January 2024 Monthly Update

Michael Batko
February 1, 2024
January 2024 Monthly Update

Hey Startmate Family,

⚡️ Introducing Startmate 3.0…

It’s pretty wild to think that Startmate is 14 years old. What a ride it’s been. There have been a fair few chapters/eras/growth spurts along the way.  

Before I introduce Startmate 3.0 and all its glory, I’d like to share our evolution with you. Why?

  1. Because I’m feeling sentimental post-2023 reflections and 5-year strategy planning and;
  2. Because we’re about to take off and there is no looking back. 

🌱 Startmate 1.0 - Accelerator - it takes a founder to start a startup.

Startmate started when twenty mentors led by Niki Scevak put in $10k each to bring the first $210k fund to life in 2011.

The thesis was simple, they were meeting so many great Aussie founders who were just as good if not better than their US counterparts, but nobody was backing them.

The core mantra, true to this day: founders helping founders.

This insight, of course, in hindsight, proved to be true - the 2011-2016 Startmate funds are at 2.7x cash on cash returns - already a world-class fund - with an additional 7.6x on paper.

🌳 Startmate 2.0 - Community - it takes a village to build a startup.

8 years later we had backed 100+ companies that were raising and growing incredibly fast.

The most common hurdle?

There’s not enough great talent and angel investors to scale reliably faster.

In 2019, James Tynan kicked off the exploration of great talent locked up in big corporates, when instead they could make the biggest impact in startups building the future. This led us to creating pools of incredible people for founders to plug into from the Women Fellowship, Student Fellowship, Climate Fellowship to First Believers.

1,000+ fellows go through our programs per year.

A village of determined and ambitious talent to help founders scale their startup.

⚡️ Startmate 3.0 - Startmate Nation - it takes a nation to change culture.

14 years later…

…we are (one of) the (?) most active VC investor(s) in ANZ, writing 49 cheques in 2023.

…a career change institution, with 1,000+ fellows through our programs in 2023.

We’ve invested in 250 companies, worth $2.5b+, helped 500+ women transition into startups, and facilitated hundreds of angel checks into startups…

Yet, our corner of the world still has such a long way to go. The tall poppy syndrome, amplified by media, shuts anyone flying too high, VC is miniscule in the grand scheme, and our economy is still to this day too reliant on oil, gas and livestock, whilst we should and could be the countries to lead innovation globally.

Our mission is to make Australia and New Zealand the best place in the world to build a startup.

We can’t do that waiting around, hoping and praying for the ecosystem, government and aussie and kiwi culture to catch up. We’re not there yet. So, we’re going to push to make it happen.

Startmate Nation is collision theory at scale: it is our own Startmate ecosystem at its most potent and powerful, designed with our customers and our unique value proposition in mind. The bigger our ecosystem is and the more it thrives, the bigger impact we can have. 

Our strategy is simple: grow and connect.

We’ll be growing and depthening the three crucial elements:

  1. people to have the idea (dreamers),
  2. people to fund the idea (believers), and 
  3. people to execute and bring the idea to life (builders). 

Whilst building the connective tissue, between dreamers, believers and builders.

We’ve already had a headstart with the

  • LaunchClub connecting fellows to starting a startup
  • Talent Engine connecting founders to fellows
  • Small Bets fund and the Selection Portal connecting First Believers to founders

…and we’ll keep building this out.

To make this tangible, in 2028, we will:

  1. 🌋 Unearthed: Invest in and give 100 untamed founders an unfair advantage
  2. 🧬 Fundmate: Raise $17m for the Accelerator and Small Bets funds
  3. 🌻 SMU - Startmate University: Put 6,000 mates on startup pathways

…and we’re ramping up to build the connective tissue to make this happen.


🌱 We’re running a FREE and open-to-all Climate Tech Mini Series. Curious about climate tech? Sign up to our events here. Applications are also open for our third Climate Tech Cohort! 

  • Apply here or refer anyone you think would be interested here.

🍯 Our angel investing course, First Believers’ applications, close soon!

  • Apply here or refer anyone you think would be interested here.

Our Autumn24 Women Fellowship cohort applications closer soon! 

  • Apply here or refer anyone you think would be interested here.

🚀 There’s more… applications are open for cohort 3 of Launch Club, our pre-accelerator. 

  • Apply here or refer anyone you think would be interested here.
  • Have any questions or curiosities? We’re hosting an AMA with Program Lead, Cam, on Monday, 12th Feb. Sign up here.

🎤 Early-stage founder looking to pitch on the Startmate stage at SouthStart (Adelaide)? 

😀 Good

🎉 Week 0: We had an epic week kicking off the Summer ‘24 cohort in MEL. Founders walked away as friends with an elevated ambition around what is possible for them with the help of Startmate. The week was jam-packed with bonding activities, workshops on goal-setting and customer conversations, and AMA guest speaker sessions (founders from Linktree, CultureAmp, Up, and more). Founder NPS for Week 0 was 100. Don’t just take our word for it…

  • "My favourite parts were building bonds with the Startmate team, the other founders, and the mentors - along with connecting with the speakers - was epic!!"
  • "Not only did we come away with super clear goals and actions, but the sessions also forced us to strip back our MVP significantly, figure out our niche customer, tighten our customer discovery plans, and also some big ah-ha product moments in between sessions. I have never felt such clarity on exactly what we are doing."
  • “Thanks for an incredible week - it was transformative to me personally, and to our business."

🤝 Internal Promotions: We’re very, very proud of a couple of outstanding Startmates who were promoted at the start of this year ❣️ a huge congratulations to… 

  • Renee, our new Senior Ops Associate
  • Cambo, our new Founder Platform Manager
  • Hols, our new Senior Marketing Manager
  • And Ryan, our new Head of Product!!!!

🚀 Shoutout Startmate Company Raises (we proudly followed on in both rounds):

🥴 Bad

We’ve had a couple of founders drop out of our Accelerator selection phase. It is always heart breaking to fall in love with a startup only to lose them throughout the process.

  • The most common reason is a disconnect on our valuations, which are clearly spelt out on our website, with no exceptions.
  • As a reminder: we have standard terms that apply to all of our startups, we always invest $120k and it is either 
  1. matched to your latest valuation if you have raised money before the final round interview or 
  2. at our standard $1.5m post-money valuation.

😵‍💫 Ugly

  • Whilst, still only at the evaluation stage, the potential changes in the sophisticated investor test as suggested by ASIC from $2.5m to $4.5m net assets could be devastating to the whole ecosystem. We’re leaning in here to help drive the conversation.

Hope you enjoyed the read, fam!

Give the author some love!
Written by
Michael BatkoMichael Batko
Written by

More Articles