Aussie Female Startup Founders Secured 26.5% of Larger VC Investments in 2018 (REVISED)

It has been well reported by Techboard and others that the level of funding for Australian Startups and Tech has been on the rise so for this International Women’s Day we decided to undertake a partial analysis of our funding data to see how female founded startups fared in the last year. 

NOTE: since this post was published we discovered that Judo Capital’s Chief Marketing Officer Kate Keenan was also a co-founder. Given that Judo Capital had the largest funding event we captured for 2018, a $350m debt facility AND a $140m capital raise… this has thrown our figures out just a little… Taking the percentage of funding going to female founded companies to 19.9% of funding events over $5m …. and the percentage of large scale private investment from the previously reported 15.4% to 26.5%.

Over the course of 2018 Techboard continued to monitor startup and tech funding in Australia. In just six months from our inaugural annual funding report for FY17/18 funding levels rose by around 17% with over $4b being secured by Australia’s growing startup and tech sector across all funding types. This amount included $1.5b in private investment, slightly over $1b in investment via the public markets, over $850m in debt, $250m from ICOs and the balance from the other sources of funding we track.

Now with over 3000 profiles in the Techboard Directory and over 600 funding events captured for the 2018 calendar year it would be a big job to tag all companies or events as  as to whether or not they have female founders (something we would love to get some help with) so we decided to keep our task a little easier and limit ourselves to looking at funding events with a value of $5m or greater.

Keen startup watchers would know that two female co-founded startups had very significant raises during 2018. In the September quarter 2018 Lucy Lui’s Airwallex announced a massive series B raise of $109m which at the time was the largest reported series B investment for an Australian startup. Since that raise Airwallex has been tipped as a future Unicorn by CB Insights. Earlier in the year Melanie Perkins’ Canva raised $50m at a valuation of over $1b USD.

In addition to those two companies we identified another seven that had secured $5m or more in funding. These were Judo Capital (Kate Keenan -$140m capital raise + $350m Debt Facility) ,Brighte (Katherine McConnell – $18.5m investment + two debt instruments totalling $35m), MadeComfy (Sabrina Bethunin – $6m investment), ParagenBio (Professor Norelle Daly – $6m investment) Agridigital (Emma Weston – $5.5m investment) Aurora Labs (Jessica Snelling – $5m in a placement on the ASX and Intimate (Leah Callon-Butler who appear to have raised more than $5m in an Initial Coin Offering). Of all of these companies, only Brighte has no male co-founders but most are female-led.

These confirmed funding events represent 19.9% of all funding events of $5m or more by number and by value. Although if we look just at private funding female founded companies secured 9.9% of these deals by number and 26.5% by value, very much pushed by the Judo Capital, Airwallex and Canva raises.

There were two other funding events  that we suspect had secured more than $5m but are not included as values were not disclosed, namely Charlotte Petris’ Timelio who secured funding to enable the company to provide loans and Noga Edelstein and Elke Keeley’s UrbanYou which was acquired after knocking back a $2m investment offer.

Prior to 2018 the largest funding events for female founded companies were by Power Ledger ($34m), Hyper Anna ($16m) Expert360 ($13m), ($10m + $5.1m) and Airwallex ($8m) and that is just over the course of 6 months. Representing 6.6% by value overall of $5m+ funding events although… if we just look at private funding female founded companies it comes to 15.4% of raises of $5m and above by value and 12% by number of deals.