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

Startmate’s First Believers isn't theoretical, it's practical.

First Believers not only learn the investing craft from the best investors in ANZ, but they have the exclusive opportunity to pressure-test their thinking by helping select founders for both our Small Bets Fund and Accelerator Fund.

It's this invaluable learn-by-doing approach that sets First Believers apart from the other angel investing courses in market.

Cohort 5 kicks off, March 2023!

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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.

Our First Believers invest alongside the likes of...

Accelerate your journey to becoming a world-class investor

First Believers is a 14-week immersive onboarding program into a community-for-life. From day 1, you'll learn the craft of investing and build lasting relationships.

Learn early-stage startup investing by actually investing

We'll take you from zero → investing through our Small Bets Fund, and expose you to best practices from our network of world-class investors along the way.

If you refer a founder who receives a Small Bets Fund investment, you'll get carry ($$$) in the fund, regardless of whether you're a sophisticated investor.

Invest alongside an inclusive community

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

How is First Believers 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.

Over 14 weeks, you'll learn the craft of investing from world-class investors through the Startmate network, while simultaneously being exposed to 1000+ 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's lens, or build a career in venture, 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.

This is why we’ve raised a $1 million Small Bets Fund for First Believers of all backgrounds to help your invest into founders at the very beginning (and earn carry while doing so).

What else do I need to know?


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 about 30 people across a range of industries, locations and levels of experience.

First Believers requires a time commitment of three hours per week to engage with the content and community. The time commitment is slightly greater at the beginning of the program as the learning curve is so steep.


The First Believers program fee is $5,000 + GST. 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.

Apply for Startmate's First Believers program