July 2023 Monthly Update

Michael Batko
July 31, 2023
July 2023 Monthly Update

Hey Startmate Family,

The Accelerator is the beating heart of Startmate.

For the current Winter23 cohort I’ve had the pleasure of diving into the operational depths of running the cohort of 13 ambitious startups.

Every so often we get stuck in the status quo.

Do things the way they have been done before.

“Because they work”

“Because that’s what’s expected”

An Accelerator easily falls prey to that as we all now have expectations on what an Accelerator is - a program, high NPS, sessions, mentoring, coworking, business basics, strategy, fundraising.

Let’s remove the label.

Let’s step out of that limiting box of a definition.

What’s most important is that founders truly understand their customer.

  1. Are you building the right thing?
  2. Are you building for the right person?

Everything else, including in particular fundraising, is a function of how well you understand your customer problem. Who cares about “running an Accelerator”, instead what we care about is founders solving real customer problems.

Having run Startmate for 5 years now, having worked with 10 cohorts (150+ founders), I made a couple fundamental changes and points much more explicit.

#1 - Customer First - Always

The highest priority is founders’ talking to their customers. Full stop.

I’ve stripped out all distractions throughout “the program”.

If a founder doesn’t show up to a single session or talk to a single mentor, but talks to customers every single day - I consider it a win.

By talking to customers, founders figure out:

  1. Am I building the right thing? >> problem, product
  2. Who am I building it for? >> marketing, sales

#2 - The Right Support at the time You need it

We’re here to accelerate founders through customer discoveries, not make ourselves feel good. 

We have the most incredible mentors and we’re here to:

  1. Keep founders accountable to talking to customers and stay intellectually honest in their reflections to make the right decisions
  2. Be there at the right time at the right place to be a sounding board when the founders need it

We don’t spoonfeed founders.

We provide a buffet of opportunities to tap into at the right time.

#3 - No Fundraising

Our founders are not fundraising.

They are going all-in on customer discovery.

This shift in thinking is a massive weight off founders’ shoulders to not have to entertain fundraising conversations, constant context switching and pitch deck distractions BUT give themselves permission to pursue what they are care about most - their customers.

For the first 10 weeks the cohort is just focused on customers.

In week 11 (week of 18th Sept), we’ll run a condensed 5 day investment sprint to get ready to raise.

THEN with all the investment tools in place, armed with a deep customer understanding, validation and proof, the founders will decide when and how to raise on their terms. 


The Accelerator is not about the mentor-, not even the founder experience, nor about running workshops, sessions or any other events, but about the focus on customers as that will be the only factor that determines startup success.

We’re only in Week 3 of this cohort and I’m incredibly proud of how hard the Winter23 cohort is pursuing the customer goals!

If you want to meet them, save the date:

Demo Day, 19th Oct, 6.30pm, Sydney >> the most ambitious event as part of SxSW

See you there!

What’s on?


Do you have news that you would like us to share with the Startmataverse? 

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We generally include:

  • customer stories and highlights
  • product launches
  • funding news 
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  • specific roles you're looking to fill


  • 🚀 Launch Club applications close midnight, 1st August!

    Through our peer community, expert guidance, co-founder networking, and practical learning, this 10-week program will help remove the barriers for you to launch your startup.

    Apply here: https://bit.ly/43Id54U

  • 🐝 Any last-minute First Believers? We’d still love to review your application.

    First Believers is a 14-week program where you will not only learn the angel investing craft from the best investors in ANZ, but have the exclusive opportunity to make real investment decisions with your own funds or through the Startmate Funds.

    Apply here: https://bit.ly/3q1vvA0

  • ✨ Applications are open for the next Women Fellowship cohort - closing 7th August!

    In this 8-week community-driven program, you will gain the tools, connections and confidence to hit the ground running in the startup ecosystem. You’ll join a community of talented and inspiring women, and will gain backstage access to some of the most exciting startups in Australia and New Zealand.

    Apply here: https://bit.ly/451LI6M

Know someone that wants to join Startmate team? We have two open roles!

  • Program Launcher: collaborating with subject-matter experts to bring a suite of high impact programs to life
  • Program Leader - Students: the Student Fellowship will be theirs to unleash its full potential, and they’ll pave the way for our next student initiative.


  • Congrats to Phoebe Pincus, unbelievable powerhouse and wonderful human stepping up as COO at Startmate. It is rare to meet someone who you can trust with absolutely anything, who you look forward to celebrating the highs with and, even more so, going through the lows, together, with a smile on your face, every day. No challenge is too big for her and I’m so incredibly lucky getting to have her energy in my life and the Startmate adventure 🚀
  • Startmate offsite: We spent 4 days as a team at a massive house in Daylesford earlier this month. These offsites have become sacred Startmate time, core to our culture and sense of mateship. We dove deep into strategy, played 800 games of werewolves, cooked food together, and talked around the fireplace late into the night. This team is very special.
  • We wrapped up the Autumn23 Women Fellowship! We’re delighted to welcome 120 courageous and brilliant women and binary people into our community and the ANZ startup world.
  • Student Fellowship. Earlier this month we wrapped our W23 Student Fellowship 🔥 Nearly 170 super ambitious Fellows completed 20+ hours of content over 2 weeks and we even had 20 companies pitching by the end of it  💪
  • LaunchVic supports the Student Fellowship - we’re grateful for LaunchVic’s continuous Startmate support fueling us to be able to support another 320+ Victorian students to start and join startups in the coming years.
  • NSW supports the Launch Club - excited for NSW to join the Startmate impact by supporting the Launch Club to make a big impact in Techcentral!


  • Missing the Magic™ with the latest Women Fellowship. We keep pushing ourselves and experimenting. Sadly, some experiments dont’t work such as us trialling a shorter, leaner Women Fellowship (at 50% of the price) as we tried to increase reach and accessibility for women across ANZ. Upon the fellow feedback, the experiment didn’t work well enough for the high standards we have, so we’ll revert back to the magic-brimming 2022 structure and pricing model for the upcoming Spring23 cohort.


  • We’re both extremely sad and incredibly excited to say that Julia West will be leaving us in a few weeks. We’ll let her share the details of where she’s going, but she’s one of the first hires in an incredible team who are working on a mission that is incredibly close to Jules' heart. Luckily this team is very much a part of the Startmate community so she won’t be going far. We’re hugely grateful for all the joy, cleverness, mateship and passion Julia has brought to the role from day one!

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