Join a community obsessed with backing and believing in the next generation of great founders.

First Believers 14-week program isn't just theoretical, it's practical.

You will not only learn the investing craft from the best investors in ANZ, but have the exclusive opportunity to make real investment decisions with your own funds or through the Startmate Funds.

Cohort 8 will kick off in September 2024.

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Inspired by Startmate’s original mentors.

First Believers is a six-month program inspired by Startmate’s original mentors. Back in 2010, these mentors believed in and backed early-stage Aussie founders. We're on a mission to find more people like them.We believe that to create a truly diverse and powerful startup ecosystem across Australia and New Zealand, we need fresh perspectives, thinking and networks at the investment table. First Believers is the catalyst for a new generation of investors to hone their craft.


Technical to non-technical

“By the third day of my internship, I was already pitching to the Queensland Small Business Commission.”
— Tsamara, Student Fellow (Summer 2020/21)


Solo founder to founding team

“The great thing about hiring through Startmate is the people who join through one of the Fellowship programs are already pre-selected for being amazing. They are looking for change and roles where they can have a big impact, and everything that working for a startup can provide.”
— Gridcognition (Startmate, Mel20 Alumni)


Solo founder to founding team

“Why does the UK have such a financial services driven economy? Basically … ask the smartest undergraduates ‘what are you going to do next?’, they're all like, ‘oh, I'm going to go work at Goldman Sachs’ or whatever. … The reason Silicon Valley is so special? It is the one place in the world where [ambitious students] say ‘we’ll start a company’.”
— Matt Clifford, Founder at Entrepreneur First.

Accelerate your journey to becoming a world-class investor

The first half of the onboarding program focuses on the theory, shaped by all the learnings we've had from over a decade of investing. We cover our investment frameworks and everything you need to launch your angel journey - regardless of your experience.

Learn early-stage startup investing by actually investing

The second half of the onboarding program is stacked with hands-on investing. You will be reviewing real pitch decks, meeting real founders, and making real investment decisions with your own funds or through the Startmate Funds.

Invest alongside an inclusive community

Twice a year we run an onboarding program for an exclusive group. You'll get to meet each other at IRL events as well as get matched 1:1 weekly, bi-weekly or monthly based on shared interests. Never invest alone.

First Believers come from all walks of life, including founders and operators from...

First Believer Testimonials

"This program really opens doors! I really loved the practical and hand-on nature of the learning which was always geared toward action. It was an excellent way to take my knowledge from near-zero to hero in only 12 weeks."
nick sinclair
airbnb - head of marketing apac
"First Believers transformed me into an Angel Investor. It’s part of my identity now and I am thrilled. Being able to support Australia’s newest Founders is a huge privilege, sometimes I still pinch myself. First Believers has been a pivotal life moment for me."
melissa beaumont lee
skip capital - Head of Philanthropy
“My experience on the First Believers program was beyond expectations. First Believers provided an inclusive, expansive community to share and explore how to get involved in angel investing. The SM team were awesome. No BS, no egos, just great people. Would highly recommend!”
Verity tuck
LVLY - cofounder
"If you’ve ever wanted to start investing in the people who are building big things for the future and solving high-value problems but don’t feel like you’d know where to start or feel there are barriers to getting involved, First Believers is for you. What you’ll find is a powerful community of some of the most ambitious and open-minded investors, operators and founders in the world."
joel hassin
cambooya capital - investor
"First Believers is like getting thrown into the deep end of the pool -- with all your friends! Bad metaphors aside: whether you're in the beginning of your investing journey or a seasoned investor, the hands-on experience and the community at First Believers is truly incomparable. You learn quickly that investing is a team sport, and First Believers is one of the best teams!"
chenelle Tanglao
investor - trawalla group
"First Believers is the must-do program for any aspiring or current angel investor. It took my understanding and connections within the start-up ecosystem from 1 to 100. I could not recommend this program more highly to anyone who is keen to learn more about the ANZ start-up ecosystem and how to back aspiring founders."
matt herring
kpmg - partner
“I was working from a super low base from a knowledge perspective and didn’t feel like a idiot at any point (rare!) content was super inclusive. WOW! I loved the HANDS ON EXPERIENCE. Actually getting to meet founders with real investment outcomes was an incredible way to apply knowledge immediately.”
claire bull
rainmaking - Head of Ecosystem
How is Startmate different?

Startmate is the most active early-stage investor in Australia. We invest at the very beginning of a founder's journey, making us best-placed to help budding angel investors. We help founders to realise their bold ambitions every day. We’ve been accelerating founders for more than a decade and we want to open this world to you.

How is First Believers different?

We focus on the things you can't Google and provide unparalleled hands-on investing opportunities.

Over 14 weeks, you'll learn the craft of investing from world-class investors through the Startmate network, while simultaneously being exposed to 500+ early-stage startups. This is not about passively learning abstract concepts. It's about learning by doing and making real investment decisions on real companies with real outcomes.

Alongside other First Believers, you'll refine and develop your investment strategy, establish clear next steps in your journey to investing, and be supported in realising them.

Investing is a decade-long journey. We’re building a community to be there with you every step of the way. You'll develop deep relationships with First Believers and be a part of a community for life.

Who is right for First Believers?

If you want to build confidence in making early-stage startup investments, better understand the investor lens, or build life-changing relationships with other ambitious investors and founders, First Believers is the place for you.

You don’t have to be a sophisticated investor. You don’t need to have $$$ to invest. You can join with or without any prior experience.

First Believers come from a range of backgrounds, including past founders, corporate venture capitalists, high-growth technology company employees, and ecosystem champions.

Do you need to have money to invest?

No! First Believers is about developing future investors.

We understand the ambition to be an investor might come before the financial position to back your belief in founders.

Amongst a number of pathways for non-sophisticated investors, we have uniquely raised a $1 million Small Bets Fund exclusively for First Believers of all backgrounds to invest into founders at the very beginning (and earn carry in the fund while doing so).

When does the onboarding program run?

The program runs virtually twice a year, kicking off in March and September, with applications due the month before.

As the program is run remotely, we encourage you to apply from anywhere in Australia or New Zealand.

Each cohort is made up of  ~50 people across a range of industries, locations and levels of experience.

What's the time commitment?

First Believers requires a time commitment of three hours per week to engage with the content and community.

How much does the program cost?

The First Believers program fee is $5,500 including GST.

We're committed to seeing better representation in the startup ecosystem, and we don't want financial limitations to be a prohibiting factor from participating in First Believers. Startmate offers full and part scholarships for the First Believers program. This fee will only be invoiced after program acceptance. The fee can be paid upfront or via instalments.

NZGCP proudly sponsor one NZ position per cohort

Minderoo proudly sponsor up to three places for First Nations participants per cohort

Apply for Startmate's First Believers program

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