Antler Australia is a global early-stage VC, enabling and investing in exceptional people and teams building the defining companies of tomorrow.
What started as a single Antler fund in Singapore in 2018, has turned into a truly global platform with offices across five continents and most major entrepreneurial hubs, including cities such as London, New York, Stockholm, Nairobi, and, of course, Sydney.
The Australian chapter launched in Sydney in 2019, and since then has grown to a headcount of more than 20 on the operations team and a portfolio of almost 50 early-stage companies.
Here’s a breakdown of all that has been achieved over the past three years.
- A $46M Fund
- 2 Australian cities — Sydney and Melbourne
- 5 Pre-launch cohorts
- 1 Existing business cohort
- Australia’s largest-ever Demo Day
- >6,500 founders applied
- >400 founders selected
- 120 founders invested in
- ~ 50 portfolio companies
- A new proprietary investor platform
- A new Antler Angel Experience program
- A new EduTech business: Antler Launch Academy
- >20 Antler operations team members
2019: First companies
After launching in March, Antler selected its first cohort of 70 individuals ready to build and scale groundbreaking companies in June. Of these founders, there were 18 nationalities represented, and 25% were female.
Off the back of the first Pre-Launch program, Antler Australia invested in 12 companies. These businesses covered HealthTech, Insurtech, DeepTech, and more. In November, the operations team then designed and held Australia’s biggest ever Demo Day event, attracting 1,000 people to Sydney’s iconic Town Hall, and an additional audience of 1,100 via live stream.
“It was a showcase of what talented and inspired people can achieve when driven by an ambition to create a global tech company,” Adele Moynihan, now VP of Origination and Program said at the time. “These teams deserve acknowledgment and should have a huge sense of pride in what they have created in just 12 weeks.”
2020: The pandemic
Starting the New Year with a bang, Antler launched its second Australian cohort in Sydney in January with 81 exceptional individuals.
Along with a 37% increase in applications to almost 1,300. Antler accepted an additional 17% more founders, and within that 30% more tech founders, or in other words, builders.
Some other exciting stats about this business were that 55% had previously launched a startup and 21% had previously exited a company as a founder or executive. Both aspects Antler believes are important indicators of success.
The firm then closed its first AU$46 million fund, oversubscribed and having scored an investment from Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin.
By May, the fund had backed another 13 new companies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
At the time, Managing Partner Bede Moore said: “The founders are clearly emerging into tougher business conditions than normal, but they are building businesses that will grow into maturity over the next five to seven years. We’re investing in them because we think that they have demonstrated grit, tenacity, and a spike in their skills. And we have the belief that they will be able to navigate what are tougher conditions initially, to go on and build successful companies.”
To combat Covid restrictions Antler pivoted its program online, started producing materials to support entrepreneurs both within Antler and in the broader ecosystem, and shifted its Demo Day online, in which more than 2K people tuned in to watch on the night.
That same month, Antler launched its own venture: Antler Launch Academy, a 5-week online course where participants can learn from the Antler team, founders and investors and showcase their ideas to a global community.
In June, Antler launched its third and largest cohort yet in Sydney with 99 people ready to build their next company: 60% had previously founded a company, 24% had exited a company as founder or Director, and 31% women.
At this point, more than 80% of Antler Australia’s portfolio companies were raising third-party capital from top-tier VCs such Folklore, Tidal, GFC, Airtree within six months of Antler’s pre-seed funding, despite the headwinds generated by Covid-19.
In the period since June 2019, Antler Sydney has also attracted nearly 5,000 applications and worked directly with more than 250 entrepreneurs. Building recognition within the Australian ecosystem as a VC platform that can help grow and scale global companies from Day One.
In November, the individuals from the third cohort went on to form 26 teams, of which Antler invested in 13. These spanned SaaS to FinTech, HealthTech, Future of Work, EduTech, and more. And Demo Day was yet again a virtual experience with 1,600 people tuning in real-time to watch.
2021: Australian expansion
January 2021 saw the fourth cohort of 83 individuals find their co-founders and build teams virtually.
The prolonged restrictions and uncertainty relating to the pandemic did not hinder the quality of applicants with 60% of founders in this program having previously founded a company, and 26% having exited a company as founder or director, reached US$1m annual revenue, or received VC funding.
In March, Antler announced its Melbourne expansion, opening an office and building a local team to support its mission to further unlock this entrepreneurial hub and enable more founders to build global technology companies from Australia.
“Australia has been the breeding ground for some of the world’s top technology companies,” Moore said at the time, “and with a strong and diverse entrepreneurial community, as well as over 2,000 startups from seed stage to high growth enterprise, Melbourne presents a huge opportunity for Antler to invest in and support entrepreneurs to build a global presence from Australia.
“Already, Antler is making more early-stage investments than any other VC in the country, having grown our local portfolio to 40 companies in just two years, and in addition to that more than 75% of our companies raise third party capital within six months of our Demo Day — demonstrating the strength of the products, market fit, and teams being built with Antler.”
This was ramped up following a number of key hires and partnerships.
By June, Antler had invested in another 13 early-stage startups. The businesses spanned EduTech, HealthTech, Consumer, SaaS, PropTech, DeepTech, Aerospace, and more. Additionally, of the 13 startups, 46% had a female founder, and in all cases, she was the CEO.
As a point of difference, this time there were also existing businesses, conceived and launched outside of Antler, invested in, spurring a decision to launch an Existing Business cohort to service the increasing number of early-stage startups looking for funding, such as BlakThumb.
“Through joining Antler as an existing business we got clarity on what needed to be achieved to secure an investment in 8 weeks. The coaching was awesome and the hand holding through legal documentation was very helpful,” says Mel Fyfe, co-founder and CEO of BlakThumb.
Demo Day also saw a change. In fact, it was made redundant by Antler’s new Investor Platform which connects highly engaged investors to its portfolio companies directly. Here’s how it works. This was paired with an intimate investor event where founders were able to engage one-on-one with Antler LPs.
In the same month, Antler launched its first multi-city cohort (fifth in total) across Sydney and Melbourne with eighty founders.
This September, the inaugural existing business cohort will launch with five startups. These companies will receive intimate workshops based on a weekly thematic, dedicated weekly coaching, a clear path to capital, and access to the broader Antler community and platform.
With strong and consistent funding opportunities for follow-on investors established, Antler announced a new investor initiative called the Antler Angel Experience, which sees angel investors get behind-the-scenes access and untapped deal flow.
To support this, the team has grown to more than 20 people across Sydney and Melbourne, working across the Fund, with our portfolio companies and to build a presence in Australia.
Overall, there have been many successes for the Australian team to date but it’s just getting started.
To better understand the complexities and intricacies of how founders work with Antler, the benefits of being a portfolio company, and how startups leverage the global platform, stay tuned for our follow up articles:
- The Pre-Launch cohort
- The Existing Business cohort
- The Antler portfolio
- Antler’s global platform
Meanwhile, if you want to build your next business with Antler, applications for the sixth Australian Pre-Launch cohort have opened. Head over to www.antler.co/apply to join us in January.