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The Blackbird Ventures team

Driven by its passion to build and strengthen the Australian startup ecosystem, Blackbird Ventures invests in Australians with big dreams to make a difference in the world and big ideas about how to get there.

Blackbird Ventures invests in a range of Australian startups – from software to space. It was founded in 2012, sparked by the surge in startup activity in Australia and by the lack of venture capital available at that time. It has grown from a team of 3 people to more than 70 today, with over 50% women.

As of April 2023, Blackbird Ventures manages 5 early stage venture capital limited partnerships (ESVCLPs), with combined net assets of $1.6 billion. It provides equity capital for all stages of startup companies, including seed (ideas) stage and Series A (early growth) stage.

Blackbird Ventures currently has more than 300 investors involved in its partnerships. These are split between individuals, most of whom are tech founders; and institutions such as Australian Super, Hostplus, HESTA, Telstra Super and the Future Fund.

Blackbird Ventures has invested funds in over 100 companies. These are typically high-tech startups, focusing on software and frontier technologies such as autonomous vehicles, robotics, hardware and the commercial space industry.

Canva

One investee company is Canva, a software business headquartered in Sydney. Canva offers an online design and publishing tool with a mission to empower everyone in the world to design anything and publish everywhere. The platform provides access to millions of photos, graphics and fonts, attracting professional designers and amateurs alike.

Blackbird Ventures first invested in Canva in 2013 at the seed stage, providing the initial capital to get it off the ground. This first investment of $250,000 has since grown to more than $650 million.

Early stage investment has allowed Canva to grow. From its founding in 2013, it has been able to expand to more than 3,500 employees.

As of April 2023, its platform is being used by more than 125 million people each month. This success has enabled Canva to attract further capital from global investors. It now has products for schools and workplaces as well as individual users.

Blackbird Ventures has seen an excellent return on its investment in Canva. Alongside other investments, this has helped the firm to grow and raise more capital for further funds. Blackbird Ventures also shares in Canva’s continued success. The Canva founders are highly active in the startup community, helping the next generation of founders.

Features

  • Blackbird Ventures manages 5 ESVCLP funds with net assets of $1.6 billion combined, and has invested in over 100 companies.
  • Blackbird Ventures first invested in the online design and publishing tool Canva in 2013 at the seed stage, providing the initial capital to get them off the ground.
  • Canva has active monthly users across 190 countries, and has been used to create more than 15 billion designs.
  • Canva’s team has grown to more 3,500 people.

How the Australian Government has helped

The Australian Government’s ESVCLP program provides tax concessions that help venture capital firms like Blackbird Ventures attract investors. ESVCLPs provide great benefits for startup companies, most significantly the capital necessary to get their business off the ground. Startup companies also benefit from the network the partnership brings, with access to other similar minded companies and to the experience investors bring.

Blackbird Ventures believes that the ESVCLP program ultimately attracts investment to Australia, creating a local community of tech founders. The companies that operate within this community are recognised and respected on the global stage.

Further information

Blackbird Ventures has assisted Canva through its funds registered under the Australian Government’s Early Stage Venture Capital Limited Partnerships (ESVCLP) program.

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