Side Stage Ventures secures $15 million for its launch fund with support from Linktree, Airtasker

side stage ventures

Ben Grabiner and Markus Kahlbetzer from Side Stage Ventures. Source: Supplied

Side Stage Ventures has closed on the first $15 million of a new fund that is being supported from the founders of Airtasker, Linktree and Go1.

Led by Ben Grabiner (Platoon) and Markus Kahlbetzer (BrickX, BridgeLane), Side Stage Ventures started in 2022 as a collective of founders aiming to invest in entrepreneurs at the earliest stage of their company’s journey.

They are joined by Alex and Anthony Zaccaria (Linktree), Matt Allen (Tractor Ventures) and Jaddan Comerford (Unified Music).

This initial fund has been backed by Airtasker co-founder Tim Fung, Go1 co-founder Andrew Barnes, and UK-based venture fund LocalGlobe.

According to Side Stage, part of the inspiration behind the fund was a funding gap for companies innovating in the tech and creative industries, even during the 2021-22 funding boom.

“Our background in the creative arts means we are used to putting talent in the spotlight,” Linktree co-founder Anthony Zaccaria said at the time.

Since then it has invested in startups in Australia and overseas, including Heaps Normal, Mr Yum and EQL.

“We’re a collective of founders building the fund we wish we had when we were starting out,” Ben Grabiner said.

“As founders ourselves, we have been through the highs and lows of building companies and we’re super focused on building the best possible offering and community for the founders that we back.

Now Side Stage has taken steps to move beyond the collective and become a fund, with aims to hit $30 million for its first fund. Having just completed its first close at $15 million, it has confirmed it will invest $500,000 in seed funding to early-stage startups to help scale their businesses.

The fresh fund has already invested in three startups, including the online pain management platform, More Good Days.

“The success of the syndicate showed us just how valuable it can be to have founders on the cap table and we know we can help many more entrepreneurs build and scale great ideas, with this new fund,” Grabiner said.

Despite the stark change in the VC ecosystem since first launching in 2022, Side Stage Ventures is confident in Australian founders and what is being built in our own backyard.

“The start-up ecosystem in Australia is ripe with innovation, yet the potential is still ahead of us. We’ve seen several category-leading companies being built here, presenting a breeding ground for future founders,” Markus Kahlbetzer said.

“We have world-class talent, a burgeoning startup ecosystem, government support and plenty of other competitive advantages in a post-COVID world that can transform Australia into a world-leading innovation hub. There has never been a better time to build and invest in Australia than now.”


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