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Here are the top Australian startups that made headlines in 2021

Australian startups saw a strong increase in venture capital funding to a record US$2.5 billion during the fiscal year ending 2021, up from US$1.95 billion, according to a KPMG Venture Pulse report

The research found 327 Australian VC investment deals during the financial year, up from 311 the previous year. 

In addition, according to the first Equitise Industry Report 2021, the total amount raised in Australia across all crowdfunding platforms climbed from $28.3 million to $41 million in 2021.

The equity crowdfunding research also identified which industries have outperformed since 2017, with Fintech, alcohol, and food topping the list. 

Here are the top six startups in terms of funding that made their mark in 2021:

Rokt (A$458m)

Rokt, an Australian startup, raised A$458 million in Series E funding in December 2021, making it one of the largest venture capital raises ever for an Australian company.

Rokt, an AI-powered e-commerce and marketing tech platform founded in Australia in 2012 and led by former Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan, is an AI-powered e-commerce and marketing software platform. 

The technology optimises each transaction element, ensuring that each consumer receives the maximum value and relevance.

Canva (US$270m)

Canva’s valuation soared to $55 billion in September 2021, following a fresh capital injection of US$270 million. 

The round was led by investment firms T. Rowe Price, Franklin Templeton, Sequoia, Bessemer Venture Partners, Greenoaks Capital, Dragoneer, Felicis Ventures and Australian venture firms Blackbird Ventures and AirTree Ventures.

This round solidified Canva’s position as one of the world’s most valuable private software companies.

Canva’s freemium software was initially marketed as a tool for amateur designers or small businesses, but it currently has over 60 million monthly users. Canva is also used by over 500k paying teams, including American Airlines, CBRE, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, and Zoom.

Go1 (US$200m)

Australia-based Go1, an on-demand training and resource platform for educators raised US$200 million in a Series D fundraising round in July 2021.

The investment was led by new investor SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and AirTree Ventures, and Salesforce Ventures and boosts the company’s worth to more than $1 billion. 

Blue Cloud Ventures, Larsen Ventures, Tiger Global’s Scott Shleifer and John Curtius, and TEN13, as well as prior investors M12 – Microsoft’s venture fund – Madrona Venture Group, SEEK, and Y Combinator, participated in the round.

Airwallex (US$200m)

Airwallex, a fintech business based in Hong Kong and Melbourne, raised a $200 million Series E fundraising round at a $4 billion valuation in September 2021.

Lone Pine Capital led the investment, which also included prior funders 1835i Ventures, DST Global, Salesforce Ventures, and Sequoia Capital China. 

G Squared and Vetamer Capital Management, both of which are based in San Francisco,

Judo Bank ($174m)

Judo Bank, a small business-focused neobank, raised $174 million in June 2021, making it the third-largest SME lender in net lending growth. 

It surpassed three of the Big Four, with a loan book of $3.3 billion and a lending pipeline of $2.5 billion, and now trails only Commonwealth Bank and Macquarie. 

The fresh capital consists of $124 million in equity funding, including repeat support from 14 of the company’s top 20 investors. Judo’s total cash raised now stands at $1.2 billion, bringing its worth to $1.9 billion.

Octopus  Deploy (US$172.5m)

The bootstrapped software startup secured a US$172.5 million ($223 million) investment from US venture capital firm Insight Partners in April 2021. The company has been profitable since 2012. 

Octopus Deploy began as a side project for software developer Paul Stovell and his wife Sonia in 2011 but quickly grew into a viable business in 2012. Since then, the company has steadily expanded, employing more than 100 employees.

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Yajush Gupta

Yajush Gupta

Yajush is a journalist at Dynamic Business. He previously worked with Reuters as a business correspondent and holds a postgrad degree in print journalism.

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