Australian venture capital firm AirTree is opening its previously invite-only angel investor program, Explorer, in an effort to attract more women and others to create more diversity in the VC investment community.

The Explorer program was launched in 2020 to address declining angel investment. Since then, more than 100 Explorers have completed the program, including Aussie Angels founder Cheryl Mack, Tractor Ventures founder Matt Allen, Girl Geek Academy’s Sarah Moran, Uphemia’s Dom Pym and EarlyWork’s Dan Brockwell.

AirTree partner Jackie Vullinghs said the program provides access to one of the best angel networks in ANZ and exposes Explorers to AirTree’s Investment Committee meetings to see first-hand the process and considerations underlying their investment decisions.

Vullinghs said Explorer’s long-term goal is to create a more inclusive investment industry.

“While it is undeniably difficult now, we believe that many of tomorrow’s major tech companies will be born in these challenging times,” she said.

“As one of Australia’s largest VCs, we are in a privileged position where we can help grow the number of angel investors in the region, enhance the diversity of those angels and give new angels the confidence to make their first investments in startups at the beginning of their journey.”

The Explorer program is free and has a referral system where AirTree writes a check on behalf of an Explorer when they refer a deal they invest in.

Cheryl Mack said completing the program put her in touch with like-minded investors and helped plant the seed for her company, Aussie Angels.

“When I started the Explorer program, I had already started investing, but I was eager to meet other investors on a similar journey and I knew there was still so much to learn,” she said.

“The experience also helped plant the seed for Aussie Angels as quite a few of us were looking to bolster our capital but encountered hurdles in starting a syndicate. Then I realized there was a huge gap in the network-based financing market.”

The next program starts in September and will be offered in four ways: biweekly workshops, self-guided exercises, community catch-up and local events and pitch nights.

Applications close July 22. Details here.

  • Disclosure: Startup Daily editor Simon Thomsen has completed the AirTree Explorer program.

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