Innovation Bay co-founder and CEO Phaedon Stough reflects on what IB got up to in 2020 and shares the vision for 2021.

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As we wrap up another year, I wanted to share some of our insights on 2020. First of all, who the hell saw COVID coming? Someone much smarter than us… I’ll start by sharing my key impressions of this year and then dive deeper into what happened in different areas of the business. Let’s jump into it.

What really amazed us about COVID and this year in general is:

There was no state rivalry, everyone connected via Zoom and got on with it. We were amazed and humbled by the number of people who joined our webstreams and from all across the country.

2. The resilience and resourcefulness of the ecosystem.

We were especially impressed by how well the vast majority of the tech community continued to perform. Not only did we witness a nearly seamless transition to virtual, but sales continued to support growth, as did venture investment. …


Andrew Sypkes, one of Australia’s most active family office technology investors, discusses why and how he started angel investing, the key determinants of startup success and his take on secondaries in the Australian VC ecosystem.

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About the angel

Andrew Sypkes began his career with McKinsey & Company and then worked with start-up technology businesses before completing an MBA at Stanford University. He now based in Hobart where he manages his family’s investment business, family office and foundation, and is a co-founder and Director of several private companies and charitable organizations. Andrew was an early investor in Aconex, Canva, and Redbubble and is a partner at SecondQuarter Ventures, Australia’s first venture secondaries fund.

Why angel investing?

My journey into angel investing had two major influences. Firstly, I blame my family. From an early age, I thought I was going to be an entrepreneur. Both my grandfather and my father were successful entrepreneurs and discussions about business dominated our family dining room table most nights. Starting a business seemed like the natural — and the expected — thing to do, so I did that when I was in grade 9 (a mini-golf course that operated inside shopping malls). Then in the early 2000’s I worked with a couple of early-stage tech start-ups, and more recently have co-founded a couple of non-tech businesses. However, through those entrepreneurial experiences, I came to realise that I’m actually not a very good entrepreneur myself, despite loving entrepreneurship. This was quite troubling for me to come to terms with given the implicit family expectations that I felt and the definition of success that I had set for myself at the start of my career. But once I got over my insecurities and realised that I am a better supporter and champion for entrepreneurs, I found that angel investing was a great path for me as I could work closely with entrepreneurs — vicariously living their journey — while actually playing to my more natural analytical and investing strengths. …


Access expert insights on demand with this comprehensive guide to Innovation Bay’s virtual events.

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At the start of 2020, Innovation Bay had grand plans for a year full of exciting retreats, community breakfasts, founder dinners, pitch events, community coffee programs and lots more engaging, interactive in-person events. Just as we were ramping up at the start of the year, the pandemic hit and our schedule was practically wiped clean.

Much like the scrappy, resourceful startup founders we exist to support, we rethought our strategy and took the whole show online. Since March, we’ve hosted 30 virtual Innovation Bay events for nearly 5,000 attendees! A large chunk of these attendees are founders and many are new to Innovation Bay. We’ve practically doubled our community and hope that we have provided valuable inspiration and expert insights to the ecosystem in an uncertain time. …


In honor of the 100th podcast episode of Open the Pod Bay Doors, we’re sharing 5 great reads that come highly recommended from some of our favorite pod guests.

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By far the best part of running our podcast Open the Pod Bay Doors is learning more about the journeys and mindsets of our ecosystem’s most talented founders and investors. Another perk? An endless supply of recommendations of what to read and listen to from the quickfire rounds! At the end of each episode, our hosts Ian and Phaedon ask our guests to share their favourite book, podcast, productivity tool and more.

Since Open the Pod Bay Doors just released our 100th episode special, that means our podcast has quite literally hundreds of recommendations of books, podcasts, productivity tools, and apps from some of Australia and New Zealand’s most successful startup figures. …


Innovation Bay’s co-founder Phaedon Stough shares his personal take on angel investing, including what he looks for in founders and how to assess a potential founder-investor fit.

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Phaedon shares his hard-earned advice for finding the right founder-investor fit.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with and invest in founders for the last twenty years, but let me preface this article by saying that I do and always will consider myself a founder first. I started investing via Startmate, then Blackbird, then directly into companies who I had a personal relationship with or who came referred via my network. My view is also heavily influenced by working with founders over the last 20 years and helping them build their companies, as I did my own and building networks that support founders. …


Profiles of 5 leading clean energy startups and insights from renewable energy experts.

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Last week, Innovation Bay hosted our second annual Renewable Energy Founder Forum in partnership with the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA). While the event couldn’t be held in person like last year, 170+ clean energy investors and executives gathered on Hopin, a virtual events platform, for an engaging afternoon all about renewables. …


Check out these homegrown podcasts for advice and inspiration from Australia’s best entrepreneurs and investors.

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The Australian startup ecosystem is home to some great podcasts about tech, entrepreneurship, and venture capital. Whether you’re a big podcast person or only dabble, we recommend giving some of these pods a listen for advice, information, and inspiration. In no particular order, these are seven of our favourite Aussie startup podcasts.

1. Open the Pod Bay Doors

By yours truly, Innovation Bay


All the reasons and resources prospective angel investors need to begin backing Australian startups.

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Ambitious, driven entrepreneurs are the engines of the world’s economic development. Support in the early days is critical for these startups to flourish, and this often comes from angel investors. Angels are a crucial component of the ecosystem because they provide funds and expertise very early in startups’ lives when they need it the most. Angels provide talented entrepreneurs with not just capital, but mentorship and networks too, and are able to open doors and fast track progress.

The problem is that even before the pandemic, early-stage investment into startups was shrinking in Australia at an alarming rate. In Victoria alone, according to LaunchVic, early-stage investing collapsed from $200m in 2017 to $90m in 2018. Unfortunately, it’s likely that COVID-19 will only exacerbate this problem. Our Startup Navigate survey of 100+ startup founders showed that of the startups that were mid-raise pre-COVID, only 17% stated that fundraising efforts were ‘still on track’, with 47% reporting the process has slowed down as a result of COVID-19. These figures are troubling. In this period of widespread change, we believe investors should be aggressively seeking out disruptive opportunities, not shying away from uncertainty. …


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On Wednesday 8th April Innovation Bay hosted another of our weekly virtual events this time with panel discussion focused on how our Government(s) are supporting Australian startups during COVID-19. Watch the session here:

There are three branches of government in Australia: federal, state and local, and each is responding with different economic packages to help businesses survive. This can be confusing to navigate so we’ve done our best to pull together a list of all the current support available for startups.

Have we missed something? Please email us.

Federal

The Australian Government has announced a number of initiatives to support Australian businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees. Assistance includes cash flow support to businesses and temporary measures to provide relief for financially distressed businesses. …


A data snapshot of how Australian startups are coping with COVID-19 and the types of support they need.

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Innovation Bay’s mission is to support startup founders on their journey from idea to IPO and beyond. In the wake of COVID-19, we’ve amended how we deliver value to our community; the past few weeks, we’ve hosted weekly virtual panel events featuring leaders within the Australian startup ecosystem. If you missed them check out recordings of the VC and founders panels.

In addition to virtual events, we also circulated a Startup Impact Survey to capture a snapshot of how startups are responding to COVID-19. We received over 100 survey responses and this report combines the survey data with insights we gained from expert panellists. …

About

Innovation Bay

Innovation Bay is a community group bringing together extraordinary people who are passionate about #innovation, #entrepreneurship, #startups and #technology.

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