Young VCs back ‘overlooked’ Aussie startups with $10m fund

The founders of a $10 million venture capital fund and accelerator who say the industry’s traditional startup funding model is too risk-averse at the early stages and isn’t built to support new-age entrepreneurs have revealed their first investments.

Claiming to be Australia’s “youngest venture capital fund and startup accelerator”, Galileo Ventures was founded in 2020 by entrepreneurs James Alexander (founder of University of Sydney startup accelerator INCUBATE) and Hugh Stephens (founder of global social media management platform Sked Social) – two 30-somethings with a passion for mentoring early-stage startups.

Galileo Ventures founders James Alexander and Hugh Stephens.

Mr Alexander said the fund, which has revealed its first eight investments that will each receive between $200,000 and $300,000, would provide a fresh take on investing in emerging founders, who he said are too frequently “underestimated” and “overlooked” by traditional VC firms.

“The world’s next biggest ideas are hidden in the next generation of emerging founders, but the current VC model isn’t built to support new-age entrepreneurs,” Mr Alexander said.

“Much of the original Australian investment community is too risk-averse at the earliest stages, often doesn’t quite grasp the next wave of tech and quite frankly lacks diversity.

“As the only millennial and openly identifying LGBTIQ+ founders of an Australian VC fund (and few globally), we’re committed to bringing world-class support and capital that later-stage VCs like A16Z or Blackbird provide, at the most crucial early stages.”

Galileo received over 500 applications in its first six months of operation and startups it has chosen to invest in include: AllyAssist, a female-founded disability-assistance platform, bringing a new workforce of therapy assistants to people with disabilities; VectorAI, a tool that uses machine learning to help implement search, recommendation, prediction and more with complex data; and Space Services, which combines technology used in games and advanced simulation software to help engineering teams make space safer and more efficient.

The other startups Galileo has invested in include Wriveted, an artificial intelligence “bookbot” (virtual reading assistant) aimed at boosting literacy rates that has signed on schools and libraries; Tixel, a ticket resale marketplace; Lemonade, a social commerce app for events; Varicon, a construction forecasting platform; and Sizle, a document sharing tool.

The eight investments comprise the first of 40 Galileo hopes to make over the next three years.

“There’s a misconception that young Australia doesn’t have the tech talent to produce more unicorns,” Mr Alexander said, referring to startups that reach $1 billion in value.

“The talent is there; we just need to get better at nurturing and prepping emerging founders to win.

“Young, inexperienced founders simply don’t get the right support from ‘angel’ investors. We rarely see successful companies emerge from short-form accelerator and education programs, and that desperately needs to change. Galileo aims to break down that model and actually help build the next Canvas and Atlassians from all walks of life.”

Galileo will begin the assessment process for its next wave of investments in the coming months. It welcomes early-stage founders, particularly minority and diverse-identifying founders.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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