Sydney-based mentor-driven seed funding program Startmate has opened applications for its 2015 intake, with the iconic program now entering into its fifth year. First run in 2011, the Startmate program was a pioneer in the Australian startup scene. Based on an observation that VCs were missing in action in Australia at the time, it was inspired by the success of US-based seed funding programs such as Y Combinator and Techstars. Startmate and Blackbird Ventures co-founder, Niki Scevak told StartupSmart the program has proven Australia has the talent to build world-class tech companies. “If you look at something like 500 Startups or Y Combinator, a large proportion of the teams there are international and they’ve moved to San Francisco to start their business,” Scevak says. “But really, you can launch a startup anywhere and we believe Australia punches well above its weight in terms of talent.” Scevak says the big change in 2005 will be the increased importance of Startmate graduates from past years. “The big change after five years is the network of alumni companies. We’ve invested in 29 companies over the years, and that network is increasingly becoming even more important to the program than the mentors. “The folks who have gone through Startmate want to give back to the program, so the alumni and the mentors is really a one-two punch.” Startmate initially offered startups a $25,000 investment in exchange for a 7.5% stake – a figure that has since been increased to $50,000 (which gives successful companies a valuation of $666k). Aside from the investment, the program offers startups office space and legal advice for its duration, and includes demo days where technology can be demonstrated to potential early-stage investors. A key feature of Startmate has always been the use of high-profile mentors from the Australian startup and tech community. Some of the mentors have included Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar; Tjoos co-founder Bart Jellema; and Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy. The first program in 2011 generated 86 applications, which were eventually narrowed down to just five participants. The first intake was made up of Bugherd, Chorus, IRL Gaming, Grabble, and Noosbox. By the end of the year, one of the participants, Grabble, had been acquired by the US retail giant Walmart. Between January and April 2012, Startmate returned with its second intake, with the program increased to eight participants. The number of aspiring entrepreneurs and startups boomed to 164, with Clique, Flightfox, Property Inspector, Invc.me, Ninja Blocks, ScriptRock, Setkick and Young Republic eventually chosen for the program. It returned bigger than ever in 2013, with the initial investment doubling to its current level of $50,000 for 7.5% equity. The 2013 participants included 7pm Anywhere, Bugcrowd, GetStall, Kinderloop, SalesTeam, Shiftr, Storyberg, and Tutor on Demand. In late 2013, applications opened for Startmate’s fourth intake, with the 2014 program kicking off earlier this year. The participants included Lumific, HayStackHQ, Inductly, Drawboard, Flirtey, Foogi, Composure, and SportHold. In 2015, Scevak predicts Startmate will attract more than 250 businesses, with the growth of applications now tracking the number of startups in the ecosystem. Applications for the 2015 program are available on this page.
The directors of Gold Coast incubator Silicon Lakes are flying to the United States tomorrow (Wednesday) to build relationships with the start-up community there and provide a future pathway for Queensland start-ups. Greg Burnett told StartupSmart the 12-day trip was aimed at “planting seeds” and to “acclimatize” themselves with the start-up sector in the U.S. “It’s a `soft landing’ into starting to build some relationships with a couple of accelerators with the goal to building a pathway as we graduate start-ups out of the Gold Coast,” he says. Burnett says one of the main stumbling blocks for start-ups on the Gold Coast has been access to early seed funding. He says while Silicon Lakes does not provide seed funding, it is building relationships with angel investors on the Gold Coast and hopes to learn more about seed funding opportunities while in the US. Burnett, who is being joined on the trip by fellow directors Bill Bass and Aaron Birkby, says they’ve had little trouble finding people willing to meet them following Twitter’s acquisition of the Brisbane-based We Are Hunted music app earlier this year. He says they plan to visit the Microsoft Innovation Center and seed funders TechStars in Seattle, and hope to spend time with funder Y Combinator and accelerator KickLabs. They also plan to meet the people behind the Startup Weekend event in preparation for a Startup Weekend on the Gold Coast as well as Australian start-ups that have moved to the U.S. Silicon Lakes officially launched in February and is a not-for-profit incubator working closely with the Gold Coast City Council. Burnett says they are working with 12 start-ups at the moment, with half of those in the app space.
Newly launched accelerator Slingshot plans to invest in around 100 start-ups over the next five years, investing as much as $100,000 in each start-up via a $10 million venture fund.
A former winner of Startup Weekend is among the 10 ventures selected to take part in the second ANZ Innovyz START program, which is once again dominated by Adelaide-based start-ups.
Australian entrepreneur Simon Walker has made a documentary called the Leaap Project, which saw him visit 10 US cities in 20 days to gain insight into America’s complex start-up scene.
A new initiative called Crowd Valley says it wants to increase the level of democracy in the crowdfunding market, potentially offering a new path to funding for Australian start-ups.
Startup Weekend has teamed up with TechStars and Startup America to launch a new program dubbed Startup Weekend Next, which will aim to create 10,000 start-ups throughout the world.
A US start-up called Twice is pushing the ‘acqui-hire’ trend to new levels by offering $1 million to acquire any “well-qualified” technical and design-savvy entrepreneurs who have failed with their own ventures.
Adelaide-based start-up accelerator ANZ Innovyz START will hit the road in November by holding a series of intensive three-day workshops for early-stage ventures in each of Australia’s major capital cities.
The ANZ Innovyz START accelerator program, the Adelaide-based start-up program that's based on the US incubator TechStars, was confirmed for another year at the graduation of the program’s inaugural class.