Startmate’s top 20 most valuable investments

Entrepreneurs

VC Niki Scevak started Australia’s leading accelerator in 2011, receiving initial funding from Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar. These are the 20 most valuable startups to come out of the program in the 13 years since.
Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and CEO of Atlassian was one of the first investors in what is now the Startmate accelerator. Cannon-Brookes still mentors the climate cohorts that go through Startmate. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Thirteen years ago, legendary Australian VC Niki Scevak started a seed fund to inject cash and mentorship into Aussie startups.

Scevak rallied alumni from the tech ecosystem, including Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar, and put together a $200,000 micro-fund.

Today, the portfolio of companies Startmate has invested in is worth more than $3.5 billion. The accelerator wrote 49 cheques last year, making it the most active seed investor in Australia. Over the last 5 years, 43% of Startmate’s investments have been in companies with female co-founders.

Startmate has raised $20 million since that initial fund in 2011 and attracted capital from the biggest names in Australia business: Twiggy Forrest’s Tattarang, the founders of Canva, Culture Amp and Adore Beauty, as well as further funding from Cannon-Brookes and Farquhar.

Startmate’s Top 20 most valuable startups

Startups that are chosen to go through the Startmate accelerator receive $120,000 at a $1.5 million (post-money) valuation. The two companies that have progressed the farthest since receiving the Startmate cash injection are cybersecurity firms Upguard and Bugcrowd.

Image: Forbes Australia. Source: Startmate

Upguard was a part of the 2012 Startmate cohort. Its most recent raise was a $25 million series B. The cyber risk management company was founded by Tasmanian entrepreneurs Alan Sharp-Paul and Mike Baukes.

Bugcrowd went through the Startmate accelerator in 2013. The company founded by Casey Ellis is focused on crowdsourcing cybersecurity – incentivising ‘ethical hackers to report critical bugs.’ Bugcrowd announced this week it has acquired attack surface management (ASM) firm Informer.

Both Upguard and Bugcrowd now operate in the US and are valued at more than $400 million a piece.

The third most valuable company to come out of Startmate is hardware firm Morse Micro, founded by Aussie Michael De Nil and Andrew Terry. Now valued between $300 – $400 million, Morse Micro is commercialising a new Wi-Fi standard that can transform IoT.

The semiconductor company is backed by Blackbird, the VC founded by Startmate’s Scevak. Morse Micro was founded in 2016 and went through the 2017 Startmate cohort.

Morse Micro co-founder Michael De Nil went through Startmate in 2017. The company is now worth more than $300 million. Image: Morse Micro
The acceleration of climate-focused startups

Seven of Startmate’s 20 most valuable startups are in the climate sector.

Renewable energy company Amber went through the 2017 Startmate cohort. Founded by Dan Adams and Chris Thompson, Amber has since landed investment from VCs Square Peg Capital and Main Sequence, as well as the Commonwealth Bank. It is valued between $100 and $200 million according to Startmate.

Two years later, Startmate announced an accelerator specifically for climate-focused startups. Since then, 24% of Startmate’s investments have been climate-oriented, according to CEO Michael Batko.

Airrobe came out of Startmate’s Melbourne cohort that year. Now valued between $10 and $50 million, AirRobe is a marketplace for buying and selling clothes and taps into the desire to create a circular economy.

X: @mcannonbrookes

Since then, a steady stream of Startmate’s climate startups has gone from strength to strength. In 2020, solar company 5B went through the program and is now valued at around $150 million. In 2021, battery charging startup Sicona, cling wrap disruptor Great Wrap, waste-to-energy company Vertus Energy and plastic alternative product Uluu became Startmate alumni.

Cumulatively, the climate-focused startups on Startmate’s Top 20 list are valued somewhere between $460 million and $850 million, according to CEO Batko.

Atlassian’s environmentally-focused founder and billionaire is not stopping there. In 2023, Cannon-Brookes-backed accelerator Boundless Earth and Startmate announced they are teaming up on a Climate Tech Fellowship. His VC fund Grok is deeply immersed in funding decarbonising projects and provides investment and mentoring support to Startmate companies too.

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