Aussie accelerator program Startmate has unveiled the latest businesses taking part in its Melbourne cohort, and its first-ever New Zealand group, as the two regions join forces to embrace the post-COVID tech opportunity.
Speaking to SmartCompany, Startmate chief Michael Batko noted that one of the most exciting aspects of this latest group is the inclusion of the New Zealand cohort.
However, he also noted that being forced to go remote, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, has also meant startups have been able to apply from anywhere.
It may officially be a Melbourne group, but entrepreneurs are joining from Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney. In the past, they would have been welcome, but they would have had to relocate, he explains.
In the future, he doesn’t see that being the case.
“There is an element that is harder to replicate: the in-person element,” Batko says.
“We’ve experimented a lot on that front.”
In an ideal world, however, there would be a hybrid kind of setup, with in-person events and virtual elements as well.
“I would love to have a mix of both,” he says.
This latest cohort also marks the beginning of something of a new era for Startmate. It follows the appointment of former Reinventure partner Lauren Capelin as principal, while Blackbird partner Sam Wong has also taken up a seat on the board.
The current global climate, and all the upheaval that COVID-19 has brought about, means we may well be on the cusp of a tech revolution of sorts.
“This will be the start of the next generation of global companies,” Capelin tells SmartCompany.
And, with the right tech leadership in place in the ecosystem, there’s an opportunity for those businesses to spring out of this region, she says.
“As a region, the strength will come when we combine forces,” she adds.
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“In this climate, where the next big thing can come from anywhere, really truly, can we unhatch some of the next globally significant businesses from this region?”
This is an eclectic group of founders. There’s a jet propulsion systems startup and a lab-grown meat startup, as well as ventures in enterprise software, legaltech, biotech and agtech.
When asked which startups he’s particularly excited about, Batko is reluctant to pick favourites.
But, as an example, he does point to Heaps Normal, a business brewing up non-alcoholic beer, which is one of the more unusual picks in the bunch.
“Those guys have their own unique process, they’ve been doing really well … it’s now available in lots of different bottle shops,” Batko notes.
He also mentions Good Thnx, a startup allowing users to send a ‘thank you’ gift voucher that let recipients choose a charity to support.
There’s an “inherently viral experience to it,” Batko notes.
Capelin also doesn’t pick out a particular favourite.
“What’s really interesting about the current cohort is that we’re seeing the broad spectrum of what’s possible,” she says.
She notes that Startmate isn’t all about software anymore — there are hardware and even consumer products making an appearance.
“It really is shifting that idea of what it means to be a tech founder, to what it means to be a truly ambitious founder across the board,” she says.
“What’s really going to move the needle and change the world?”
The latest Australian Startmate cohort
Arlula: an aerospace software company focused on commercial imagery datasets.
Body Guide: an app building personal rehabilitation programs based on an individual’s symptoms.
Cass Materials: a startup producing an edible and biodegradable product for the cultured meat market.
Database CI: an enterprise software startup managing database changes.
Digital Agricultural Services: an AI solution for assessing and valuing rural assets.
Good Thnx: a gifting tool that ultimately sees recipients donate to a charity of their choice.
Gridcognition: a software solution for optimising energy projects.
Heaps Normal: a non-alcoholic beer startup.
Lasertrade: a marketplace startup for second-hand medical devices.
Law on Earth: a legaltech startup designed to make law services accessible to everyone.
Mass dynamics: a biotech startup accelerating medical research and drug development.
The first New Zealand Smartmate cohort
Landlord Studio: a proptech startup helping DIT landlords keep track of their finances.
Sonnar Interactive: an enterprise software solution to enable accessible libraries.
Pyper Vision: an aerospace startup designed to disperse fog and improve visibility for pilots.
Woork: a software solution to automate the workflow of real estate agents.
ZeroJet: a hardware startup making electric jet propulsion systems for small boats.