Democratising startups: Why Antler’s startup generator will benefit the whole Aussie ecosystem


Bede Moore (third from right) and the Antler Sydney team. Source: supplied.

Global startup generator and venture capital firm Antler is launching in Sydney, in a bid to bring as many as 50 new startups into the ecosystem in the space of a year.

The Antler program doesn’t require applicants to have a co-founder, any experience, or even a startup idea.

Rather, it is designed to give entrepreneurially minded people the chance to connect and create innovative new companies, while giving them the support to launch and grow — as well as $4,000 a month.

Antler has run successful programs in Singapore and Stockholm, and is simultaneously now launching in Sydney, London and Amsterdam. It’s also scheduled to roll out in Nairobi and New York by the end of the year.

The Australian program will be run by Bede Moore, former chief executive of TechSydney, and former BrickX chief Anthony Millet.

Speaking to StartupSmart, Moore said he is “genuinely convinced that this is a really important thing for the Australian ecosystem”, and will generate new companies “in a way that is useful for everyone”.

There are more opportunities to launch an innovative company here than ever before, he says.

“But there are a lot of solid reasons that prevent people from doing that.”

These barriers can include finding a co-founder, access to capital, or — for people who feel ready to take the leap — even the lack of an idea.

“Antler provides a platform and infrastructure for people to address all of those issues,” he says.

A buffer and a boost

The first Australian cohort will include up to 100 people, who will start the program in June 2019.

According to Moore, the program is targeting people working in large corporates or other companies, who would rather be fostering change at a larger scale, and more quickly.

Participants will have access to a global network of 150 advisors, including Spotify’s first-ever employee and former chief technology officer Andreas Ehn, and former US Secretary of the Treasury and revered economist Larry Summers.

Antler provides $4,000 each month during phase one, giving prospective founders the buffer they may need to leave their current employment.

After two months, startups will pitch for $100,000 in investment. Those that are successful will continue for another four months, launching and starting to grow their enterprises with continuing support from coaches, advisors and VCs.

If they secure investment, the founders “will have an incorporated entity with $100,000 in the bank the following week”, Moore says.

In this way, Antler aims to generate some 200 companies over the next four years.

Democratising entrepreneurship

The program is looking for “exceptional individuals” with a “depth of skills in a particular area”.

But they’re also looking for people who have “drive and tenacity in terms of pursuing their goals”.

Being surrounded by 99 people in exactly the same boat provides “a fertile environment” for each individual.

The initial funding provided means there’s no need for side-hustling, and people can focus entirely on their startup ideas, with the help of a network of mentors.

At the same time, the ongoing cashflow potentially opens up the program to people who may not be able to afford to take the leap into startup life — people with kids to feed and rent to pay who may not have savings to dip into.

Moore calls it “democratising access to entrepreneurship”.

While launching any business will always be risky, “we’re trying to mitigate those risks”, he says.

“On day one, you know you at least have your core costs covered, and a clear path to capital,” he adds.

The power of community

Having spent 12 years living abroad and working in the tech scene in the US, the Netherlands and Indonesia, Moore says he’s seen first-hand the positive influence a thriving startup scene can have on the community.

In Indonesia, for example, access to technology transformed people’s lives in the space of just a few years.

“Suddenly, you were overcome with access to services and goods that hadn’t been available before,” he says.

In Australia, technology is the next phase in economic development, he suggests.

“Technology really provides an opportunity for Australia to continue its ongoing affluence,” he says.

“We need to build a large, strong tech community focused on being able to export Australian innovation to the world,” he adds.

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