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Field narrows for Startmate prize

Wednesday, 15 December 2010 | By Oliver Milman

Startmate, a project that will offer funding and mentorship to a select band of tech start-ups, has narrowed the field of applicants to 11 ahead of a final five next week.

 

The scheme will provide $25,000 in funding to the successful five start-ups, as well as ongoing mentorship, a two-week trip to Silicon Valley and free legal counsel from law firm DLA Phillips Fox.

 

Startmate says that it aims to “help the most exceptional technically-focused founders create world class companies that solve customer problems.”

 

A group of prominent entrepreneurs and investors are behind Startmate, including Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes, Kim Chen, co-founder of Tjoos and networking group Silicon Beach, Phil Morle, co-founder of Pollenizer and Classified Adventures founder Simon Baker.

 

Niki Scevak, founder of Homethinking and another of the program’s mentors, says the inaugural Startmate attracted 86 entries.

 

“I think that’s a good number and a barometer of the start-up community,” he says. “I thought the entries would be of lower quality than they have been. I’ve been very heartened by the quality.”

 

“I imagined the entries would read like the history of Tech Crunch, but the ideas run the gamut. There’s been two main themes of education and charity, as well as an interesting idea on how companies can better respond to emails.”

 

Scevak says the finalists come from across Australia, but that he wants to broaden out Startmate from its Sydney base for next year’s call for applicants. Currently, start-ups have to be based in Sydney for an initial three months to be in with a chance of getting the funding and mentorship.

 

“This is the first program and we will learn from it,” he says. “We want to make it once a year and we want to involve start-ups from around the country.”

 

In return for the funding and mentorship, the five successful start-ups will each give up a 7.5% share. Scevak says that future versions Startmate will offer advisory documents to help start-ups raise money from investors.