SingTel, Optus seed fund for startups announces round two

SingTel and Optus announced a second round of funding for Australian startups under the companies’ Innov8 seed program.

In November, Optus and Innov8—SingTel’s corporate venture capital fund—announced that it would invest in two Melbourne-based startups, 121cast and Venuemob. The seed program launched in June last year, provides up to $250,000 for each startup selected for investment.

Besides cash, the seed program provides startups with mentoring, networking and dedicated co-working spaces. Startups can reach Optus’ Australian customer base and also potentially expand into Asia.

The companies began accepting applications for “Season 2” of the seed program today. The application window closes at 9pm on 4 February. About 10 to 12 shortlisted applicants will be announced 20 February. Those applicants will pitch their business plans at an event on 26 February, and final investment negotiations will take place in March and April.

Optus wrote on the Innov8 blog that the program’s second iteration would run similarly to the first, but with “slight changes” to the application process.

The seed program will now accept applications through online global startup community F6S instead of receiving them directly. “We think this way we’ll be able to review applications faster and identify those outstanding Australian startups that best suit our Program,” Optus said.

Optus also no longer requires startups to acquire a reference from a SingTel/Optus partner, it said. Instead, it wants two references who are “familiar with the startup’s business and also have relevant experience to be able to provide a reference.”

The co-founder of Sydney-based startup Pocketbook said recently that the growing number of seed funds like Innov8 are cause for optimism among Australian startups.

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