💌 Aussie Startup & VC Summary | 9th March 2024

Yep, _SOUTHSTART was as good as everyone's saying! 🥳️

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. 🚀 

This week’s edition is a pretty exciting one, including…

  • A special wrap-up of the biggest highlights from _SOUTHSTART, including a couple of announcements you probably missed amongst all the LinkedIn & media noise, AND

  • This is the first edition to include our new reporting initiative, Funding the Balance, which was developed in collaboration with NiceTo and Techstars Tech Central Sydney.

Does your OS newsletter get cut off by your email app? You can read the full version without interruption here.

👀 Headlines 👀 

📈 The ASX's tech ambitions are stalling as more companies depart than arrive

  • Over the past five years, 88 tech firms have departed the ASX and only 79 have joined.

  • For perspective, 69 tech companies worth $17.9 billion joined the ASX between 2019 and 2021. Since interest rates have increased, only 10 tech firms have gone public.

  • Alister Coleman, the founder of Folklore Ventures, said he believes the ASX has a "way to go before it's a viable destination for the majority of high-growth Australian startups".

🌯 TDM Growth Partners may see valuation resets for their darling investments, Pet Circle and Guzman y Gomez

  • TDM is an Aussie public and private investor that invests from an evergreen fund of capital into high-growth businesses.

  • TDM invested $44 million in Guzman y Gomez in 2018 and contributed to Pet Circle's $125 million funding round in 2021.

  • For GYG, uncertainty surrounds their IPO timing and price as losses grow.

  • Despite sales growth, Pet Circle is also struggling with increasing losses, which more than tripled last year, going from $9.5 million to $31.8 million.

🤖 Google dodges court six years after allegedly crushing Melbourne-based startup Unlockd

  • Six years after Google's ban on Unlockd's apps allegedly led to its downfall, founder Matt Berriman continues to seek compensation.

  • The Unlockd advertising app allowed advertising to be placed on the lock screens of phones but was killed when Google banned it from their platforms.

  • Berriman accuses Google of anticompetitive conduct as the technology was not only hindered, but Google then went on to fund a competitor who did not have the same limitations imposed. Catch up on the entire backstory here.

⚡️Startup Retro⚡️

Jupiter Ionics lands $9M to advance green ammonia agri-technology

Founders: Professor Douglas MacFarlane and Dr Alexandr (Sasha) Simonov

Jupiter Ionics, a Victorian-based startup, has closed a $9 million Series A funding round. Breakthrough Victoria led the round and saw participation from both original investors, including Tenacious VenturesMonash Investment Holdings, JCVC, and Olabella, and new investors such as Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers and CIMIC Group. Jupiter Ionics is pioneering a carbon-neutral electrolysis process to produce ammonia, a vital component in fertiliser for the agricultural sector.

This cash injection will create up to 19 new jobs in Victoria as the company aims to use the new capital to accelerate the development of a self-contained system that converts water, air, and renewable energy into ammonia. This approach circumvents traditional carbon-intensive methods and will help capture the global ammonia market is predicted to be worth more than USD$150 billion by 2025.

Jupiter's green ammonia will not only help secure Australia's food supply chains but also promote sustainable agriculture and transport with its application as a clean-burning fuel. The technology has already garnered recognition from prestigious international organisations such as the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Nature Awards.

Gridcog secures $6.4M for expansion of energy grid planning software in UK, Europe and US

Founders: Peter Tickler and Fabian Le Gay Brereton

Gridcog, a Perth-based clean energy and electric vehicle (EV) software company, has secured $6.4 million in a Series A funding round led by British fund AlbionVC.

Launched in 2020 and expanding to the UK in 2022, Gridcog seeks to streamline clean energy project planning with its SimCity-like software. The platform facilitates multi-market simulation, optimisation, and tracking of energy assets, aiming to expedite the transition to a decarbonised future.

With a client base of major names (e.g. Shell, Ampol, AGL) and a fivefold revenue increase last year, Gridcog's strategy to replace outdated methods is working. The platform offers project modelling and a new tracking platform to ensure investment returns in clean energy and increased renewable energy integration into grids.

The fresh capital will be used bolster its UK and European operations and facilitate a US market entry within 18 months. Significant projects in these regions include the likes of SNRG's electric housing developments in the UK which will focus on designing and optimising micro-grids for fully electric residential housing developments.

If you want to go deeper into the product and technology, this video does a great job.

Due Diligence: AFRRenew Economy

Anni raises $1M to expand on-demand health and wellness platform

Founders: Diranne Lee-Renwick, Anna Lee-Renwick and Timothy Smith

Anni, a Perth-based health tech startup, has raised $1 million in Seed funding sourced from high-net-worth individuals and family funds.

Founded in October 2023, the Anni app is an advice-as-a-service (AaaS) tool that empowers people to take their health into their own hands. The platform aims to address the long waiting times for specialist health appointments, especially in regional areas, by providing immediate access to trusted advice.

Anni is seeking to redefine access to health and wellness advice. It will leverage its founders' expertise to make specialist consultations more accessible and efficient globally while also fostering meaningful human connections.

The app connects users with over 250 experts in various health and wellness fields, offering more than 16,000 hours of consultation per week. With 1,300 active users, the platform is currently available in Australia, New Zealand, and the UK and hopes to venture into the North American market by the end of 2024.

The fresh capital will help Anni expand its marketplace and feature set to include online video consults, digital goods, and distributed cross-platform on-demand advice.

Due Diligence: Smart Company

Kismet secures $12.5M to streamline the caregiving process worldwide

Founders: Stefan Cordiner, Lauren Grimes, Sam Armstrong, Mark Woodland and Mathew Ellis

Kismet, a Melbourne-based healthcare platform seeking to simplify the administrative burdens faced by caregivers, has raised $12.6 million in Seed funding led by Prosus Ventures and existing backer Airtree Ventures. This funding round comes around a year since the company's launch and brings its total financing to $16.5 million, following a $4 million pre-Seed round in June 2023.

Kismet's health tech platform is reimagining caregiving by connecting over 100,000 users with more than 35,000 providers and coordinators, aiming to make healthcare easily accessible for those juggling caring for aging parents as well as their own children. By targeting the administrative challenges of caregiving, the platform will eliminate long waitlists for essential services such as speech and occupational therapy, ensure providers are paid promptly, and improve access to NDIS service providers. Users will be able to automatically create a shortlist of verified service providers within 48 hours, giving back all the time that was previously being spent on caring admin. Kismet aims to utilise its newly acquired funds to hone in on growth by broadening its user base and enhancing service awareness.

Kismet is focusing its international expansion into markets with ageing populations and thus significant caregiving needs, such as Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Germany.

Due Diligence: Smart Company

Nullify raises $3.41M seed funding to propel AI-driven cybersecurity expansion into the US

Founders: Shan Kulkarni, Tim Thacker and Tony Mao

Nullify is pioneering a new frontier in cybersecurity with its AI-driven platform. The platform empowers software developers and security teams to proactively identify and rectify potential vulnerabilities during the code development process.

Nullify's CEO, Shan Kulkarni, highlighted the 100:1 ratio disparity between software engineers and security engineers in enterprises, stressing the overwhelming challenges security teams face in keeping pace with rapid software development and evolving threats. The company's AI technology simulates the expertise of a security engineer, allowing companies to strengthen their software's security without expanding their security teams.

The Nullify tech doesn't just scan and create security alerts, it will cut out the middle man and skip straight to the implementation of decisions, like a human-powered security team would. Nullify's ambition extends beyond simple automation; the company envisions its AI as an integral part of security teams, autonomously managing and executing security tasks.

Having participated in the Microsoft-backed Conviction Embed incubator program and previously securing $1.1 million in pre-Seed funding, Nullify is gearing up for its US debut at NY Tech Week in June.

Due Diligence: Startup Daily

Funding the Balance | Weekly Edition

Aussie Startup Funding x Gender Scorecard

# of raise announcements

$ value of raise announcements

Total Funding

5

$32,310,000

Women & Non-binary-only Team

0

$0

(0%)

Mixed Team

2

$13,500,000 (41.8%)

Men-only Team

3

$18,810,000 (58.2%)

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

👯‍♂️ _SOUTHSTART Wrap Up 👯‍♂️ 

ICYMI, the Aussie startup ecosystem temporarily migrated ‘down south’ to Adelaide this week for the annual _SOUTHSTART festival. The Overnight Success team was there in full force to soak up all the insights, connections and good vibes.

OS Co-founders Will & Gemma, reading for a big day of sessions.

If you couldn’t make it, here’s what you missed…

Big announcements 📣 

  • The SA Government announced a $110k commitment over a two-year pilot for the Fearless Innovator Grants Program, which will award grants to innovative, female-founded businesses.

  • International community, Global Tech Advocates, announced the launch of Tech Australia Advocates (TAA) as its 35th group, which will be led by Dickie Currer and Claire Bull, with the aim of being “a national voice in the ecosystem” and helping Aussie founders find pathways to scale internationally.

Ripper sessions 🧠 

With a jam-packed program of amazing sessions, it was hard to pick our favourites, but these were the standouts for the OS team:

  • Closing the Investment Gap, with Judy Halliday (Dept. Innovation, Industry & Science), Jodie Imam (Tractor Ventures, Frances Goh (One Roof) & Alice Fitch (Whola). “The panel didn’t hold back - they shared honest opinions as well as practical suggestions for what needs to change to improve the funding gender gap.” - Gemma Clancy

  • F*ck the Slides, with Nir Zavaro, “Because every pitch should be a story worth listening to." - Will Richards

  • Pitch Competition, hosted by Startmate, “It was cool seeing founders present their ideas back to back, under time pressure, and up against some serious competition. Felt like an insight into… well… the deal room! It’s a great place for startup babies to see where it all begins!” - Kate Dow

Heaps good connections 🥰 

For the first time ever, we identified our most engaged readers, dubbed them “OS Super Fans” and gave them the role of our ambassadors for the duration of the festival. A keen eye would have spotted them proudly donning their "Super Fan” stickers and spreading the word.

Just a few of the OS Super Fans rocking their stickers for _SOUTHSTART 🙌 

Congrats to Mary Kelly (co-founder of Reusably), who currently holds the title of referring the most subscribers to OS. Some fresh merchandise is heading your way! 🔥 

💵 M&A 💵 

🎨 Blackbird Ventures is set to sell $100M of Canva shares to Sydney-based private equity firm Quadrant in a block trade separate from the ongoing $US1.5 billion secondary sale.

  • Quadrant will be investing via its new strategic equity fund, which was launched last year. The fund takes minority positions, writing cheques typically between $20 million and $60 million, but this Canva opportunity was good enough to break their own mould.

🎉 Wins 🎉 

🎁 Linktree launches into in social commerce, allowing influencers to benefit from commissions from their links. (The Information)

  • Linktree estimates they generate $6 billion of GMV a year in transactions via their links. This equates into $17 million per day or $700K per hour.

  • The launch will include partners like Sephora, Revolve and Urban Outfitters.

🚀 Spacetech startups secure $9 million in grants from the Australian Space Agency for NASA Artemis lunar exploration program

  • Among the recipients are NextAero, which is working on cryogenic rocket propellants, and Neumann Space, which is focusing on electric spacecraft propulsion. Each was awarded $1 million.

  • Sydney's Metakosmos, which is developing the Kosmosuit, received a $250,000 grant to enhance its technology and production capacity.

  • Queensland's Valiant Space was granted $934,500 to develop a non-toxic propulsion system and promote sustainable space use. The company previously received $841,875 for fluid control solutions.

  • Gilmour Space Technologies received $808,500 for a collaboration with UNSW to develop an Australian-made aerospace Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS). This followed their $55M raise a few weeks ago!

  • HEO Robotics landed $742,164 to develop advanced cameras for imaging satellites to better track space debris and objects, ensuring safe and sustainable use of space.

📌 Notice Board 📌 

🎤 Pitch Opps | 🚀 Accelerator/ Program |💰 Competition/ Grant | 📅 Event

💰 LaunchVic announces a slew of new grant opportunities for the Victorian ecosystem.

  • The announced grant rounds include funding for AgTech startups, new Victorian-based VC funds, angel networks, pre-accelerator programs, emerging venture fund managers to travel internationally, and MedTech marketing. Apply for the grants here!

💰 The APAC PepsiCo Greenhouse Accelerator is open for applications until 18th of March.

  • The accelerator is for those developing solutions focused on the circular economy, sustainable agriculture and climate action.

  • Grants of $20K USD are available with the winner awarded an extra $100K. Apply here!

💰 2024 LuminaX HealthTech Accelerator is still accepting applications until this Monday.

  • If you’re solving a health problem and just getting started, this could be your opportunity. Apply here!

🧠 KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)

Gemma’s Pick 💁‍♀️ You and Me Are Not The Same, by Lauren Capelin (Liminal Space Substack)

  • This piece is a must read for anyone that’s ever felt that their way of building work they care about, contributing to the ecosystem and measuring “success” doesn’t quite match up to the status quo, and in turn is often undervalued. My key takeaway - it’s a win-win for both you as an individual and the ecosystem as a whole if you just “do you”.

  • Fun fact… Lauren is a big part of why Overnight Success exists. She was the brains and driving force behind the Startmate Media Fellowship where this newsletter was born back in mid-2022 🥰 .

Will’s Pick 💁‍♂️ Communicating the value of ESOPs to employees by Jess Blomfield & AirTree

  • ESOPs, in my mind, are arguably one of the most beautiful aspects of the startup ecosystem. They allow capital-constrained startups to secure better talent and align incentives while giving employees the opportunity to benefit from substantial wealth creation. Airtree’s blog post includes a handy calculator to share with new employees and an exit scenario template.

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.

Subscribe here to meet our amazing team of writers - you don’t want to miss the first release in March! 👀

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‘Til next time,

👋 Will, Gemma & Kate