After all that 2020 brought along with it, many of us started 2021 with high hopes and big ambitions for a fresh start and a return to normalcy. As we’re all too familiar with now, sometimes the universe has other plans. While we remain optimistic that brighter times are ahead, we want to acknowledge the resilience and the sheer hard work of our exceptional group of founders, our partners, and our team.
Reflecting on the year that was, 2021 has been jam packed not only for the founders and companies we back, but also for our team and the Australian and global tech eco-systems. It’s been a big year, one we’re incredibly proud of.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane …
One — A year of firsts
This year we welcomed our very first unicorn 🦄. Go1 raised US$200 million, one of the biggest ever local funding rounds, achieving ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of more than US$1 billion. We first backed Andrew, Chris, Vu, Chris and the Go1 team in 2017 and are privileged to continue to partner with them through their incredible growth.
But we didn’t stop at one mythical creature, securing our first dragon* 🐉. XM Cyber announced that the Schwarz Group, the world’s fourth largest retailer and a growing provider of cyber security solutions, acquired the company for circa A$1 billion. *A dragon is a company that returns an entire fund.
Two — OIF Fund II
In the middle of the year, we announced the close of our second fund, raising over A$100 million to continue to partner with Australia’s most exceptional technology founders.
We’ve been backed exclusively by individuals, founders, operators, high net wealth and family offices as well as listed company CEOs and Directors. And, perhaps what makes this milestone even more special for us is that most of the founders we’ve previously backed have now invested alongside us.
Three — Three exits in as many weeks
Good things come in threes and the last few weeks of 2021 have been among some of the best, as we were able to return significant capital to our Fund I investors, with not one but three exits — Assignar (partial exit), XM Cyber and Eftsure.
These milestones are extremely significant for our team, and to achieve such magnificent results alongside the exceptional founders and teams at Assignar, XM Cyber, Eftsure is a true privilege.
Keep reading as we’ll take a deeper dive into each of these exits.
Four — Globally, it’s been another strong year for the tech industry
As a newly minted unicorn, Go1 is part of an exclusive yet growing club, with a total of 480 new unicorns emerging around the world in 2021.
With 800+ private companies now topping the US$1+ billion valuation, the global unicorn club is bigger than it’s ever been.
Five — Learning never stops
As the COVID-19 pandemic (unfortunately) continues, collectively our knowledge of the Greek alphabet has reached five new letters: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, and now Omicron. Although we love continuous learning, we really hope this is where the language lesson stops!
Six — What’s 10⁶?
In 2021, we became a founding member of the Tech Council of Australia and are committed to their ambition of achieving one million tech sector jobs by 2025 and shaping Australia’s digital future together.
Seven — A year of awesome new customers, partnerships and products
Seven days in the week simply isn’t enough to keep track of all the things our portfolio companies are up to. We’ve loved all the new products and features our portfolio companies have launched throughout the year.
- Adventus.io launched their new tool, Adventus Drive, providing institutions with personalised and real-time data on the international student market, enabling them to target students who are the right fit. They also launched their new application assistant mobile app enabling students recruiters to simplify internal recruitment and stay connected with students right from their pockets.
- Bookipi launched BookiPay in Australia and in the United States, and launched Bookipi Invoice on the Amazon Appstore.
- Customer video testimonials platform, Vouch emerged from three months of beta phase.
- Circle In launched their new user experience, which introduces a whole new level of automation, communication and tailored engagement.
- Advanced Navigation launched a new range of fiber optic gyroscope inertial navigation systems and released Cloud Ground Control, a revolutionary SaaS platform enabling users to connect, monitor and control any drone from a web browser.
Eight — ∞ to infinity and beyond!
There are over 250 opportunities going across our portfolio companies, so if know of someone exceptional who would be a good fit, encourage them to apply or reach out to our team to learn more.
Nine — Aussie VC is 🔥
September, the ninth month of the year, was the month when local venture capital funding peaked at A$2 billion, followed by another massive month in November with A$1.4 billion.
Let’s put that into context.
If we rewind just four years, the value of VC deals in one year across both Australia and New Zealand was less than what start-ups have raised in the single month of November 2021. As the Australian venture capital ecosystem continues to soar, we can’t wait to see and be part of what’s to come.
Ten — Fundraising milestones across the portfolio, around the world
It’s been a 10/10 year, with OIF portfolio companies raising close to half a billion dollars in 2021, including Go1, Assignar, Kasada, Adventus, Inspace, mod.io, Atomi, Clear Dynamics, and more, bringing on amazing investor partners both here and globally including: Sequoia Capital, Tiger Global Management, Softbank, Fifth Wall, Tencent, LEGO Ventures, SecondQuarter Ventures and Madrona Venture Group.
Eleven — Freedom Day
October 11th was the end of Sydney’s lockdown. October was also the month hope returned to Victoria as Freedom Day arrived after the world’s longest lockdown at 262 days, which is not a record one wants to hold.
Notwithstanding how difficult, exhausting and long the year has been, we want to acknowledge how proud and thankful we are for everyone we’ve partnered with this year, who have supported and inspired us to continue to remain resilient and keep working hard.
Twelve — Awards and recognition 🏆
Over the last twelve months our portfolio companies have been recognised for multiple awards and achievements — there’s almost too many to mention, but here’s a snapshot!
- Open source as-a-service company, Instaclustr, was recognised for the second year in a row as one of the fastest-growing companies in North America in the 2021 Deloitte Technology Fast 500.
- BARE, the funeral provider for the digital age, were featured in the Australian Financial Review BOSS Most Innovative Companies List for professional services. The team were also recognised as the best customer service organisation (small business category) of the year by the CSIA. The team were also winners of the Outdoor Media Association’s “Best Use of Digital” Award for their #didntseethatcoming campaign.
- Go1, Adventus.io and Atomi were featured in the HolonIQ 2021 Australia & New Zealand EdTech 50.
- Three OIF portfolio companies Go1, Matrak and Neara were featured in The Australian’s inaugural Top 100 Innovators List, showcasing the very best in Australian technology and innovation.
- XM Cyber won a 2021 Cyber Defense Black Unicorn Award in the new category of Baby Black Unicorn. It’s the third consecutive year that XM Cyber have received a Black Unicorn Award.
- Kasada was recognised as one of the Top 50 Cybersecurity Startups and Companies of 2021 by TechRound.
- Circle In have been recognised as a Victorian State Finalist for the 2022 Telstra Best of Business Awards in the Accelerating Women category.
Thirteen — Unlucky? 🍀
It’s unlucky to include a number thirteen right?
Fourteen — We welcomed 14 new companies!
It’s been a busy year, and we’re so proud to welcome fourteen new companies to our portfolio.
At the beginning of 2021, we started with six companies in Fund II, and have now more than doubled to 20 companies, from variety of sectors including Edtech, consumer, creator economy, Martech, Proptech, gaming and more.
We’re seeing and investing in some exceptional founders of early-stage technology companies. So please reach out if you’re creating something iconic — we love to partner with exceptional people building something we can all be proud of!
Fifteen — Jobs, jobs, jobs
Turns out the mid-teens are a bit of a challenging time, so we struggled to find something for the number fifteen 😀.
Our portfolio companies on the other hand, have seen phenomenal people growth in the last twelve months, collectively employing 2,000 people across Australia, US, UK and Asia. In the last year alone, the average headcount growth across the portfolio has been over 50%.
The talent market is hot, and there’s never been a better time to be in tech in Australia, so if you didn’t check it out earlier, make sure you see if your next opportunity is going at one our portfolio companies through our Job Board.
Sixteen — Happy birthday to … 🎉
Where has time gone? Founded as Our Innovation Fund in 2016, we turned five this year! Like many other great things, we missed our party but we look forward to celebrating in person in early 2022, and have something pretty exciting in the works that we can’t wait to share. But if you can’t wait, here’s a small teaser.
New look. New name. Still OIF.
Seventeen — 2017
While 2021 brought some significant milestones for us in the form of our first exits, we thought we’d look back on when we first got started and backed some incredible founders and teams.
We first backed Sean, Marko and the Assignar team in 2017, and they recently announced that they secured a secondary financing round of US$20 million, welcoming some of the world’s top investors including Tiger Global Management.
We feel continue privileged to be alongside the exceptional Assignar team as they realise their mission to streamline construction operations for contractors across the globe.
Read more in the Australian Financial Review.
We’ve had the privilege of partnering with the Eftsure team since Seed stage and are extremely proud to see them partner now with Level Equity to amplify the next phase of their exciting growth journey.
Read more in the Australian Financial Review.
Eighteen — 2018
We couldn’t be prouder of the entire team as they continue to execute on their mission to bring enhanced cyber security to organisations globally.
Read more in the Australian Financial Review.
Nineteen — ⛳
As the holidays quickly approach it is time to focus on Fund without the “d”. We hope you get to enjoy some time at the 19th hole on the golf course and we look forward to relaxing and celebrating with many of you in the New Year!
Twenty — Some new OIF faces
It’s not just the companies we back that have grown since 2020, the OIF team have welcomed a number of new people to our team.
- Paul Migliorini joined as a Venture Partner and Investment Committee member. Paul was previously the Managing Director of Amazon Web Services across Australia and New Zealand, APAC and Japan.
- Emily Pfeiffer joined as Head of Community and Partnerships.
- Anna Osipov Heymann joined as an Investor.
- David Cohen joined as Group Finance Manager.
With a number of new faces, we outgrew our office and were lucky enough to move into our beautiful new space in Sydney’s Double Bay (albeit just for a few weeks before Sydney went into lockdown!)
Twenty-One — 21 tips from the dumbest guy at the table
Secrets out, OIF founding partner David Shein is not actually the dumbest guy at the table — he founded Australia’s first unicorn and wrote a book — “The Dumbest Guy at the Table — How I Founded Australia’s First Unicorn”.
The book is filled with insights, tips, and lessons in both business and in life. David interweaves his life experiences, whilst exploring 21 tips for running a start-up and building a team. In memory of one of David’s good friends and work colleagues, 100% of the proceeds are being donated to the Black Dog Institute supporting research to create a mentally healthier world. If you are looking for a summer read, it’s highly recommended, so do yourself a favour and grab a copy today.
Twenty-Two — Next year …
As this edition of Blast OIF and the year comes to an end, we hope that in 2022 the skies will open, and we can start travelling the world again, catching up with friends and family, near and far.
From our team to you, we wish everyone a restful break with your families, and we look forward to reconnecting with the many faces we’ve missed this year and can’t wait to meet new ones.
Onwards and upwards,
The OIF Ventures team
OIF Ventures is a leading Australian venture capital firm that champions exceptional founders, driven by purpose, who add material value to their customers, markets, and communities. OIF Ventures invests in early-stage companies with innovative, high-growth and disruptive technologies with demonstrated market demand.
Founded in 2016 by a team of founders, entrepreneurs, and business-builders, OIF Ventures has raised two funds to date, managing over $300 million and closing its upsized Fund II in mid-2021 for over $115 million. OIF Ventures is exclusively backed by founders, business-builders, ASX executives, HNW and family offices. While focused on backing Australian founders, OIF Ventures seeks to partner with ambitious founders who have the opportunity to expand into global markets, in particular the US, where we can support this expansion through our extensive network of potential customers and investors.
The OIF Ventures team have backed some of Australia’s leading emerging technology companies including Go1, Instaclustr, Assignar, Enboarder, Kasada, Circle In, Adventus.io and more.