Startmate 2021 Wrap + 2022 Plan

Michael Batko
December 23, 2021
Startmate Team 2021

Hi SM fam!

In the past 12 months, we’ve backed 40+ startups, 750+ Fellows and 40 First Believers.

What’s driven this transformation? Well, it might sound corny, but it’s the result of assembling a team of people who truly believe in the Startmate mission.

We love doing what we’re doing  because we get to be part of pivotal moments for Founders and Fellows and catalyse life-changing journeys.

Here are some of our favourite moments.

Women Fellowship: the power of a supportive community of women.

Student Fellowship: making startups the preferable career path.

The SM Flywheel: founders investing in founders from their own Accelerator cohort.

 Making investing into early-stage startups more accessible. Able to believe in founders at the very beginning, year round.
(SBF = Small Bets Fund)

The Startmate Team: I’m so lucky to have such a team of superstars around me.


2022 is all about power lanes and our first product.

  1. Programs. Get everyone working in their power lanes so we can launch 7 new programs.
  2. Products. Build our first tech product and raise a financial product (the Continuity Fund).
  3. Platform. Integrate programs and products to work together on one platform.

2021 in review

Here is last year’s wrap-up if you’d like a reminder.

What did we say we were going to do?

Theme: team and product expansion.

1. Team: hire 7x FTE.

  • We hired a team of 10x Startmates bringing us to a team of 14.

2. ✅ Product: launch full-scale Student and Engineering Fellowships and First Believers.

  • We launched all 3 programs fuelling startups with talent and investors from outside the traditional backgrounds.

3. ✅ Back founders before they are founders: raise $1m Small Bets Fund and launch Founders Fellowship.

  • The Small Bets Fund closed at $900k (just short of the $1m stretch goal) and we’ve started backing founders all-year round all the way at the beginning.
  • The Founders Fellowship was a great experiment and we’re excited to bring a v2 back in 2022.

What happened in 2021?


  • We went from 5 to 14 Startmates.
  • Established an ESOP making the team owners of Startmate.
  • Moved into our first Startmate Office in Cremorne, Melbourne!
  • Released our 10-year vision of Startmate City and started conversations with 5x state governments.


  • Invested in 37 companies + 10+ pro-ratas.
  • Founder Fellows formed 40 new companies during the program.
  • Launched Discord and podcast to talk about topics on the fringes.


  • 2x Women Fellowship cohorts with 200 Fellows.
  • 2x Student Fellowship cohorts with 364 Fellows.
  • 1x Engineering Fellowship with 66 Fellows.
  • ~200 coaches and ~100 mentors to support all of our programs.
  • Fellows + coaches are now present in 349 tech companies.


  • Distributed 9x, 1.4x and 1.1x of three different funds.
  • Increased our investment into Accelerator startups to $120k.
  • Raised $5.8m in funds to invest.
  • Raised a $900k Small Bets Fund to invest in founders all year around all the way at the beginning.
  • First Believers cohort with 40x participants.

2022 plan

What are we going to do next year?

Theme: power lanes and build first product.

1. Programs: get everyone working in their power lanes to launch 7 new programs.

To scale our program and product offering in the future, we first need to set ourselves up for scale.

This will help the team to work more effectively, sustainably, provide the best experience and the ability for us to run dozens more programs in the future.

To achieve this, we need to streamline the end-to-end program delivery process through:

  1. Outreach, by truly unlocking  outreach across programs;
  2. Events, by launching a year-round strategic events offering;
  3. Operations, by creating processes for programs, (such as applications, interview day, communication, surveys); and
  4. Program experience, by empowering program leaders to implement best practises across all programs.

Practically speaking, this is a reshuffle of roles, responsibilities and reporting lines across the team.

Then, we’ll be ready to deliver an even better outcome and experience on existing programs and launch 7 new programs.

2. Products: build our first tech product and raise a financial product (the Continuity Fund).

We’ve shown time and time again that we can build great programs, but we’ve never actually built a product. We need to prove we can build an underlying technology product that delivers value to us and our community at scale.

Without products we are hampering our programs’ and community’s true potential and we won’t be able to make a tangible impact on our vision to make ANZ the best place in the world to build a startup.

The first tech product we’re building is our TalentEngine. It is one place for startups to hire our community-vetted, ambitious, ready-to-rock Fellowship talent.

The second product is financial in nature, a Continuity Fund which will enable us to  back our alumni post-Accelerator.

3. Platform: integrate programs and products to work together on one platform.

There are two elements here.

Firstly, creating the layer of the platform which allows programs and products to seamlessly work together.  For example, one communication platform that unlocks the full value of the community.

Secondly, creating the layer, infrastructure and tools which will allow the community to build on top of the platform, so they can create more value for each other than we could create on our own.

We’re tackling the first part of this platform strategy in 2022.

Why are we doing all of this?

Our vision is to make Australia and New Zealand the best place in the world to build a startup.
To do this, we want to support thousands of startups to be truly exceptional. We’re on a mission to unleash startup ambition.

However, we know that we will never be able to do this on a 1:1 basis.
We will always be the bottleneck.

We have to create a scalable way to support thousands of startups.

To achieve our mission, we can’t just solve one startup problem. We need to solve dozens. And every single one needs to be solved in a scalable fashion. We have to create programs (communities/people) and products (technology/infrastructure) to solve each one of these problems.

BUT again, this is not enough, because anyone can solve any one of these problems.

The true beauty and strength of Startmate is that we can build these products and programs… AND integrate them in one place >> our platform.

As we integrate the people (communities/programs) with each other, they get more value from it. The communities are fulfilling each other’s supply and demand.

  • First Believers demand deal flow and investments >> Supplied by  Accelerator and Founder Fellows.
  • Fellows demand startup jobs >> Supplied by Accelerator alumni and Talent Engine subscribers.
  • Startups demand capital and investment support >> Supplied by entors and First Believers.
  • Startups, Fellows Investors (First Believers or otherwise) and Mentors demand amplification and reach >> Supplied by Startmate Media.

As we’ve got a growing community, we can’t service everyone 1:1, but also have an opportunity to create products to help our community but also bring in new startups at scale. I think about this as a supporting layer sitting underneath our communities, elevating everyone together. They are empowering the community.

  • Hiring product (TalentEngine) >> supports Fellows to find jobs and supports startups to find ambitious talent.
  • Building product >> supports startups to start companies.
  • Investing product >> supports investors to start syndicates or funds.


  1. Programs build communities;
  2. Products build scalable tech and financial solutions strengthening these communities; and
  3. and the platform, which is Startmate, isone place for our products and programs to live.

It is the cohesion of products and programs that unlocks the full potential of what we’re doing and will truly move the needle on our vision.

We’re doing this to make Australia and New Zealand the best place in the world to build the future.

I hope you get a great holiday break!

Michael Batko
Startmate, CEO

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