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CEO and Founder of Zetaris offers tips for capital raising

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CEO and Founder of Zetaris offers tips for capital raising

With the pandemic, the Russia/Ukraine conflict and weakened supply chains tightening the market and making funding even more competitive for Australian startups to secure, many founders covet international funding and are chasing the holy grail of large international investments. 

After decades of senior executive roles as an enterprise-level technology executive and CEO, I spotted a gap. I injected my own personal capital, assembled a small team of software engineers in my garage and created the disruptive decentralised data platform and data mesh for enterprise reporting and analytics. Early on, I couldn’t secure any funding in Australia or overseas, so I had to bootstrap.

Six years later, we closed a $30 million round, securing backing from CIA-backed In-Q-Tel, Exto Partners, Vulpes Ventures Singapore, 72 Capital and others. Zetaris is now valued at $150 million. 

Here are my 5 top tips that I wish someone had told me before I embarked on the journey:

Understand your target VCs

Start with clear criteria for the VCs you want to attract. The right VCs are active and aligned in your sector and understand your industry. They should have the capacity to meet your current funding needs and, if this is the start of your finding journey, ensure they can participate in future rounds if that’s a requirement. 

Great VCs do more than provide funds. They can be a source of strategic thinking, networking and future funding either directly or by attracting other investors. Importantly, they should feel like good business partners that don’t try to “over-manage” you. It’s a fine balance that you are looking for. An investor is your most important business partner and should be far more valuable to you than just their money.

Do your homework so you understand how your target VCs view the world, what they invest in and their vision of the future. Then highlight how your product or solution supports and enhances their vision. Pitch to them in a way that shows that you are a perfect fit for their objectives and show them a view of how the market will evolve towards your vision in the future. It’s not a one size fits all approach. You need to do your homework and tailor your message and positioning. 

Your pitch deck must highlight your vision and road map, the expertise of your team and the financial model. It’s very important to understand that VCs see thousands of pitch decks yearly. Yours needs to stand out from the pile sitting on their desk. Here is an example of some of the pitch decks that were used by many great brands in the technology sector. Another little trick I learned with the pitch deck was to develop a one-page quick summary of the document and put that into your introductory email.

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Open an office near your target VCs

You can’t hope to secure the attention of international investors from the other side of the world. You need to go and open an office near them and be present on the ground in their local market. Too many Aussie founders don’t make the sacrifice to go and rattle the tin personally. They think that hiring a Country Manager will be the magic that makes it happen. It isn’t. Nobody but you as the founder understands the vision and the mission and has the passion and commitment to drive it as you do. 

Remember, as an Aussie company; you’re already walking 10 feet behind the startups that are pitching to them in their own country. You have to show them how you’re addressing the white space and have a serious point of difference. This does come at a high personal cost; I am the father of four children, and it isn’t the easy path to tread, but it is the only one that is most effective and can short circuit conversion. 

Get involved with Austrade 

Austrade is an amazing resource; you need to engage with them and be proactive. They will help you get connected in Aussie networking groups overseas and help you understand the groups that will influence key investors, help you penetrate their networks and meet people that the VCs listen to. You have to immerse yourself in the local ecosystem and influence many people – buzz spreads faster when you’re on the ground. 

Invest in Gartner and Forrester early 

One of my best decisions was to partner early on with Gartner and Forrester. They helped immensely to put us on the radar of the right investors that could help fuel our growth. Analysts can help target investors who have not heard about what you’re doing and get them comfortable with your proposition. Buy that membership and leverage their networks. 

Choose the right advisors 

It is crucial to do due diligence on potential advisors. There are some great ones out there, but inexperienced founders can fall prey to advisors that are charlatans, who will take your money and provide poor advice. Examine their track record with similar startups and assess if they really have the market knowledge to advise you correctly.

Your board members, advisory board and current shareholder community, are critically valuable advisors who can provide you with connections to overseas investors. Don’t take them for granted; have a plan to cultivate relationships that translate to trust-based advice and recommendations.

Securing foreign investment isn’t a short-term activity. It might take more than a year from when you start having the initial conversations. VCs are savvy and wait to get to know you. They want to understand your long-term vision or if you’re burning capital and are desperate and about to go broke in six months. Once you get their attention, you must be very purposeful in building the right optics over time. They’re building a database on you following every discussion, so you have to constantly excite them and build on the momentum by continuing to demonstrate customer acquisition, potential and growth. 

Australian startups can revolutionise the world. The innovation we are creating in this country is groundbreaking. We are creating new ways to analyse data, cybersecurity advancements, and green technologies that can help us and the world reduce carbon emissions and forge new frontiers through medical breakthroughs. There has never been a more exciting time to be an Aussie founder and to push our ideas onto the global stage. 

Keep up to date with our stories on LinkedInTwitterFacebook and Instagram.

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

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Michigan farmworker diagnosed with bird flu, becoming 2nd US case tied to dairy cows

A Michigan dairy worker has been diagnosed with bird flu — the second human case associated with an outbreak in U.S. dairy cows.

The male worker had been in contact with cows at a farm with infected animals. He experienced mild eye symptoms and has recovered, U.S. and Michigan health officials said in announcing the case Wednesday.

A nasal swab from the person tested negative for the virus, but an eye swab tested Tuesday was positive for bird flu, “indicating an eye infection,” U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said.

The worker developed a “gritty feeling” in his eye earlier this month but it was a “very mild case,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, Michigan’s chief medical executive. He was not treated with oseltamivir, a medication advised for treating bird flu, she said.

The risk to the public remains low, but farmworkers exposed to infected animals are at higher risk, health officials said. They said those workers should be offered protective equipment, especially for their eyes.

Health officials say they do not know if the Michigan farmworker was wearing protective eyewear, but an investigation is continuing.

In late March, a farmworker in Texas was diagnosed in what officials called the first known instance globally of a person catching this version of bird flu from a mammal. That patient reported only eye inflammation and recovered.

Since 2020, a bird flu virus has been spreading among more animal species — including dogs, cats, skunks, bears and even seals and porpoises — in scores of countries.

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The detection in U.S. livestock earlier this year was an unexpected twist that sparked questions about food safety and whether it would start spreading among humans.

That hasn’t happened, although there’s been a steady increase of reported infections in cows. As of Wednesday, the virus had been confirmed in 51 dairy herds in nine states, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department. Fifteen of the herds were in Michigan.

The CDC’s Dr. Nirav Shah said the case was “not unexpected” and it’s possible more infections could be diagnosed in people who work around infected cows.

U.S. officials said they had tested 40 people since the first cow cases were discovered in late March. Michigan has tested 35 of them, Bagdasarian told The Associated Press in an interview.

Shah praised Michigan officials for actively monitoring farmworkers. He said health officials there have been sending daily text messages to workers exposed to infected cows asking about possible symptoms, and that the effort helped officials catch this infection. He said no other workers had reported symptoms.

That’s encouraging news, said Michael Osterholm, a University of Minnesota epidemiologist who has studied bird flu for decades. There’s no sign to date that the virus is causing flu-like illness or that it is spreading among people.

“If we had four or five people seriously ill with respiratory illness, we would be picking that up,” he said.

The virus has been found in high levels in the raw milk of infected cows, but government officials say pasteurized products sold in grocery stores are safe because heat treatment has been confirmed to kill the virus.

The new case marks the third time a person in the United States has been diagnosed with what’s known as Type A H5N1 virus. In 2022, a prison inmate in a work program picked it up while killing infected birds at a poultry farm in Montrose County, Colorado. His only symptom was fatigue, and he recovered. That predated the virus’s appearance in cows.

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The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

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At collapsed Baltimore bridge, focus shifts to the weighty job of removing the massive structure

BALTIMORE (AP) — Teams of engineers worked Saturday on the intricate process of cutting and lifting the first section of twisted steel from the collapsed Francis Scott Key Bridge, which crumpled into the Patapsco River this week after a massive cargo ship crashed into one of its supports.

Sparks could be seen flying from a section of bent and crumpled steel in the afternoon, and video released by officials in the evening showed demolition crews using a cutting torch to slice through the thick beams. The joint incident command said in a statement that the work was being done on the top of the north side of the collapsed structure.

Crews were carefully measuring and cutting the steel from the broken bridge before attaching straps so it can be lifted onto a barge and floated away, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Shannon Gilreath said.

Seven floating cranes — including a massive one capable of lifting 1,000 tons — 10 tugboats, nine barges, eight salvage vessels and five Coast Guard boats were on site in the water southeast of Baltimore.

Each movement affects what happens next and ultimately how long it will take to remove all the debris and reopen the ship channel and the blocked Port of Baltimore, Maryland Gov. Wes Moore said.

“I cannot stress enough how important today and the first movement of this bridge and of the wreckage is. This is going to be a remarkably complicated process,” Moore said.

Undeterred by the chilly morning weather, longtime Baltimore resident Randy Lichtenberg and others took cellphone photos or just quietly looked at the broken pieces of the bridge, which including its steel trusses weigh as much as 4,000 tons.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that water. It’s got to be cold. It’s a tough job,” Lichtenberg said from a spot on the river called Sparrows Point.

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The shock of waking up Tuesday morning to video of what he called an iconic part of the Baltimore skyline falling into the water has given way to sadness.

“It never hits you that quickly. It’s just unbelievable,” Lichtenberg said.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

One of the first goals for crews on the water is to get a smaller auxiliary ship channel open so tugboats and other small barges can move freely. Crews also want to stabilize the site so divers can resume searching for four missing workers who are presumed dead.

Two other workers were rescued from the water in the hours following the bridge collapse, and the bodies of two more were recovered from a pickup truck that fell and was submerged in the river. They had been filling potholes on the bridge and while police were able to stop vehicle traffic after the ship called in a mayday, they could not get to the construction workers, who were from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

The crew of the cargo ship Dali, which is managed by Synergy Marine Group, remained on board with the debris from the bridge around it, and were safe and were being interviewed. They are keeping the ship running as they will be needed to get it out of the channel once more debris has been removed.

The vessel is owned by Grace Ocean Private Ltd. and was chartered by Danish shipping giant Maersk.

The collision and collapse appeared to be an accident that came after the ship lost power. Federal and state investigators are still trying to determine why.

Assuaging concern about possible pollution from the crash, Adam Ortiz, the Environmental Protection Agency’s mid-Atlantic Regional Administrator, said there was no indication in the water of active releases from the ship or materials hazardous to human health.

REBUILDING

Officials are also trying to figure out how to handle the economic impact of a closed port and the severing of a major highway link. The bridge was completed in 1977 and carried Interstate 695 around southeast Baltimore.

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Maryland transportation officials are planning to rebuild the bridge, promising to consider innovative designs or building materials to hopefully shorten a project that could take years.

President Joe Biden’s administration has approved $60 million in immediate aid and promised the federal government will pay the full cost to rebuild.

Ship traffic at the Port of Baltimore remains suspended, but the Maryland Port Administration said trucks were still being processed at marine terminals.

The loss of a road that carried 30,000 vehicles a day and the port disruption will affect not only thousands of dockworkers and commuters, but also U.S. consumers, who are likely to feel the impact of shipping delays. The port handles more cars and more farm equipment than any other U.S. facility.

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Collins reported from Columbia, South Carolina. Associated Press writers Sarah Brumfield in Washington, D.C.; Kristin M. Hall in Nashville, Tennessee; Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tennessee; and Lisa Baumann in Bellingham, Washington, contributed.

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

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The Texas attorney general is investigating a key Boeing supplier and asking about diversity

DALLAS (AP) — The Texas attorney general has opened an investigation into a key Boeing supplier that is already facing scrutiny from federal regulators over quality of parts that it provides to the aircraft maker.

The office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said it began looking into Spirit AeroSystems because of “apparent manufacturing defects” in parts that “have led to numerous concerning or dangerous incidents.”

In a statement Friday, a Spirit spokesman said, “While we do not comment on investigations, Spirit is wholly focused on providing the highest quality products to all our customers, to include the Boeing Company.”

Paxton asked the Wichita, Kansas-based supplier to turn over documents produced since the start of 2022 about communication with investors and Boeing about flaws in parts and corrective steps the company took.

The request goes into detail in seeking internal discussions around Spirit’s efforts to create a diverse workforce “and whether those commitments are unlawful or are compromising the company’s manufacturing processes.” Paxton asked for a breakdown of Spirit’s workforce by race, sexual orientation and other factors, and whether the makeup has changed over time.

Since a Spirit-made door-plug panel blew off an Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 Max in January, some conservatives have tried to link aviation safety to diversity at manufacturers.

Paxton is a conservative Republican who this week agreed to pay $271,000 in restitution to victims and take 15 hours of training in legal ethics to settle felony charges of securities fraud. Paxton did not admit wrongdoing in the 9-year-old case.

The Federal Aviation Administration launched an investigation into Boeing Spirit after the Alaska Airlines incident. An FAA audit of manufacturing procedures in Spirit’s factory gave the company failing grades in seven of 13 areas.

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Boeing is in talks to buy back Spirit, which it spun off nearly 20 years ago, as part of a plan to tighten oversight of manufacturing in its supply chain.

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