Aussie Start-up & Venture Capital Summary | 26th August 2023
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💰 Access to extra moula for aspiring student entrepreneurs (Smart Company)
It’s been a while in the making but the Federal Government’s Startup Year Loan has officially launched its first pilot program and is now taking expressions of interest.
The loans are available to recent graduates as well as postgrads and undergrads in their final year of study, providing access to up to $11,800 to use towards university-accredited accelerator programs.
🏠 Keeping it in the family…offices (Startup Daily)
A new report from KPMG has revealed that the number of family offices in Australia has grown by 150% over the last decade. A report from pwc released earlier this year confirms this is a global trend with family offices accounting for almost one-third of all capital invested in start-ups globally.
The family offices of successful Aussie start-up founders, such as Grok Ventures (Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes) and Euphemia (Up founder Dom Pym), are establishing their presence in the ecosystem as strong start-up investors.
As more of Australia’s ‘start-up darlings’ realise their paper-billions via IPOs and other exists in the coming years, there’s reason for optimism that more newly-created high-net-worth individuals will look to re-invest back into the ecosystem and fuel the next generation of Aussie unicorns.
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HEO Robotics launches with $12M Series A to better understand objects in orbit
HEO Robotics uses a combination of space-based sensors to provide constant intelligence of objects in space, including their function, role, activity and history. The platform can then assess any threats to a client’s satellite. The need is growing as the number of satellites orbiting Earth has more than trebled to nearly 8,000, with new satellites launched almost daily.
This funding comes amid uncertainty in Australia’s space focus, including halting a $71M space innovation hub and scrapping the $1.2B National Space Mission for Earth Observation program. HEO was in the 2017 UNSW Founders Program and raised a $3M Seed round last year from notable investors, including David Harding and Y Combinator.
Ignition lands $23.2M of venture debt to expand professional services platform
Ignition, the Sydney-based ‘all in one’ platform streamlining payment processes for professional services, has taken on $23.2M in growth capital. The cash, or venture debt, comes from CIBC Innovation Banking.
Ignition automates and optimises proposals, client agreements, billing and payment collection, reducing late payments and unbilled work. The platform also helps professional service firms improve their cash flow cycle by debiting clients at the start of the month and reducing admin workloads.
It has a strong foothold in the industry since being founded in 2013, with 6,500 businesses using the platform globally. Ignition now employs over 180 people worldwide, but mainly in Australia. Ignition plans on using the growth capital for… well... growth. The focus will be on the North American market, already primed with ~50 staff based in Canada.
Due Diligence: The Australian
Kiki secures a $7M Seed round at a USD$28M valuation to disrupt subletting
New Zealand-based subletting platform Kiki (formally EasyRent) has landed a $7M Seed round led by Blackbird Ventures. According to the AFR, Blackbird secures a 16% stake in Kiki at a USD$28M valuation. The capital came from Blackbird’s new Australian and NZ funds.
Kiki is an invite-only peer-to-peer subletting service founded by Toby Thomas-Smith in 2020. The Tinder-like functionality helps lessors, often students and digital nomads, secure subleases for less than six months.
Despite solid growth in Sydney, with 1,500 homes subleased, the company has turned off its Sydney platform to go all in on a New York launch. The digital nomad culture and population-dense city should be a perfect testing ground for Kiki.
Due Diligence: AFR
AI / MarTech
Haast secures a $1.2M pre-Seed to help marketing teams to stay compliant
Canberra-based start-up Haast, founded by three former ANU students, has secured a $1.2M pre-Seed round. The oversubscribed round was led by Aura Ventures, with participation from Black Sheep Capital and a few angels.
Haast, powered by AI, helps marketing and compliance teams manage their live digital presence across owned and third-party assets. For example, a power company may be keen to ensure the communications stay within any greenwashing rules and industry standards. Companies can go a step further and add custom rules for their messaging standards. The AI scans digital presence, including text, video, and imagery. Channels include websites, social media platforms, YouTube and more. The AI engine handles the complexities of modern digital marketing, which can now consist of thousands of assets across hundreds of channels.
This investment follows Haast receiving a $30,000 grant from the CSIRO ICON program.
Due Diligence: The Australian
If you're a founder or investor who has just closed a round, please reach out to us at [email protected]
🪴 Victorian medical cannabis biotech Medigrowth has raised nearly $3.45M from over 2,000 investors on Birchal. The raise follows the recently launched Haiku Health, a direct-to-patient telehealth platform for plant-based medicine prescriptions.
The minimum target of $500,000 was hit in just 45 minutes.
Founded in 2017, Medigrowth has seen an average monthly growth of 30% over the past year and collaborates with Deakin University on plant-based alternatives for neurodevelopmental challenges, clinical trials for CBD and paediatric autism, and research into advanced oncology care and mental health.
Judo Bank 🏦 Boasts a seven-fold profit increase and hits nearly $9B on the books as it takes the fight to the Big 4 banks (Smart Company)
Judo was founded in 2016 but only gained its full banking license in 2019. The challenger neo-bank offers loans to SMEs and has ~3,800 customers.
Sans Drinks 🍸 Sells to Just Wines after falling into voluntary administration (Business News Australia)
It’s not over yet for the non-alcoholic beverages start-up founded by Irene Falcone which has now been given a second life after an acquisition deal with one of Australia’s leading online wine retailers.
Falcone started the business in 2020, three years after her previous company Nourished Life was sold to BWX (ASX: BWX) for $20M. She’ll stay involved in the business’ strategy and marketing efforts.
Butter Insurance 🥞 Spreads the word with a creative outdoor advertising campaign (LinkedIn Post)
The insure-tech start-up that targets Gen Z consumers with its subscription-based insurance product was part of Startmate’s Winter 2022 Accelerator cohort and received $1.3M in pre-Seed funding in December last year.
UQ Entrepreneurship and Innovation Awards 🏆 Recognises up-and-coming entrepreneurs & start-ups (University of Queensland)
‘Startup of the Year’ was awarded to Analog Quantum Circuits (AQC) which develops microwave technologies for superconducting quantum computers.
KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)
Gemma’s Pick 💁♀️ The Complete History & Strategy of Costco, Acquired Podcast
Ben & David (the hosts of Acquired) spend a fantastic 3 hours explaining why Costco is one of Charlie Munger’s favourite companies in the world. One lesson for start-ups is that you can build a lot of goodwill by not squeezing for profit at every opportunity, and the long-term pay-off is almost invaluable.
Will’s Pick 💁♂️ Hitting the right note: A primer for founders raising using convertible notes, Medium Post by Tom Wilson
Not every convertible note is created equally. Tom does a fantastic job of explaining the different terms you might see in a convertible note and how they can affect things for investors and founders.
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‘Til next time,
👋 Will & Gem