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AirMail — March 2020 Edition

AirTree’s monthly update on the Aussie and Kiwi Tech scene. And a few things we find interesting…

A Message from Mel 💌🙋🏻‍♀️

We send you the March edition of AirTree’s newsletter with a heavy heart.

We are living through an unprecedented and painful time: a global health crisis and a subsequent economic meltdown at the same time. We are all facing significant threats to our physical health and financial security, and we don’t know how long it’ll last.

What should we be doing to get through it?

Protecting the physical and mental health of everyone in society must come first.

Please do your part to flatten the curve and stop the spread. If you’re in Australia and fortunate enough to be able to work from home, do so. Stay home as much as you can. If you have to go out, follow the rules of social distancing and stay 1.5m from others. If you’re in New Zealand, follow the Government guidance on what this lockdown means.

Remember that everyone in society is experiencing more stress than usual right now. Be extra compassionate and understanding when interacting with others. Don’t sweat the small stuff.

If you have the capacity, do what you can to help those more vulnerable than you, but in a remote, safe way. Jackie from our team shares some great ideas here.

To empower founders to support each other during this difficult time, AirTree is hosting weekly virtual founder meetups to brainstorm how to manage all aspects of COVID-19. This week we are discussing how to maintain mental health and wellbeing. Join us by registering here.

Many talented people have already lost their jobs, with more expected to follow. We want to help them get back to work quickly, so we’ve asked startups still hiring in Australia and New Zealand to list their jobs here. Help us spread the word.

We believe in the entrepreneurial spirit. Some of the best companies in history were created during or right before economic downturns (eg. IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Salesforce). We’re still actively investing, having issued 3 term sheets in the last 3 weeks.

We are here now, standing with founders in the darkest days, and we’ll still be here when they come out the other end.

Big virtual hugs from the AirTree team — together we can get through this! 💪🏻

COVID-19 News for Startups 🦠

🆘The Australian government launched a Coronavirus app and Whatsapp group to provide the public with the latest official information, in a partnership with Facebook and Atlassian. You can also track the latest government stimulus packages across Australia, New Zealand and the world. Kiwi founders can use the Manaaki network which provides mentorship to help businesses navigate COVID-19. Also, if you’re a Xero subscriber, the Xero Assistance Programme provides free face-to-face, telephone, live chat and online counselling.

💰A collection of what VC’s are saying about what the tech sector should expect in the coming months here, here, here & here. In summary, some of the best and most enduring businesses are started during downturns, strong companies can and will thrive through this. There will still be funding available (although reduced) and for many startups, conditions will be very tough for a while. Managing cash flow and reining in costs to get through the next 18–24 months will be key.

📊How will Covid-19 impact business? McKinsey has developed an evolving executive briefing, with the latest update published on March 25th

👍Kudos to the tech sector for offering much needed support to the wider community. So many are doing great work, but we wanted to give some shoutouts: Hotdoc has helped the government develop remote booking systems to handle COVID-19 cases, Employment Hero’s offering giveaways and a resource hub, Umps is using smart home solutions to protect the elderly, MedAdvisor is launching ‘Uber for pharmacy deliveries’, Whispir is making it easier for government to send out messages to citizens, and SMB nuggets is helping businesses find quick ways to reduce costs.

Other Good News 🙌

(Heaven knows we need more of these right now!)

🦸‍ ️Employment Hero joins the ‘Centaur’ club after a $22m raise.

🌎Process Street represents Aussie startups proudly on the global stage, closing a $12m Series A led by Accel Partners.

👏Congrats to all the companies that made it to AFR’s 2020 Fast 100 list!

🙌Great news for kiwi founders: New Zealand has finally launched the $300m venture capital fund Elevate NZ.

🌾Tauranga-based Robotics Plus does NZ proud by being recognised on this year’s THRIVE Top 50 list — the annual ranking of global agritech companies representing the best in agriculture innovation.

Major Funding Rounds 💰

Xinja, a neobank startup, raised $433m
Arkose Labs, a fraud prevention startup, raised $22m
Indebted, a debt collection startup, raised $14m
Drawboard, a PDF markup and collaboration startup, raised $9.3m
Reejig, a talent intelligence startup, raised $2.2m, gaming tech startup, raised USD $1m
Yabble, a NZ digital data insights platform, has secured a lead for it’s $2m round
Ovira, a women’s health startup, raised $1.5m
Vampr, a networking platform for creatives, raised $1.5m

Did we miss your raise? Want your yet-to-be announced raise featured in next month’s newsletter? Reply to this email and let us know.

Community Bulletin 📌

📝Sign the petition calling for the Australian government to suspend changes to R&D tax incentive, spearheaded by Dr. Adir Shiffman, Executive Chairman of Catapult Group

🗞Submit your questions and concerns to Steph and the team at SmartCompany so they can investigate and report on the issues most relevant to founders right now. Email her at

🏝Innovation Bay is running a survey to learn how best to support startups during this uncertain time. Let them know what you’re doing here.

🐣Hatch launched a jobs exchange to connect employers needing to scale up with staff who have been stood down #stepup4stooddown

☕ If you need a quick pick me up whilst working from home, join Nicky’s Covid Coffee Hour at 11am AEDT Tues/Fri.

Startups Still Hiring! 🇦🇺🇳🇿

🙌Good on all the startups still hiring through COVID-19. Got talented friends looking for work in the startup industry? Send them here.

From the AirTree portfolio

🎓Edrolo, the edtech startup providing resources for secondary education, is hiring an HR Manager in Melbourne

👩🏻‍⚕️Hotdoc, the digital healthcare booking platform with the mission of improving patient experiences, is hiring a Head of Marketing in Melbourne.

🐶 Pet Circle, Australia’s largest online pet shop, is hiring a Business Manager in Sydney

What’s On 📅

1, 8, 15, 22 April — AirTree’s Weekly Managing COVID-19 Founder Meetup every Wednesday 1pm

3 AprilJackie is speaking at Stone & Chalk’s ‘Capital2020 in COVID-19’ panel

8 AprilJohn & Elicia is doing an AMA with the Sydney Startups FB Group

8 AprilMel is speaking at SaaStock’s Building SaaS Communities across APAC online event

9 AprilDaniel is moderating a COVID-19 impact update virtual fireside chat with Peter Neupert

15 AprilJohn is speaking at Silicon Valley Bank’s webinar about FX and investment in the current climate

22 April — Team AirTree be joining the virtual SaaStr Summit

What We’ve been Reading and Listening to 👀🎧

What you do is who you are — by Ben Horowitz

“Who you are is not the values you list on the wall. It’s not what you say in your stand up or marketing campaign. What you do is who you are.” Powerful and practical tips from Ben Horowitz on how to build cultures that weather both good and bad times. Leadership inspo during a truly bad time.

Quarantunes by Rita Wilson

Self-isolate the way Hollywood celebs do with this playlist by Rita Wilson. Mel’s fav? MC hammer’s classic ‘You can’t touch this’. Here’s reminding everyone: don’t touch public surfaces, don’t touch your face and eyes!



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AirTree is a venture capital fund that supports the most ambitious Australian and Kiwi tech founders. First round, multiple rounds.