Tell us a bit about your background
My background is very different to Stephanie and Sheryl. I started out in accounting and moved over to investment banking, then set up my own financial planning and investment management.
I sold that financial advisory business about 6 years ago and refocused on board roles and investing in startups in a more meaningful way.
During that time, I was the vice chair of Perth Angels for 6 years and also an active member of Scale Investors in Melbourne.
How did you get started in investing?
I started investing quite early, I was 18 when I asked a family friend who was a financial adviser how I could buy an investment property with the deposit I had saved, soon after that I also started investing in shares.
When I was younger I had an Aunty who showed me how the sharemarket worked and it lit a spark that has never gone. I’ve always loved investing and now I get to do it full time.
On the startup side, I wrote my first cheque into an early-stage company about 25 years ago before startups were really a thing. I backed a friend into a business that ended up listing on the ASX and did really well, not without some wobbles and lessons though. One of them being the importance of not putting all your eggs in one basket. Certainly well across diversification and risk management these days.
Why did you decide to start VentureX Capital?
It’s an extension of what we already do as individuals in the ecosystem.
I’ve got almost 30 investments now in early-stage companies and I like the idea of investing with others and bringing people along for the journey.
It’s also the next step for us investing together as a group.
Last year as VentureX we worked with founders and female investors.
A lot of reports came out about the low level of funding into female ventures. While we thought it’s ok to be running these programs, what female founders really need is cheques and funding. The syndicate enables this and is our way of contributing to improving the levels of funding.
What can investors expect from the VentureX Capital syndicate?
The accountant in me is going to need the investment to show it can turn growth into profit.
Investors won’t really see crypto and gaming from us, we don’t have an interest or expertise in that area. We’re more likely to invest in medtech, fintech, circular economy, SaaS and martech.
Primarily our focus is on investing in female-led ventures where a woman in an executive role holds significant equity.
In terms of founder profile, we’re looking for someone who is resilient, adaptable, has the ability to execute on a growth strategy and is coachable – they can take on advice, recognize their gaps and what they need to do in order to grow the company.
We’re starting by looking for opportunities in Australia and have a comprehensive due diligence process – that also helps take the emotion out of it.
Why female led ventures?
For me as an equities investor I was always interested in investing in that small cap market where there was a lot less research and potentially overlooked opportunities.
That’s where I found good value and I think it’s really similar when investing in female founders. There’s not a lot of money going to them and there are markets they tend to build businesses in that are not as well understood, often underserved and overlooked.
So, I see it as looking into a market where there might be better growth opportunities that others might not see.
BCG research also showed that female led businesses generated 10% higher revenues annually and per dollar of investment 78 cents per dollar while male funded startups generated only 31 cents.
So, it’s actually a genuine investment opportunity that I see.
What types of deals might we see come through the syndicate?
We’re sector agnostic so our members will have access to a broad range of startups.
We’re looking at quality over quantity and the first deal we’re looking at will be a bit different – I won’t give away too much but the company has a lot of market traction and I’ve been watching her journey for quite a while.
There’s a few medtech companies we’re looking at, fintech, SaaS and there’s a broad range but at the moment we’re focused on due diligence and sourcing deals our investors are interested in.
What’s the due diligence you do on companies?
We get deal flow through diversified sources – our network, other investors, proactive outreach and more.
Each company meets with the team multiple times, we go through financials, market size, competitor analysis and IP among other things.
We also won’t put forward a company that we’re not investing in ourselves.
How do you plan to support founders?
Capital is one thing and it’s important for early-stage companies to grow.
It’s also about the extensive network of contacts across Australia the team has, we mentor a lot of companies and we’re really helping startups through a variety of challenges.
Most of the time, founders face similar problems, they’re not unique challenges. The individual founder may feel like it is unique to them but most of the time we’ve seen them before. So, we usually have people who can help them out and I think that’s how we’re helpful.
Then obviously money – the most useful thing for founders, giving them money but also guiding them on how to use that.
You sit on a number of boards, how can this help the founder?
Having investors who are also experienced Company Directors helps with governance by helping founders from an early stage think about governance issues and what to put in place when the time is right. It’s especially useful to attract investment in the future and to run a business the right way.
It also gives me an insight into a number of different industries as well which is helpful for founders and as an investor reviewing startups.
What is the minimum cheque size to join the syndicate?
For the syndicate we are setting a low minimum of $5k, obviously it’s easier to fill an angel round if you set a ticket size of the standard angel size of $25k, but we’re focused on making sure that investors have diversified portfolios and invest a little bit in a lot of different companies.
It is also about encouraging more women to be involved in investing, the building the confidence to write that first cheque.
How does the syndicate work?
From a founder perspective, you can make an application for funding through our website. It’s beneficial for founders to have investment via a syndicate because it enables angels to pool their money and only have one entity on a cap table which is beneficial for later stage investment.
As an investor go to the Aussie Angels website and apply to join the syndicate. Then we will share deals with you that we’re investing in and that are pre-vetted.
We only deal through the platform and you choose which deals you invest in and there’s no commitment to invest when you apply. We always put our own money into a deal as well and we wouldn’t ask anyone to invest if we’re not also putting in money.
How do you join the syndicate?
You can invest through the VentureX Capital syndicate via the Aussie Angels website here.
For founders – if you’re seeking investment, send us your startup information and find out more here.