Blackbird flies in as new Aussie venture capital fund

New tech venture capital fund, Blackbird, boasts some serious founders, including the two Atlassian co-founders.

New Aussie venture capital fund Blackbird has nabbed 14 Australian tech founders, including Atlassian, to invest and mentor new start-ups that need more funding than the average.

As first reported by BRW, former MLC portfolio manager Rick Baker teamed up with Southern Cross managing director Bill Bartee and Startmate co-founder Niki Scevak to form Blackbird Venture a few months ago, after Baker finished working at MLC.

Baker told ZDNet that the idea came to him during his time investing money for MLC in Silicon Valley.

"I started to see some great Aussie companies, and realised there has been a real sort of shift in the potential to build global businesses from Australia in the last four or five years, which is largely off the back of the maturing of digital marketing techniques. That means you can have a small team sitting in Australia that can target a global market from day one," he said.

"At the same time, we're starting to see, really, a large number of world class founders choose to start businesses here and use those techniques."

The aim will be to provide support for these start-ups in Australia, while at the same time get the sort of funding from Silicon Valley that is not available in Australia today.

"As soon as you want to raise between $2 million to $5 million, [it is] very hard to do from the Australian market," Baker said. "There are very few investors left in the market willing to take the early stage risk."

Baker has brought together 14 successful tech founders for the start-up fund, but would not disclose who had been brought on board outside of Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar.

"We've brought together a group of founders, so people who have been successful in the Aussie tech space, we've brought them together to put their money back into the Aussie ecosystem. And more than just their money — their expertise and their networks."

Blackbird Ventures will also connect start-ups with the top and most-respected investors in Silicon Valley, to "litmus test" ideas on, Baker said.

He said the key to success for start-ups in Australia is not to try and create another Silicon Valley, but to build strong relationships between Silicon Valley and Australia.

"We're never going to be another Silicon Valley. We have a lot of competitive advantages in Australia to be connected to Silicon Valley, and to me that advantage is to not cut the cord, but strengthen it," he said.

"We share language, we share culture, people in Silicon Valley generally like Australians and it's now very cheap, air-fare wise, to jump on a plane and get over there. So we have a number of competitive advantages that will allow us to form a strong bridge to Silicon Valley."

Australia has the potential to be a great tech hub, Baker said.

"The ideal situation is [one where] founders can feel as though there is a supportive infrastructure for them to form their company here, and there is infrastructure for them to be able to access expertise in their particular area from around the world, including Silicon Valley."


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