Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships case study: Blackbird Ventures

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Publication Date: 
October 2020
Case study from: Industry Innovation and Science Australia annual reports

Blackbird Ventures was founded in 2012.

It responded to the:

  • surge in start-up activity in Australia
  • lack of venture capital available at that time

Blackbird Ventures has grown from a team of three people in 2012 to 12 today.

The company now manages three Early Stage Venture Captial Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP) with combined capital of $194 million. It also managers many other funds.

It provides equity capital for all stages of start-up companies. This includes seed – ideas stage and series A – early growth stage.

Blackbird Ventures currently has 110 investors involved in their partnerships.

It's investors are individuals, most of whom are tech-founders. As well as institutions such as:

  • Cisco
  • Hostplus
  • First State
  • the Future Fund

Blackbird Ventures has invested funds in over 100 companies.

These companies are high-tech start-ups. Most of them are focusing on software and frontier technologies such as:

  • autonomous vehicles
  • robotics
  • the commercial space industry

One investee company is Canva, a software business based in Sydney.

Canva offers a graphic design website/app. The app provides an intuitive drag-and-drop type user experience. It changed graphic design globally. The platform offers millions of photos, graphics and fonts. This attracts both professional designers and amateurs.

Blackbird Ventures first invested in Canva in 2013 at their seed stage. It provided capital to get them off the ground. Blackbird Ventures initially invested $250,000 in Canva. This has grown into more than $100 million.

This investment has allowed Canva to grow. Since its founding in 2012, Canva has been able to expand its team to over 600 people. Canva’s platform is now used by tens of millions of people monthly.

In 2018, Canva became one of Australia’s tech unicorns as it reached over one billion dollars in market value. This success has allowed Canva to attract further capital from global investors.

Investing in Canva saw significant return for Blackbird Ventures. This helped to raise more capital for another fund. Blackbird Ventures continues to share in Canva’s’ success.

The Canva founders are active in the start-up community. They work to help the next generation of founders.

How the Government has helped

The ESVCLP program has helped Blackbird Ventures attract investors. This is due to the tax concessions the program provides.

The ESVCLP program provides great benefits for start-up companies. Most significantly, the capital necessary to get their business off the ground. The start-up companies also benefit from the networks the partnership bring. This provides them with access to other similar minded companies and experienced investors.

Blackbird Ventures believes the ESVCLP program ultimately attracts investment to Australia. It creates a local community of tech founders. The companies within this community get recognition and respect on the global stage.

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