The startup funding round: Athena’s record-breaking raise, $1.5 million for biotech, and Turnbull backs forensics startup

Mass Dynamics

Mass Dynamics co-founders Dr Andrew Webb, Dr Giuseppe Infusini, Aaron Triantafyllidis and Paula Burton. Source: supplied.

Here at SmartCompany, we’ve spent most of this week unpacking the federal budget, so this startup funding round comes a little later than usual.

But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been keeping an eye on Aussie startup funding news. And Treasurer Josh Frydenberg wasn’t the only one throwing millions of dollars around this week.

Here are some of the stories you might have missed.

Athena

Alternative lending fintech and disruptor of traditional finance institutions Athena has raised a massive $90 million in Series D funding.

Led by SquarePeg, the raise also included contributions from a swathe of high-profile investors — AirTree, Macquarie Bank, AustralianSuper, Hostplus, Sunsuper, Salesforce Ventures and Apex Capital — all making repeat investments.

According to a statement, this is the largest ever Australian-led VC funding round, with Athena topping its own record from when it raised $70 million in 2019.

In a statement, co-founder Nathan Walsh said he’s “delighted” at securing such support from “Australia’s savviest investors”.

The funding will allow the fintech to “turbo-charge” its plans, he added.

“If banks and legacy home lenders thought we had disrupted the sector, they ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Comestri

Aussie e-commerce tech provider Comestri has raised $15 million in Series B funding, as it gears up to take its software-as-a-service tech international.

Founded in Sydney back in 2008, Comestri is designed to help retailers simplify the data they need to drive their e-commerce operations, including optimising ship-from-store and click-and-collect functions.

It counts the likes of Showpo, Lorna Jane and Adore Beauty among its clients.

The Series B was led by the growth capital fund of ASX-listed financial services group Moelis Australia.

In a statement, co-founder Frank Nesci said the investment will allow the team to take the technology “to the next level”.

The funding will also fuel further expansion locally, and into the UK, Europe, the US and Asia.

Mass Dynamics

Biotech startup Mass Dynamics has raised $1.5 million for its tech using mass spectrometry and proteomics to help accelerate scientific research and drug development.

The startup provides a software-as-a-service tool to help scientists process, validate, analyse and share scientific studies. Specifically, it relates to mass spectrometry, an analytical tool for measuring the mass-to-charge ratio of molecules in a sample.

The Melbourne-based startup is a graduate of the Startmate accelerator program, and counts VC firms Blackbird, Rampersand and Germany-based Investures VC among its backers.

It has also received investment from angel syndicates Scale and Eleanor Ventures, and from individual angels including CultureAmp co-founder Jon Williams and Tractor Ventures co-founder Matt Allen.

The founding team includes two proteomics scientists, as well as two tech experts.

Co-founder and chief executive Paula Burton said in a statement the startup is “staying outcome-driven by putting the life scientists at the centre of our world”.

“Helping them do their job with less friction to support quicker scientific discoveries, drug development and treatments — this is what matters most to us.”

CircleSource

Aussie marketplace CircleSource has secured $1 million in funding, to help grow its tool connecting small and medium businesses with local specialists for outsourced work.

The marketplace is designed to help SMEs support other local businesses, offering a gig economy-style model into business service providers.

The business is headed up by co-founders Andrew Jarvis and Andrew Jackson, who both come from backgrounds in HR.

External specialists “inject much-needed fresh thinking and expert skills into organisations,” Jarvis said in a statement.

“But for too long, SMEs have been disadvantaged by the lack of resources and governance protocols to source the best people, relying heavily on personal networks and referrals or online search.”

Cado Security

Finally, in international news, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has invested in a UK, cloud-based, digital forensic platform Cado Security, through his investment company Turnbull & Partners.

Cado closed its US$10 million ($12.9 million) Series A round last month, with Turnbull himself set to join the board of advisors at the London-based startup.

The business is designed to automate data capture and processing across cloud environments, allowing clients to investigate and respond to cyber incidents quickly.

“Malcolm’s experience building cybersecurity strategies from the ground up will be invaluable,” co-founder James Campbell said in a statement.

“Despite the benefits the cloud can offer, there is still a realistic fear that security incidents in modern cloud environments can be a financial, legal and technical minefield enterprises simply can’t keep up with.”

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