Arriving as AirTree’s new Head of Venture Community

Melissa Ran
Sep 24 · 4 min read
Hotpot in Chengdu, Musang King Durian in Kuala Lumpur, Tarantula in Phnom Penh, Beef Noodles in Taipei. Spoiler: The tarantula was not what I would call delicious.

Back in June, Emily shared the exciting news that she had been offered the opportunity to join AirTree’s investment team, and so the search was on for a new Head of Venture Community.

‘OMG pick me! Pick me!’ was my first thought.

Well, let it be known that dreams do come true coz here I am!

So hello there,👋 I’m Mel, AirTree’s new Head of Venture Community. Since you’ll be hearing a lot more from me in the future (lucky you 😉), I thought I’d introduce myself.

First, some ‘labels’…

Chengdu-born Sydney-raised. ENFJ. Passionate Foodie. Millennial. Yes, that means I frequently spend $13 on smashed avos and homeownership is my white whale. 🤦🏻‍♀️

How I got here….

I’m lucky enough to have been a part of the Aussie startup sector for the last 8 years. In that time, it’s grown from a tiny niche community to the vibrant and diverse force of nature that it is today. It’s been a privilege to witness its transformation.

I remember joining the Sydney Startups facebook group when it had less than 300 members, at a time when Fishburners was the only coworking space. Now, SS has over 17 000 members and every person and their dog is opening a coworking space!

Before AirTree I was the Head of Global Partnerships at bitfwd, a blockchain education community. Before that, I was a Program Manager at the UNSW Founders Program for several years where I helped hundreds of early-stage founders build their vision.

My original entrance into startup land was quitting my marketing grad job at Procter & Gamble in 2011 to work on a task-management software that ultimately failed but that had taught me so much about business.

And just in case I don’t get enough of startups in my day job, I’m also a proud (read: long-suffering 🤣) ‘startup spouse’. My husband Adam is a co-founder of the online learning platform OpenLearning which has grown from a tiny office with a slanted floor to a team of 45 amazing people who’ve enabled thousands of educators to teach 1.5 million people worldwide.

Why I’m so excited…

I’m intimately familiar with how brutal it can be for founders of fast-growing tech businesses in Australia and I’ve made it my life’s work to support our community’s success.

That’s why the opportunity to join AirTree in the Community role is such a dream come true. I’ll get to continue doing what I love, but be able to make an even bigger impact.

AirTree’s founding team and partners have a wealth of experience as founders with successful exits, senior managers at global tech giants and seasoned early-stage investors. AirTree also has the best post-investment support in the form of a Head of Talent that recruits full-time for our portfolio companies along with a host of other initiatives.

I’m in the enviable position of ensuring AirTree’s invaluable connections, resources and insights can be leveraged to propel our wider community forward.

On a personal front, I’m also super flattered to learn from and work with the best innovators and the best team. My only question is: how in the world did I get into this awesome party? 😜

What my role will focus on…

The Australian startup scene has really exploded over the last 5 years. There’s now more support than ever for founders to get started with a bang. Talented and ambitious young people finally don’t have to leave Australia to work at exciting, fast-growing and world-changing tech companies.

But it’s not time to pat ourselves on the back just yet.

4 years ago, Sydney ranked 15th in the Global Startup Ecosystem Report by Startup Genome. Today, we are 23rd. In a world where every country is prioritising innovation, Australia is struggling to remain competitive.

Yet tech startups have to scale and compete globally.

The challenge facing us as a sector is ensuring the current explosion of new companies achieve outstanding growth and become globally significant success stories. This will create a new generation of experienced and successful talent who can, in turn, give back meaningfully to the next generation of Aussie innovators.

Some areas I’ll be focusing on include:

  • Facilitating connections and offerings that help address the scale-up challenges startups face
  • Amplifying AirTree’s impact by further opening up our platform to benefit the wider community
  • Advocating for our industry on public policy issues
  • Initiating more collaboration with Australia’s valuable diasporas (special shoutout to my homies at Haymarket HQ #Asiancentury 💪)

So…don’t be a stranger, get in touch!

Phew…that’s a whole lot about me, what about you?

What’s your interest in the tech sector, how would you like AirTree to help?

Let me know in the comments section 👇or reach out on Linkedin.

AirTree

An venture capital fund in Aus and NZ. Working for gamechangers. First round. Multiple rounds.

Melissa Ran

Written by

Community @airtreevc

AirTree

AirTree

An venture capital fund in Aus and NZ. Working for gamechangers. First round. Multiple rounds.

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