Australian venture capital firm AirTree is opening up its previously invitation-only angel investor program, Explorer in a bid to attract more women and others to create greater diversity in the VC investment community.
The Explorer program launched in 2020 in a bid to address declining angel investment. Since then more than 100 Explorers have completed the program, including Aussie Angels founder Cheryl Mack, Tractor Ventures founder Matt Allen, Girl Geek Academy’s Sarah Moran, Uphemia’s Dom Pym, and EarlyWork’s Dan Brockwell.
AirTree Partner Jackie Vullinghs said the program offers access to one of the best angel networks in ANZ and Explorers receive exposure to AirTree’s Investment Committee meetings to see firsthand the process and considerations guiding its investment decisions.
Vullinghs said the long-term goal of Explorer is to create a more inclusive investing sector.
“While it’s undeniably tough right now, we believe many of the great tech companies of tomorrow will be born in these challenging times,” she said.
“As one of Australia’s largest VCs, we’re in a privileged position where we can help grow the number of angel investors in the region, improve the diversity of those angels, and give new angels the confidence to make their first investments into startups at the beginning of their journey.”
The Explorer program is free and has a referral system whereby AirTree will write a cheque on behalf of an Explorer if they refer a deal they invest in.
Cheryl Mack said completing the program connected her with like-minded investors and helped plant the seed for her business, Aussie Angels.
“When I started the Explorer Program I’d already begun investing but I was keen to meet other investors on a similar journey and I knew there was still so much to learn,” she said.
“The experience also helped plant the seed for Aussie Angels as quite a few of us were looking to amplify our capital but faced hurdle after hurdle when trying to start a syndicate. This is when I realised there was a huge gap in the market for network-based funding.”
The next program kicks off in September and is delivered in four ways: fortnightly workshops, self-guided exercises, community catch-ups and local events and pitch nights.
Applications close July 22. Details here.
- Disclosure: Startup Daily editor Simon Thomsen has completed the AirTree Explorer program.