This week, our third Antler Sydney cohort kicked off with 99 exceptional individuals ready to build their next companies.
While launching a business in the midst of a global pandemic may seem like an illogical decision, history begs to differ.
In fact, many household brands we know and love today, were born from the last global economic downturn - think Pinterest, Uber, Slack, Airbnb. All these companies were founded and funded between 2007 and 2009, the peak of the financial crisis.
While there is still a significant amount of unknown as to how long this virus will continue to impact the community, as Bede Moore recently wrote, "we know that things are unlikely to ever return to what they were".
But this latest cohort of experienced operators, technologists and entrepreneurs, with the help of Antler, will be the first to build new businesses aimed at meeting the demand of the changing consumer behaviours and solving the problems brought on by Covid-19, as well as exploring new technology advances.
So, who are these individuals and what did it take to assemble them?
Antler Australia received 1,400 applications in total, and spent 618 hours interviewing to identify and select this cohort - Antler Sydney's largest to date, up 20% from our previous cohort of 80.
From launching and exiting their own businesses to previously working with innovative brands such as McKinsey, BCG, Google, IBM, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Deputy, Canva, Atlassian, Hyper Anna, CSIRO, and more, this cohort is made up of highly-skilled and accomplished individuals.
There are a few statistics that Antler uses as key indicators of the potential success of this cohort. These include:
🚀 60% previously founded a company
🚀 24% have exited a company as Founder or Director
👩🎓 57% hold a Masters, MBA or PhD
💃 31% women
🌍 55% hold non-Australian nationality
These figures are important for a number of reasons.
At Antler, we believe that the experience of having previously built a business is a leading indicator of being able to do it again. It will generally show that an individual has the resilience and drive to succeed - an essential key quality in early stage company creation.
This attitude and work ethic isn't only demonstrated through starting a business. Other experiences where we see these same qualities are demonstrated is when an individual is at the top of their game in sport, music, or other industry. A skill level that takes them far beyond the usual level of achievement, in which they have had to have a hunger, discipline or relentless ambition to get to that point.
An individual's education is one way of also identifying an individual's thirst for knowledge and drive to succeed - crucial in a startup environment. In particular, Antler has had notable success in commercialising PhD research. For example, local portfolio company Xailient was one of Antler Sydney's first companies and was born from the technology, co-founder Shivy Yohanandan brought with him. Xailient now has a post money valuation of AU$15m after just 10 months of operating.
We truly believe that equal representation is just as essential in building high performing teams, as is previous startup experience or education. With women making up 31% of this cohort, this will not only lead to more diversity of thought and experience, but also have significant economic benefit. According to research commissioned by BCG, startups co-founded by women generate 78 cents for every dollar funded, while male-founded startups generate only 31 cents.
How do the entrepreneurs feel about embarking on this journey with Antler?
"Even before we start, I'm excited about the calibre of the group, the strength of the network."
— DAVID CARBINES
"I'm incredibly excited to get the opportunity to develop and validate my ideas in utilising the power of both Open Banking and Machine Learning to deliver a positive social impact in helping SME's access the financial services they desperately need to get back on their feet, grow and with it contribute to getting the economy going again."
— RYAN EDWARDS PRITCHARD
"It's an understatement to say that it's a privilege to have the chance to work with such talented people from vastly different backgrounds to further develop and validate my ideas, and to find a co-founder."
— JESSICA BAIRD WALSH
"I love the people-first approach that Antler's program is based around - so well aligned with what I've seen succeed in startups."
— JOSH WHITKIN
Globally, we have shifted our programs online to be a virtual experience due to the implications of Covid-19. Here in Sydney, the first two weeks of this program will be conducted digitally before we will bring our founders on site.
Over the next 10 weeks, our 99 founders will form teams, validate ideas and, ultimately, pitch to Antler for pre-seed investment. Following funding, these successful founders will then work towards building their MVP, making first hires and attracting first customers in preparation for Demo Day in November.
If you want to learn more about Antler and this process, you can tune in to our virtual Demo Day for our second cohort, here, in which our 12 most recent portfolio companies, spanning FinTech, SaaS, GreenTech, DeepTech, HealthTech and more, will take the stage in a live streamed event on June 25.
This article was co-written by Adele Moynihan, Director of Recruiting at Antler ANZ and Sarah Kimmorley, Director of Communications at Antler ANZ.