Are you excited by the idea of backing and believing in the next generation of great founders? Do you want to peel back the curtain on what early-stage investing is all about? Do you want to be exposed to practical insights from Australia and New Zealand's top investors?

Startmate's First Believers supports aspiring and budding investors in building the confidence and networks they need to invest in the next wave of entrepreneurial talent.


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.

How is First Believers different?

How do you become a honeypot for exceptional founders? What are your biases? How do you develop your investment thesis? How do you earn the 'right to play' with founders in their investment rounds?

First Believers is a program of self-discovery, giving you practical insight into how investors source deals, make decisions and measure success.

We’ll expose you to 30+ early-stage startups during the Startmate Accelerator selection process, and you’ll track your thinking about whether you’d invest. As the companies progress, you’ll monitor your 'shadow portfolio', and re-examine your original reasoning to uncover your biases.

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

Who is right for First Believers?

If you want to build confidence in making angel 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.

Our MVP cohort of First Believers came 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. You will come across opportunities for investment through the program, but this is not required or expected.

What else do I need to know?


The program runs virtually twice a year, kicking off in March and October, with applications due the month before. 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 two hours per fortnight 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 $3,000 + 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