This Week in Australian Startups #48, 3rd December 2023
What’s the point of writing your own newsletter if you can’t share some personal updates from time to time?
This week I wrapped up my time at AWS and started a new role at Hatch, who is on a mission to build the new way for people to find meaningful work. I’m excited to jump back into building mode and create something truly special.
The two most interesting things in Australian startups this week
Mr Yum and me&u finalise merger
When the merger was first announced in September, I wrote a deep dive which included an interview with Pablo & Rusty CEO Abdullah Ramay - you can read that here.
With the merger now finalised, the combined entity will keep the me&u name with a refreshed brand and Kim Teo (Mr Yum co-founder) named the new CEO. You can read the full statement here.
I wrote at the start of the year, why we’re going to see more consolidation with the macroeconomic changes in a post zero interest rate world. This is being driven both from startups feeling the heat and needing to think about how to survive and continue to grow, but also from customers (particularly in B2B) who are actively consolidating spend and looking for vendors who can cut their overall spend.
Some news outlets have dubbed it ‘M&A’ season, whilst that may be a factual description, it’s not an accurate description of what is actually happening as we are seeing consolidation and rebundling across several industries.
There’s a big difference in motives and compelling reasons between your typical M&A, and the Mr Yum / me&u merger and broader consolidation we’ve seen recently in hospitality tech in Australia.
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Blackbird explains its recent male-founder dominated investment announcements
In a SmartCompany exclusive it’s been highlighted that the last 11 public investments made by Blackbird had all-male founding teams. A disappointing statistic when looked at, particularly even more after Blackbird committed to disclosing data related to their funding of female-led businesses along with other VCs in Australia.
However as you read on, important context is provided by Blackbird - since June 2022 it has actually invested in 22 companies and 10 of those have not been publicly announced which can be for a variety of reasons and is not uncommon practice.
When looked at the total 22 investments, in fact 23% of these companies had at least one female in the founding team - above the industry average of 19%.
Taking the time to understand context, and appropriately presenting data and statistics is extremely important. This isn’t to say that 23% is an outstanding number, and I’m sure if you ask Blackbird they’d love to see that number at 50%.
But in comparing 0% invested in startups with at least one female founder, to the actual number being 23% (4% above the industry average) is a very different story.
The article is a great read, and has a lot insight shared directly from the Blackbird team. I would highly encourage everyone to read it.
It’s made me rethink my approach to how I share data on diversity in startup funding in this newsletter. Last week I wrote I would share weekly statistics on the percentage of startups funded with at least one female or BIPOC founder.
It’s important that data is presented in the right context, I don’t believe a weekly snapshot is the most accurate representation. A longer timescale makes more sense, and probably tied to investment cycles of each VC. There are already some great publications like Cut Through Ventures who publish data quarterly (Read 2023 Q3 report here) providing a more contextual and holistic view.
Moving forward I’ll be highlighting which startups have at least one female or BIPOC founder as a tag in the updates, which you’ll see in this edition. If you have thoughts on this or suggestions please do let me know.
More transparency will help us understand where we need to focus as an ecosystem to support and fund more founders from underrepresented groups, and as we all know diverse founding teams provide better returns.
Crowdfunding platform Birchal launches its own raise, seeking $3 million (Startup Daily)
EY’s annual fintech census finds the number of new startups emerging has dropped dramatically (Startup Daily)
LaunchVic backs SBE Australia to advise women entrepreneurs (Startup Daily)
UNSW has become the first tertiary institution to implement the federal government’s accredited Startup Year program for recent university graduates (Startup Daily)
Melbourne fintech TaxLeopard, an accounting and tax app for sole traders, has acquired rival BAS and income tax return lodgement startup Airtax in a six-figure deal (Startup Daily)
B2B BNPL BizPay, which hoped to list at a $400 million valuation, has been placed in voluntary administration (Startup Daily)
Global fitness influencer Kayla Itsines, and her business partner Tobi Pearce have re-acquired Sweat, the exercise app and brand they sold in 2021 (Startup Daily)
Are startup investors coming out of survival mode into growth mode? (SmartCompany)
Sydney space tech company HEO launches US office (BNA)
Mr Yum and me&u complete hospitality merger (BNA)
Early-stage startup backer Happenco secures $12m to fund founders (BNA)
New research shows how Indigenous-owned businesses are creating better outcomes for their employees (BNA)
Adelaide’s Codan fortifies tactical comms division with $21M acquisition for US-based Wave Central agreed (BNA)
Akin is planning to skip the process and list on the US stock exchange instead (AFR)
Edrolo reduces team size by 30% in major redundancy round (AFR)
First ‘tech women’ complete new app developer course in Apple, RMIT partnership (The Australian)
VC firm Antler doubles down on institutional money with new global partner Graeme Mather (AFR)
Blackbird explains its recent male-founder dominated investment announcements (SmartCompany)
Around the World
Accolade Partners Raises $325 Million to Back Venture Funds Led by Women, Minorities (WSJ)
Okta admits hackers accessed data on all customers during recent breach (TechCrunch)
Amazon Q: A new ChatGPT-like assistant for work (VentureBeat)
AWS takes the cheap shots (TechCrunch)
Salesforce soars 8% as cost cutting shows its 'brand new religion' to increase profits (Fortune)
Meta reportedly set to launch Threads in the EU next month (TechCrunch)
WSJ says the Goldman-Apple deal is dead. Apple says not yet (TechCrunch)
Meta’s “overpriced” ad-free subscriptions make privacy a “luxury good”: EU suit (Ars Technica)
Google reaches $27 million settlement in case that sparked employee activism in tech (Semafor)
Microsoft could offer one of the first third-party app stores on iPhones (9to5Mac)
In firing Altman, OpenAI’s board wanted to keep the element of surprise (The Verge)
Australian Funding Rounds
Rich Data Co, which is building an ‘AI brain for a bank’ with its decisioning platform for the future of credit, has raised a $28M Series B led from Westpac, nCino, BMYG and Octava Fund (Startup Daily | BNA | AFR) [Female, BIPOC]
EnvisionVR, a platform for showcasing and selling unbuilt property using virtual reality & augmented reality, has raised $2.85M (Startup Daily)
Nuggets Academy, financial industry professional development platform, has raised $700K from Antler and the Alice Anderson Fund (Startup Daily) [Female, BIPOC]
Stropro, an alternative investments platform, has raised $3M from Leslie Szekely, Matt Browne, Dale Holmes and Seedpace Venture Capital (SmartCompany) [BIPOC]
Levin Health, a sports science company developing innovative solutions in the areas of chronic pain and concussion, has raised $947K from a crowdfunding campaign on Birchal (SmartCompany)
Carbon Cybernetics, which makes neural implants to improve the lives of people with complex neurological conditions, has raised a $480K Pre-Seed round led by the University of Melbourne (SmartCompany)
Bunsters, which makes hot sauce and ready to drink cocktails, has raised $649K from a crowdfunding campaign on Birchal (SmartCompany) [Female]
Beneficial Beer Co, which brews an award winning non alcoholic beer, has raised $475K from a crowdfunding campaign on Birchal (SmartCompany)
CalcTree, a multi-disciplinary engineering calculation and workflow management platform, has raised a $3.38M Pre-Seed round led by Foundamental and participation by Antler and existing Angel Investors (LinkedIn) [BIPOC]
International Funding Highlights
DataBank raises $533m for new data centers (DCD)
Cybersecurity Firm BlueVoyant Buys Conquest Cyber, Discloses $140 Million Funding Round (WSJ)
Together lands $102.5M investment to grow its cloud for training generative AI (TechCrunch)
ZeroAvia lands £92m for hydrogen-electric aircraft engines (UKTN)
Blackbird doubles down on Kiwi healthtech Carepatron in $6 million Seed round (Startup Daily)
Kiwi VC Icehouse Ventures raises $10 million (Startup Daily)
Kiwi funds management platform Caruso raises $3 million in Seed round for Australian expansion (Startup Daily)
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