Athena raises $15 million Series A to connect Australians to super-backed home loans

- May 8, 2018 2 MIN READ

Fintech startup Athena has raised a $15 million Series A round, with funding coming from Macquarie Bank, Square Peg Capital, Apex Capital, and Rice Warner.

Founded by former NAB bankers Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey last June with $3 million in seed funding, Athena is creating a “cloud-native” platform through which customers can find the best home loan.

As Walsh put it, Athena’s mission is to “make the journey to home ownership faster, cheaper, and less stressful”.

“Australians don’t need more debt. We need help to pay off our home loans faster,” he said.

Of course, Athena isn’t the first startup looking to bring the process of searching and applying for a home loan online – among the others working in this space is Uno Home Loans, which earlier this year raised $25 million in funding from strategic backer Westpac to further its goal of serving 10 percent of Australia’s mortgage customers by 2028.

Where Athena differs is that rather than connecting customers to a home loan from a bank or other provider, the startup will be partnering with superannuation funds to provide the loans.

“Today, superannuation funds have large investments in Australian mortgage assets, via bank intermediation. By investing in home loans directly with Athena, super funds can cut the spread between what mortgage borrowers pay and investors receive,” Starkey said.

“In countries such as the Netherlands, where pension systems are similarly advanced, the impact of this model is already evident.”

Looking to super funds is an interesting move, and comes as a growing number of super funds themselves look to startups and the work they’re doing; Australian venture capital firm Blackbird Ventures last month raised $225 million for its third fund, with investment from industry super fund Hostplus, the cornerstone investor, and First State Super, among others.

Square Peg Capital’s Paul Bassat, who will be joining the startup’s board as part of the funding, said, “We are thrilled to be joining Athena’s journey. This is a great example of the type of team we love to back; smart, driven and focused on solving an important problem. The win-win model that Athena offers to investors and borrowers has huge potential to disrupt the way home loans are originated, serviced and funded in Australia.”

Athena, which will be launching its pilot next month, is one of a growing number of fintech startups making a name for themselves with former bankers at the helm.

Launching in March, also with two former NAB executives leading the way, was Judo, a small business lender focused on helping its bankers build relationships with customers.

Image: the Athena team. Source: Supplied.

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