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Chasing start-up value through venture capital

Holly Morgan | June 9, 2017
With innovation high on the Australian agenda, entrepreneurs are entering a new era in technology.

"It's our belief that every company should be creating personal experiences for their customers and raising venture capital has helped us scale our distribution much faster over a large horizontal market," he added.


Venture capital market

Considering changing market dynamics, turbo-charged by the influx of new and emerging technologies, it's never been a better time to be a start-up founder.

With easier access to investment, and an industry willing to supercharge Australia's most ambitious founders, entrepreneurs are advancing at a rapid rate through utilising venture capital firms.

Through investing in Autopilot, Salesforce Ventures targets early creators of customer-centric enterprise technology, technology capable of transforming the end-user experience.

Across the Pacific Ocean, the venture capital market is experiencing record highs, with more than 300 billion assets under management globally.

During 2016, the industry reported 17 technology-based initial public offerings (IPOs), billed as "very low" for US standards.

"Although we did have two successful ones this year in Snapchat and MuleSoft, what we are seeing is that companies are staying private much longer," Salesforce Ventures vice president Matt Garratt observed.

In assessing the market through a local lens, the magic of Silicon Valley is beginning to filter back into the industry, as successful Australian entrepreneurs return to their roots to offer insight and advice to the next breed of emerging businesses.

"The founders of companies that were built a decade ago are investing and helping the next generation," Blackbird Ventures managing director Niki Scevak said. "Getting help from the best kind of people is an exciting addition."

During the past year, local venture capital firms raised $568 million from superannuation funds and other institutions, including AirTree Ventures' $250 million fund and Blackbird Ventures' $200 million equivalent, according to the AVCAL (Australian Private Equity and Venture Capital Association Limited).

Echoing Scevak's observations, and as a US-based venture capital firm assessing the Australian landscape, Garrett added that in 2017, start-up activity remains high across the country.

"The Salesforce business here is growing and it's clear that the market is taking off and there is more investment," he said.

When assessing the merits of a technology-focused start-up from an investment standpoint, Blackbird Ventures works off a checklist based on four key principles - world class founding teams, global ambition, scalable big market products and early stage metrics.

"To back a business, we have to believe that it's better placed than anyone else in the world to succeed in that chosen area," Scevak said.

For Scevak, the company also questions ambition, analysing whether a business is well placed for future expansions overseas.

"Australian businesses used to find ambition in doing something for Australia," Scevak said. "But during the past decade that mindset has dramatically changed.


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