The Big Pitch competition is back for 2015 with $5 million up for grabs

Australian startups will have the opportunity to battle it out once again for a funding pool of $5 million as part of Oxygen Ventures’ Big Pitch competition.


Last year education marketplace WeTeachMe and calendar marketing platform eCal were named joint winners of the debut Big Pitch competition.


The startups were offered a discussion with Oxygen Ventures with “absolute intent” to finalise an investment deal.


“If it’s not 100% it’s definitely a very, very good chance for the transaction to happen,’’ founder Larry Kestelman said at the time.


“We are absolutely committed to funding both of those businesses and working through them. We think they have amazing potential and we will do our utmost to help (them) succeed and conquer the world.”


eCal ended up closing a $2 million deal with Oxygen Ventures, while the discussions with WeTeachMe resulted in a decision not to invest in the company.


This year Oxygen Ventures will visit six Australian cities in a bid to find their next portfolio, engaging in face-to-face conversations with startups in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart.


Twenty startups will be selected from each city and invited to pitch in person to the Oxygen Ventures investment team.


From there, five finalists will be given five minutes to pitch to a panel of judges with the aim of snapping up a share of the $5 million in funding that the venture capital firms says is on offer.


Investment director of Oxygen Ventures, Ilya Frolov, told StartupSmart he thought last year’s event was a success.


“We thought it was a great showcase for the industry and what some of the feedback we were getting was it was a nice high class event they really haven’t seen recently – everything is very causal and this is a very formal event,” he says.


“It just gives an avenue for the people and companies to thrive.”


Frolov says while Oxygen Ventures did not end up investing in WeTeachMe, the firm did invest $1.3 million in another startup that was shortlisted called Etaskr.


“We had a few discussions after the event and had a very different alignment of which way the company was going to go in terms of growth, so mutually we decided not to invest with them and vice versa they were happy with that decision.”


The founder and chief executive of eCal, Patrick Barrett, told StartupSmart he would “absolutely” recommend startups apply for the Big Pitch competition as long as their business is ready for investment.


“It’s a great platform for when you’ve got your business to a certain stage where you’re ready to expand,” he says.


“If you’ve got a really good story to tell in that you’ve managed to gain some traction and you are solving a real life problem, I think those are the main things.”


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