Dynamic Business brings you the key startup fundraising from this week: 

Adobe acquires Figma for $20 billion

Software giant Adobe will purchase startup Figma for almost $20 billion in its largest transaction to date. The agreement will allow Adobe to enhance its products for creative workers.

During the pandemic, demand for Figma, which allows customers to collaborate on software as they built it, increased as more individuals worked remotely. Figma’s backers include venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures and Greylock Partners.

Sonder raises AU$35m in Series B funding

Sonder, a leading wellbeing and safety company, has today announced closing an AU$35 million Series B funding round. Blackbird Ventures led the oversubscribed round, with participation from new investors, including SEEK Investments and SecondQuarter Ventures, and existing investors.

Alongside Blackbird’s investment, Niki Scevak, Blackbird’s partner and co-founder, will join Sonder’s Board.

Kaloom Secures $21 million in Funding 

Kaloom announced it secured an additional USD 21 million from the Quebec government and current investor, Alternative Capital Group (ACG), who matched the government of Quebec’s investment.

This latest investment will support Kaloom’s go-to-market strategy and extend its current heterogeneous hardware strategy by supporting additional platforms like SmartNICs and Servers. 

Suzuki invests in Australian tech, Applied EV

Applied EV has closed the first tranche of two-part funding round, raising AUD $21M at a valuation of AUD $170M. Global automotive giant, Suzuki, has taken a strategic stake in the company. St Baker Energy and Innovation Fund is also a significant investor in this round. 

Applied EV is an Australian Technology company that has developed a vehicle control system based entirely on software known as the Digital Backbone for use in electric vehicles dedicated
to autonomous driving applications.

Agtech startup Lleaf raises $3.5 million

Lleaf, a Sydney-based agtech business, has secured $3.5 million in a seed round for its light-emitting plastics for indoor agriculture.

The financing was led by Danish investment firms ALFA Ventures and 2 Degrees, with participation from The University of New South Wales and Cicada Innovations, where Lleaf is situated.

HealthMatch lands $10 million Series C

HealthMatch, a clinical trials access startup, has raised $10 million in Series C funding. Folklore Ventures, the company’s original backer, led the round.

Square Peg Capital made an $18 million Series B investment in December 2020 and later invested in Series C. In late 2019, Square Peg also led a $6 million series A round.

OccuRx raises $16 million for kidney disease trial

OccuRx, a biotech startup, has secured $16 million to fund clinical trials for its oral medication to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD), a primary cause of death. Brandon BioCatalyst and Uniseed led the financing, which included a $1.5 million grant from biomedical incubator CUREator.            

New funding opportunities open for sustainable start-ups

Through the launch of the 2022 eco-Disruptive initiative, start-ups in Australia, New Zealand, and Hong Kong will have the opportunity to receive money from Bupa to create pilot solutions that benefit the environment and people’s health. 

The eco-Disruptive programme, now in its second year, connects start-ups with specialised Bupa teams while providing selected start-ups with roughly $40,000 in early funding to create radical solutions to the most pressing challenges facing our world.

Selected start-ups will also compete for more than $300,000 in funding to further develop their product.

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With the pandemic, the Russia/Ukraine conflict and weakened supply chains tightening the market and making funding even more competitive for Australian startups to secure, many founders covet international funding and are chasing the holy grail of large international investments. 

After decades of senior executive roles as an enterprise-level technology executive and CEO, I spotted a gap. I injected my own personal capital, assembled a small team of software engineers in my garage and created the disruptive decentralised data platform and data mesh for enterprise reporting and analytics. Early on, I couldn’t secure any funding in Australia or overseas, so I had to bootstrap.

Six years later, we closed a $30 million round, securing backing from CIA-backed In-Q-Tel, Exto Partners, Vulpes Ventures Singapore, 72 Capital and others. Zetaris is now valued at $150 million. 

Here are my 5 top tips that I wish someone had told me before I embarked on the journey:

Understand your target VCs

Start with clear criteria for the VCs you want to attract. The right VCs are active and aligned in your sector and understand your industry. They should have the capacity to meet your current funding needs and, if this is the start of your finding journey, ensure they can participate in future rounds if that’s a requirement. 

Great VCs do more than provide funds. They can be a source of strategic thinking, networking and future funding either directly or by attracting other investors. Importantly, they should feel like good business partners that don’t try to “over-manage” you. It’s a fine balance that you are looking for. An investor is your most important business partner and should be far more valuable to you than just their money.

Do your homework so you understand how your target VCs view the world, what they invest in and their vision of the future. Then highlight how your product or solution supports and enhances their vision. Pitch to them in a way that shows that you are a perfect fit for their objectives and show them a view of how the market will evolve towards your vision in the future. It’s not a one size fits all approach. You need to do your homework and tailor your message and positioning. 

Your pitch deck must highlight your vision and road map, the expertise of your team and the financial model. It’s very important to understand that VCs see thousands of pitch decks yearly. Yours needs to stand out from the pile sitting on their desk. Here is an example of some of the pitch decks that were used by many great brands in the technology sector. Another little trick I learned with the pitch deck was to develop a one-page quick summary of the document and put that into your introductory email.

Open an office near your target VCs

You can’t hope to secure the attention of international investors from the other side of the world. You need to go and open an office near them and be present on the ground in their local market. Too many Aussie founders don’t make the sacrifice to go and rattle the tin personally. They think that hiring a Country Manager will be the magic that makes it happen. It isn’t. Nobody but you as the founder understands the vision and the mission and has the passion and commitment to drive it as you do. 

Remember, as an Aussie company; you’re already walking 10 feet behind the startups that are pitching to them in their own country. You have to show them how you’re addressing the white space and have a serious point of difference. This does come at a high personal cost; I am the father of four children, and it isn’t the easy path to tread, but it is the only one that is most effective and can short circuit conversion. 

Get involved with Austrade 

Austrade is an amazing resource; you need to engage with them and be proactive. They will help you get connected in Aussie networking groups overseas and help you understand the groups that will influence key investors, help you penetrate their networks and meet people that the VCs listen to. You have to immerse yourself in the local ecosystem and influence many people – buzz spreads faster when you’re on the ground. 

Invest in Gartner and Forrester early 

One of my best decisions was to partner early on with Gartner and Forrester. They helped immensely to put us on the radar of the right investors that could help fuel our growth. Analysts can help target investors who have not heard about what you’re doing and get them comfortable with your proposition. Buy that membership and leverage their networks. 

Choose the right advisors 

It is crucial to do due diligence on potential advisors. There are some great ones out there, but inexperienced founders can fall prey to advisors that are charlatans, who will take your money and provide poor advice. Examine their track record with similar startups and assess if they really have the market knowledge to advise you correctly.

Your board members, advisory board and current shareholder community, are critically valuable advisors who can provide you with connections to overseas investors. Don’t take them for granted; have a plan to cultivate relationships that translate to trust-based advice and recommendations.

Securing foreign investment isn’t a short-term activity. It might take more than a year from when you start having the initial conversations. VCs are savvy and wait to get to know you. They want to understand your long-term vision or if you’re burning capital and are desperate and about to go broke in six months. Once you get their attention, you must be very purposeful in building the right optics over time. They’re building a database on you following every discussion, so you have to constantly excite them and build on the momentum by continuing to demonstrate customer acquisition, potential and growth. 

Australian startups can revolutionise the world. The innovation we are creating in this country is groundbreaking. We are creating new ways to analyse data, cybersecurity advancements, and green technologies that can help us and the world reduce carbon emissions and forge new frontiers through medical breakthroughs. There has never been a more exciting time to be an Aussie founder and to push our ideas onto the global stage. 

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