2021: A Year in Review
As we sit down to close the books on 2021, we can’t help exhale (a few times fast, some into a paper bag) and think WOW! What a year it has been. The pandemic continues to surprise us at every turn, we experiment with what it means to be ‘COVID normal’, and for some of us, we question/re-evaluate/shift who and how we are in our relationships, our communities, our businesses, and our big (warming) world. 2021 was so many things; but ‘chill’ was probably not one of them.
‘No chill’ was never more true than in the Flying Fox den as well. In 2021, we invested ~$10 million across 27 deals, welcomed 14 new companies into the Flying Fox fold, and continued our support of 10 startups already in our portfolio through more than $2 million in follow-on investments.
We’re all about creating a flexible model of early stage investing that gives our investors optionality and the ability to lean into investing as much as you’d like. In our latest cohort which launched in July of this year, we invested ~$2.5 million into 5 startups and had the opportunity to invest in 5 additional optional deals. Some investors in our pre-cohort deals had the option to participate in 3 secondaries - something we’re hoping to see more of in the coming year. The ability to participate in secondaries - to access liquidity windows outside of typical fixed 10 year funds - is a key differentiator for our model. One of these offered seed investors the chance to sell at around 14x, after holding for just over 12 months. As Greta Thunberg would say about Planet Earth, that’s hot.
We now have a cumulative portfolio of 31 incredible companies and have deployed ~$19 million on behalf of our investors. We’re super proud of what our portfolio companies and we as a firm have achieved this year. We’d list them all here, but it would be longer than Santa’s naughty list of Australian politicians.
Our Flying Fox Portfolio with some new fresh names and faces (and a few more to be announced in January!)
Even with the pandemic, deal flow through the year remained stronger than ever. In addition to the companies we’ve backed, we met with hundreds of startups and supported even more through mentoring, events, introductions (including 30+ IRL coffees in San Francisco with investors to bolster our relationships with big US based firms), and other value-add activities.
If you’re reading this, you hopefully share our conviction that Australian startups can and will change the world. It has never been more true and more needed.
We were disappointed by the drop in female founders we’ve met and backed this year - an issue felt across the ecosystem - but we have plans in place to remedy this in 2022. We know that having a diverse set of founders in our portfolio is mission critical. Of the startups in our portfolio:
11 companies have at least one female founder,
10 companies have at least one POC founder, and
5 companies have at least one founder who is a POC and female.
Whilst founder diversity is important to us, so is having a diverse set of investors. We’re proud of the fact that almost 40% of our investor base are women, and for 7 of our deals, more women investors participated than men.
So what’s our plan heading into 2022?
Making many more investments into early stage opportunities!
All while continuing to shake up the early stage investment model by getting more people to begin or turbocharge their investment journey.
And when we’re having this much fun - and stand to realise significant financial outcomes - who wouldn’t want to come along for the ride? Feel free to tell your friends; we’ll be spinning up another cohort in the second quarter of 2022 for launch in July, which will be here before we know it.
As we say goodbye to another weird and wonderful year, it’s important to reflect on everything we’ve learnt and appreciate the resilience we’ve continued to build. We’re so proud of what the broader Flying Fox family has accomplished - our founders, our investors, and our small but mighty team. We’re proud of the portfolio we’re building and the incredible founders we’re backing. We hope we’re helping to make it possible for these founders to do their life’s work, and in turn, change all of our lives for the better.
We hope you all have a wonderful holiday season and a restorative and well-deserved break. Thank you for your support and friendship and cheers to another stellar year ahead. Bring on 2022!
All the best,