💌 Aussie Startup & VC Summary | 23rd March 2024

$39.7M worth of startup raises + a new $100M fund for Web3 gaming 🤑

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. 🚀 

A very warm welcome to the 26 new subscribers who’ve joined since last edition!

New here or don’t know much about the story behind OS? Well, have we got a treat for you… 🍫 Co-founders and writers of Overnight Success, Gem and Will, recently sat down with Adam Spencer on the new podcast, Earning Ears, to talk about growing the newsletter from day one until now, how we think about content curation for our growing audience, and our growth plans for the future. Have a listen here 👈️.

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👀 Headlines 👀 

📱 Eucalyptus founder Tim Doyle slams medical regulator for barricading telehealth in Australia

  • Eucalyptus has clashed with health regulators and lobby groups over concerns that its asynchronous prescription model disrupts continuity of care and leads to unsafe prescribing.

    • Asynchronous prescribing is the practice of prescribing medications without any direct interaction between the healthcare provider and the patient. This often involves patients completing a health questionnaire or providing information electronically.

  • Doyle advocates for a data-backed conversation on mandatory regulation for telehealth clinics that ensures safety and quality standards are met, while sufficient access to primary care is prioritised, using technology as a primary tool.

🦄 Deputy rises from near collapse to unicorn status following $37M investment

  • Founded in 2008, casual worker management platform, Deputy, has achieved unicorn status with a $1 billion-plus valuation following a $37 million investment from US strategic partner Express Employment Professionals (EEP).

  • This is a remarkable turnaround from a near-collapse during the pandemic, which resulted in a halving of its user base and a 30% reduction of its 300-person workforce. Since then, the company has tripled revenue over the last three years to surpass $100 million in ARR.

👛 Workplace compliance software company, SafetyCulture, introduces share loan program in a bid to attract 200 workers globally

  • Safety Culture, a workplace compliance software company worth $2.7B, has launched a share loan program. The program is structured so that all debts are wiped if the shares are handed back and employees don't need to pay tax on the shares unless they're sold for a profit.

  • This is in contrast to the fast checkout platform, Bolt, which had a similar idea but left staff owing debt to the business following a valuation collapse.

🙅‍♂️ Breakthrough Victoria continues to face scrutiny amid calls for dissolution while Vic treasurer Tim Pallas claps back

👩 Main Sequence Ventures hires Elaine Stead as its new principal

  • VC firm Main Sequence, which was co-founded in 2017 by the CSIRO and currently has over $1b under management, invests from Seed to Series B in “the difficult to build companies others struggle to support” (primarily DeepTech), aiming to to address the ‘valley of death’ between research and commercialisation.

  • Elaine joins a slew of impressive senior women at the fund, including cochlear chair Alison Deans. You can see Elaine's thoughts on the move here.

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⚡️Startup Retro⚡️

Prophet raises $5M Seed round for advertising analytics platform based on sophisticated math and data

Founders: Jordan Taylor-Bartels and Sean Taylor

Prophet, an advertising analytics startup, has successfully secured a $5 million Seed funding round; the funding was backed by notable figures, including Antony Catalano of Australian Community Media, Seek co-founder Matt Rockman, and Cheuk Chiang, APAC CEO of Dentsu Creative, among others. Founded by Jordan Taylor-Bartels, Sean Taylor, Patrick Robotham, John Strumila, and Clyde So in 2020, Prophet aims to redefine how businesses measure marketing effectiveness, especially in the wake of internet cookies demise.

The platform has been under development for three years while the company remained in ‘stealth’ and offers a unique solution by leveraging historical data to predict future marketing outcomes, potentially saving businesses up to 50% of their marketing expenses. Prophet's approach uses “Nobel Prize-winning mathematics” and data analysis, whilst making it accessible for brand decision-makers to optimise advertising spend efficiently without the need for technical expertise.

With Google's impending discontinuation of third-party cookies, Prophet's timing couldn't be more pertinent. The startup addresses the current challenges in measuring marketing ROI and introduces a method to capture subtle trends that traditional models might overlook.

Doohly displays confidence with $500K pre-Seed round to revolutionise infrastructure for digital out-of-home media

Founders: Sean Law and Thomas Sawkins

Melbourne-based Doohly, a digital out-of-home signage platform that allows brands to better manage their digital signage strategy, has landed $500K of Seed investment, led by Skalata. The round also included Archangel Ventures and a group of angel investors.

The platform allows businesses to manage their advertising on digital signage using two main products, the Doohly Player and Doohly Platform. The Doohly Player allows any digital sign to become part of the network through an agnostic media-playing software that works on Windows, Linux and Android. The platform then allows a marketing team to access these digital advertising boards and build advertisements on the fly, using a Canva integration.

Doohly has seen strong initial growth with customers in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the UK. These customers are also quite sticky, with zero churn to date. Looking forward, digital advertising is a growth market with a 9% CAGR projected from 2022 to 2026. Taking this a step further, the team see a future where digital ads are not just commonplace but are intelligent, interactive, and tailored to individual audiences, leveraging technologies such as augmented reality, anamorphic 3D, and AI.

The round was also accompanied by the news that oOh! Media founder Brendon Cook has joined the advisory board.

Due Diligence: Skalata Investment Notes

Hola Health lands $4.5M to offer on-demand healthcare services across Australia

Founders: Lenin Rajendran, Thiru Rajendran and Dr Vishnu Gopalan

Hola Health, a Perth-based telehealth startup, has raised $4.5 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by M8 Ventures and supported by FundWA and several angel investors. This investment will support Hola Health's aim to drastically reduce wait times for healthcare in Australia, providing on-demand services to ensure immediate, accessible primary healthcare nationwide.

The company has identified a critical gap in the healthcare system. Many Australians, especially in regional areas, face over 24-hour waits for urgent GP care. The funding will fuel Hola Health's expansion plans, including entering international markets, following its recognition on the 2023 AFR Fast Starters list for its rapid growth and contribution to making healthcare more accessible.

Hola Health has already established key strategic partnerships, including with HealthEngine, MedAdvisor, and TerryWhite Chemmart, and is leveraging platforms like Uber Eats and DoorDash to integrate healthcare into Australians' daily routines.

Emily Rich of M8 Ventures (ex-Startmate & Microsoft) will join the Hola Health board as the company begins its next growth phase.

Marmalade spreads with $16M invoice payment platform that gets SMEs paid early

Founders: Luke Trickett, David Whiteman and Richard Johnson

Marmalade, an invoice payment solution that allows businesses to be paid instantly for the invoices they distribute, has raised $16 million in funding. The round was led by Blue Stamp Company, with contributions from Paloma Capital and several family offices. This latest capital injection brings Marmalade's total raised funds to over $32 million in four years.

The company addresses a critical challenge for small businesses: poor cash flow due to delayed invoice payments. The on-demand payment solution integrates with major cloud accounting platforms, such as Xero, Quickbooks, and MYOB.

Marmalade makes their money with a transparent fee between 3-5.5%. It's key to note that Marmalade is also an invoice management system and only sometimes needs to be used. SMEs can choose to activate Marmalade's early payout when required.

The platform, built in collaboration with venture studio Paloma in 2020, has seen a 65% increase in its customer base and doubled its payment volumes and revenue year over year. It has set a target to process one billion dollars in payment volume through its platform in 2024.

Due Diligence: Smart Company

Cauldron cooks with $9.5M Series A for bioreactor technology that slashes the cost of conventional fermentation

Founders: Michele Stansfield and David Kestenbaum

Cauldron, a precision fermentation technology supplier, has successfully raised a $9.5 million Series A funding round, following its $10.5 million Seed funding just a year prior. The round saw contributions from Horizons VenturesSOSVIn-Q-Tel (IQT), and previous investor Main Sequence, pushing the company's total funding to $20 million.

Cauldron's groundbreaking bioreactor design and proprietary growth medium aim to revolutionise large-scale fermentation production, promising to quintuple efficiency over traditional methods. This breakthrough could significantly lower costs for bio-based products, encouraging widespread adoption across various industries, including biofuels, cosmetics and chemicals. A few fellow startups already using the tech include the likes of Eden Brew, ULUU, and Nourish Ingredients. It's easy to understand why; the bioreactors can slash production expenses by 30-50% against conventional batch fermentation.

The raise will help an expansion into new markets including nutraceuticals and sustainable aviation fuel. The funding will go towards a 500,000-litre facility which builds on Cauldron's existing 25,000-litre facility in Orange, New South Wales.

Buddy lands $1.4M to grow B2B metal recycling marketplace

Founders: Stuart Kagan and Lisa Kagan

Buddy, a New Zealand-based B2B marketplace for metal recyclables, has successfully raised $1.4 million in funding from venture capital firm GD1. The marketplace is placing itself in the centre of a $348 billion metal recycling industry in need of significant digital innovation. The platform already has buyers from 19 countries, including South Korea, China, India, Vietnam, Dubai, and Germany. The company is strategically positioning itself to overhaul the traditional manual procurement processes that have dominated the industry.

Buddy's solution addresses the industry's reliance on outdated communication tools such as WhatsApp, email, and spreadsheets for conducting billion-dollar metal trades. For a sense of scale, 820 million kilograms of scrap metal is created in Australia alone.

Unlike traditional 'managed' marketplaces that anonymise transactions and maximise profit margins, Buddy is designed to foster transparent and long-lasting relationships between sellers and buyers, promising a future where technology such as machine learning and AI can be fully leveraged to revolutionise metal trading practices.

The funding will expedite plans for expansion into North America, Australia, and New Zealand. Buddy will soon showcase its platform at two major industry events: the Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI) Convention and Exposition in the US and the Bureau of International Recycling (BIR) World Recycling Convention and Exhibition in Europe.

Due Diligence: Capital Brief

Tability secures funding to enable work culture to prioritise goals achieved over hours worked

Founders: Sten Pittet and Bryan Schuldt

Tability, a Sydney-based startup co-founded by Atlassian alumni, has successfully secured a Seed funding round involving Empress CapitalInvestibleJelix VenturesRight Click Capital, and Skalata. The company is redefining work culture by prioritising goals over hours, addressing the needs of increasingly remote, flexible and globally dispersed teams.

The thesis follows that traditional productivity metrics are becoming outdated in today's work environment. Tability aims to make goal-setting and tracking straightforward, leveraging AI to suggest and implement effective OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). This approach boosts efficiency and adapts to what efficiency means to each unique organisation, fostering growth and consistency in performance.

The platform stands out for allowing companies to align their daily tasks with overarching goals, enabling visibility across quarters or teams and tackling the issue of siloed operations. Notable for driving engagement rather than being a mere reporting tool, Tability has gained traction among global teams, including tech giants like Google, Amazon, Autodesk and Rokt.

Due Diligence: OS Tip Off 👀 

Funding the Balance | Weekly Edition

Aussie Startup Funding x Gender Scorecard

# of raise announcements

$ value of raise announcements

Total Funding

7

(incl. x1 undisclosed)

$36,900,000

Gender Minority Founders

(Women, Non-binary, Transgender)

0

$0

(0%)

Mixed Team

2

$10,900,000

(29.5%)

Men-only Team

5

$26,000,000

(70.5%)

Want to learn more about why we’re reporting these figures? Read about the ‘Funding the Balance’ initiative here.

🎉 New Fund, Who’s This? 🎉 

🕹️ Immutable, King River Capital and Polygon Labs combine efforts to launch US$100m Web3 gaming fund

  • The fund will invest in the digital entertainment landscape including game studios, web3 infrastructure, and immersive gaming experiences.

  • The fund seeks to capitalise on the shift to Web3 technology in gaming, a move supported by Immutable's recent partnership with Ubisoft for developing mainstream Web3 gaming experiences, reinforcing its leadership in blockchain game development.

🎉 Wins 🎉 

🙆‍♀️ Introducing Ladymates: Startmate's new strategy for empowering women in startups

  • Ladymates aims to break down barriers and get more women working, founding and investing in startups. Read the full white paper here.

  • Startmate also announced it is officially an education institution on LinkedIn, meaning all alumni can now add their Startmate program to the education section of their LinkedIn. Power users, get onto it!

🏦 Fintech Citro launches new rewards program to help retirees save while they spend

  • AMP-backed Citro's new rewards program is aimed at retirees in Australia, and it estimates users can save up to $1,500 a year, providing savings from over 200 retailers. The reward system automatically detects purchases at a participating retailer and will send reward cash into the user’s bank account.

☀️ EnergyLab alumni skyrocket: climate tech startups raise record $289M in 2023

  • Almost half of this record-breaking raise comes from Australian-based startups at $124 million.

  • In 2023, EnergyLab upped their program offerings from 3 to 7 and tripled partaking startups from 21 to 67, propelling decarbonisation efforts in the tech world.

🏆 NanoCube Health shines at SXSW Austin

  • After pitching at SXSW Sydney in 2023, NanoCube won the opportunity to showcase their pioneering nanorobotics technology at SXSW Austin's Pitch Award Ceremony.

  • The company aims to revolutionise cancer diagnosis and treatment, particularly focusing on pancreatic cancer, through minimally invasive early detection and targeted treatment.

🧠 KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)

Gemma’s Pick 💁🏻‍♀️ Addressing Sexism in Australian Tech & Investment

  • Elaine Stead was in the headlines this week for her new role as Principle at Main Sequence, but in case that wasn’t impressive enough, in collaboration with several contributors, including Hannah Moreno, she also spent a good chunk of the last ~5 months developing this awesome resource pack which is a collection of best practice solutions to deal with sexism, discrimination, bullying, harassment, abuse and assault, specifically within our tech/ startup ecosystem. It’s worth a read no matter who you are, but essential if you’re a leader within your business, employ a team, or are an investor that wants to encourage best practices in your team and amongst your PortCos.

  • Here’s Elaine’s original LinkedIn post announcing it’s release.

Will’s Pick 💁🏻‍♂️ The Negotiation Short Course for Leaders and Operators by Fuzzy HQ and hosted by Lucy Wark

  • Inspired by my favourite Christmas movie, Love Actually, I’ve got sneaky feeling that you’ll find that negotiation actually is all around. In fact, I was so inspired that I joined the latest cohort of FuzzyHQ’s short negotiation course and was blown away by some of the strategies I learned that I now use daily. Expect a full summary of what I have learned soon!

  • The course was so good that I was able to negotiate a 15% discount for readers of Overnight Success when they use the code WILL on signup. The next cohort closes soon!

New Newsletter Alert 🔔 

Pulse Check will be your monthly download on the emerging trends & insights shaping the Aussie startup ecosystem, written by people at the grassroots of what’s really happening.

Check out the first edition here! (The next one is on its way very soon…!)

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‘Til next time,

👋 Will, Gemma & Kate