The $20 Million Networking Hack You’re Not Doing
Samantha Wong, Blackbird Ventures
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the value of your network is important to success in business and in life. But the act of networking is one of the biggest time-wasters for a startup.
The people who are likely help you are ones that have come to know and trust you over a period of time. They have relevant expertise and connections and they genuinely want to see you succeed. The most helpful people tend not to be those you swap cards with at a meetup.
Accelerators are one of the best personal network hacks to acquire this network quickly.
Network value in action… Spaceship
You may have heard of Spaceship (if not — sign up immediately!). Spaceship is a mobile-first, technology-focussed superannuation fund aimed at millennials. It received a lot of press recently as it announced a $1.6M seed investment from the likes of Mike Cannon-Brookes and Simon Clausen.
Dave Kuhn is co-founder and CTO of Spaceship. Dave’s previous company Chorus was part of the first batch of the Startmate accelerator in 2011. Like most startups, Chorus showed early promise but didn’t quite reach product/market fit before it ran out of money. Dave stayed close to the community, and fast forward 5 years, he and his co-founders birthed the idea of Spaceship, a super fund that invests where the future is going.
Dave reached out to Mike Cannon-Brookes, a founding Startmate mentor and Startmate alumni, Alan Sharp-Paul and Mike Baukes from Upguard and Stuart Argue and Anthony Marcar from Grabble, who all agreed to invest. From there the Startmate network made more intros to Leigh Jasper (co-founder of ASX-listed Aconex), Simon Clausen (an early investor in Freelancer and Salesforce) and Andre Eikmeier, co-founder of Vinomofo. Within a week their $1.6M round was over-subscribed by the who’s who of Aussie tech influencers.
The Startmate network was again mobilised for their pre-launch campaign, sending an email to the 300-odd private email list which helped them acquire the 1000+ pre-registrations within a few days of launching. If you take the median super savings of a 30 year old, that’s $20 million of assets under management for $0 marketing spend. Not bad.
This story really neatly encapsulates the magic that can happen when you get the right people, with relevant experience and connections, poised to help you just when you need it.
In Dave’s words:
“I felt pretty low having failed with Chorus and at times questioned what I could offer to such an amazing group of people. Niki was encouraging as always, believing that there was as much to learn from what didn’t work as what did. Despite the fact that everything in me wanted to hide away there was still a small fire burning inside and I knew that the time would come again to step out and do something new. I’m so glad I stayed in touch and shared what little I felt I had to offer. The community has been amazing in offering advice, connections and support; it’s also been encouraging to see Startmate companies knocking it out of the park.
It’s an understatement to say that a huge component of our recent achievements at Spaceship are because of the wonderful people I’ve met through Startmate. Startmate is where it all began for me.”
The program is for 5 months, 3 in Sydney and 2 in San Francisco. The network consists of Australian-connected technology founders and active investors who invest their time and their money into each batch of companies. We invest $75k for 7.5% or if you’ve raised $200K+, we invest on those terms.
And the $20M network, that’s just a bonus.
Startmate is a proud Community Partner of StartCon 2016, Australia's biggest startup and growth conference. Happening on November 26th and 27th 2016 @ Royal Randwick Racecourse. Featuring international speakers from companies like UBER, SurveyMonkey, Zillow, Growth Hackers, 500 Startups, Freelancer.com, Showpo, Meta and more!