The startup funding round: Beer delivery, AI-enabled upskilling, and $10 million for tech to treat cancer

startup funding

HowToo co-founders Lisa Vincent and Jenny Barltrop. Source: supplied.

This week it was all blasting off in the Aussie space startup scene, with Gilmour Space securing a huge $61 million cash injection, and startup Spiral Blue launching its space computers into orbit aboard Richard Brandon’s maiden satellite taxi service.

Closer to Earth, we saw student-focused fintech close its equity crowdfunding campaign, pocketing $1.15 million, while hypnosis healthtech startup Mindset Health secured $6.7 million.

There was also yet more new funding made available for early-stage startups, with music business Alberts announcing its $16 million impact fund. Having previously funded artists like AC/DC and Baz Luhrman, the business is now backing the next generation of entrepreneurial rockstars, with a focus on sustainability, mental health and equality — as well as those innovating in the music, arts and entertainment sector.

Here are some of the funding stories you might have missed this week.


Aussie edtech startup HowToo has secured $2.5 million in seed funding, including from influential US women-focused venture capital firm ALIAVIA Ventures.

Founded by Lisa Vincent and Jenny Barltrop and launched in February last year, HowToo is a software-as-a-service startup making it easier to turn raw content into shareable e-learning tools.

It then uses AI tech to distribute the right content to the right students at the right time.

“Now more than ever before organisations need to easily share knowledge and develop skills via online learning but don’t have the time or resources to employ a team of UX designers, learning experts or developers,” the founders said in a statement.

“HowToo was born to democratise the learning creation process.”

The round was led by Moelis Australia and also included backing from Jelix Ventures and California VC firm ALIAVIA Ventures, a VC firm investing only in women founders, which made the news this week after securing backing from Aussie philanthropist and investor Carol Schwartz.

The founders now plan to use the funding to accelerate their growth plans and make a move into overseas markets.

Beer Cartel

The latest in a string of wildly successful Birchal campaigns, online craft beer store Beer Cartel has secured $800,000 and counting in equity crowdfunding, smashing its minimum target of $250,000.

Founded back in 2009, Beer Cartel is a pioneer of the online alcohol retail space, offering monthly subscriptions designed to give beer lovers access to a range of local and international craft brews.

The business saw sales skyrocket during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, with sales in April 2020 more than doubling compared to the same month in 2019.

Now, co-founder Richard Kelsey says he and the team want to keep that momentum going.

Over the past five years, the business has been growing at a rate of about 25%, year-on-year, he said in a statement.

“While we’re really happy with this, there are a number of key projects that we’d love to undertake to accelerate this growth.”

Those projects include revamping the website, building on Beer Cartel’s marketing capabilities and developing a membership model, he explains.

“We’re really focused on bringing new shareholders into the business who share the same passion as us, wanting to support the growth of craft beer in Australia.”

The Beer Cartel team. Source: supplied.

Tracer DAO

Tracer DAO, a decentralised finance (DeFi) platform for derivatives trading, has raised US$4.5 million ($6 million) to build out its tech offering everyday investors exposure to any and all financial markets.

The business is a decentralised autonomous organisation, owned by an internet-based community. The investors have effectively purchased 10% of the “governance token supply”, a Tracer blog post explained.

Investors include Framework Ventures, DACM, Maven 11, Apollo Capital, Distributed Global Ventures, Paperclip Fund and Supernova.

GSR and Efficient Frontier also joined the round as ‘strategic market making partners’ the blog post said.

“Decentralised derivatives will characterise a lot of the growth in DeFi over the next few years,” co-founder Michael Anderson predicted.

“Tracer’s core derivative infrastructure will support structured products that will provide meaningful ways to manage and take risk in the DeFi economy.”

Wimp 2 Warrior

Aussie MMA-inspired fitness platform Wimp 2 Warrior (W2W) has raised $7.5 million in funding to build a B2C tech element into the startup’s global operations.

The funding follows the appointment of Compare the Market exec James Fleet as chief technology officer, and will fuel the rollout of a more tech-enabled platform to the business’ 140 participating gyms around the world.

Investors include News Corp Scaleup Media Fund, Mark Bouris, the Smorgon family’s Sandbar Investments, Altor Capital, Shaw & Partners, and Lucerne Investment Partners.

“The incredible success of the UFC has helped MMA to become the fastest-growing sports vertical in the world,” W2W co-founder John Kavanagh said in a statement.

“And just as CrossFit made functional training globally popular and highly profitable for strength and conditioning gyms, we aim to do the same for MMA.”

Currus Biologics

Melbourne-based biotech startup Currus Biologics has reportedly raised $10 million in funding to continue work on an innovative new cancer treatment.

Spun out of the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, the startup is developing a novel cancer immunotherapy treatment that targets solid tumours, such as those found in breast and pancreatic cancers.

The round was led by the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund, managed by Brandon Capital Partners, and also included Uniseed, a fund focused on commercialising university research.

The funding will allow the business to continue the commercial development process of the tech, translating the product currently used in animal studies into human studies.


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