AirMail — January 2021 Edition

Jan 29 · 6 min read
AirTree’s monthly update on the Aussie and Kiwi tech startup scene. Subscribe here 💕

A Message From Mel 🙋🏻‍♀️

2021 here we come! We hope you’ve had a chance to recharge over the break and are ready to tackle the year ahead with renewed energy and new ideas!

The ATV team started the year on an eventful note as we welcomed the Abyss Solutions team into the AirTree fam. We’re so proud to back their vision of being the intelligence driving the autonomous systems of the future. 🚀

This year, one major focus for us is stepping up our efforts in shifting the status quo on diversity in the tech startup sector. Last year when we launched our Explorer program to empower the next generation of angel investors we also made a public diversity pledge. For every investment we lead, we commit to bringing at least one investor from an underrepresented group onto the cap table with us, provided the founder is ok with it. We’re proud to say that the founders of every new investment we’ve made since then has agreed to this and we’re delighted by the successful investor matches we’ve made already. 💪

We’d love to further build out our database of diverse investors to invite to join us. Get more info and submit your interest here. 👈

Topics That Caught Our Eye 👀

📝The 2020 figures on the Australian venture capital industry released by the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources at the end of last year show there’s more capital committed and available than ever before for early stage startups. For the 2019/2020 financial year, $3bn were committed and $353.15m was invested into startups with the median investment amount being $190K.

📈‘Tell me your current ARR and your ARR one year ago, and I’ll tell you when you’ll hit $100M in ARR…?’ — How predictable are SaaS revenues? We loved our friend and former Open Source VC meetup guest Christoph Janz’s insightful piece examining the concept of the ‘Mendoza line’ which seeks to predict SaaS startup growth and assumes that growth rates decline over time. According to Janz: ‘what you can see here is that for more than one-third of the data pairs, the company’s ARR growth rate has increased from one year to the next year. If you ever have a bad year, don’t despair. There is hope.’

🖥Andy Grove, the founder of Intel had famously proclaimed that ‘only the paranoid survive’. Ironically, more than 20 years later, Intel faces a crisis of survival spurred on by the convergence of missteps and existential threats. Ben Thompson explains how things got here and offers 2 potential solutions.

🤖More exciting advances in machine learning: Open AI has trained a neural network called DALL·E that creates images from text captions for a wide range of concepts expressible in natural language. Play around with the text prompts here.

🎓Bitcoin reached a new all-time-high over the new year break. Where are we at in the evolution tokens and crypto funding models right now? Here’s a great summary that gets you up to speed real quick: ‘many have predicted the death of token issuance. They couldn’t be more wrong.’

🕶The Australian Strategic Policy Institute takes an in-depth look at the Chinese government’s rapidly progressing digital currency efforts and its implications for Australia and the world. “It has the potential to create the world’s largest centralised repository of financial transactions data and, while it may address some financial governance challenges, such as money laundering, it would also create unprecedented opportunities for surveillance.”

🍾In an encouraging sign of progress and maturation of the tech startup industry in our region, we’re excited to see AFR’s round up of the anticipated tech IPO’s to hit the ASX in 2021 and beyond.

Major Funding Rounds 💰

AgriWebb, a digital livestock management company, raised $30m
Jasper, a digital platform for commercial real estate investing, raised $15.2m
Beforepay, a BNPL startup, raised $9m
Vow, a cell-based meat business, raised $7.7m
Matrak, a construction tech startup, raised $5.85m
BCAL Diagnostics, a breast cancer diagnostics company, raised $4m
ZOOM Health, the Kiwi ‘Uber Eats’ for medication, raised $2.6m
Digitology Healthtech, a patient monitoring startup, raised $900k
Guardhouse, a security industry software platform, raised $850K

Did we miss your raise? Want your yet-to-be-announced raise featured in next month’s newsletter? Let us know:

Love For The AirTree Fam 💕

🏅Huge congratulations to team Athena for winning the ‘Best Refinance Home Loan’ award by RateCity!

📖Employment Hero has released a Diversity and Inclusion guide for organisations hoping to step up their response to this important issue in 2021.

Linktree’s Head of Growth, Jess Box, shares her insights on building a global team, leading with empathy and the work she’s been doing to educate, engage and inspire women into technology roles with Girls in Tech.

📰 Our Cofounder and Partner Daniel explains why Chinese investment is no big loss to Aussie startups.

Community Bulletin 📌

🚀Remarkable Tech, Australia’s first startup accelerator for early-stage startups creating tech for people with disability is taking applications for its #SYD21 cohort. The 14-week program will operate virtually with potential in-person touchpoints and offers seed funding, mentors, masterclasses, disability sector expertise, user testers, and many more resources to support our cohort of startups to become successful businesses with a positive social impact. Apply here before 31st Jan.

🤓Startmate’s Liminal conference is back in 2021 running from 1st Feb for a week. Sign up here.

💡Shoutout to The Founder Institute for their jam packed schedule of programming open to startups in February, including an online startup idea fest where founders and aspiring founders can share their ideas with potential customers on 19th Feb .

📈The Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Centre is hosting a session on practical strategies and tactics startups can use to increase revenue in 2021 on 18th February.

🏆Kudos to everyone recognised in SmartCompany’s ’10 startups to watch 2021’ list!

🎧 We love it when women in tech shake things up! Tech journalists Rae Johnston, Angharad Yeo, Tegan Jones and Amanda Yeo have joined forces to launch the podcast series ‘Queens of the Drone Age’ where they share all the things they’ve learned and love about technology and how it’s changing the world and themselves.

Jobs Jobs Jobs! 🇦🇺🇳🇿

👗 GlamCorner, Australia’s no.1 sustainable fashion rental platform, is looking for a Product Manager

🏡Archistar, Australia’s leading AI property tech platform, is looking for a Development Tech Lead

🚀There are also roles up for grabs for an HR Director and a CTO — please email our Head of Talent Andrew Donald for details on these at

Is your startup hiring? 🚀 Add your jobs here.

Say Hi to Team AirTree! 👋

5–6 FebRich is speaking at the International Space University’s Conference
10 FebRich is running a lecture on ‘raising your first round of financing’ for USYD’s Entrepreneurial Finance course
24 FebJax is hosting AirTree’s Open Source VC session with Patrick Campbell from Profitwell
Throughout FebMel is offering mentoring hours with the Sydney Startup Hub

What we’re listening to 👂

🤖Can AI exist in medicine without human oversight? Medicine and the Machine podcast with Eric J. Topol

Eric Topol and Abraham Verghese speak to Melanie Mitchell, author of ‘Artificial intelligence: a guide for thinking humangs’ and a professor at Portland State in Oregon and the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, on the latest developments in AI and what it means for medical and healthcare applications.

💰The Power of Compounding — Scaling up podcast with Ed Cowan

This instalment of the Scaling Up podcast features Hamish Douglass, the co-founder, CIO and Chairman of Magellan Financial Group: ‘People’s minds will always drift to how good an investor Hamish is having compounded capital at high rates of return for 15 years, it is perhaps easy to ignore what an incredible business Magellan itself is, having scaled from humble beginnings to now being a ASX 100 listed company with a market cap of over $10b . This episode intertwines Hamish’s reflections as an investor with how that has shaped his views as a business operator — from strategic insight and building competitive advantages, to scaling people and cultures.’

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store