Requests for Startups

At Startmate we’re industry agnostic. 

We invest in people first.

People with deep expertise and unique visions, working to solve some of the thorniest problems frustrating industries worldwide.

The role we play is simple. Accelerate their progress - avoid pitfalls, leverage opportunities, prompt customer conversations, advise sales, and marketing - do everything in our power to remove roadblocks from their way.

Regularly, we ask ourselves what the future holds, what we’re missing and what founders we’d like to know more about.  

Below is our Request for Startups, a non-exhaustive list of areas we’re particularly interested in, co-authored by our mentors.

If you’re a startup founder building in one of these areas, we hope you consider applying for the Accelerator.

If you’re NOT building in the area, the list is non-exhaustive, so you have the same chances as any other founder to get into the Accelerator!

You don’t have to work on one of these areas to apply for Startmate.

If you’d like to support, express your interest in becoming a mentor.


Artificial Intelligence  

by Casey Flint, squarepeg

Casey Flint, squarepeg

AI is an extremely broad category and in the future, all businesses will simply be expected to leverage AI in one way or another. For now, when we say we’re interested in funding AI companies, we mean businesses utilising AI as part of their product experience or developing products to help serve those building with AI

We’re excited by a few sub-themes within AI:

  • Founders utilising their domain expertise in a particular industry (e.g. logistics, retail, healthcare etc) to build and sell vertical-specific AI products. An example in the squarepeg portfolio would be Aidoc, who use computer vision models to help hospitals triage patients and, Everbility in the Startmate portfolio.
  • Companies building businesses that would have - in prior decades - been services-based businesses. Today it seems possible, in certain industries and for certain problems, to automate enough of the stack to have a scalable business, where previously you would’ve required a labour-intensive stack.
  • Businesses that own workflows with integrations into labour and/or other systems. The more touch points you have with your customer and the more systems you integrate with, the less likely you are to be a wrapper.  

We’re not interested in businesses that seek to use AI without meaningfully solving a problem for customers - AI startup or not, you need to be solving a real problem! We’re looking for products that offer a 10x experience versus existing competitors’ products.

Why now?

There is a hype bubble around AI startups right now. But is it a bubble without substance? No. I think we are living in one of the most transformative times in history. AI has long been expected to be transformational, but we haven’t had the capabilities (hardware, data, research, skills) to see its full potential come to fruition. Now we have models that give us a line of sight to automate significant amounts of labour in the next 5-10 years. It’s an enormous TAM: global income represents about US$42 trillion (or AU$62.7 trillion), just over half of the world’s GDP.



by Will Richardson, Giant Leap

Will Richardson, Giant Leap

We’re interested in funding companies tackling climate change, advancing health, promoting empowerment, and transforming education.

At Giant Leap, we define the impact space as one where businesses are not only financially successful but also generate significant positive social and environmental outcomes. This encompasses startups developing innovative solutions to mitigate climate change, improve healthcare accessibility and outcomes, empower underserved communities, and transform educational systems to be more inclusive and effective. The exciting part of this space lies in its potential for creating scalable solutions that address some of the world’s most pressing issues, thus leading to profound and lasting change. The biggest social and environmental problems also present substantial commercial opportunities for ambitious, mission-driven founders.

Why now?

The urgency of addressing global challenges such as climate change, health crises, social inequality, and education reform has never been more pronounced. The current moment is pivotal due to a confluence of technological advancements, heightened awareness, and an increasing societal demand for responsible and impactful business practices. The escalating climate crisis requires immediate and transformative action, while advancements in technology provide new avenues for impactful innovation. Additionally, the rising generation of consumers and investors prioritizes sustainability and social impact, creating a fertile ground for mission-driven startups. These pressing issues also represent significant commercial opportunities for founders who are driven by purpose and ambition. This alignment of factors makes now the ideal time to invest in these visionary founders who are not just aiming for profit but for profound positive impact.

Examples of Giant Leap and Startmate Impact Co-Investments

Here are some inspiring examples of startups we have funded that emerged from the Startmate accelerator:

  1. Mindset Health - Mobile hypnotherapy programs that help people manage and improve their health, without drugs or diets
  2. Swoop Aero - deploy drone networks that realise the next giant leap in how essential healthcare supplies and services are delivered
  3. WORK180 - A platform that supports women to find workplaces that work for them. In the last year, they’ve worked with employers to improve 4,000 policies and initiatives such as parental leave, introducing menopause policies, flexible working, childcare support, etc positively impacting over 220k women and resulting in an increase in women's representation across their Endorsed Employers of nearly 7%
  4. Great Wrap - A company that produces compostable cling wrap made from potato waste
  5. Amber - Energy retailer passing through wholesale prices, incentivising use when cheap renewables are generating

These startups exemplify the kind of innovative and impactful solutions that Giant Leap aims to support. We are excited to continue partnering with visionary founders through the Startmate accelerator to drive positive change and create a better future for all.


B2B SaaS

by Ben Armstrong, Archangel Ventures

Ben Armstrong, Archangel Ventures

B2B SaaS includes any subscription-type model for software that targets predominantly business customers e.g. Canva, Atlassian, and many Startmate alumni including Sitemate, Switchboard and Nomadhub.

Copying what has been done before is mostly not interesting to us, it is too hard to get people to move unless it is truly 3-5x better.

What is interesting is 

  1. new markets with no verticalised solution e.g. cross-laminated timber tooling, or even 
  2. old markets that are using decades-old technologies e.g. casting agent management or 
  3. where you can apply AI to rethink workflows beyond simple data entry and sharing of existing applications e.g. in the hyper-competitive market of ads/social media generation or even in boring areas not well penetrated by technology like the legal, accounting and audit fields.

Archangel Ventures in particular loves B2B SaaS with 6 of the last 8 companies we funded this year being B2B SaaS companies.

Why now?

The B2B SaaS model has been around for a long time but there are still niches that haven’t been fully exploited or have, up to now, been resistant to adopting subscription software. AI is an accelerant that is driving even the most conservative manager to rethink what is possible and try new things.


Health Tech

by Emily Casey, Tenmile

Emily Casey, Tenmile

Healthtech encompasses health and life sciences - from biotechnology (think drugs, therapeutics, CAR-T) to digital health, and medical devices - or a blend of the above. Most importantly, it must be tackling a large problem that will make a meaningful difference to healthcare and patients' lives. Whilst things like AI scribes, marketplaces and basic automation are much needed, we love to play at the edge of innovation, where there's typically a little more risk (and potential reward), with unique science or a clear potential advantage. An area that has typically been neglected and limited for funding choices in Australia.

Tenmile examples include Aravax, Inventia and Mindset Health as a Startmate co-investment.

Why now?

Health is one of the most relatable universal problems, with much “yet to be solved” due to the complexity of the problems and industry. Not to mention, mounting problems - growing and ageing populations, emerging epidemics and chronic health conditions.

It's an industry that always needs more and with fewer resources - science and technology have the power to help that. Now that basic tech and software are almost universally accessible and we’ve undergone “the software revolution”, it’s led to decreasing prices in technology as well as increased access to innovation, data, scalability, and decreased time and barriers to innovating.

Australia is one of the world leaders in academic research, science & healthcare, yet has largely failed to translate this to successful commercial outcomes. With some of the best academic talent, a growing ecosystem, and more support entering the arena - we truly are well-positioned to capitalise on this health revolution and not only create some great health companies but also, change people's lives.


Women Founders

by Chenelle Tanglao, Female-Led Ventures

Chenelle Tanglao, Female-Led Ventures

The stats don’t need repeating, women founders are consistently underfunded, in Australia and beyond. Investors are missing out on significant commercial returns by not allocating a greater share of capital towards women founders. Research has consistently shown teams with a female founder are more likely to outperform their peers on the basis of revenue and capital efficiency (see BCG, Forbes, Citi and First Round). Women are solving problems across all industries and the time is now to tap into the historically overlooked, where there is significant upside.

Female-led Ventures and Startmate co-investments include Airrobe and Verve Super.

Why now?

The advent of remote work and generative AI has democratised access to resources and networks previously inaccessible to women (and worth noting, other diverse founders). Aspiring women founders now have a wider range of tools to set themselves up for success.

The broader social context is also important: while there is still a lot of work to be done, we believe that gender equity is not just a passing trend, and it is only a matter of time until it becomes the standard for any commercial enterprise. We are in the middle of a real cultural shift: and brands and companies that are diverse and inclusive at their core will be the real winners in the future.


Global from Day 1

by Alex Scholz, Startmate First Believer

Alex Scholz, Startmate First Believer

These are companies building products that are not bound by geography, physical borders and technology. More often than not, they are SaaS companies targeting a universal problem statement in B2B or B2C for customers around the world. Think Loom, Notion, Canva, ToDoist, Calendly and Startmate Alumni like Upguard, Bugcrowd and Everbility.

In the beginning, these are not heavily verticalised companies. These are not enterprise-focused products. These products leverage product-led growth, and easy customer onboarding within a horizontal use case, at a lower price point. The barrier-to-entry and trial is low, and over time these products can build ever more detailed and professional workflows to increase the ARR.

While verticalisation at the growth stage can be tricky, the initial opportunities to scale are immense with an early product-market fit.

Why now?

The number of distribution channels has grown: think Producthunt, marketplaces like the Apple / Google app store, and Shopify. It has never been easier to reach large customers through social media like LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok. Even language is not a barrier any more, as LLMs make the last mile of translation a walk in the park. Typically, support used to be an issue, but as consumers and customers are used to asynchronous chat support, most support load can be deflected in the customers’ language through automation and automated translations. Further, the cost of integrating with other software has come down tremendously, not only because of the standardisation of REST APIs and documentation but also because AI tools allow for a 50-70% reduction in time to development, helping to scale into different.

Last but not least, two trends can drive this sector:

  1. The rise of AI will allow for a vastly growing pool of use cases for end-users, prosumers and businesses we have not seen before.
  2. An increasing number of professionals turn away from working for large companies and instead build their own services. The so-called solopreneurs building SaaS for the world alone have been growing quickly, opening up new target markets for SaaS.


Climate Tech

by Mick Liubinskas, Climate Salad

Mick Liubinskas, Climate Salad

Climate tech covers globally scalable solutions to environmental problems. It includes emissions reduction (solar, public transport and veggie burgers), emission removal (natural sequestration and carbon capture), adaptation and resilience (living with a changed climate) and natural capital (water, air, biodiversity). It touches everything - powering, growing, making, moving and cooling and will require a lot of deep, complex technology. 

We’re interested in helping game-changing Australian and Kiwi technology get customers and capital from the world's biggest markets. Europe is advanced, the US is catching up fast with a lot of money, and Asia has huge challenges and proximity.

Great examples of Startmate Alumni include 5B, Amber, Sicona Battery, Vertus Energy, Uluu and Great Wrap,

Why now?

What is exciting is that the last three years have seen so many factors turn from headwinds to (early) tailwinds. More customers, more corporate action, more positive regulation and more investment. What is challenging is that funding hardware and scaling it globally is really hard and slow.


by Doone Roisin, Female Startup Club

Doone Roisin, Female Startup Club

We’re interested in DTC that are reverse engineering their product pipeline through a social first lens. We look for founders with a deep understanding of how to drive attention and awareness through content and drive sales at a lower acquisition cost. The brands that are winning today leverage their unique insight and data to create personalised shopping experiences, innovate in sustainable practices, and build brand-obsessed, loyal communities. While the growth potential is huge following the explosive launch of live shopping in the US, challenges remain in standing out in a crowded market, accessing working capital to scale and managing logistics efficiently.

Examples include Contour Cube, Boob Armour, Pleasant State, and Startmate alumni like Heaps Normal and Deliciou.

Why now?

Imagine a single video generating US$ 800,000+ in sales from one of your customers. 

The current moment is ripe for DTC brands due to significant shifts in consumer behaviour towards live shopping commerce, accelerated by TikTok Shop - which is entering the Australian market in July 2024. Consumers are increasingly valuing the convenience, personalised experiences, and direct engagement with brands that DTC companies can offer, while also being able to capitalise on the upside by creating content and earning revenue for the brands they love. Advancements in technology and logistics have lowered the barriers to entry, making it easier for new brands to launch, iterate and scale quickly. This convergence of consumer demand and technological capability makes now the perfect time for innovative D2C brands to thrive and redefine retail.



by Chris Quirk, ex-Rampersand

Chris Quirk, ex-Rampersand

We’re interested in funding companies with a competitive advantage gained from fundamental scientific research or significant physical engineering innovation - deep tech. We get excited about atoms and bits working together to achieve something valuable that few others know how to achieve. Deep tech isn’t so much an industry or a sector, it’s a type of startup that may play across many industries including aerospace, quantum, robotics, advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, biotech and synthetic biology. Australia and New Zealand have many homegrown heroes in deep tech including Startmate alumni like Morse Micro, Sicona Battery and Vertus Energy.

Why now?

The cost of experimenting with atoms and bits has reduced radically in the last decade. This has unlocked the ability to build and test atoms and bits minimum viable products with customers using funds from pre-Series A investment rounds. The ability to quickly iterate with customers enables founders to follow a startup path and rapidly scale once they have found product market fit. Aerospace, robotics, synthetic biology, and other areas are no longer reserved for giants of industry. The startups are coming.


Evergreen Hardware

by Elliot Heitman, Startmate Mentor

Elliot Heitman, Startmate Mentor

A subset of hardware can go through rapid iteration cycles due to most of the value proposition being attributed to software. This hardware takes on an evergreen nature, continuously enhancing itself through post-purchase software updates.

Unlike traditional static hardware, this dynamic nature aligns with evolving customer needs, redefining hardware's longevity. This also unlocks novel revenue streams via post-purchase premium feature offerings, fortifying sustained business growth. Examples from ANZ include Halter, Rocketlab, and Startmate alumni NOA The Brand.

Why now?

The cost of hardware as a proportion of the total product development costs has been reduced by an order of magnitude. Hardware size and price are the key drivers. Prices of microcontrollers and single-board computers that are “small enough” have now reached a threshold where they make up a small part of the total product development cost. With the huge transistor count in current microcontrollers, the demands of the firmware and software that is processed by these components can be processed for a much longer life cycle without needing to upgrade/change the hardware on a yearly basis. The upgrades made to the software and firmware can continually also help improve the efficiency and performance of these chipsets allowing them to operate for a much longer life cycle.


Frontier Tech

by Chris Hitchen, Possible Ventures

Chris Hitchen, Possible Ventures

We’re interested in science & engineering-based companies that are building frontier technology in pursuit of humanity-scale innovation. We believe that to address pressing global challenges around climate, health and critical infrastructure we need to aim for radical progress. Start-ups working on AI, robotics, cybersecurity, quantum computing, space tech, new forms of energy generation or storage, or biomanufacturing and genomics will undoubtedly contribute to the creation of a more equitable, secure and resilient society. By innovating at the frontiers, founders have a chance to reshape the industry, re-imagine the future and catalyse meaningful impact. Frontier technology is often an exploration of the intersections and dynamic interplay between disparate sectors.

It may sound lofty and idealistic, but our latest fund already comprises concrete examples of teams working on novel solutions to seemingly impossible challenges, like RevoNA (a high throughput AI platform for mRNA testing), Cosmic Aerospace (a fully electric commercial aircraft with real range), Tetratherix (biodegradable biomaterials platform for regenerative medicine), and Acumino (a software platform that enables the deployment of General Robotic Intelligence at scale) and Psylo (next-gen neuroscience) a Startmate co-investment.

Why now?

Recent advancements have made technologies once deemed 'hard tech' more accessible and impactful. The convergence of data, software, hardware, biology and chemistry has created an unprecedented ability to solve complex problems. We’re seeing a growing urgency to address climate change, energy sustainability, and escalating health crises that are driving a global arms race for innovation. To stay competitive, and enable more resilient supply chains, governments are offering tailwinds of supportive legislative and non-dilutive funding that accelerate research and empower start-ups driving towards significant breakthroughs.



by Sarah Nolet, Tenacious Ventures

Sarah Nolet, Tenacious Ventures

We’re interested in funding companies all along the agri-food value chain. This encompasses innovations that will help agri-food to decarbonise, as well as those that mitigate the impacts of climate change on agriculture. We love innovative business models that enhance resilience, mitigate new risks, unlock efficiencies, and redesign supply chains. While traditional venture firms focus on software, we believe that investments in atoms and molecules are equally critical for transformative impact. Examples include SwarmFarm, Goterra, Nbryo, Jupiter Ionics in the Tenacious portfolio and Bygen, Flux Robotics, Kiwifibe and Carbonnaught as Startmate Alumni.

Why now?

Agriculture contributes significantly to climate change and faces unprecedented commercial, political, and environmental pressures. Simultaneously, climate change will drastically impact our food system, driving the need for innovation. We are staring at a massive opportunity to do good and do well - true non-concessionary impact. And there's no better place than Australia. Australia's unique strengths—abundant sunlight, diverse climate conditions, no subsidies, poor soils, innovative farmers, and advanced agricultural research—position us to be a global leader in agri-food innovation.


Decarbonising Fashion

By Phil Morle, Main Sequence

Phil Morle, Main Sequence

We’re interested in deep-tech solutions to decarbonise the fashion industry. That ranges from raw material production, manufacturing, and transportation, to waste management. The entire supply chain has a myriad of opportunities to innovate in one of the largest industries in the world.

Great examples in the Main Sequence portfolio include Xefco, Samsara and Uluu a Startmate co-investment.

Why now?

Globally, the industry contributes about 8-10% of the world's GHG emissions and many of the large organisations have reduction targets they are struggling to hit by 2030. This is a great time to give them what they need.