Aussie Start-up & Venture Capital Summary | 13th Jan 2024

Still waking from your holiday slumber? Get back up to speed with this weekend read.

G’day, and welcome to this week’s edition of Overnight Success! Your weekly download on all the important things that happened in the Aussie startup ecosystem. 👯

It’s so good to be back after a little holiday break. A very special welcome to the 40 new subscribers who have joined since we wrapped up our last edition before Xmas!

Does your OS newsletter get cut off by Gmail’s pesky mobile app? You can read the full version without interruption here.

  1. Headlines: The stories making waves right now in the Aussie startup ecosystem.

  2. Startup Retro: The last week’s startup raises, summarised.

  3. Crowdfunding: Exciting updates from Australia’s crowdfunding landscape.

  4. Wins: Celebrating ecosystem wins, big and small.

  5. Notice Board: Upcoming events and opportunities across the startup ecosystem.

  6. Knowledge as a Service: Resources that make you smarter. Or for you to share with co-workers to make them think you’re smart.

Headlines

👀 Canva is (apparently) preparing for a big secondaries sale

🔍 Two reports released at the end of last year you might have missed

  • The Cicada x Tech23 2023 Insights Report draws on data from the 128 applications to Cicada’s Tech23 2023 showcase and their 23-year history as a deep tech incubator. The report aims to “reveal the gaps and misconceptions that persist in Australia’s deep tech narrative – and importantly, how we can begin to rewrite it.”

  • LaunchVic released a report in collaboration with Dealroom, revealing that the growth of the state’s startup ecosystem jumped from $91B to over $100B during 2023. Read it here.

🎱 What’s in store for 2024 in VC? (Lots of people have opinions…)

  • (Clickbait headline aside…) This is a solid article from the AFR about how a handful of leading VCs are thinking 2024 will pan out for the industry.

  • Startup Daily and Business News Australia also published opinion pieces projecting the state-of-play for VC in 2024.

  • The overall vibe is… grounded and realistic with a pinch of optimism alongside expectations of various closures and M&As, plus a healthy helping of patience as most big IPO plans remain on the back-burner.

🔥 Hot off the press from OS 🔥 

Courtesy of OS Guest Writer Lea Rausch

⚡️Startup Retro⚡️

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Negotiating raises, partnerships & contracts soon? Don't miss Fuzzy's free Q&A with Lucy Wark on mastering negotiations.

FutureRent secures $50M in debt funding to support expansion into the U.S. market with new business, Downpayments

Founder: Godfrey Dinh

Sydney-based property fintech Futurerent, the platform that offers property investors advanced access to their rent payments to $100,000, has secured $50 million in debt financing from US based Partners for Growth (PFG) to support its expansion into the U.S. market. The expansion is via a new arm of the business called Downpayments which allows buyers to access 10% of the purchase price, interest-free. Founded in 2019 by ex-Deutsche Bank executive Godfrey Dinh, Futurerent has already advanced landlords over $25 million in rental payments.

This venture debt funding round follows a $9M fundraising in mid-2022, which included backers like OIF Ventures, Mulpha Partners, and Second Century Ventures. On top of the capital, Downpayments will also offer buyer's agency services and advanced technology to help streamline the transaction. Additionally, the tech stack can give landlords a unified view of their property portfolio, personal finances, and investment goals. The service aims to remove the deposit barrier in property investment, supporting families that banks often overlook.

PFG, which began partnering with Futurerent in late 2022, sees this expansion as a chance to leverage the technology and risk management strategies developed in Australia for the U.S. market.

Ideally raises $2.15M in Seed funding two months after incorporating to disrupt the product research market

Founders: James Donald, Joshua Nu'u-Steele, Brendan Cervin

New Zealand-based customer insights platform Ideally has secured $2 million in Seed funding led by Auckland VC Icehouse Ventures. Ideally is the offspring of TRA Labs and Previously Unavailable, creators of Tracksuit, the brand tracking tool. Ideally's platform offers quick, statistically-valid responses and AI-generated summaries from target audiences, significantly speeding up the product development process.

Ideally boasts an impressive client roster in Australasia, including Asahi Beverages, Danone Nutricia, and Goodman Fielder. Co-founder James Donald emphasises that Ideally, which started as a concept eight months ago, is now poised for global expansion. Ideally's user-friendly platform rapidly assesses product-market fit by providing statistically reliable responses and AI-crafted summaries from over 400 individuals within a specified target audience. This efficient process delivers results in just a few days instead of weeks, offering product development teams timely and actionable insights throughout the development cycle.

Key to this ambition is the recent additions to the team: Joshua Nu'u-Steele as Chief Revenue Officer and Brendan Cervin as Chief Technical Officer, both of whom bring extensive experience in startup development and AI.

Due Diligence: AdNews

Solbari snags $10M to grow super safe sun smart clothing brand

Founders: Johanna Young

Solbari, a Melbourne-based clothing brand specialising in skin cancer prevention, has secured $10M in fresh capital from The Australian Business Growth Fund (ABGF), backed by the Federal Government. This investment marks ABGF's second in a woman-led business. Solbari was founded in 2014 by former finance professional Johanna Young, who moved to Melbourne from Europe in 2011.

Motivated by the high rates of skin cancer in Australia, Solbari is addressing a market need for stylish and breathable sun-protective garments and now boasts over 300,000 customers in more than 160 countries. The company has expanded from 10 to 25 employees in the last three years.

The $10 million in funding from ABGF will fuel Solbari's local and international expansion. Plans include wholesale distribution through outdoor retailers like Paddy Pallin and growing its presence in the US, Canada, UK, and New Zealand. Solbari also aims to build partnerships within corporate Australia and appeal to younger demographics.

Solbari offers clothing with UPF50+ fabrics as an effective UV protectant made with a blend of cotton, viscose (bamboo) and elastane. The startup is also a certified B Corp.

Due Diligence: Smart Company

Payble raises $5.5M at a $10.5M valuation while early investors trade secondaries

Founder: Elliott Donazzan

Payble, the citizen-centric payments platform for local governments and their citizens, has raised $2.5 million. The investment comes from OIF Ventures, who led the round and also bought ~50% of Identitii's equity, worth $1 million. The startup was founded in 2020 by former Identitii Director of Innovation Elliott Donazzan and focuses on preventing late and failed bill payments, leveraging open banking through the Consumer Data Right. Payble is fixing the awkward traditional ways to make payments to local governments like BPAY and replacing them with QR codes, which offer flexible payment plans.

Payble aims to reduce the more than 75 million annually scheduled payments that fail or are late. The startup has previously attracted investment from Commonwealth Bank's venture scaling arm, x15ventures, which invested $1 million in early 2021 for a 26.7% stake, followed by an additional $700,000 later that year. This latest funding and secondary sale bring Payble's valuation to $10.5 million. Post-transaction, Identitii retains a 10% stake in Payble, having sold 24,108 shares to OIF Ventures at $41.48 per share. Identitii stated that the sale provides stability to their own company while freeing up cash to invest in new businesses.

Payble's recent focus on local government payments has been well-timed amid rising cost-of-living pressures. Payble's solution offers communities a flexible, self-service payment experience, aligning with individual budgets and reducing the hassle of traditional payment methods.

Due Diligence: Business News Australia

Getmee gets bridging round to bring the total raised to $2.5 and build AI coaching service

Founders: Balendran 'Bala' Thavarajah

Getmee, an education technology company based in Melbourne, has completed a bridging round led by Access Capital Ventures (ACV). Founded in 2020 by Balendran' Bala' Thavarajah, Getmee leverages AI to provide personalised coaching solutions, focusing on enhancing English language and employability skills. The concept was inspired by Thavarajah's own journey of learning English after moving to Australia from Sri Lanka. Allan Aaron, ACV's General Partner, will join the Getmee board.

Getmee's AI coaching product is currently used in 16 countries and is available through a mobile app and as a white-labeled solution for enterprise clients. The platform has attracted a diverse clientele, including government agencies, universities and various education and employment service providers. Clients include Deakin University, Education Centre of Australia, Story House, VFS Global and more.

The fresh funding will bolster Getmee's product development and market presence in 2024. Thavarajah expressed excitement about leveraging ACV's experience and distribution to achieve new milestones and reshape the industry with new AI-driven capabilities. Thavarajah was also the founding CTO at Bluedot, a location technology company.

Due Diligence: Business News Australia

FlyORO takes off with $1.6M USD Pre-Series A to decarbonise aviation through the development of sustainable aviation fuel

Founders: Jonathan Yeo, Genevieve Toh and Joe Ng.

FlyORO, a Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) startup based in Singapore, has secured USD $1.6 million in Pre-Series A funding. Audacy Ventures lead the investment. Investible and other strategic investors supported the round.

The funding underscores the growing importance of SAF in reducing aviation emissions, with SAF expected to contribute to 65% of the aviation sector's emission reduction goals. FlyORO has developed AlphaLite, a modular blending unit that enables on-demand SAF and jet fuel blending. Already operational in Singapore, AlphaLite is set to expand its reach to Australia and Southeast Asia. FlyORO is already partnered with and utilised by the likes of Qantas, Airbus, and LanzaJet.

The capital will be invested in R&D and supporting its international expansion. Australia is seen as an opportunity for SAF production, leveraging our resources and workforce. In the United States, the emphasis on sustainable aviation and the high number of airports and private aircraft also make it a promising market for using FlyORO.

Crowdfunding

💰️ Birchal, the crowdfunding platform has raised $2,397,824 from 1149 investors on it’s own platform

  • The platform has now raised a total of $5.39M to date making it the second-largest crowdfunded startup in Australia.

  • Birchal has been a bastion for investment activity, with 40% community growth despite the slowdown elsewhere.

  • Key investors include Dom Pym (Up co-founder), Connie Mckeage (Mckeage Cole Foundation MD), Peter Cameron (Giant Leap venture partner, TodayPay founder), Sean O’Meara (Doshii founder), Chad Stephens (1Form, Fillr founder).

Wins

Recime, the social recipe-sharing app grew its user base from 20,000 to 400,000 in 2023

  • Reach out if you want a very warm intro to the founders 😉

😍 We love sharing your startup wins! Have something you’re celebrating? Send Gemma an email via [email protected].

Notice Board

SparkLabs Cultiv8 CleanTech Accelerator

  • Applications are open for this six-month program designed to accelerate the growth of global agri-food tech companies.

  • Learn more & apply here.

Open Coffee Sydney - 8:30 - 10am, Wed 17th Jan 📍 Sydney Startup Hub

  • Start the year off with this down-to-earth morning coffee catchup amongst startup ecosystem enthusiasts of all kinds.

  • Learn more & register here.

Want to pitch your startup at _SOUTHSTART?

  • Not long now until the Aussie startup ecosystem touches down in SA for our favourite big event of the year!

  • If you want to get your startup on the pitch stage, you have ~2 weeks left to get your application in here before the 1st of Feb (scroll to the bottom of the page).

Airtree Explorers AMA - 12:00pm AEDT Wed 17th Jan 📍Online

  • Ever wondered what Airtree Explorers is all about? If you’re interested in learning more about angel investing, join Jess Walker and Raaj Rayat for an AMA to get all of your questions answered. (Or just reply to this email to chat to Will directly - he joined the program last year and loved it!)

  • Register here.

AU/NZ Startup Growth Summit - Online & In-person (Melbourne)

KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)

Gemma’s Pick 💁‍♀️ Outlive: The Science & Art of Longevity, Peter Attia & Bill Gifford

  • I’ve been listening to this book (via Spotify) over the Summer. Released in 2023, it quickly became a best seller. If you haven’t read it yet, you might have seen it at every airport bookstore and thought (like I did) how good could it really be? Well I can tell you it’s well worth a read, especially if one of your goals for 2024 is to focus on improving your health. Training for a triathlon was already one of my personal goals for this year, but listening to this book his given me that extra bit of science-backed motivation!

Will’s Pick 💁‍♂️ Idea Generation by Sam Altman

  • This very short read is focused on good idea generation. My overarching feeling is that ideas are commodities; everyone has them. But there is a big difference between an idea and a good idea, one that is based on an inflection point or foresight. This blog post could be a good reference when you think your idea is red hot and you’re about to commit. Perhaps you’ll change your mind, or perhaps you’ll solidify your decision. Both are good outcomes, in my opinion.

Have we missed something? Got some feedback? We love emails, so send one over!

‘Til next time,

👋 Will & Gemma