AirMail — November 2020 Edition

Nov 26, 2020 · 7 min read
AirTree’s monthly update on the Aussie and Kiwi tech startup scene. Subscribe here 💕

A Message From Mel 🙋🏻‍♀️

Angel investing is the theme of November as we kicked off our Explorer program for the inaugural cohort. For the first session which we opened up to the whole community, our Partner John chatted to Harry Stebbings, active angel investor and the host of the 20 minute VC podcast. Harry shared his tips on building personal relationships with founders, the most important things angel investors can offer founders (speed and conviction) and how he structures his investments including the importance of keeping a consistent cheque size. Access the recording here. (Passcode: #djQa0C7 )

Our Partner John also chatted to Christoph Janz from Point Nine Capital, one of the world’s best early stage SaaS investors, for our Open Source VC meetup. Christoph spoke about how he approaches investing and how he became an early backer of breakout successes like Loom, Algolia, Qwilr and Typeform. Access the recording here. (Passcode: 2Pc?81T=)

Finally, for those interested in a quick primer on the renaissance of the Aussie VC scene in the last decade, the December issue of the AFR magazine published a profile piece on us alongside our friends at Blackbird and Squarepeg.

The Big News 🗞

🤖We’re proud to lead Robobai’s $5m first round of funding! Julian and the team at Robobai have developed a cutting edge data intelligence platform to help large organisations manage their supply chain risk and we’re excited to support their global expansion plans.

🎓Andrew and the team at Go1 are pioneering portable, lifelong learning on the global stage and we’re thrilled to be backing them and their vision!

⚖️New Zealand’s new data privacy rules outlined in the Privacy Act 2020 will come into force on December 1. The rules seek to promote people’s confidence that their personal data and information are secure and will be treated properly. Kiwi startups should familiarise themselves with the obligations under the new rules including now mandatory notifications of privacy breaches.

Topics That Caught Our Eye 👀

👏Congratulations to Dr. Cathay Foley who has been appointed Australia’s next Chief Scientist, a role that provides high-level independent advice to the Prime Minister and other Ministers on matters relating to science, technology and innovation. Dr Foley is currently Chief Scientist at CSIRO and has spent her 36-year research career developing quantum physics and material science technologies. She’ll be the second woman to be a Chief Scientist since the position was created in 1989. “Where I hope I can bring value is being able to identify where research is complete or is the best knowledge or information as possible, then what that means to translate into policy.”

🤔How does your SaaS business metrics compare to global peers? Openview has released its 2020 SaaS benchmarking report which surveyed 1200 SaaS startups. This year, the reported median growth rate is 43%, compared to 48% in 2019 and 54% in 2018. The report also concludes that enterprise SaaS is recession-proof, Covid impact is not as bad as previously predicted for respondents and that it’s time for SaaS startups to ramp back up go-to-market investment.

⚙️Why is hardware so hard, and what can be done? The Diff takes an astute look at the challenges facing all consumer hardware companies from initial operational hurdles to intrinsic product market fit issues later on and suggests 3 possible solutions: bundling hardware purchase with a subscription, offering hardware as a complement to an existing software business, and turning a purchase into a subscription through financial engineering.

👾A fascinating look at Discord’s origin story and its series of pivots, from a chat function of a failed game, to a widely popular gaming communications tool to accidentally inventing the future of the internet and online communities. ‘Five years in, it’s clear that Discord has done something remarkable. It’s built a space that feels unlike any other on the internet…a place that mirrors what it’s like to be human, and interact with other humans, more closely than just about anything else on the internet.’

🐜‘The biggest IPO ever’ was not meant to be as Ant Financial’s listing was pulled last minute by Chinese regulators — with reports suggesting that President Xi Jinping personally made the decision to halt the IPO. Nikkei Asia takes an in-depth look at Jack Ma’s complicated history and tensions with the Chinese Community Party: in the end, what [Jack Ma] considered bravery, the powers that be considered too brash for their liking.

Major Funding Rounds 💰

Flare, a workplace software startup, raised $22m
Marketplacer, an online marketplace platform, raised $20m
Morse Micro, Wifi chip startup, raised US$13m
Hypr, a robotics AI company, raised US$10m
JESI, a worker management startup, raised $4.5m
Aider, a Kiwi based connectivity app, raised $4m
Beforepay, a fintech startup, raised $4m
Delv, a technology solutions provider developing the COVIDSafe app, raised $4m
HungryHungry, a table-based ordering startup, raised $2m
Zero Co, a household products company using reusable packaging, raised $2m
Bookipi, a freelancer and solo entrepreneur accounting platform, raised $1.6m
Heaps Normal, an alcohol-free beer company, raised $1.3m
Hello Friend Foods, a vegan food-tech startup, raised $670,000

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 💕

🏆 Kudos to the team at Athena for being recognised as the Fintech Leader of the Year at the 2020 FinTech Awards.

💡Huge congrats to team Brighte for making the Deloitte Fast 50 list again this year! Woop woop!

🌾 Shoutout for a feature on team Flurosat’s efforts to transform food production in celebration of Cicada Innovations’s 20th anniversary.

❤️ Check out ‘How Canva became a global force for good using Pledge 1%

🎙Our Cofounder and Partner Daniel Petre spoke to Justin Kelly for the VC Land Podcast here.

Community Bulletin 📌

The Victorian government’s ‘Small Business Digital Adaptation Program’ which offers $1200 rebates to businesses that sign up for new digital tools is now open for registration until Sunday 28th February 2021. More information here.

Warwick Donaldson put together a funding analysis for the Australian startup ecosystem. His findings include: seed deal count down 29% from FY17 highs but total volume of funding is up 117% across the board — meaning deal sizes are growing in size (less deals but more money), pre-seed to seed round funding size is sitting at approximately 15 times pre-seed amount ($100k to $1.5m) and startups raise capital approximately every 18 months to 2 years

The annual Founder Wellbeing survey by KPMG High Growth Ventures is open until Monday 30th November 2020. The report has tracked the performance of Australian startups and the health and wellness of their Founders since 2018, providing vital insights into their wellbeing and what can be done to better support them. Participate in the survey here.

Application for the Women in AI 2021 awards are now open, until Monday 14th December. The awards will honour the top Australian and New Zealand women in AI, who are working, leading, creating or demonstrating AI innovation in sectors including startups, industry, government, universities and research institutes. Apply here.

The Startup Daily 2020 Startup of the Year awards are now open, until Monday 30th November. The awards will celebrate the best in the Australian and New Zealand startup and tech ecosystems with eight awards, covering startups, investors, raising, resilience and changing the world for the better. Enter here.

Our friends at Innovation Bay reached the 100th episode milestone for their ‘Open the Podcast Doors’ podcast. To mark the occasion they brought back some of their favourite guests from the past 3 years including our Cofounder & Partner Daniel Petre and asked them what they’re excited about in the next 3 years. Check it out here.

Say Hi to the AirTree Team 👋

3 DecJackie is judging at the XTC 2020 Top 10 Pitches

7 Dec Daniel is speaking at the AFR Innovation Summit 2020

16 DecJackie is speaking at Fishburners’ Fempowered ‘Financing Your Business’ panel

Throughout DecMel is offering mentoring hours with the Sydney Startup Hub

Jobs Jobs Jobs! 🇦🇺🇳🇿

💡Brighte, Australia’s leading point of sale finance platform for solar, batteries & home improvements, is looking for a Head of Engineering in Sydney

🌲Linktree, a tech platform that connects audiences to a user’s entire online ecosystem, is looking for a Head of People and Culture in Melbourne

📈A data warehouse platform for e-commerce customers is looking for a Technical Success Manager in Wellington

Is your startup hiring? 🚀 Add your jobs here. Shoutout to new roles up for grabs this month from the community: Petspot is hiring a front-end developer

What We’ve Been Reading & Watching 👀

🎧You’re not listening: what you’re missing and why it matters by Kate Murphy

In a book that’s both cultural observation and scientific exploration, journalist and New York Times contributor Kate Murphy deep dives into why we’re not listening, what it’s doing to us, and offers practical advice on how we can listen better.

📷The troubling rise of facial recognition technology

This month, the Nature podcast put together a surveillance special that examines the grave concerns over ethical and societal impacts of facial-recognition technology. Cities across the globe are installing thousands of surveillance cameras marketed as a way to reduce crime, but researchers worry that these systems are ripe for exploitation and are calling for strict regulations on their deployment.

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