Ask us anything about our four open roles

Phoebe Pincus
November 25, 2021
Startmate is hiring

On Tuesday, we hosted an AMA to answer questions about the four roles we are hiring for at Startmate:

Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get through all of the submitted questions, and we had dozens of messages from those who couldn’t make it, so we’ve compiled all questions asked and our answers into this article. I hope it helps, and best of luck with your application.

Application-related questions

Will the AMA session be recorded for those of us who are super interested but can't make that time?

No, but that’s what this blog is for.

Are all the jobs full-time?

Yes, but for the right candidate we can accommodate a flexible arrangement. Realistically, however, all the roles are pretty intense. If you’re unsure, feel free to apply and we can have a conversation about flexibility down the track.

What do the hours look like for each of the jobs? Are applicants allowed to undertake part-time study (3-4 hrs a week) while also working? How open are you to employees having their own side hustle that generates some income but only happens outside of core working hours? What if we are in the middle of building a startup as well?

We all love what we do and probably end up working more than the standard week's hours. We’ve got super flexible work hour, however, so you can do whatever you’d like outside of work and also attend non-work-related events during 'traditional work hours' too.

I think I'm interested in two roles. Can I apply to both? Can you apply for more than one role if you aren't sure which is the best fit?

Yep, go for it. We won’t actually be able to tell when marking that you’ve applied for multiple roles.

What is the starting date for all of the roles? Is it the same time next year?

As soon as possible. Realistically, early next year, however, we’re really open to being flexible for the right person.

Are international candidates welcome to apply? Or do you need to be based in ANZ or have ANZ work authorisation to apply?

Yep. We have sponsored two employees in the past, but you need to put a suggestion forward on how to organise it in the best possible way with minimal lead time.

What does the ideal candidate look like? What are the non-negotiable skills you're looking for?

Our cultural values are the best starting point. In addition, outstanding communication skills are key for all the roles, both verbal and written.

For the EIR role, founder experience and empathy are needed, and our new Head of Programs needs people management experience.

Is being a university graduate a pre-req for these roles? Or is past work experience (e.g. ex-founder, analyst) sufficient?

None of our roles require a university degree.

Can you explain the equity + carry part of the packages?

Startmate has a 15% ESOP set aside for its first ~30-40 employees (equity). Every 6 months we raise a $3-4m fund, and everyone at Startmate receives a portion of that (carry). Both equity and carry is allocated within your seniority band within Startmate and is standard across the team.

Any advice on the Applied system, given 250 words is not a lot to work with?

Having strong written communication is super important for Applied applications (and for the roles). We’re going to be reviewing hundreds of responses, so absolutely anything you can do with the formatting or structure to make your answer clear and easy to read is really helpful.

Are applicants in the eastern states going to be prioritised for roles even though they are remote?

No! We have team spread across Australia and New Zealand. We won’t actually be able to see where you’re from when marking your responses.

Are you accepting applications to positions via the job posts on LinkedIn? Or only via Applied?

We are only accepting Applied applications. There was a brief period where some of the LinkedIn roles weren’t properly linked to Applied. We have reached out to LinkedIn applicants and encouraged them to apply on Applied.

Are you open to applications from Kiwi or Aussie citizens (eligible to work) who are currently living overseas?

We are open to it, depending on a few things. Absolutely apply and we can talk through logistics.

Are you open to candidates who have made and intend to make additional angel investments with their own money outside of work?

It depends on what the investments are. We are an investment manager, so to comply with our own ethical standards and our financial service licences we have some restrictions on the type of companies we can personally invest in. Basically, the interests of our portfolio companies and our investors come before our own. We can discuss this further during the interviews.

If someone is involved with an educational program that can produce graduates who can then apply for the Startmate Accelerator, would the person have to quit that?

Based on the information provided here, I don’t think there would be any need for them to quit, assuming this position wasn’t stopping them from excelling in their role!

Question two in the Head of Programs role asks a hypothetical: "How would you design the experience of a participant...?" Are you looking for our process, or the actual design?

We’re interested in your thought process in terms of how you’d work through this problem. Is it logical, goal-oriented, etc? There’s no correct answer in terms of the design we’re looking for.

Startmate-related questions

What is the relationship or difference between Startmate and Blackbird Ventures?

Startmate is a fully owned subsidiary of Blackbird Ventures. That being said, we have our own board, P&L, team and CEO. We’re completely independent in decision-making, and “the Switzerland of startups”, with most VCs in Australia and New Zealand directly investing into the Startmate funds.

Is Startmate profitable yet?

Yes, since 2020. As we’re growing rapidly, we’re investing our profits back into the organisation to grow as quickly as possible.

Which of the different programs you offer (Accelerator, Fellowship, First Believers, events) brings in most money for Startmate?

It is roughly an equal split between fund management fees, Fellowship sponsorship and participation fees.

Who are Startmate's competitors? And why do people choose Startmate programs over other programs?

Firstly, VCs. Everyone loves investing early, but VCs often complement us well and send startups our way as we match valuations.

Second, accelerators. There are hundreds in the countries now. Startmate has an 11-year history now, with 170+ alumni, which speaks for itself. If you want to get help and advice from a founder a couple of steps ahead of you, you know where to go.

Finally, Fellowships. There are currently no other Fellowships in ANZ. The closest competitor is US firm OnDeck, which doesn’t have strong coverage in ANZ, as a lot of sessions happen during ANZ night time.

Any updates on Startmate City?

We’ve started conversations with most Australian states at the regional and state level. The next step will be to get a regional and state party together to bring it up at the federal level.

We’re super excited about this and the response has been awesome. The challenge for us at the moment is progressing conversations from ‘we want to give you grant money’ to ‘we are keen to help you establish a Special Economic Zone’.

You say "our mission is to create a prosperous country as the world progresses". Does even distribution of said prosperity matter? If so, how do you work towards this?

We’re actively working on creating opportunities for underrepresented segments of the community. Some current examples include the Women Fellowship and the First Believers programs are specifically designed to bring more diversity into the tech world for operators and angel investors.

What is the product you guys are building?

We’re building a hiring product. We have thousands of incredibly talented, ambitious operators who are looking for jobs through our programs, and we also have dozens of inbound messages each week trying to find new talent. Out product will create access points to reduce the distance between these two groups.

Any chance you’re looking for summer interns?

It’s likely we’ll be hiring new interns over the next few months. Keep your eyes peeled. It’ll be posted all over our socials and Slack pages when the time comes!

Are the roles reflective of a new org structure? If so, please comment on why the structure is changing? How do these roles align to the new org structure?

Yes, in part they are. The key changes we’re making from an org structure perspective in relation to these roles is grouping all programs under one manager (Head of Programs), rather than the previous structure where our Accelerator Associate reported to someone different than the Fellowship Associates, for example. This is designed to reduce silos between programs and allow us to more fluidly transfer best practice. 

Do you provide financial options for co-working space memberships for your staff? If not is this something you'd consider?

This is absolutely something we’d consider! We are very open to this.

Is lateral movement possible within Startmate? If we start on one role and want to eventually join a different team within Startmate?

It sure is. The team is growing so quickly that roles are more or less constantly evolving, and we have a lot of flexibility in this. Plus, we want to help people develop and move into areas they’re more passionate about as they figure these things out.

What are the factors for deciding which city to put Startmate City in?

This is mostly dependent on how open and fast moving state governments are. Practically speaking, we want to leverage existing infrastructure such as airports, roads and internet, which means you want to ideally be ~1-3h away from an existing airport.

This open Q&A is a phenomenal concept and I am truly impressed by Startmate's embodiment of its own values.

Not a question, but thank you.

Culture-related questions

What is it like to work at Startmate? What is the team culture like?

High trust. Autonomous. Flexible. Remote. Fast-paced. If you take all of them to the extreme , that’s what it is like to work at Startmate. Check out this article for some more insight.

How are you measuring culture at Startmate?

We have a number of different ways of assessing this, but our best metrics are our quarterly CultureAmp scores. Our last wellbeing score was 88 (industry average = 67) and our last engagement score was 94 (industry average = 74).

I am curious about your statement "people will probably find our levels of feedback and transparency unsettling at first". Would you be able to give an example?

We have a high level of transparency and a feedback culture that is unusual in other companies.

The best example is to describe the way we work.


  • We have 1:1 feedback channels on Slack for daily feedback.
  • We have feedback part of our weekly 1:1 agenda.
  • We do quarterly 360s and development conversations.
  • We collect feedback for every program midway through and at the end.


  • We post our Good, Bad and Uglies publicly every month.
  • We share the midway and the post program feedback with all program participants and publicly in our monthly updates.

How do you foster culture across remote and in-person employees?

Everything we do is remote-first.

Even when people are in the same office, they either split into multiple meeting rooms, or at the very least, all log in to the Zoom call to join in.

It's all about making sure people are forming genuine connections, and then letting the values and operating principles help define culture as we scale, regardless of where the team is located. We have baked in a bunch of ‘check-in points’ throughout the day and week to ensure people feel connected. For example, daily stand-ups and wrap-ups, ‘hours of power’ where we just all jump on a Zoom and work quietly together (often with a shared playlist), and dedicated problem-solving time.

And then, as much as possible, we try to keep time in the calendar for non-work-related bonding, so weekly trivia, in person offsites, team activities.

How many people work in the Sydney satellite office?

Our current office spread looks like this:

  • Melbourne: 10 people (plus 5-10 Blackbirds)
  • Sydney: 2 people (plus 30ish Blackbirds)
  • Auckland: 1 person (plus 3 Blackbirds)
  • Noosa: 1 person
  • Perth: 1 person

Do you offer paid parental leave? 

Primary carers get 16 weeks leave at full pay, with a 6-month transition period of working 4 days a week at full pay.

Secondary carers get 6 weeks leave at full pay.

How do you support employee wellbeing?

Have a pretty comprehensive approach to wellbeing. Our main pillars are:

  • Having an open dialogue about it, from a dedicated Slack channel and daily energy check-ins, to quarterly wellbeing check-ins and anonymous wellbeing culture-amp surveys; and
  • Creating policies and initiatives that target wellbeing in a systematic way. 

These initiatives vary widely, from regular team-wide Kit-Kat days where no one works, to weekly meeting-free days and monthly meeting-free weeks that allow people to get through deep work, to ‘library hours’ on Slack that mean no one’s reaching out to you after hours.

We also have incredibly flexible arrangements. People work when and where it suits them.

How does Startmate work towards work-life balance in it’s teams?

We’re really conscious that work-life balance looks really different to each individual, so we try not to be overly-prescriptive here.

We have some general rules to protect people from work getting in the way of their personal life (e.g. no Slack on weekends or between 7pm-7am), and we encourage people to take regular Kit-Kat days or sharpen the axe when they’ve had a busy work period.

But beyond that, it’s more about understanding each individuals bumper rails. What are the conditions they need to have in place in order for them to be able to bring their best selves to work? For some people, that’s having a few hours in the morning to exercise, meditate and get coffee. For others, it’s having the flexibility to take time off in the afternoon before facilitating sessions in the evening, or regular sessions with a psychologist.

Whatever it is, we try to create a culture that cares about this and policies and initiatives that enable it.

What's the level of cross-functional team work at Startmate? For example, is the entire team involved in all Fellowship/Accelerator programs and events?

We’ve adopted a highly fluid team-of-teams model. Every project or program has a project lead who pulls together the right team for the activity. This means that most projects are delivered by 1-4 people.

That being said, anyone is welcome to get involved across any of our programs, and some members of the team mentor or coach in different programs too.

Head of Programs questions

What does career progression look like for the Head of Programs role?

You’ll be in one of the most senior roles at Startmate. You’ll be determining your own future and growing with the organisation. Startmate’s mission is to make Australia and NZ the best countries in the world to build a startup. The Head of Programs is building the community to achieve that mission.

What are you looking for in terms of prior experience, especially relating to people management or leading a team? 

For the Head of Programs role, you need people management experience. We look for someone who thrives on leading a team. You'll be heading up programs for thousands of people, so this needs to energise you at scale.

Will the Head of Programs role be in the leadership team?


How does theHead of Programs role differ from or overlap with the existing Head of Fellowships role?

Sophia’s Head of Fellowships role is shifting to build our first ever Startmate product and focus on our sponsors. The Head of Programs is taking on the Fellowship part of the tile.

What are the travel expectations for Head of Programs?

There are no travel expectations for any of the roles. We’re a fully remote team. The only required travel if restrictions allow is quarterly full Startmate team offsites, which usually happen in Sydney or Melbourne.

What are the key metrics for the Head of Programs role?

Each program has its own success metrics.

  • Accelerator: startups going on to succeed (for example, fundraising).
  • First Believers: going on to invest.
  • Fellowship: operators joining a startup.
  • Participant NPS: how satisfied participants are with the programs.
  • Team CultureAmp score: how good of a manager you are.

How important is previous people management experience versus attitude and hunger to grow? Does team leadership, mentoring, creating a podcast help to show ability?

They definitely help. At the end of the day, management and leadership skills are going to be absolutely critical for this role, so I’d say previous experience in these areas is going to be really helpful.

Will the Accelerator program fold into the 'Programs' portfolio?

Yep. It is crucial for us to implement best practices across all of our programs, as well as integrate them more strongly together, so all participants get the full value.

Which stream (Accelerator, Fellowship, First Believers) do you intend to develop most in the upcoming months and years?

We’ll be going onto new verticals for all of our founder, investor and operator programs. The operator vertical has the largest scope for increase as there are a dozens if not hundreds of various ways to cut this by job and industry.

In your October 2021 update you mention an NPS of 47 for your First Believers program. How to improve? What are your NPS scores for other programs?

Our NPS ranges from 70-90 per program.

We’re leaning even more into the practical side of First Believers. We now raised a $1m Small Bets Fund which First Believers have an input on deploying as well as integrate the program more closely to the Accelerator.

Will the Program Leaders be new hires? Is there a role description for them? Or is this role replacing the current Associates?

The Associates you refer to are program leads, but there will be new hires too. However, the titles themselves might change. What’s important is that they will be responsible for running multiple new vertical programs at Startmate.

Do you need startup experience to be Head of Programs? When you say people management experience, how many people do you mean? What degree of *past* management experience is expected from the Head of Programs?

Not necessarily, no! Management and leadership experience are much more important. All management experience is valuable, but ideally, experience managing a team of 5 or more people. This will give us the best insight into how you lead a larger group of people.

Talk to me about your gaps in Diversity & Inclusion. I’m a passionate advocate. What do you see the Head of Program's tasks in the first 90 days to solve this?

D&I is fundamentally part of our outreach, selection and programming.

  • Outreach: connecting with the right organisations, going the extra mile to reach new places.
  • Selection: blind marking through Applied, the diversity of interviewers, etc.
  • Programming: varied speakers, panelists, perspectives, etc.

As Head of Programs, this will be part of your playbook. That being said, the job is never done, and the best thing you can do is tell the stories of our Fellows to bring more diverse participants into the mix.

Entrepreneur in Residence questions

Is the EIR expected to recruit the mentors (and have them in their own network already), or are the mentors already on board with Startmate?

No! We have hundreds of new people apply to be mentors for each cohort and we can only accept the top handful. Occasionally, we will reach out to someone who we really want to bring into the community, so the EIR may help with that.

Fund Operations Associate questions

Can you talk about what the ideal Fund Ops candidate looks like? What sort of background do they have?

An ideal candidate is excited about Startmate’s mission, loves working with startups and investors, is a structured thinker, has strong attention to detail, a customer service mindset and great communication skills.

There is no ideal background. We don’t even think in terms of ideal backgrounds (which is why we use Applied).

Backgrounds are only helpful when thinking about the types of places these attributes are often (but not always) developed, such as law, finance, accounting, banking, strategy consulting, and operations. 

Is a law background required for the Fund Operations Associate role, since it will involve dealing with the legal aspects of transactions?

No, it is not required, as all the legal work is done by external legal counsel. Legal experience will be very helpful in some aspects of the role, just as other types of experience will be helpful in other aspects of the role.

The role is designed to be remarkably broad so that it provides plenty of opportunities to develop new skills.

What is the growth trajectory for the Fund Operations role?

This role offers a fantastic opportunity to learn and develop new skills. You will learn how to scale an operations function, work quickly in a high compliance environment, and all while delivering an amazing experience to the best founders and investors in the country.

Community Events Coordinator questions

What is Bronte’s ideal job candidate for the role of Community Events Coordinator?

Above and beyond what’s in the JD, ideally this person will be a community magnet and create magical events, both on and offline, to engage and connect people right across our ecosystem

How would the performance be measured for the Community Events Coordinator?

Performance will be measured in the cadence and quality of our event program, and in the way events as a strategy contributes to us knocking our company goals out of the park.

What non-negotiable prior experience/skills/qualifications are required for the Community Events role?

Non-negotiable prior experience is less important than bringing a level head and eye for detail, with an ability to zoom out on the big picture and a well-organised and autonomous work ethic. Some exposure to event planning and delivery specifically is helpful, but these skills easily transfer from many other kinds of experience.

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