This year is shaping up to be a bumper one for Australian startups, as fundraising in the first quarter broke records for the most capital raised.
A total of $866 million was funnelled into 72 deals in the first three months of the year, driven by mammoth raises by Linktree, Zeller and crypto upstart Immutable.
March was also the seventh-largest funding month ever, according to Cut Through Venture, a communications hub that analyses the state of the Australian startup ecosystem.
Its analysis found that total funding in the first three months of 2022 was in line with the entire first half of 2021.
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The outlier-sized announcements from Zeller, Immutable and Linktree meant the top 20% of deals accounted for 85% of total funding volume.
On March 3, business focused payments provider Zeller secured an eye watering $100 million in Series B funding, at a valuation just shy of $1.1 billion.
Following an $82 million raise in September 2021, Immutable raised a Series C round in March that propelled it to a $3.5 billion valuation and a strong position as a global NFT power player.
Later that month ‘link-in-bio’ upstart Linktree secured a $150 million round led by US investors Index and Coatue, and repeat backing from Aussie VC Airtree, to rocket to unicorn status with a valuation of $1.7 billion.
Blockchain/crypto/Web3 funding shot to the top of the funding chart for the first time, followed by startups in fintech, proptech and edtech/training.
Female founders see uplift
While the percentage of deals involving at least one female founder in the first quarter was in line with the Cut Through Venture’s two-year average, deals involving women-only teams saw a small uplift.
Deals involving female-only founder teams are tracking higher than the longer-term average, though they still remain low.
In the first three months of 2022, 19.8% of deals involved startups with female founders, but only 11.4% of funding flowed to companies with only women at the helm.
The data follows stark evidence of the fraction of VC funding accessed by women, and women of colour in particular.
A recent report found that of the record-breaking $10 billion of venture capital funding raised in Australia and New Zealand in 2021, only 0.03% was accessed by Black women and women of colour.