Startmate 2023 Year in Review

Michael Batko
December 20, 2023
Startmate 2023 Year in Review

Hi Startmate Fam!

In 2023, despite forecasts of  “doom and gloom”, Startmate has:

  • written 27 first and 22 follow-on cheques
  • finished cash on cash payments which are now sitting at a DPI of:
  • fund 2012 - 9.0x
  • fund 2013 - 2.6x
  • fund 2015 - 1.1x
  • fund 2016 - 2.1x
  • raised a total of $16m for the Accelerator and Continuity Funds
  • had 1,022 fellows complete our programs.

In the last 4 years, the Fellowship have helped 66% of our fellows start or join a startup.

That's almost 500 women who otherwise might have not been in startups.


Read through these numbers again.

They are truly mind-boggling.

Numbers are so easy to take for granted, skim through and overlook.

But EVERY SINGLE “number” represents a story.

A life changed.

…and there are 1,000+ of them this year alone.

That’s the impact that Startmate is having every single year.

Here are a select few stories.

One of my favourites this year is Linus and Kai.

  • They met during the Student Fellowship.
  • Competed and won the Founders Challenge during the program.
  • Got a free spot in our Launch Club and started Lyrebird.
  • Impressed mentors so much with their customer obsession, they made it into the W23 Accelerator.

All in the space of 6 months.

Mentors & Investors - loving the community and meeting founders.

Fellows - getting support through the community and making life changing career choices

And finally, our Founder alumni continue to advocate for us - even years later.

What happened in 2023?

1. Founders

  • Invested in 49 rounds in total (33% women co-founded)
  • 25 Accelerator cheques (40% women co-founded)
  • 2 Small Bets Fund cheques (50% women co-founded)
  • 22 follow-on cheques (23% women co-founded)
  • Our alumni continue to perform
  • Sicona raised $22m Series A
  • Mindset Health raised $18m Series A
  • CipherStash raised $3.3m Seed
  • Aquila raised $3m Seed
  • There are dozens more online and another 20 rounds that aren’t yet public
  • Helped 212 ambitious individuals onto the founding pathway through Launch Club and the No-Code Fellowship.

2. Investors

  • Returned cash on cash for 4x funds
  • fund 2012 - 9.0x
  • fund 2013 - 2.6x
  • fund 2015 - 1.1x
  • fund 2016 - 2.1x
  • Raised $5m and $11m for the Accelerator and Continuity Fund, respectively
  • Launched 118 First Believers on their angel journeys.
  • Started the Startmate Syndicate - alumni offering to set aside allocation in their raises for our community.
  • Built our own selection platform for scalably looking through 1,000+ applications a year and casting 8,955 investment votes.
  • Launched Fundpanel as our one stop shop for all investor reporting

3. Operators

We experimented with a couple of different formats and value propositions for our Fellowships.

Importantly, we’ve designed clear pathways for our Fellows to start companies, get hired (check out our Talent Engine to see who’s on the job hunt) and develop key skills relevant to their careers. 

  • We had a total of 1022 fellows complete our programs in 2023.
  • In the last 4 years, 66% of our fellows joined or founded a startup.

What did we learn?

⭐ Remember: Why We Exist

It is so easy to get pulled into dark and gloomy media narratives.

It is so easy to get pulled into internal company problems opposed to solving customer problems.

It is so easy to build for the sake of it, “do it the same as it has always been done” and forget the why.

This year we pulled ourselves out of the weeds.

Founders are focusing on customers.

Fellows are focusing on joining or founding a startup.

Investors are focusing on writing first cheques.

Startmate is focusing on our customers.

Every program has clear customer obsessed success metrics.

✂️ Experiment, Cut, Focus 🔁 Don’t forget to “Cut”

With the impact that we can have at Startmate and the unlimited opportunities ahead of us we get too excited and want to do everything for everyone.

But if you are everything to everyone, you are nothing for no one.

We’ve experimented with 10 (🤯) iterations of the Fellowships this year - Women, Student, Climate, Launch Club, No Code, Athlete, Product, High Performance, Manager and Customer Success. Even though each one of them has been successful in its own right, we spread ourselves too thin.

For 2024, we’re cutting half of our Fellowships and bringing it back to what we’re uniquely well placed to solve.

We’re focusing on pathways to

  • becoming a founder through Launch Club and No-Code Fellowships
  • getting a startup job through Women, Student and Climate Fellowships

What’s coming up for 2024?

2023 was the year of experimentation.

2024 is the year of focus and depth.

We’ll be doubling down on what we’re great at.

Importantly, ignore trends and media scare as we’re long term investors.

Keep planting seeds in the good and the bad times.

1. Community - next smallest step towards Startmate City.

  • Expect more IRL events and the launch of weekly co-working hubs in SYD, MEL and AKL as the next smallest step towards Startmate City.
  • Startmate Community Platform (name is placeholder, send through suggestions!) will go live to bring together everything from program content to community directory in one place.
  • We’ll be rebranding… 13 years later… It is finally happening.

2. Founders - make ideas reality.

The focus is to reduce the hurdles for customer exploration and product building to validate whether you’re onto a real customer problem.

  • Bring 433 fellows on founder pathways through founders challenges, Launch Club and the No-Code Fellows.
  • Invest in 30 pre-seed startups.

3. Investors - professionalise.

  • Raise $6m for the Accelerator Funds.
  • Deploy another ~30% of our Continuity Fund into 27 alumni companies.
  • Smoothen the investor onboarding to ONE process to rule them all.

4. Operators

As I alluded to in the Learnings, we’re focusing on the three spaces that we can make the biggest impact. Support and help…

  • 450 women not just through job change, but in-job, leadership - watch this space!
  • 500 university students and deepen our offerings.
  • 300 climate enthusiasts and go deeper into STEM.

The final note is a heartfelt appreciation to YOU, the Startmate Community.

It is so easy to take what we’ve built for granted, because we live it every day. This is truly a special place where ideas, funding and doers intersect. A place where ambition is born, fostered and celebrated. A culture of paying it forward.

You make this possible.

Have a great summer break.

Batko, on behalf of the Startmate team.

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