Two startups bag $100 million deals, as Aussie ecosystem hits a new level of maturity

SiteMinder chief executive Sankar Narayan. Source: supplied.

Two very different Aussie startups have bagged $100 million apiece in the space of just a week, as more Aussie businesses rake in nine-figure investments.

And according to Right Click Capital partner Benjamin Chong, there are likely more massive raises on the way, marking a maturing of the startup ecosystem.

Mable, a profit-for-purpose business connecting small aged care and disability care providers with individuals they’re well suited to support, raised $100 million in equity funding from global investor General Atlantic.

The raise follows a period of “strong growth”, founder and chief executive Peter Scutt said in a statement. That’s despite operating in a sector facing significant challenges, including workforce shortages and a lack of funding, not to mention the COVID-19 pandemic.

“New thinking is needed to solve the challenges facing the aged care and disability support sectors,” Scutt said.

“Facilitating the entry of small business providers, including sole traders, is a win-win for people seeking flexible, high quality and affordable support — as well as an opportunity for small businesses to engage in one of the fastest growing sectors of the Australian economy.”

Elsewhere, hotel booking startup SiteMinder has secured $100 million from Fidelity International, as well as existing investors, as it gears up to an IPO.

Again, the investment follows a period of success for a startup operating in one of the sectors most badly hit by COVID-19.

For the 2021 financial year, the business sustained revenues of more than $100 million, representing a decline of 6%. However, it also saw a 40% increase in the number of customers using its payments and other transaction-based products.

In a statement, SiteMinder chief executive Sankar Narayan noted that the business has maintained “high levels of engagement with customers and partners to deliver consistently strong business performance and demonstrate SiteMinder’s resilience during these difficult industry conditions”.

The investment puts the business in a strong position to benefit from an inevitable recovery in travel, he added.

“We thank all of our shareholders for their ongoing trust as we continue to perform against an evolving industry backdrop.”

The investment keeps SiteMinder’s valuation upwards of $1 billion, as it maintains its status as an Aussie unicorn.

A nine-figure norm for startups?

So what’s going on here? Just a year or 18 months ago, a $100 million raise would have dominated the business news. Now, stories are almost getting lost among even bigger raises — see Scalapay’s $210 million cash injection — and mammoth acquisition deals.

Are nine-figure deals really becoming the norm?

Speaking to SmartCompany, Right Click Capital’s Benjamin Chong says he wouldn’t be surprised if we see more and more of these big-ticket deals coming through the pipeline.

He anticipates seeing more high-value acquisitions, too.

Chong puts the shift down to “a confluence of factors”.

Benjamin-Chong-startup-funding

Right Click Capital partner Benjamin Chong.

First, we’re seeing Aussie business start to grow up. The startups that were founded five or ten years ago — which have previously taken on smaller chunks of capital — have used that capital wisely and succeeded both at home and overseas.

Second, low interest rates mean we’re seeing more money going into venture capital and private equity markets, on a global scale.

“In respect of inflation, if you aren’t in growth assets, then the real value of your dollar could well decrease,” he explains.

And finally, Chong notes that we are now well and truly in the ‘information’ age. We’re seeing the technology revolution “play out before our eyes”.

More tech businesses are genuinely useful, and accepted in people’s everyday lives. In business, they are genuinely helping boost productivity and reducing human errors.

“We’re seeing this technology change industries; change sectors.”

In the past, when we’ve seen large sums of money poured into later-stage startups, it’s come at the expense of those at the pre-seed, seed and Series-A stage.

But Chong says he’s seeing no evidence of that happening now. In fact, quite the opposite seems to be happening.

The founders heading up later-stage startups are finding themselves with some cash in their own pockets, which they’re investing as angels.

Case in point, Who Gives a Crap’s $41.5 million raise including investment from the founders of Adore Beauty and Culture Amp, as well as from Canva’s Cameron Adams. 

“This is good news all round,” Chong says.

“If you’ve been a founder and you know how hard it’s been, and you have had this level of success, doesn’t it make sense to support founders who are on the journey you were on?

“It’s really rewarding seeing that.”

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