Angel investors are the unsung catalysts for helping founders transform their ideas into fledgling startups. Beyond a cash injection, they add tangible value to what founders are building through their experience, knowledge and contacts.
In 2020, we ran the first cohort of our Explorer program to open up angel investing to a more diverse group of people through education and funding to invest, because, as Matt Allen said:
“Sometimes, there is very little correlation between the people who can write cheques and those who have the skills and time to make a difference.”
Our second cohort is now underway, and we wanted to introduce you to some of our new Explorers, a.k.a. the angel investors you’ll want on your cap table and in your corner.
- Startup areas of interest: Any — I have a particular interest in fintech, healthtech, D2C and crypto.
- How I can help: I have a founder/growth background and can help with fundraising, hiring, org structure, growth planning and product. I have expertise in B2C and fintech.
- Everyone should read: Working Backwards — Insights, Stories, and Secrets from Inside Amazon by Bill Carr and Colin Bryar. Great to help founders think through structuring their organisations.
Daniella Aburto, Head of Business Consulting and Advisory Partners at AWS
- Startup areas of interest: Family technologies, AI and sustainability.
- How I can help: Partnerships and ecosystem, in the tech, digital and energy spaces.
- Everyone should read: Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark. Everyone should engage in bringing diversity into the making of AI.
Daniel Brockwell, Associate Product Manager at Atlassian, Cofounder and Chief Meme Officer at Earlywork
- Startup areas of interest: The top 3 problems where I think there’s a really exciting opportunity to make a high leverage positive impact on wellbeing:
1. Careertech, tackling how we spend the majority of our waking hours
2. Sustainability, tackling how to improve the long-term viability of our resource usage
3. Mental Health, tackling how to scalably improve self-awareness, self-confidence and healing from trauma.
- How I can help:
1. How to leverage young talent in your business: Having worked as an intern/grad at tech companies and startups like Atlassian, Amazon, Uber, Deloitte Digital and IBM, and also running a community for young people creating the careers of tomorrow, I’ve seen a tonne of tools and tactics to attract, engage and develop young talent to have an outsized influence on companies.
2. Community management: This year, I’ve built a Slack community of 1,000+ young people interested in tech, startups and social impact in ANZ, with most members active every week. I’m happy to chat through community acquisition and engagement strategies.
3. Content and brand marketing: I write on the future of early careers at earlywork.substack.com for an audience of 1600+ subscribers and spend way too much time shitposting on Twitter (@Dan Brockwell). If you need help on memes, vibes, content creation, content distribution, branding, social media presence etc., happy to spin a yarn!
- Everyone should read: The Precipice by Toby Ord. Still in progress, but a paradigm-shattering book on the unprecedented power-wisdom gap of humans today. Human civilisation has a 1 in 6 chance — a dice roll — of an existential catastrophe this century, compared to 1 in 100 last century. This book has filled me with an urgent optimism to help more young people learn about and combat existential risk.
Emily Casey, Founder What the health, Ex. Stone & Chalk
- Startup areas of interest: Unsurprisingly, with my health background, I have a big passion for healthtech. More broadly, I’m obsessed with web3, the creator economy and companies creating greater social impact.
- How I can help: With a background in medicine, a strong community and network across healthtech, and a splattering of experience across the startup space, I can help with insights into the space and connect you with the right people, programs and expertise — whether that’s for funding, advisory, providers, clinical insights, or anything else under the sun. I can also help with marketing strategy and content, community building and partnerships.
- Everyone should read: Principles — Life & Work by Ray Dalio — it’s nicknamed the bible with good reason. So many life and business learnings.
- Startup areas of interest: Startups that help people (Medtech, cleantech, etc.), plus good people building fun companies they are excited about.
- How I can help: Chat to me about strategy, go-to-market, positioning, strategic marketing and fundraising.
- Everyone should read: Purple Cow by Seth Godin, Blue Ocean Strategy by Renee Mauborgne and W. Chan Kim, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Julie Trell, Chief Play Officer, SheEO Country lead and Corporate Play Enabler
- Startup areas of interest: The PEOPLE who i’m interested in are those often ‘underestimated’. They have a lot to offer, think differently, create new systems for more people to access, and create a better world. I’m interested in education, access to capital where it’s not easily accessible and companies addressing the UN’s sustainable development goals.
- How I can help: As a former classroom teacher and technology specialist, I know enough to be dangerous in the edtech space and I’m keen to support product development or curriculum support/review. I have been training in Fingerprint for Success, and I’m happy to coach founder or teams motivations, biases and attitudes. And, as a self-identified HumanAPI, I can connect you to a global pool of very interesting and helpful people.
- Everyone should read: Who Moved My Cheese? By Spencer Johnson.
Kent Hindmarsh, Investment Advisor at Crestone
- Startup areas of interest: SaaS, sustainable investing, climate change and fintech.
- How I can help: I have 20 years of experience in investing and a deep knowledge of the Australian VC ecosystem.
- Everyone should read: The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. It helps you live and do business in a fulfilling way rather than all about the material aspects many westerners aspire towards.
Kirstin McIntosh, Head of Partnerships at CyRise
- Startup areas of interest: I love working with optimistic, early-stage founders who love a challenge and data. Property, construction and energy/water/waste are in my background, so I’m interested in those. If your startup improves economic equality, that will absolutely fascinate me as well!
- How I can help: I work with early-stage startups regularly, so I understand the challenges you face and how to get you over these hurdles. I’m a connector, so helping you build social capital and lasting relationships is my thing.
- Everyone should read: Women & Leadership by Julia Gillard. It explores the challenges and the perceptions around women leaders today and what still needs to change. It looks hard at the world and demands more of the future.
Laxmi Pun, Programs Manager at Melbourne Accelerator Program
- Startups areas of interest: Education, social impact startups and emerging technologies.
- How I can help: Investment readiness (finance), business model and introductions.
- Everyone should read: I prefer reading articles and blogs.
Les Delaforce, Indigenous Entrepreneurship Director
- Startup areas of interest: Web3, blockchain, DeFi, NFTs and also a strong focus on Indigenous startups that are high-growth and emerging tech.
- How I can help: Support with a go-to-market strategy, entering and accessing new markets.
- Everyone should read: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss or Pitch Anything by Oren Klaff.
Liza Boston, Venture Capitalist
- Startup areas of interest: I’m interested in women-led high-tech, high-growth startups in the sport, film, music and women’s health care space.
- How I can help: I have 20 years of global experience as a female tech founder building and scaling high-tech, high-growth businesses. I’m well networked globally within the VC investor community and with major music, sports, film, and tech industry players.
- Everyone should read: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl. There is more to life than your business.
Lorenn Ruster, Responsible Tech Collaborator at Centre for Public Impact and PhD Candidate at ANU School of Cybernetics
- Startup areas of interest: I’m interested in the intersection of AI and dignity in tech organisations (across any industry). This could show up in orgs focused on agetech, fintech, web3, ethical AI and healthtech.
- How I can help:
1. Futures and foresighting practices that uncover the long term futures founders want to build through their products/services and the unintended consequences that may emerge as a result.
2. Innovative ways to measure, evaluate and communicate impact across a range of dimensions.
3. Presencing and case clinic facilitation that connects founders’ head, heart and hands, building stakeholder and team trust through a deep understanding of challenges from multiple perspectives.
- Everyone should read: Manifesto for a Moral Revolution — Practices to Build a Better World by Jacqueline Novogratz. It’s a must-read for practical guidance on how to build for impact.
Mark Lynch, CTO and Cofounder at Learnosity
- Startup areas of interest: Experience in software development and SaaS infrastructure at a large scale. Specific experience in education technology. I’m interested in mission-driven technology that makes the world a better place, e.g. education, healthcare, energy and climate.
- How I can help: Scaling technology teams and systems with high throughput for 10’s of millions of users. Experience growing a technology company from Australia and breaking into the US markets, and expanding into Europe.
- Everyone should read: The Innovators Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. An amazing book that describes how disruption occurs and how to use that.
Matthew Tracey, VP Commercial Strategy at Palantir Technologies
- Startup areas of interest: Data analytics, enterprise SaaS, defence/natsec/govtech software and hardware and dual-use goods. Emerging Australian companies that can make a strategic contribution to Australia’s sovereign strength.
- How I can help: Commercial strategy, partnerships, pricing and legal issues related to launching and scaling inside the right environments. Talk to me about leadership and organisational theory.
- Everyone should read: Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers by Robert M. Sapolsky. It describes how to effectively use stress as an accelerant and avoid and manage stress-related issues, like anxiety and depression.
Nawaz Ahmed, Angel Investor
- Startup areas of interest: I’m hyperfocused on investing in crypto and Web3 startups!
- How I can help: I’ve been working in crypto in advisory and investment firms for 4 years now. I can assist in business model development, tokenomics, connections and capital raising.
- Everyone should read: Secrets of Sand Hill Road by Scott Kupor for anyone building startups or raising VC; this will help you understand how VC works and how it could affect your startup.
Ned Moorfield, Product Manager at Google
- Startup areas of interest: B2C/Consumer tech, marketplaces, payments, transport and logistics.
- How I can help: Having previously founded my own company (GoCatch), I know what it’s like to be in the founder’s seat. I’m happy to share my experience growing the business, closing multiple funding rounds, and hiring great team members. There are many hard lessons learnt that I hope I can save you from repeating.
- Everyone should read: The Upstarts by Brad Stone. It’s a great overview of how Uber and Airbnb won in their verticals and took on the incumbents.
Nonny Klaile, Startup Partner Lead at Stripe
- Startup areas of interest: My background is supporting fintechs, and I now work for one. I’m interested in the creator economy and edtech.
- How I can help: Brand, partnerships, community building and thought leadership. And obviously, payments and pricing.
- Everyone should read: Mindset by Carol Dweck. An oldie but a goodie. We all have different beliefs about the underlying nature of ability. This book dives deep into a very interesting theory about how people’s mindsets can affect this.
Pip Grant, Senior Manager, evokeAG at AgriFutures Australia
- Startup areas of interest: Agrifood tech, and anything that will support farmers to produce food and fibre sustainably and profitably. Pulling cleantech and spacetech into our food and fibre production.
- How I can help: Connect founders with industry experts and explore where there may be opportunities for their innovation to be used that they may not know about. I can help connect founders to government and industry funding and help facilitate tech trials in real-world settings. I can also raise awareness of their technology across the evokeAG audience.
- Everyone should read: How Innovation Works by Matt Ridley or Principles — Life & Work by Ray Dalio.
Salah Sukkarieh, CFO/Founder and Professor of Robotics
- Startup areas of interest: Robotics, AI, environment and agriculture.
- How I can help: R&D, translation and commercialisation of deep tech.
- Everyone should read: The Enlightened Economy by Joel Mokyr. It explores how people, processes, innovation, “startups”, capital and government came together to make a significant economic change.
Sarah Grace Worboys, CFO and Private Advisor
- Startup areas of interest: My background is in financial services, and an interest in the sector led me to invest in a few fintech startups. Beyond traditional financial services, DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, crypto and any crossover with financial inclusion initiatives have led me down a rabbit hole. I’d love to meet anyone working on platforms underpinning the next general of financial services.
- How I can help: In short, I know what ‘good’ looks like, and I love helping founders bring their big visions to life. I am a chartered accountant, AICD graduate and an experienced operator with 15 years of experience in a wide range of c-suite positions focusing on finance, strategy, operations, growth and leadership. Sectors include startup and scale up tech companies, financial services, professional services, ASX listed, venture capital and third-party logistics’ 3PL’ (online retail).
- Everyone should read: Range — Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialised World by David Epstein. This evidence-based study of pathways to excellence is a must-read for anyone on their own “hero’s journey” (that’s all of us). It takes a close look at the world’s most successful humans, providing evidence that generalists, not specialists, are primed to excel. This book illustrates the importance of experimentation before focus and mastery of any one (sport, instrument or specialisation). Our ability to draw from varied experience and synthesise the most relevant information in a contextually appropriate way quickly becomes a competitive advantage. This book provides a framework and foundation upon which you can deliberately curate curiosity and skills that cement and amplify your unique strengths and interests.
Sarah Tesar, Head of Seller Growth at Amazon Australia
- Startup areas of interest: Innovative consumer products — tied to my day-to-day.
- How I can help: I can support founders navigating a multichannel eCommerce strategy and leverage my 10+ year consumer goods experience and connections.
- Everyone should read: Elon Musk — Tesla, SpaceX and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance.
Tim Rossanis, Head of Growth, Retail & New Verticals at Uber A/NZ
- Startup areas of interest: Naturally, I’m fascinated by marketplaces. Having worked in both 2 & now 3-sided versions, the complexity of prioritising growth at all stages of the flywheel is incredibly interesting. I love B2B2C businesses and see lots of exciting developments in healthtech, especially related to employee mental health and wellbeing.
- How I can help: Growth and partnership strategy, particularly for businesses with a sales-led go-to-market. I’m a big advocate of carefully thought out buyer persona and segmentation mapping to guide initiative planning. I’m also passionate about leadership and harnessing the collective power of a unified team.
- Everyone should read: The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. It’s the perfect balance between a gripping narrative and a how-to guide for running a business.
Yaniv Bernstein, Chief Operating Officer, Advisor and Coach
- Startup areas of interest: I’m experienced in marketplaces and have a software engineering background, so I’m interested in anything with a strong technology angle. But really, I love any startup that is taking a clever approach to solving a well-defined problem.
- How I can help: I have significant expertise in strategy, organisational leadership, scaling teams, technology/engineering, and product. I have a number of coaching clients where I help in joining the dots between these things.
- Everyone should read: Good Strategy/Bad Strategy — The Difference and Why it Matters by Richard P. Rumelt.
Zak Islam, CTO at Linktree
- Startup areas of interest: Almost anything in SaaS, from dev tools to work management. Deep tech — storage, security, networking and HPC.
- How I can help: I love building disruptive products. My favourite part about working with startups is helping founders refine their product strategy and look around corners for scaling cliffs. My experience includes product and engineering roles across AWS and Atlassian over the last 10 years. I’m now CTO at Linktree.
- Everyone should read: Hooked — How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal. It’s a fascinating read that bridges psychology and product management.