Ari Klinger

New Australian Venture Capital Funds are actively chasing deal flow – The Nuclear Winter is Thawing

I sense the nuclear winter of startup funding in Australia is finally thawing. In the last few months we have had a number of funds and investors actively launching pitching events and promotions and are actively chasing deals and trying to generate deal flow. Even back in the dot com boom I don’t recall VCs having to be so proactive to bring in new deal flow.

As I have said many times I think we have a big problem with Startups solving non problems and making things that no one really cares about however for those that are fundable I can’t recall a time when the funding environment looked better, certainly it takes me back to the DotCom boom days, not that I think the market is frothy, just there is money to be had if you have a fundable idea.

This hasn’t been the case for many years.

So I had to think hard about who is out there, a few years ago you could count the number of early stage VCs that still had funds to invest on one hand, however there has been numerous fund announcements and raisings in the last year, here are most of the Angel, Seed and VC funds which are actively operating in Australia.

They are in no particular order, possibly the most recently active are listed first.

I know I will have missed some of you, I am sure there are some biotech, medtech and cleantech specialist funds that may have slipped past my apologies in advance, if you want to be added please feel free to comment at the bottom or use the contact us form and I will include them.

Oxygen Ventures

Oxygen Ventures is offering up to $5,000,000 and on-demand Oxygen Ventures resources and running its first “The BIG Pitch” event on June 17, 2014. The Melbourne-based investment fund is putting out the call to all digital SMEs, offering funding, mentoring and operational support.

In addition, mentoring will be provided by entrepreneur Larry Kestelman (Founder of Dodo) and his team, providing insights from his own brand of business know-how in a unique opportunity for founders.

You can apply here

M.H. Carnegie & Co

Mark Carnegie & Co have recently run Carnegies Den a quarterly pitch event covered by mainstream media looking to generate deal flow.

Whilst Carnegie has been active in the space for some years and has $200 million under management and presumably could raise more if they wanted, the Carnegies Den events are clearly trying to generate new deal flow and have a Shark Tank style to them.

Blackbird Ventures

Blackbird is a $30 million fund with a team from Southern Cross Ventures Bill Bartee, John Scull and Niki Scevak and Rick Baker and backed by 35 investors including Dave Mcclure from 500 Startups and Bill Tao the kite surfing VC.

Notable deals include early stage investments in Canva and Ninjablocks.

One Ventures

When Michelle Deaker told me she was going to raise a venture fund 7 years ago, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but she did manage to get a $40 million IIF fund raised when the majority of the proposed funds failed to raise matching funding. Notable investments include Paloma (headed by Jennifer Zanich who has a good track record) and Smart Sparrow.One Ventures


The Australian Small Scale Offering Board has raised over $133 million for startups, this is essentially an early form of Crowdfunding with a developed platform and many angel and professional investors on board. Generally speaking it tends towards companies that have traction and not as early stage tech focused as many of the investors on this list. ASSOB


GBS Ventures

GBS Ventures serious player in the Life Sciences space, has raised $400 million since 1996 with numerous exits.

Sydney Seed Fund

Garry Visontay, Ari Klinger, Benjamin Chong launched Sydney Seed Fund last year with $2 million to seed fund 20 businesses. They have run a number of pitching events as well as managing the local chapter of Founders Institute.

Square Peg Capital

Square Peg Capital was formed after the merger of two funds Square Peg Ventures and Victoria Capital last year. Paul Basset the founder of Seek and the Lieberman family with the backing of the Packers are planning to invest a few hundred million over the next few years.

Artesian Capital Management

Artesian Capital Management is an alternative investments management company spun out of ANZ Banking Group’s capital markets business in 2004, with backing from ANZ Private Equity. They run a number of the smaller funds including Slingshot, Sydney Angels Sidecar fund, iAccelerate, Bluechilli and Ilab.

Tank Stream Ventures

$20 million fund founded by Markus Kahlbetzer son of Rich Lister John Kahlbetzer, notable deals include early stakes in Gocatch and Pocketbook. TankstreamVentures

Telstra Applications Venture Group

I couldn’t find any corporate announcements about the size of the Telstra Ventures fund, however it’s been rumoured that AVG has multiple hundreds of millions $ of funding to invest, given its first few investments add up to over $60 million (see Crunchbase) it is probably true although they have stated that much of this will be spent offshore. Telstra Ventures

Bluesky Funds

Bluesky is an ASX listed entity and applied for an IIF fund, Venture Capital appears to be one of their capability along with Private Equity, Real Estate and general equities investments. Despite the IIF application its not clear from their website if they are actively currently investing in early stage.

Talu Ventures

Talu Ventures is the successor to CM Capital not a lot of detail on their site about the size of their fund however they have a few notable successes including ThreatMetrix Talu Ventures

Reinventure & Westpac

With $50M in committed funds, Westpac is the largest investor in the Reinventure Fund. The fund is operated independently by the managers, Danny Gilligan and Simon Cant, who are also co-investors in the fund. ReInventure


$200 million fund across Asia Pacific with a local Australian office, notable recent success includes a series C stake in Maker Studios which sold to Disney for $500 million + up to $450 million in performance payments. Innov8

Starfish Ventures

One of the older and larger funds on the list, Starfish Ventures was established in 2001 and has raised three funds: the PreSeed Fund and Technology Funds I and II, totalling over AU$400M in funds raised.

The team has invested in over 60 companies to date with 14 trade sales and IPOs, including listings on the NASDAQ, AIM and ASX and if you look through their portfolio you will find substantial business or tech/science plays that are generally solving very hard problems.

It appears they are still funding companies, although given they raised their last reported fund in 2008, its not clear how much longer they will be making new investments for the existing fund or if they are keeping their powder dry for the inevitable follow on rounds.

Sydney Angels – Sidecar Fund

The Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund is a $10 million investment fund that invests solely in early stage business ventures as a co-investor alongside Sydney Angel member investors and as a follow on fund for Angel investments.

Notable investments include Buzznumbers which was sold for an undisclosed amount and NinjaBlocks arguably our most successful Internet of Things hardware play.


Not really a Venture fund but given the founder Andrey Shirben has made 40 + startup investments in the last ~5 years he is worth talking to. SydVentures

Incubators & Accelerators

Whilst not Venture funds, many of these are backed by venture or corporate funds and are providing small seed funding to get a business started.

Muru-D which is backed by Telstra offers $40,000 seed funding + office space and mentoring for very early stage pre revenue, possibly pre product startups.

Innov8 which is backed by Optus/Singtel is aimed at startups which have some evidence of customer traction offers co-working, mentoring plus upto $250,000 seed funding.

ATP Innovations one of the older incubators and has runs on the board $113 million in capital raisings for its companies, $45m pa in revenue from member companies last year, $28 million in Government Grants and 8 exits. Strong focus on life sciences and biotech with very sophisticated facilities.

ANZ InnovyzSTART SA based

Startmate $50,000 related to Blackbird Ventures so probably a good follow on funding available if successful

Founder Institute

Pollenizer has had some good wins including Spreets sale for $40m

Blue Chilli

iAccelerate based at University of Wollongong

River City Labs

Startup Tasmania

iLab Originally launching at The University of Sydney Incubate is now national with backing from Google Ventures


The Singaporean Government just announced they are pumping $50 million + into local Venture Capital Funds

Its 0nly 8 hours away and they are doing everything they can to attract new tech businesses to establish there, there is no Capital Gains Tax, you can get a visa on the strength of a business plan and they will do everything to help you get going, my prediction is this will be a popular alternative to Silicon Valley for Australian startups.

Photo by tobyct

Photo by jenny downing

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Updated – Sydstart 2014 Agenda released – tickets now on sale

Arguably Australia’s best and largest startup event Sydstart 2014 is set for May 2nd 2014 at Sydney Entertainment Center.

Combining successful international and local entrepreneurs and investors with pitch sessions from new startups Sydstart is the best place in Australia to launch your new startup or find your next startup investment.

Sydstart Discussion Panels

Sydstart Discussion Panels

Agenda and speakers are still  being finalised, you can find updates here

  • 0800 Expo Open
  • 0900 Conference Open –  Plenary in Auditorium –  Community Welcome and structure of the day – Opening by VIPs
  • Wave One Speakers – People Who Have Done Stuff – Personal Journeys. Inspiration. First hand insight.
  • 0905 Pete Cooper – SydStart Founder – State of the Startup Keynote – Confirmed
  • 0925 Pitch Rush – Confirmed
  • 0930 Official Opening by the Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore – City of Sydney – Confirmed
  • 0940 Keynote/Panel
  • 1000 Keynote/Panel – Matt Barrie – – CEO & Founder – Recent  IPO ASX:FLN – TBC
  • 1020 International Keynote/Panel
  • 1040 International Keynote/Panel
  • 1100 Morning Break in Expo
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass  – Ric Richardson on planning and protecting your startup (patents, intellectual property & other techniques) – from Uniloc – confirmed
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass – Kevin Lippy from Fishburners on growing very large Facebook communities fast – from Mumbership – confirmed
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass – Rob Wood from Fishburners on growing a huge special interest community online – from LightStalking – confirmed
  • 1100 Breakout for Masterclass – Shelston IP –  Mike Zammit on strategic intellectual property management – from a leading firm TBA – confirmed
  • 1120 Speaker/Panel
  • 1140 Speaker/Panel – Investments

    • Stuart Fox – Artesian Capital/Venture Crowd – Director/Founder – Australia’s first equity crowd funding platform – confirmed
    • Anna Maguire – Crowd Fund It – Author – has researched over 300 crowd funding and related platforms for her book – confirmed
    • Niki Scevak – StartMate/BlackBird Ventures – Co-Founder – Arguably Australia’s premier accelerator and most innovative and well connected venture capital groups – confirmed
    • Bill Bartee – SXVP / Blackbird Ventures – To be confirmed
    • Susan Wu – Panel Moderator – Stripe Payments ($1.75 billion valuation) / Charles River Ventures (Boston Venture Capital) / Apache Software Foundation / Obvious (aka Medium) – to be confirmed
  • 1155 Speaker/Panel
  • 1200 Breakout for Masterclass
  • 1200 Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin – Blue Chilli Group – CEO & Founder – Just raised $9.5m for startup incubator accelerator – confirmed
  • 1220 Matt Symons  – Society One – CEO & Founder – Just raised $8.5m for p2p lending platform – tbc
  • 1230 Bosco Tan & Alvin Singh – Pocketbook – Co-founders – Just raised 500K after SydStart launch and growing rapidly – confirmed
  • 1235 Benjamin Chong – Founder Institute – Director (Sydney) – One of the largest mentoring and accelerator organisations globally has produced over 1,000 companies. An update and call for their May 12th intake class. Ben is also Director and co-founder of his own VC firm Right Click Capital.
  • 1245 Daniel Noble – Fishburners – General Manager – One of Sydney’s largest startup co-working spaces is getting a makeover, Fishburners 2.0 update from Dan who is a serial entrepreneur is his own right
  • 1255 Lunch
  • 1400 Speaker/Panel
  • 1415 Speaker/Panel
  • 1425 Speaker/Panel
  • 1430 Mike Cannon-Brookes co-founder and CEO of Atlassian on disrupting enterprise and building a multi-billion dollar multi-national startup (MNS)
  • 1445 Sebastian Eckersley-Maslin CEO of BlueChilli on innovation
  • 1500 Afternoon Tea in Expo – Confirmed – Catering by SEC
  • 1520 Speaker
  • 1500 Speaker
  • 1530 – Wave Two – Pitching Competition – People Who Are Trying To Do Stuff – Intro
  • 1535 Startup Trophy Competition – Shortlisted from 180 applicants – Judges assemble – Battle for Prizes decided by Judging Panel
    • 1540 Pitch 1
    • 1550 Pitch 2
    • 1600 Pitch 3
    • 1610 Pitch 4
    • 1620 Pitch 5
    • 1630 Pitch 6
    • 1640 Pitch 7
    • 1650 Pitch 8
    • 1700 Pitch 9
    • 1710 Pitch 10
  • Oversight of the judging process is with thanks to our supporters PwC
  • 1730 – Subject to available time we may also see a pitch from some others that just missed the short list. TBA
  • 1730 Judging and Awards – Startup Trophy
  • 1730 Thank you to sponsors, volunteers, supporters, speakers, community and exhibitors
  • 1730 Drinks
  • 1900 After Parties – Nearby venues

Early Bird Tickets are on Sale now at Eventbrite

Past SydStart Pitchfest Companies

Past SydStart Pitchfest Companies



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