An Australian founder who has raised nearly $100 million ($US73 million) in venture capital in Silicon Valley will be returning to Sydney to become the new muru-D entrepreneur-in-residence.
Sydney native Ben Sand is the co-founder of Silicon Valley-based augmented reality headset startup Meta, which raised the funding across two huge rounds after going through the esteemed Y Combinator accelerator program.
Muru-D’s former entrepreneur-in-residence Mick Luibinskas recently announced that he would be relocating to Silicon Valley to support the Telstra accelerator’s participants internationally.
After completing a global search, muru-D co-founder Annie Parker says she couldn’t go past Sand’s proven track record.
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“Ben’s extensive experience in the startup scene in Australia and the US makes him the perfect fit for this role,” Parker says.
“As someone who spent years building a company in Sydney and went on to graduate from one of the world’s leading accelerator programs, he can completely empathise with the muru-D recruits and help them reach the highest levels.”
She says it’s also a positive for the wider ecosystem to have an esteemed Aussie entrepreneur returning home.
“With Mick heading over to the US I’m really pleased we are bringing an Aussie home,” Parker says.
“Ben will be able to share invaluable insights and knowledge following his extensive experience from the Valley.”
Sand says he’s excited to be returning to Australia at such a transformative time for the local startup community.
“Seeing technology startups on the national agenda is very encouraging,” Sand says.
“We still have a long way to go but at least we are now heading in the right direction. I chose muru-D as it’s a special kind of accelerator.
“I have never seen a program that sustains such a high level of hands-on support for a six-month period.”
The muru-D accelerator program was launched by Telstra in 2013 and invests $40,000 in each participating startup in exchange for 4% in equity. It now runs in Sydney, Brisbane and Singapore and has seen 44 startups pass through its doors.
The current Sydney cohort will be demoing their companies at the end of July, while Sand will share his startup journey at the muru-D open house on Friday.
“The startups in the program right now are very promising,” he says.
“I can’t wait for demo night on the 27th of July when they will present their progress to the best investors in Australia.”