ask an accelerator: startmate



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We’re speaking to accelerators to find out more about them and what they’re looking for in kiwi companies. This week we’re speaking with Michael Batko from Startmate.

tell us a little about Startmate

Startmate is an industry agnostic, intensive 12-week accelerator programme originating out of Australia. We have just expanded to New Zealand.

We started up in 2011 when there was no startups or venture capital in ANZ. Being an accelerator created by previous founders and primarily mentored by founders gives us the necessary empathy for the founders that we invest in – it means that everyone has been there, knows the journey and the pain.

We invest $75,000 in each company, at either their latest valuation or at $1m, and work with them before showcasing the cohort to investors at a demo day. The unique thing about Startmate is that every mentor invests their personal money into the cohort they mentor. That means that every six months we go out and fundraise from our pool of mentors and alumni.

you’re related to Blackbird Ventures – how closely are you linked to the VC?

Startmate actually pre-dates Blackbird. Startmate’s founder, Niki Scevak, went on to form Blackbird. Technically, we are a fully owned subsidiary of Blackbird and are lucky to have their full support but operationally Startmate is its own brand and community. We have all major VCs such as AirTree, Squarepeg, and rampersand investing into Startmate as a fund and our alumni. We see ourselves as the Switzerland of the startupland, a place where everyone comes together to pay it forward to the next generation of founders.

Startmate was originally an Australian accelerator, but you’re in the middle of your first NZ cohort. Can you tell us about them?

The reason why we started the New Zealand cohort was because we started seeing a lot of applications from great New Zealand founders and we invested into several of them, which meant that they needed to relocate to Australia.

It got to the point where we thought, “why are we asking them all to relocate here? We can relocate there.” And so we began speaking to mentors and eventually launched our kiwi presence with a core group of 30 New Zealand mentors.

The twist in the story of course is that with Covid-19 we’ve become a fully remote cohort. But we’re finding that because it’s a virtual cohort, mentors from both Australia and New Zealand can engage with our companies – there’s more cross-pollination going on.

We have invested in five companies for our first NZ cohort:

  • Landlord Studio, a SaaS platform for landlords
  • Woork, a workflow automation and lead gen platform for real estate agents
  • Sonnar, providing a content platform for people with hearing difficulties
  • Zerojet, creating electric jet propulsion systems for small boats and tenders
  • Pypervision, providing fog dispersion at airports

Our demo day is approaching on the 15th October and we’re excited to showcase the progress they’ve made month on month.

what’s the timeline like for the next intake?

Our deadline for applications to be a part of the second cohort is in early November for a mid-January start date.

anything else you want founders to know?

Twice a year we run office hours where we open up applications for startups to access our extensive mentor network. We match startups with a relevant mentor based on the needs of the startup for a 30 minute 1:1 mentoring session.

If you’re interested in getting a feel for what our programme is like, our office hours can give you a sense of the ‘founders helping founders’ culture we have at Startmate.

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