Melbourne’s thriving startup ecosystem is proving to be a big attraction for investors.
Fifty million dollars is a large sum of money by anyone’s estimation – it is also the amount that Jim Cassidy and Paul Naphtali from the Venture Capital firm Rampersand are pouring into their tech investment fund. They hope that with this kind of money they can fund some of the best tech startups in Australia.
Rampersand launched its first fund of A$6 million in 2013. Back then the venture capital market for tech funds in Australia was very much in its infancy. Things seem to have matured somewhat since then, but Naphtali thinks there is a long way to go, arguing that Australian start-ups are still chronically under-funded. Rampersand is hoping to change that from its headquarters in Melbourne.
“Besides Melbourne being home, it has an incredible start-up history and strong entrepreneurial culture,” Naphtali says. “This continues to shine through the quality of the current generation of start-ups.”
He also points to a thriving start-up scene that is gaining serious momentum. And while Naphtali thinks Melbourne’s startup culture can be unwilling to “blow its own trumpet”, he is more than willing to take up the role of trumpeter: “The quality and depth of of the ecosystem here is as good or better than just about anywhere in the region,” he says.
He says tech start-ups are attracted to Melbourne because of how businesses will help each other and because of the fruitful collaboration between businesses and government. Added to this is Melbourne’s rising international reputation, which is leading to an increasing number of expatriates moving back to the city.
“There are a growing number of successful entrepreneurs moving or returning to Melbourne who are willing and able to provide advice and mentorship. This lends to the collaborative and helpful environment,” Naphtali says. “Also there is increasingly strong collaboration between startups, enterprises and government, creating a great environment in which companies can grow fast, both domestically and internationally.”
Investing from the early stages
Rampersand are looking to invest in companies that have already acquired seed funding but are still in the early stages of investment. They are open to all sectors but are most keen on disruptive ideas with the potential to create new markets.
Naphtali puts Rampersand in a nutshell: “We are looking for early stage, highly ambitious startups with unique technology, a great vision and a compelling plan.”
Rampersand is one of a number of venture capital firms who are hedging their bets on tech startups with generous funds to back them up; it’s the perfect time for those with unique ideas and a contempt for traditional business models to put their heads down and put those ideas into action – and Melbourne is the place to do it from.