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H2 Accelerator launches in Sydney eyeing 100 early-stage fintech startups

Wednesday, 27 May 2015 | By Broede Carmody

The founders of the AWI Ventures Accelerator have struck out on their own to launch a new fintech accelerator program.


The H2 Accelerator in Sydney, run by Ben and Toby Heap, plans to invest in 100 early-stage fintech startups over the next three years with the ultimate goal of finding Australia’s next billion-dollar company.


Entrepreneurs accepted into the H2 Ventures program will be based out of the recently opened fintech hub Chalk and Stone.


Toby Heap, co-founder of H2 Ventures, told StartupSmart the new program is about “scaling up” what he and his brother have previously done in the fintech space.


“In our first intake of the [AWI] accelerator last year we did four startups and then this year the intake that’s about to finish had five startups,” he says.


“Now we’re going to eight startups each intake, but the difference is we’re going to be doing four intakes a year instead of two. From the experience of doing the first two rounds we’re convinced the model works really well… and the advantage of doing it at a bit of a bigger scale is that we can bring them a better program, which obviously benefits the startups as we can bring on more specialists.”


AWI Ventures is wrapping up its second and final intake after Australian Wealth Investments Limited decided to redirect its funding.


Heap says ultimately the goals of the publicly listed company did not align with the accelerator as investors in Australia are generally after short-term dividends.


However, operating the corporate accelerator has allowed him to meet a range of investors and put his and his brother’s new program well on track to raising its target of $10 million.


“Basically through running this for the last 18 months or so we’ve made connections with all of the people around Australia and beyond that who are interested in fintech,” he says.


“So we’ve effectively found those investors who are interested in making that long-term investment, that long-term approach. It’s a culmination of some corporates who see the future that’s coming and the disruption that’s coming and wanting to have a piece of that, but then some high net-worths who are looking for some returns.”


As for the kind of fintech startups likely to snap up a place in the accelerator, it will all come down to the founding team.


“We’re much more focused on the team than we are on the idea,” Heap says.


“And that’s largely because part of the accelerator process is to actually iterate the idea, and what we often find is the idea people end up doing is quite different from what they came in with. But if you don’t have high quality people it doesn’t matter how much you iterate – you’ll never come to a good solution. Also, if you’re proposing to solve a problem in a particular space we want someone on that team who has a deep experience in that space.”


Applications for the H2 Accelerator program will close on June 30, 2015.


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