Welcome to the world of angel investing and nope, it isn’t just for the super wealthy anymore.
Startmate First Believers is democratising angel investing, making it possible for trailblazers, like alumni power couple, Anna Cifuentes-Rius and Guillem Clemente to change the world through investing.
Reflecting on why they chose angel investing, Anna said “We’ve both always had a passion for early-stage innovation. I come from life sciences and have been involved in early-stage research. Guillem is in the corporate world but his focus has been on business development and bringing innovation into big firms. So, while we come at it from different perspectives, we believe that early-stage innovators need to be propelled to do great things. This is how we think we can help make the world a better place.”
Generally, the traditional sophisticated angel investor is someone with a minimum net worth of over $1 million or at least $200k in annual income, making this form of investing inaccessible to most.
Startmate is changing that through its First Believers program.
“When I first heard about angel investing and venture capital, I definitely had some preconceived notions: I thought that this was exclusively for finance-driven people with a lot of money. However, I soon discovered that couldn’t be further from the truth. Angel investing includes a broad spectrum of things you can bring to the table – not just money, but also time and support. That was very attractive to me,” said Anna.
The First Believers program helped broaden Anna and Guillem’s understanding of the start-up ecosystem and the role investors play in it. From learning about concepts like "spikiness" and "smoothness" (i.e. finding a company that meets one important investor criteria so strongly that it warrants another conversation, rather than finding ‘perfect’ companies that meet all criteria) to actually connecting with VCs and founders, the First Believers program offers a rich education in the world of angel investing.
Connecting with the Startmate community was one of their favourite parts of the program. Guillem said “The community opens up incredible avenues for learning. Everyone there is very approachable and you can easily connect with VCs, founders, and operators over shared activities and interests.”
Working in tech, both Anna and Guillem are deeply focused on innovation. While exploring options to drive innovation in their businesses, they discovered incredible potential in Australia’s fledging start-up ecosystem. Their decision to invest in start-ups here was influenced by this potential and their personal passion for seeing great ideas succeed.
Guillem, who is interested in climate tech, said “Australia is blessed to have access to multiple natural resources – solar, wind, hydrogen – and by leading the transition to these, is well placed to create a global market. It is well-placed, financially secure, and has strong connections with the world. This creates a lot of innovation, driven by universities and start-ups, that we can invest in. When we looked at it from an eight-, nine-, or ten-year horizon, it made perfect sense for us to enter the Australian start-up ecosystem.”
Anna, who is interested in life sciences, echoed his sentiments “Australia has some of the world’s leading research but there is a gap in translation. I feel that by offering more support here, we can get these innovations to the market, or even help the innovators develop an entrepreneurial mindset that will help change the broader approach to how we drive research in Australia.”
Anna and Guillem are determined to put their money where their intentions are. The couple are invested in Startmate’s continuity fund and accelerator. Next on their agenda is investing directly into promising early-stage climate tech and life science companies through a syndicate.
“We knew that we wanted to take the plunge. In some ways, if you don’t invest it doesn’t feel real because you miss out on opportunities to learn how to do due diligence, read documents, or identify promising ideas”, Guillem said.
“You need to practice if you want to be good at this and being a part of Startmate has really helped,” Anna said. “When we started evaluating start-ups, I felt that all the ideas looked great, but the more exposure you get and conversations you have with your peers, the more you learn how to differentiate the good from the great. Eventually, over time, you learn to develop a benchmark to identify ideas that are awesome”, she continued.
Their advice to anyone considering investing in start-ups is simple: do it. They agreed that the ecosystem is incredibly vibrant and offers multiple opportunities to find your niche.
“It helps to be an explorer. Come in ready to listen and learn. The First Believers program is industry agnostic and focuses on the foundations – how things are set up, how things work etc. which will set you up for your own focused investing journey in the future” Guillem said.
While the First Believers program is 100% online, Anna and Guillem found the experience of going through it together incredibly valuable.
“Some couples go to book clubs or wine clubs. We like to invest in start-ups together” Anna said with a laugh.
The information provided in this article is of a general nature and for information purposes only and should not be relied upon. It does not constitute financial product advice, investment advice, accounting advice, legal advice, tax advice or any recommendation, solicitation, offer or invitation to acquire or dispose of any financial product, including to retail clients. This article expresses the personal views of the listed author(s) only, and not Startmate or any of its related bodies. Startmate makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, as to the accuracy or completeness of the information in this article.
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