Cutting through April Aussie and NZ venture and funding news. Not sure what this is? Check your junk folder, or read last month's 1st edition here. Think a friend might be interested? Forward along, so they can subscribe here!
This is the second edition of my data-centric newsletter covering startup fundraising in Australia and NZ. I've packaged all the publicly available April venture deal information to drive insights. Two early-stage startups who are fundraising now and are eager to connect with angels and early-stage investors can be found at the tail-end of today's note.
Welcome to the 127 new subscribers who signed up in April, and a big thanks to those who referred them. Also, thank you all for your feedback and ideas. This newsletter is the first of several resources I'll launch in 2021, all aimed at helping Australian early-stage founders and investors find each other – so no shared ideas will go to waste.
April asks: 1) Do you want to see the Cut Through Venture funding data in a searchable database? Reply to this email with "Interested". This will help me to prioritise. 2) Continue the thoughtful feedback. 3) Don't be shy – request introductions to the fundraising startups featured. 4) Forward this to a friend or two.
Q1 momentum continues into April
April heights: The good times kept on rolling in April, with deal count, total funding, and average deal size hitting highs for the year. Crowdfunded deals slipped considerably, but I expect a rebound in May/June since a large wave of unclosed deals is building across the major platforms.
For the first time in 2021, Fintech was not the top-performing segment. Seven smallish Health/Biotech deals were announced, granting the segment deal-count line honours. B2B software won-out from a dollars-invested standpoint. Fintech achieved the highest median deal size.
Startups in NSW, QLD, and VIC accounted for 85% of the capital raised. However, the average deal sizes in New Zealand, TAS, and SA were far higher than that witnessed on the Eastern seaboard.
Remember when everyone hated on QR codes? If anyone doubts whether QR codes have transitioned to the cool table, then Mr Yum's investor rollcall should settle things. The QR-powered digital menu and ordering platform startup welcomed electronic music trio Rüfüs Du Sol, NBA star Patty Mills, and Shark Tank's Andrew Banks to the cap table. They also secured local venture leaders Airtree and Ten13.
In other fintech news, Crypto exchange Coinstash crowdfunded $2.8M, in the same month its US comparable Coinbase IPO’d at a $100B valuation. Payble raised $1M from CBA to tackle late and failed bill payments before they happen. ANZ chipped $1.7M into Divipay to help company finance teams better manage, control, and streamline spending. Pre-launch algo-trading-for-the-people platform Unhedged raised $500K to take the emotion out of day trading stocks.
You make me look good. Canva is the undisputed champ at helping the less design-savvy amongst us look good, but a few other local startups are helping too. Shorthand raised $10M to power their code-free multimedia stories platform. The startup already counts many of the world-leading brands, non-profits, universities, and media outlets as customers.
Vloggi allows businesses to drive customer engagement, by producing high-end community-created video content at scale and cheaply. They raised $500K from industry insiders – next stop: a VC-led seed round. Got a spare wall? Book an Artist pairs owners of boring walls globally with top street artists who can transform them into larger-than-life masterpieces. They raised $400K from local fund Skalata Ventures and US-based Hustle Fund.
Tech can be good for you. Arli raised $2.5M to help the 1-in-5 Australians battling addiction. Arli's platform combines education, coaching and community to give people support when, where and how they want it. Awesome stuff! Meanwhile, Rosemary wants to make the doctor's waiting room and awkward pharmacy queues a thing of the past. The startup raised $17M to make healthcare more accessible and convenient by delivering it remotely. Rosemary also partners with pharmacies to deliver prescriptions straight to your door.
Unicorns are rare, Proficorns™ are real rare
Unicorns were first used to describe startups valued at over a billion dollars in 2013. The analogy was simple and accurate – startups valued more than a billion dollars don't come by very often, much like unicorns. Skip to 2021, and more than 650 unicorns frolic globally, and many more are out to pasture in the public markets. Impressive for sure, but not exactly rare.
Valued at US$15B, Canva is the 14th most valuable startup in the world. And by my estimation, Octopus Deploy's recent $223M raise means it's slipped one of its (eight) feet into the unicorn club. It's not their high valuations or growth rates that make these two startups rare, though. It's their profitability.
Both are a truly rare breed of the profitable unicorn. Canva has been profitable for at least a year, while Octopus Deploy has operated profitably from the get-go. Insight Partners’ investment is the first venture funding accepted by Octopus Deploy. Both startups are undoubtedly fending off approaches from their logical acquirers – many of whom are hundreds of times larger or more. For context, at their current valuations, Microsoft could buy Canva for ~0.75% of its market cap or ~1 month of its revenue. Watch your back PowerPoint.
Shifting from unicorns to cows. Sea Forest is tackling climate change and food security by cultivating asparagopsis, a seaweed native to Tasmania. Growing seaweed has a double-barrel environmental benefit: 1) it helps clean and de-acidify the oceans by absorbing nutrients and CO2; and 2) when included as a feed supplement, it reduces the production of methane by livestock. Think cow Mylanta. Halter’s solar-powered, GPS-enabled smart collars for cows allows farmers to remotely shift, virtually fence and proactively monitor their cow’s health, feed and behaviour.
SuperHero lets users trade stocks for $5 and track their cashflows across their various bank accounts using open banking data. What makes SuperHero potentially pretty super is that they’ll be launching a superannuation product later this year. The platform will allow users to customise their portfolio without setting up a self-managed superannuation fund – a feature that will undoubtedly drive AUM. The $25M raise values SuperHero at $100M.
Funding female founders
The headline funding figure for female founders looked considerably brighter in April. Startups with at least one female founder raised 1.7x that of male-only founded startups. Peel back one layer of the onion though and you'll find that glaring inequality still remains. Octopus Deploy and Canva each have female co-founders, and these two companies accounted for 95% of female funding flows. Male-only founded startups were also funded at 4.3x the rate of those with female founders in the mix.
This phenomenon is consistent with global venture trends. There is a multitude of regularly quoted reasons for this, none of which (that I've seen) are conclusive. I'd love to hear the perspectives of local investors and female founders (via this form).
Excluding crowdfunding investors, more than 85 unique investors participated in April's fundraising activity. The most active investors were Airtree (Mr Yum, Arli & Arichistar), Antler (Upflowy & Arli), Blackbird (Halter & Canva), and Skip Capital (Archistar & Canva). BTW, Airtree has excellent founder-friendly resources available open-source – it's worth checking them out here.
Global powerhouses Insight Partners (Octopus Deploy), Greycroft (Enboarder), and Hustle Fund (Book an Artist) all placed Aussie bets too.
Each edition features fundraising startups, with the opportunity to connect with the respective founders directly. These founders submitted their startups, and they're included due to the interesting problems being solved.
I have not verified any of the information below, and I am not providing financial or investing advice. I'm not soliciting or accepting any investments on behalf of these companies, and am not financially incentivized to connect them with investors. I'm just a matchmaker.
Melbourne Digital built a CRM with business process built-in, to help businesses do more with less.
Founders: Julian Smith, Asad Shoaib, Wonda Zhou, Akshay Aravindan, Mohamad Muthalif, & Sharif Evans
Segment: B2B Software and Services
Raise info: $1.5M seed and currently speaking to investors. Deck available.
Reimagine Data uses machine learning to perform predictive and prescriptive asset management of energy, fertigation, and irrigation control systems – delivering actionable data-backed insights and cost savings.
Founders: Dav Mather & Chris Aeschlimann
Segment: B2B Software / Big Data
Raise info: Raising and currently speaking to investors.
All of the Deals
Press or first-hand confirmation from the participating founders or investors is required for inclusion in Cut Through Venture's data. If I missed a deal, let me know here. I'll continue to add to the database for publishing in the end-of-year grand finale report.
If you'd like to see Cut Through Venture data in a searchable database, reply to this email with "Interested".
B2B Software and Services
Arlula raised $50K (Link)
Marketplacer raised $4.0M (Link)
NewBook raised a ??? amount (Link)
Octopus Deploy 👩 raised $223.0M (Link)
QuantumIT raised a ??? amount (Link)
Upflowy raised $1.0M (Link)
Climate / Environment
Good Empire raised $877K (Link)
Sea Forest raised $34.0M (Link)
Batch Brewing raised $1.5M (Link)
Frank Body 👩 raised at a $100M valuation (Link)
Cybersecurity / AI / Data
Halter raised $30.0M (Link)
Neara raised $7.3M (Link)
Coinstash raised $2.8M (Link)
DiviPay raised $1.7M (Link)
Mr Yum 👩 raised $11.0M (Link)
Payble raised $1.0M (Link)
Superhero raised $25.0M (Link)
Unhedged raised $500K (Link)
Health / Biotech
Alimetry raised a ??? amount (Link)
Arli 👩 raised $2.5M (Link)
ESN Cleer raised $700K (Link)
Health Metrics 👩 raised a ??? amount (Link)
Lumary raised $17.0M (Link)
Rosemary Health raised $3.1M (Link)
Vantari VR raised $131K (Link)
HR / Education
Adventus raised $22.7M (Link)
Enboarder raised $6.6M (Link)
Logistics / Hardware
Astrix Astronautics 👩 raised $465K (Link)
Esper Satellite Imagery raised $190K (Link)
mOOvement raised $1.7M (Link)
Media / Collab / Gaming
Canva 👩 raised $92.8M (Link)
ORDER raised $5.3M (Link)
Shorthand raised $10.0M (Link)
Vloggi raised $750K (Link)
Real Estate / Construction
Archistar.ai raised $6.0M (Link)
Varicon raised $440K (Link)
Retail / Marketplaces
Azura raised $426K (Link)
Book An Artist raised $400K (Link)
Flotespace raised $600K (Link)
Rendr raised $2.1M (Link)
Urban Ethos 👩 raised $3.8M (Link)
Thanks for reading. See you next month.