Frequently asked questions
What stage we invest
Is it ever too early to contact Sapien about funding?
We love to meet ambitious founders as early as possible.
If your idea is going to change the world, we want to hear from you.
Roughly 1/4 of our investments are pre-revenue, so we'd love the opportunity to hear from you at the idea phase.
How should I get in touch with you if I’m looking for funding?
We know that world-changing ideas can come from anywhere. And that ambitious founders do things completely differently to what’s been done before.
We review every opportunity (warm or cold). The best ways to reach us are:
Via a warm intro - this always helps to give more context :)
DM one of us on socials / emails
By email at firstname.lastname@example.org
By the "Get investment" link on our website
At what stage do you invest?
As early as we can! Usually we first invest in the low hundreds of thousands of dollars. Then we regularly participate in series A and B rounds as a company proves its vision.
We want to believe in the business before anyone else. Nearly all of our first investments are pre-product and pre-revenue.
None of the Sapien partners are allowed to use the excuse of “it’s too early for us”.
I am pre-product and pre-revenue. Will you invest?
We love to invest pre-product and pre-revenue and most of our first cheque investments fit this bill. Of course, it is not a feature that you have no product or no revenue and it’s always better to have both.
Can you create something with nothing? Can you prove that even for a tiny group of people, their love of your product and what you believe in is true?
Does Sapien only invest in particular sectors?
First and foremost. We focus on backing exceptional people going after world-changing market opportunities. We invest across sectors.
We start with the founding team:
Then we look at the problem being solved:
Do you have deep domain expertise?
A visceral connection to the problem?
Are you making it your life’s work to try and solve it?
Is your vision changing the game?
Can you evangelise your vision to attract future capital and exceptional hires?
Do you have the commercial hustle and resiliency to pivot if needed?
And the self-awareness to constantly adapt?
Is it a big problem for a large customer market?
Are your execution processes (growth, distribution) scalable?
Can you build a category defining business?
Does your market have near unlimited potential?
Are there any industries that Sapien won’t invest in?
Tobacco, drugs, alcohol, porn, gambling or weapons - they aren’t for us.
Does Sapien invest in crypto?
Yes we do. Blockchain is one of the most fundamental innovations we’ve seen in recent years and we had a successful ICO raise for one of our portfolio company and a handful of our partners sits on Blockchain Associations locally and internationally.
What qualities do you look for in a founding team?
We invest in strengths, not the absence of weaknesses. We love meeting founders with:
Deep domain expertise. A visceral connection to the problem. Making it their life’s work to solve. As a student Mel Perkins was frustrated by how long it took to learn how to use mainstream design software. Canva now has 15 million users, across 190+ countries, and more than 1 billion designs have been created.
The ability to evangelise their vision to attract future capital and exceptional hires. Nathan and Michael at Athena started with a vision to give Australian’s access to more affordable home loans. Before the product had even launched they’d secured $40m in funding.
The commercial hustle and resiliency to pivot if needed.
The self-awareness to constantly adapt in a rapidly changing environment.
Does Sapien invest in companies located outside of Australia or New Zealand?
The majority of our partnerships are with Australian and New Zealand entrepreneurs as that’s where we can add the most value - helping build your team, connecting you with other founders, and providing access to expertise.
However, from time to time we come across companies that have proven themselves as market leaders globally and they’re looking for our help to expand into the Australian market.
When those companies are also in a space that’s particularly relevant to Australia (like Linqto) - then it’s a no-brainer for us to get involved.
How much do you usually invest in a new company?
For an initial investment in an early stage company we typically invest somewhere between $200k to $5m. For later stage rounds we can invest up to $20m+.
We also reserve a large part of our funds to support our companies in subsequent funding rounds.
We are one of the only Australian VCs that has the scale to support you through each stage of your funding journey.
Do you target a certain ownership stake in the business?
For the right business we can be as flexible as you need us to be. But we need to have enough of an ownership stake to dedicate meaningful time to your business when you need us to the most. All of our investments are minority stakes. We want you to be in control.
Do you always need to be the lead on a new investment?
No. We’re happy to co-invest with other great investors who can bring value to the table and have a strong track record of doing so.
Do Sapien Venture's partners take board seats?
If we are writing a large cheque and/or leading your round, it’s likely that we will ask to be involved at the board level. Founders typically want to use our experience and track record to help them anticipate the challenges to come.
Though we don’t leave our impact just for the formal meetings - we’re always available to work through challenges when you need us.
Do we add any value at Sapien Ventures?
We are a community-driven VC. Sapien Ventures is part of Sapien Group which has other subsidiaries from Asset Management to Wealth Management and the Largest Angel Investor network in the world - Keiretsu Forum. Sapien Group runs Keiretsu Forum Australasia and New Zealand which is part of Keiretsu Forum Global. At the centre of everything we do is our community.
Our investor network is equally powerful and we work hard to make them work for you. Then there is nCubation- our mentor-driven accelerator ran together with our partners that has over 200 founders and more than 100 mentors and cohorts running annually in Jakarta, Melbourne, Sydney and soon Shanghai. Each year you’ll see programs and initiatives that aim to draw all of these people together for learning, exploring and fun.
As a Sapien backed founder, you’ll receive first invitations to a range of activities and community events, from educational workshops to casual drinks. Our foundational belief is that founders can help other founders and our whole company is built around this simple philosophy.