Just the Beginning

Updated on March 31, 2017 by Alan Sharp-Paul

OK. Time to take a deep breath. Time to reflect on what has been a crazy six months and an even crazier week. As you may have heard, we got funded. Funded to the tune of $1.2M, and by a list of investors we wouldn't have dared to dream having on board when we started our journey with Startmate at the beginning of the year. One name in particular has been hard to miss in the coverage we've received and we are truly proud to have Peter Thiel involved through Valar's investment in UpGuard, but one investment did not the round make. Also on board are:

  • Scott Petry: Founder of Postini (sold to Google) and now Authentic8. 
  • Mark Jung: Founder and CEO of IGN Entertainment, ex-CEO of Fox Interactive
  • Bruce Graham: Infinity Captial, Bessemer Partners
  • Paul Bassat: Cofounder of Seek
  • Starfish Ventures: Experienced and forward thinking Aussie VC firm
  • 500 Startups: Dave McClure's VC firm needs no further introduction
  • Harrison Miller: Summit Partners
  • Alan Jones: Startmate mentor and startup product guru with the New Agency
  • Anthony Marcar: Startmate mentor and Grabble cofounder
  • Matt Dickinson: Startmate mentor and Growth Angels cofounder
  • Larry Marshall: Startmate mentor and Southern Cross Ventures
  • Startmate: Follow on investment

The value they will provide as mentors and advisors could well surpass that which they have already provided as investors. This is truly a "smart money" list and we're very much looking forward to working with all of them.

As for the fundraising process; what a ride. With demo days in Melbourne, Sydney, Silicon Valley and New York and a total of six weeks on the road in the US it was a tough but unforgettable experience. Fighting debilitating nerves before pitching at 500 Startups. Struggling to maintain some semblance of cool whilst being grilled at the conference table at the Thiel Capital office. It's fair to say that the process was not without stress. We were confident but spent more than a few days wondering if we'd ever be able to bring the round together. Meetings became a blur as we headed up and down the 101 between San Francisco and the Valley but our persistence eventually paid off as intros lead to pitches, pitches lead to due diligence activities, and those activities eventually lead to offers of investment.

The final week of fund raising was truly a rush. Closing out a round with some heavy hitters already committed is certainly more fun than trying to get that first signature when you're starting out. But we're not fooling ourselves about the task ahead. Funding is an incredible milestone and one that a great many startups don't get to enjoy, but it is as much a beginning as it is an achievement. We have the funds to execute on the vision we have for the company. We can now put the focus back where it should be, on the product and our current and prospective clients.

The next year is about building out the product and proving our business model and ability to grow. We've seen the value UpGuard can add to a business but we've also learned of many ways we can improve it. The leads we have coming in, especially since our funding coverage, have been truly amazing. We're fully focussed on having the product and processes in place to give us to the opportunity to close every one.

The two biggest steps we've taken since getting funded have been building out our team and planning the set up of our US office. On the hiring front we've brought on some true rock stars:

  • Steve: UNSW PhD, fellow Startmater and coding machine.
  • Paul: Web developer, UX gun and real life guitar hero.
  • Cheyne: Ubercorn -> web dev/designer/monitoring gun.
  • Ty: Sysadmin extraordinaire and super support manager

Mike, Paul and I fly out next week to setup our US office, and Cheyne will follow soon. It's a huge step for each of us, as we'll be taking partners and families along, but we can't wait to get started over there. Leo, Steve and Ty will keep backend development and support running from here in Sydney. We're still keeping an eye out for talent and in particular are keen to talk to hungry, tech-focussed salespeople. Contact us through the website if you are interested.

So to all those who've given us support these last six months... family, friends, mentors and investors, we say thanks. To those waiting to get access to the platform we promise to be with you shortly. The curtain is up. We hope you enjoy the show.

Alan.