One of Sydney’s leading startup accelerator and investment firms, BlueChilli, is shifting away early-stage startups to focus instead on scale-up companies instead, the company has announced.
In response to the changing priorities of its corporate backers, BlueChilli will pivot in 2020, having expended the $10 million in the BlueChilli Venture Fund on early-stage startups over the past five years.
“Many of our corporate partners in Australia have increasingly been asking for later-stage startup programs, so we’re scaling back our technology arm and pivoting our focus from building early-stage startups to working with scale-ups in Australia,” founder Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin said in a blog post, pointing out that the ventures as evolved its model six times and promising the business will continue to support its existing portfolio.
Eckersley-Maslin, a former Navy weapons engineer, launched BlueChilli in 2012 and it has been involved in more than 140 startups in that time.
The business as increased its focus on Asia in 2019, launching a Singapore-based HeathTech Accelerator, along with a corporate intrapreneurship program in Indonesia
“We are excited to shift more focus onto building and growing startups in Asia,” Eckersley-Maslin said.
The changes puts a cloud over the SheStarts accelerator program for women, which counts Bindi Maps, FarmPay and Neighbourlytics among its alumni. The third and latest cohort finishes up later this month. The program was funded by corporate backers ANZ, MYOB, Microsoft, LinkedIn, Google for Startups and law firm Herbert Smith Freehills.
The Stockland-funded proptech accelerator, which concluded in July, looks set to winds up.
BlueChilli employs around 50 people and while Eckersley-Maslin did not say how many jobs will go in the restructure, it’s clear there will be losses.
“This is a bittersweet change for our Australian business, and for me personally. I love helping founders build their startups from an idea scratched on a napkin to a scalable and impactful business,” he said.
“And even more so, I’m really sad that I’m saying goodbye to a group of incredibly talented and passionate people who have each helped shape the startup landscape and change the face of entrepreneurship in Australia.”
The BlueChilli founder said he was “enlivened by this new opportunity to support founders of later-stage startups in Australia” as well as increasing investment in Asia.
“BlueChilli may look a little different in this next stage of evolution, but our mission to help people build startups that will change the world for the better remains unwavering.”