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Before ScriptRock: From scrappy startup to $10 million funding rounds

Monday, 18 August 2014 | By Niki Scevak

When Startmate began in 2011, I hoped that Australia's best minds would increasingly choose to do startups instead of working at big companies. Alan Sharp-Paul and Mike Baukes of ScriptRock represent a strong example of what now is a growing trend.


In our second year at Startmate in 2012, we had the privilege of working with Alan and Mike from ScriptRock.


Last week they announced they raised $8.7 million from August Capital, Valar Ventures and Squarepeg Capital to help grow the business.

In between those two events has been a roller coaster of ups and downs that Ben Horowitz captures so eloquently in his blog post “The Struggle" and book "The Hard Things about Hard Things”.


But I'm not here to write about that. I wanted to write about before ScriptRock even existed.


Before ScriptRock, Alan and Mike worked for large banks as consultants, helping them with their IT infrastructure problems. ScriptRock was born out of that experience and ScriptRock's software largely automates what they used to charge obscene consultant fees to do themselves.


That connection to the problem (why do they give a shit?) is so important and is one of two primary things we look at when selecting Startmate teams (the other: can they get shit done?).


Alan and Mike had both done startups that had failed to scale beyond a nights-and-weekends hobby or could provide employment beyond themselves. But ScriptRock captured their insight into a big problem.


What impressed me so much about the two was their willingness to make the jump. They left extremely lucrative careers to pursue their passion at ScriptRock. They moved wives and kids over to California to be closer to customers. They took huge pay cuts to be motivated by equity and making the biggest impact and not by cash and short-term bonuses.


We need more Mikes and Alans in Australia and I'm excited to say we're getting them. Startmate started four years ago and AngelCube in Melbourne has a similar number of vintages. Paul Bassat and Justin Liberman, before formalising their efforts with SquarePeg, seed funded a number of businesses around a similar time and so too did other super angels like RetailMeNot founders Bevan Clark and Guy King and the CarSales founders.


We're just starting to see the flow-on effect from that activity three to four years ago now with some of the startups making substantial progress (see LifX as another example). It's easy to try and get addicted to the sugar highs of ‘what can we do this year’, but it takes decades to build great iconic companies, not months. And, ultimately, ecosystems are a function of the number of iconic startups.


The best time to start your own iconic startup is now. If you want to take the same path as Alan and Mike, Applications for Startmate are open. We recently produced a mini documentary of their experience if you'd like to find out more: