Almost 1,000 people turned up to Sydney Town Hall to attend Antler's very first Demo Day in Australia.
There were VCs, angel investors, leaders from NSW, VIC and New Zealand government, business leaders and members of the Sydney tech startup ecosystem.
As many as 1.7k watched the event live via the live stream, or immediately after.
The atmosphere was electric.
Feedback included: "part tech event, part rock concert," and "pitching’s equivalent of the Oscars".
And every single portfolio company was contacted via the Demo Day app, which was designed for investors, advisors, first customers, and potential employees to connect with the teams.
"We’re blown away by the response to the event by the investor and startup community and deeply honoured that so many people turned up to see the companies that have been created and support our project to radically change the technology landscape here in Australia," says Bede Moore, Managing Partner of Antler Australia.
"It’s proof that Australia is hungry for new means to launch and grow global businesses. We hope by showcasing what was achieved in the program, others will be encouraged to create new businesses.
"Our mission is to change the technology landscape in Australia and we believe Antler will succeed by building 150 high-growth technology companies over the next four years. These companies will contribute, conservatively, more than 2,000 jobs to the Australian economy in that time.
"Lowering the barriers to entrepreneurship by providing a stipend to participants in Phase 1 so they don't have to rely on their savings accounts and by focusing on selecting a diverse array of backgrounds, genders and nationalities for our program.
"We are here to be the largest generator of businesses in Australia.
"We're very fortunate that we are not alone in this project. Perhaps the best part about building Antler has been the community support we have received: I want to thank our local strategic partners Deloitte Australia, Gilbert & Tobin, our event partners City of Sydney, Tank Stream Labs, and StartupSmart."
They’re not building these businesses just to be Australian successes. Leveraging the proprietary Antler platform [we]... accelerate their ability to scale and gain access to early customers all over the world, giving them a global unfair advantage.
"Whilst barriers to building a company from a tech point of view are low, the barriers from an entrepreneurial POV very much exist in society today," says Antler Australia Partner Anthony Millet.
"These barriers include difficulty in finding an exceptional co-founder, being sure that your idea is worth spending the next five years on, the challenge in raising capital, and financial constraints such as those living pay cheque to pay cheque.
"Antler has removed these barriers attracting some of the most dynamic, smart and high achieving individuals to come and build businesses with us and has gone some way to reducing the waste of phenomenal talent that exists in unfulfilling, unproductive and low impact roles.
"After opening up the applications in mid-March, within seven weeks we had over 1,000 applications, conducted 800 hours of interviews and invited 70 founders to join us for our first cohort starting at the beginning of June.
"Those that applied included serial entrepreneurs, research scientists, domain experts, technology leaders and builders and dynamic leaders from the corporate world.
"The cohort had on average 14 year experience, were diverse in gender, backgrounds, nationalities and skills, and we’re many already proven entrepreneurs with 12% having built businesses with revenue of over $1m before, and 14% having exists under their belts.
"During their time with Antler, they spent the first two months forming teams, validating their best ideas and working on the best ones, which they brought to the Antler Investment Committee. This committee which consisted of Antler partners and 9 of the leading Australian VCs decided to invest in the 12 companies which went on to become our first series of local investments.
"Since then, these teams have been building their businesses, getting first customers, generating revenue and even prototyping hardware. It has been truly incredible to see the rapid progress these companies have made in such a short amount of time, which is really testament to the amazing people.
"But they’re not building these businesses just to be Australian successes, Antler is currently operating in eight cities around the world and by the end of next year aim to be in 15. Our companies have been leveraging the proprietary Antler platform of my Antler colleagues, advisors and global investors which is designed to accelerate their ability to scale and gain access to early customers all over the world, giving them a global unfair advantage.
"Five months ago these individuals hadn’t met each other yet - what they have achieved in this amount of time is really quite phenomenal, and without Antler, it is very unlikely any of these businesses would exist."
Without further ado, meet Antler's Australian-based portfolio companies set to form the next wave of tech globally.
"Online, on demand health and wellness clinic for women and their families"
Caia, a telemedicine platform targeting women, has a vision is to become the number one digital resource for women’s and family health. By giving women easy and convenient access to holistic and integrative care -- on their terms -- Caia hopes women everywhere can lead happier, healthier lives.
“It’s hard not to be excited about Caia,” says Bede. “This model has a compelling commercial and social impact, and analogous business models globally have pointed to a huge opportunity.”
This powerhouse team is a great combination of domain expertise and executive experience. It consists of CEO Cortina McCurry who holds a PhD in Neuroscience. Cortina left her role as a Partner at Boston Consulting Group to join Antler, and ultimately build Caia along with her co-founder Rob Haggett, whom she met in the program. Rob, COO, has spent the last ten years working in human services, health and wellbeing across government and corporate, including with companies such as Deloitte and EY.
Since securing their pre-seed funding from Antler, Caia has been focusing on building out its network of high quality women’s health practitioners, improving its video consultation platform, and listening to and learning from its customers. Using these insights, Caia plans to continue to develop its enterprise platform that will be used as a pilot with some of Australia’s top corporates in early 2020. It has also invested in expanding its team to support its growth.
"Bringing science to cyber storytelling"
Avertro is a cybersecurity platform that gives the real-time risk story for the executives of organisations. It’s co-founders have exceptional tech pedigrees with Ian Yip (CEO) the former CTO of McAfee Asia Pacific and Roman, an experienced founder and software engineer with more than 10 years of building and scaling products.
Avertro’s goal is to be the strategic cyber headquarters for organisations; the place they go to when making cyber-risk-aware business decisions, and to right-size their cyber capabilities. And since securing investment from Antler in August, it has made significant headway in achieving that goal.
In just 3 months, Avertro has brought on a number of key hires to accelerate the build of its platform, while working side-by-side with its pilot customers to ensure the product targets the problems they currently face.
Anthony says, “Our investment committee was impressed by the huge market opportunity Avertro has tapped into, along with the depth of the network and expertise of this team has.”
Before his executive role at McAfee, Ian was the Director of Cybersecurity at Ernst & Young. While Roman is a serial co-founder, including that of Node Vision, software development consultancy.
"Helping business pay & get paid Quicka"
Quicka, a fintech startup launched in the Antler program, is the brainchild of two experienced industry leaders who came into the program looking to transfer those skills and expertise into building their own business.
These co-founders are CEO Nathan Carroll, CEO, and Nick Glynn, CTO. Nathan, a former professional surfer, was the COO of Valiant prior to joining Antler and before that was at Prospa. Nick Glynn, CTO of Quicka was formerly the Principal Engineer and VP of Engineering at Spaceship, before which he led other engineer teams at the innovative tech companies such as Campaign Monitor and Freelancer.com.
In August, Quicka secured pre-seed investment from Antler. Since then, the fintech has quickly expanded its team to further build out its core product. With this focus on product, the team has spent countless hours interviewing customers, working with them to nail the problems small businesses have and ways Quicka can help.
Long-term, Quicka’s goal is to be the sole platform for small businesses to pay, get paid and easily manage their business’ finances so they can focus on what they do best.
Partner at Antler Australia, Anthony Millet says, “Quicka has developed a novel approach to invoice factoring by providing free, easy invoicing software for SMEs. The team quickly identified a huge opportunity in the Australian market and were well placed to address it.
“What we have seen with this business is really at the core of Antler’s mission: a pair of proven operators, developing a compelling business model and then delivering traction with overwhelming speed.”
"Talent referral platform for startups and tech companies"
Scouta is the new talent referral platform that pays. Launched by David Smyth (CEO) and Stuart Hunter (CTO), the business is unlocking the biggest barrier to growth at the world’s leading tech companies by disrupting the recruiting industry and creating a new channel to source top talent.
Stuart and David, both tech veterans, met each other in the Antler program and formed a formidable founding team that impressed Antler’s investment committee, and ultimately saw them secure Antler’s $100K in pre-seed funding.
Before launching Scouta, David was Product Executive, VP of Product at Cabify, Uber’s biggest competitor in Latin America and Spain and Spain’s first unicorn. Prior to that, David was the former CPO at PinchME which went on to IPO. Meanwhile, Stuart, an experienced software engineer, is also the co-founded Clipp, a payments and loyalty platform for the hospitality industry which went on to be acquired by Impelus. He was also previously the CTO of Racenet which was bought by Punters Paradise in a deal valued at $17 million.
“David and Stuart are some of the most seasoned operators in the Antler cohort,” Managing Partner of Antler Australia, Bede Moore says.
“Together, these founders have identified a gap in the market and incentivised their customers to jump on board from the outset.
“Their ability to deliver results has impressed us right from the start.”
Since securing their first round of investment from Antler, Scouta has released the first version of its product (currently in beta) with some of Sydney’s top tech companies, including Canva and Deputy; enabling in-house recruiters to share talent.
"Quantify your site"
SiteHive is a full-stack open software platform and IoT device solution solving some of the biggest problems in today’s construction industry: sustainable urbanism. By measuring and managing the environmental impact in the built environment, SiteHive aims to allow development to progress in a way that minimises environmental impact.
“SiteHive combines the latest monitoring technology with an integrated software layer that will SiteHive compete with existing solutions at the top end of the market,” says Bede. “The cost effectiveness of their product will also enable them to address mid-tier construction projects that have traditionally not been served.”
The business was conceived by two industry veterans. Adam Ferguson, CEO, has more than 20 years of executive experience at MYOB, most recently as the GM of Engineering and Experience. Ben Cooper-Woolley emerged from Arup’s Digital team has deep domain knowledge across built environment selling digital. Together, the team has a killer combination of industry experience and connections to address this problem using the latest technology.
Since securing investment from Antler, SiteHive have designed and built a proof of concept within eight weeks, have achieved proven technical feasibility of development of an integrated IoT environmental monitoring device which is currently deployed on sites, and has been recognised by the industry in the Committee for Sydney Smart City Awards, receiving a high commendation in the Emerging Ideas category.
"Children’s edutainment company with personalised content"
Story Antics takes a novel approach to a growing publishing segment by creating engaging, customisable stories for young children. The co-founders, CEO Lara Solomon and CTO Kellie Marks, have demonstrated fast-moving, resourcefulness that is expected of two highly experienced operators. Lara has built and exited several successful consumer businesses and has a background is in marketing, having previously worked in the FMCG segment. While Kellie brings nearly 20 years of technical and coding experience, specialising in 3D graphics hardware. If you have an iPhone 8 or older then you will be using one of the chips she developed.
“The pair have shown a remarkable facility to respond and adapt to industry and customer research giving us great confidence in their ability to grow and scale the business,” says Bede.
“We love their vision to build rapport and engagement with young readers, and their strategy to build sticky products that address important themes in early childhood. Global analogues to this model have shown that there is a real opportunity here.”
Since securing investment from Antler in August, Story Antics has developed six fully-illustrated personalisable books, launched our website and have started recording local and international sales.
Story Antics vision is to develop the first fully-personalised learning platform for children.
"Earn shares as you shop"
Upstreet, Australia’s only share-rewards loyalty platform, was an idea that was formed in the Antler program born from three exceptional co-founders with a complementary combination of skills and experience. CEO Shivani Gopal is an experienced financial services professional, working under brands such as ANZ, and founder of The Remarkable Woman. COO Christian Eckelmann has more than seven years experience as a management consultant at McKinsey, as well as expertise in operations, business strategy, restructuring and corporate finance. And CTO Ermin Nurovic has more than 10 years experience in computer controls systems, network architecture, cybersecurity and software development.
“The team has shown amazing speed and determination by securing pilots and partnerships with a number of Australian retailing giants,” says Anthony.
Their mission is to transform the loyalty program experience, making it simple and seamless for customers. Leveraging the power of customer digital transactions and open banking apis to make the experience as simple as buying your groceries. Ultimately, Upstreet aims not only to be the leading loyalty platform in the country but wants to also change the game for share ownership in Australia. To do so, since securing $100K funding from Antler, Upstreet has built its technology platform to enable customers to instantly earn shares as they shop, as well as worked on building a strong interest with retailers wanting to join the platform.
"Recycling made easy"
Recycle Smart co-founders Giorgio Baracchi and Marco Player are an established presence in the Australian waste and recycling scene having previously built the nation’s most downloaded app in recycling. What was a side project for the pair, they doubled down on their passion in the Antler program to grow it into the business it is now.
Since securing investment from Antler, Recycle Smart has started its PickUp service two Sydney councils, recycling almost one tonne of waste collected in just 4 weeks. The team has also received early commitments for paying customers, and has three other councils across Sydney Melbourne coming aboard in 2020.
The Recycle Smart is a strong team with complementary skills. CEO Giorgio is a former management consultant at Bain & Co and has eight years experience in waste management. Meanwhile, CTO Marco was formerly a Senior Manager, Mobile Tech Lead at Deloitte. He also has extensive experience developing customer centric mobile apps in the financial services sector.
Bede says, “At Antler we helped Recycle Smart to craft a solution which addresses one of the most stubborn and costly aspects of recycling in Australia - “non-bin waste items.”
“Misuse of bins is an enormous drain on council P&Ls across the country, so by helping to reduce bin contamination, Recycle Smart is not just helping the environment it is tapping into the enormous waste market across Australia.”
"Trusted service a touch away"
With a vision is to be the go-to platform for pet health and wellness in Australia, Nuzzl aims to provide every pet owner with a trusted vet or pet expert in just a touch.
By our measure, it will also be one of the first nationwide telehealth pet care solutions in Australia, allowing pet owners to avoid unnecessary trips to the vet.
The cost and convenience of this model makes it a compelling proposition
The team is led by CEO Erin Corcoran who has 15 years experience as a marketing and brand leader for Nike, MoMa and Black Hawk Pet Care, CTO Kiefer Enriquez who co-founded a P2P drone delivery in Asia and was formerly the lead engineer at an Australian telehealth startup Doctus, and COO Erin Soll who is a Chartered Accountant with professional service experience at OFX, and two global fintechs.
Using its pre-seed funding from Antler, Nuzzl has enrolled vets, conducted over 50 consults, created a website and platform to host telehealth consults, met with vet board leaders and secured partnerships in the industry. These interactions have allowed us to listen and learn how their platform could elevate and connect the ecosystem and benefit the 29 million pets.
“Nuzzl moved incredibly quickly to demonstrate demand and traction during the program,” says Anthony. “Their collective backgrounds in brand, marketing and customer acquisition are perfectly aligned to this consumer play.
“We’re also attracted to the resilience of the pet category in consumer spending behaviors.”
"Insurance with benefits"
Upcover provides on-demand insurance for the fastest growing employee segment - gig economy workers.
Their vision is to launch a range of pay as you go insurance products for the gig economy ecosystem in 2020, so that it can protect gig workers across Australia.
“With this team, it has been the details that impressed us,” says Anthony. “Every week there is some other impressive hack they have created to keep up their relentless move forward. Together, they are aggressive, focused and undaunted.”
The Upcover team is made up of CEO Skye Theodorou, an insurance domain expert with more than six years experience at Zurich Insurance ANZ and more than two years at NSW Government. COO Anish Sinha, who has more than two years experience as an equities analyst at Goldman Sachs, and was formerly the Head of Business for nearby.com.
The idea for Upcover was brought into the program by Skye, who had been yearning to modernise the insurance sector but was looking for the right co-founder to build out the idea and product.
Since securing investment from Antler in August, Upcover has continued to build significant interest from global and local investors, insurance providers and platforms that service the gig economy ecosystem. The team has also engaged in hundreds of hours in customer conversations for it beta segment - delivery and rideshare.
"Supporting mental wellbeing in the flow of work"
Mental Health in the workplace is at crisis levels with more than 20% of employees facing mental struggles, yet the engagement rate of Employee Assistance Programs stagnates below 5%. Hollis.io is defining a new category to solve this problem and has a vision to become the coaching and counselling platform of choice, helping professionals everywhere think, feel and perform better.
Co-founder and CEO Nate Kraizelburd, an expert in behavioural research and product, came into the Antler program with a problem of his own to solve. Together with COO Guillaume Ang, a serial entrepreneur and expert in scaling on-demand workforces for P2P marketplaces, and CTO Alexander Markov, who has spent the last 13 years as a security engineer for Atlassian, they launched Hollis and since securing funding from Antler have achieved phenomenal traction.
Along with developing its superhuman support platform (currently in Slack) in keeping with the needs of our early customer base, Hollis has began operationalising a small expert network of behavioural coaches and psychologists. And so far, for its early users, Hollis has significantly lowered barriers to accessing the right support at the right time.
“What impressed about Hollis was their ability to build a seamless, in-work-flow solution that will lead to better health and productivity outcomes,” says Anthony.
“The team has moved exceptionally quickly to launch their product and get paying clients.”
"Democratising computer vision with AI at the edge"
Xailient is making it easy and cheap for innovators to leverage fast and accurate Computer Vision. By unleashing AI from legacy cost structures, Xailient empowers IoT app developers to focus on their customers’ needs instead of the repetitive work of AI cost tuning.
“Xailient is targeting one of the biggest opportunities in global technology - computer vision,” says Bede. “Their world-leading technology was developed by co-founder Shivy during his PhD research at RMIT. He brought that research to Antler looking to find the ideal partner to help commercialise it.”
Along with holding a PhD in AI and Computer Vision, Shivy Yohanandan, CTO of Xailient, is a former IBM researcher and previously worked on Australia’s first bionic eye. His co-founder Lars Oleson (CEO) is a serial founder with multiple successful exits, most recently to Alipay
where he went on to serve as CPO for Indonesia. Along with that, he has 20 years experience in enterprise software working with companies such as Symantec and Oracle.
Since securing Antler’s pre-seed investment in August, Xailient has built a core team, and worked with pilot customers to validate its MVP. In one example, Xailient has helped a retail analytics company cut their hardware costs by 30x and a drone company cut their 4G data costs by 20x.
On Demo Day, the team launched a limited, open Beta product.
To contact any of the teams above, head over to our web app startups.antler.co to register your interest.
This article was written by Sarah Kimmorley, Director of Communications at Antler Australia.