startup Daily)
Dr Woodthorpe has an incredible resume as a Non-Executive Director, Chair and CEO for a variety of organisations centred around innovative technology and has special expertise in climate risk, renewable energy and healthcare.
Cicada Innovations is Australia’s leading deep-tech incubator, which offers a physical work space for deep-tech founders, a support network of relevant experts and a variety of programs designed to support founders.
🌱 TAS-based carbon accounting start-up Sumday partners with Xero (Smart Company)
Sumday helps businesses track and measure their carbon emissions, which is the first step in developing a plan to reduce them.
The Xero partnership aims to make carbon accounting an extension of financial accounting and reporting for businesses on a global scale. It’s a natural fit for the founders, who come from an accounting background.
✨ Spark Festival is back for 2023!
It was unclear when and how the festival would reemerge after its past lead organiser, Maxine Sherrin, announced she was stepping back from her role earlier this year.
In good news this week, the NSW-focused start-up festival is set to come back for a one-week program in the week commencing 30th of October. Read this article to learn more or apply to run an event via this form.
🏠 Sydney proptech Archistar scores a pilot to kickstart US expansion (Business News Australia)
The start-up that uses AI to help fast-track the approval process of property developments will partner with the City of Austin to check the platform complies with local regulations before a broader roll-out.
Airtree and Skip Capital participated in the company’s $6M raise in 2021, followed by an $11M raise in mid-2022.
The foreign exchange (FX) platform, which announced a $11.5M Series B in February this year, has partnered with the member-owned bank to offer end-to-end management of their foreign-exchange transactions.
🚺 UQ announces its inaugural Ventures Empower Women's Accelerator program
UQ Ventures, which has an impressive track record of assisting founders who have gone on to raise a total of $140M in funding with more than $3B in valuations, has this week announced the first cohort of its female founder focused accelerator.
The cohort includes six teams, hosting 14 founders and offers $10,000 in equity-free funding to each venture. Read more about them here.
📆 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!
KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)
Gemma’s Pick 💁♀️ Picking a winning start-up idea, from Thibaut Briere (LinkedIn Post)
I loved this list of questions to ask yourself or another founder to help assess a start-up’s likelihood of success, as well as whether you’re a good fit to work on it. The 100+ comments also provided some interesting ideas and viewpoints.
Will’s Pick 💁♂️ This Is How You Create A Remarkable Product by Seth Godin (Blog post)
Vibing off Gemma’s suggestion above, this short and sweet blog post highlights different focus points to create a product that will stand out and sell out.
Have we missed something? Got some feedback? We love emails, so send one over!
‘Til next time,
👋 Will & Gem