Venture capital firm Antler Australia has thrown down the gauntlet on the worth of early-stage startups, upping its investment levels and the post-money valuations for companies it backs.
Under new terms announced today, Antler will increase its initial investment by $35,000 to A$225,000 for the same 12% equity stake. The new deal increases the post-money valuation of an Antler-backed startup by nearly 20% to $1.875 million.
The move makes the VC’s terms some of the most competitive in Australia for early-stage founders, as the business moves away from the accelerator program it launched in Sydney with in 2019, and appoints new partners, Cath Rogers and James McClure, to lead local operations.
The increased Antler investment puts it on a par with the pioneering accelerator Startmate, which offers $120,000 for an 8.5% stake at a $1.5 million valuation, set in 2021.
While Antler’s backing is bigger, for a larger stake, it also comes with a cost, with a one-off program fee of $68,000 taken from the initial investment.
Rogers said that charge rose by 5% under the new terms but still leaves founders with 27% more funds on-hand post investment compared to the previous terms. “Program fees have always been part of our Investment Terms. Why? We provide hands-on support to founders from Day Zero,” she said.
“We provide access to the tools to build a business, expert mentoring, industry masterclasses, a global community of early-stage founders, introductions to angel investors and top-tier VCs, and more.
Rogers and McClure join Bede Moore, Antler’s APAC managing partner, and Anthony Millet, a global capital partner who sits on Antler Australia’s Investment Advisory Committee.
McClure is a seasoned C-suite exec and angel investor with more than 15 years of experience at global tech giants including Google, Airbnb and SeatGeek.
Rogers is an experienced investor and fintech founder whose CV includes AirTree Ventures, Anchorage Capital Partners and cleantech fund Masdar Capital, and conscious of keeping Antler at the front of the early-stage investment pack
“Market conditions have evolved since our launch and our updated terms consolidate Antler’s leading position in the early-stage VC segment,” she said.
“We obsess over attracting the best founders and helping them succeed. The increased investment terms provide founders with critical additional first capital and extended runways, all while the higher valuation is a sign of the continuing confidence and optimism we have in our founders.”
Antler occupies a rare space in Australian VC as a Day Zero investor, partnering with and investing in exceptional founders at the earliest stage, often pre-idea, pre-team, or pre-Seed.
Beyond Antler Australia’s first cheque, the VC fund offers follow-on investments for portfolio companies from pre-Launch to Series A. And now, with global support from Antler Elevate, the $300 million global fund launched in 2021, it also has the ability to invest in portfolio companies up to Series C.
As Antler Australia nears the end of the deployment of its first oversubscribed $46 million Fund, James McClure said all new investments will be made from its next Fund, which has been raising with a target of $60 million
“Once a nascent startup ecosystem, Australia’s market has rapidly matured, breeding the most ambitious founders, and globally sought-after technology companies,” he said
“We believe exceptional founders build exceptional businesses, our new terms will provide the ambitious entrepreneurs we work with the opportunity to build the next generation of leading technology companies,” said James McClure, Partner at Antler Australia.
Antler launched in Singapore in 2017 and now has a total portfolio valuation of more than US$3 billion, operating in 26 locations across 700 companies. It also has a community of more than 5,000 early-stage startup founders.
Since launching in Australia in 2019, Antler has invested in over 100 early-stage companies, with 15 now valued at more than $10 million, and worked with more than 500 founders from its Sydney and Melbourne offices.
Its initial Fund has nailed its first return to Limited Partners following RapidPay’s acquisition of portfolio startup QuickaPay in December 2021.
Applications to join Antler Australia are open now for the May cohort. Details are here.