On March 15 2021, we were sitting around a waiting room, anxiously anticipating the arrival of baby AfterWork. Today is our first birthday; so we thought we’d take some time to reflect on our weird and wonderful first year of existence.
AfterWork Ventures had a long gestation period. The five of us - Adrian, Alex, Mike, Adam, and Dave - first began angel investing together in 2017. We picked some winners (huzzah for Car Next Door, Freetrade, Cover Genius, and Onfido) and some losers too (RIP Xinja).
We affectionately called our project AfterWork Ventures - a nod to the fact that instead of catching up for drinks after work, we’d catch up to discuss investment opportunities.
Building on our successful track record as angels, in November 2019 we raised a micro-fund from very first community members, and started writing small cheques into local startups. Although our cheques were small, we took our work extremely seriously - taking time to understand businesses deeply and earn the respect of founders.
By early 2021, we had built the conviction to turn AfterWork into our life’s work. We were finally ready to come out of our safe, warm space in utero…
We found our lungs
On March 15 2021, our birth was announced on page 22 of the Australian Financial Review.
On Sunday nights, when most office workers are cocooning in a nest of blankets consuming the output of the Netflix algorithm, a motley crew of around 40 entrepreneurs, consultants, lawyers and finance kids are huddling around a Zoom call, debating the merits of various start-ups. - Natasha Gillezeau, AFR
We were blown away by the reception. Tech and startup operators reached out to us in droves - not only wanting to join our community, but also invest in our fund. The first portion of our fund was collectively anchored by this community of operators and founders. They built conviction to invest, and then brought others along for the ride.
Here is a visualisation of the investors in our first close: the purple dots are warm introductions; the green dots reached out to us; and the red dots are founders we’ve backed, who in turn decided to back us.
Before we knew it, we had our $10 million first close within 155 days of our launch.
We sat up straight
As a brand new fund, we knew we had to put in the hard yards to convince the best founders to let us invest. We made a commitment to a process that was transparent and value-adding, even if we were to say no.
To this end, we’ve made a pitch deck for founders that clearly lays out our value proposition and investment process. Check it out here! If you’re an early-stage startup looking for investment, do get in touch.
We made some friends
Since August, we’ve become fast friends with fourteen other newborns:
It’s been fun growing up alongside our friends… some are growing much faster than us!
We contemplated adulthood
Children grow up so fast these days, and VC funds are no exception. We started to prepare for the inevitability of adulthood - we got an accountant, hedged against housing affordability, thought about death, thought about work, thought about sex, leased an office space, did some renovations, and started building our professional network on LinkedIn (thank you to our five thousand followers for your support).
We brought people together
It’s often said that babies bring families together. We’re glad we could do our part in bringing together the extended family:
We made some mess
Over the year, we had some oopsies too. We accidentally deleted 100 Substack followers (if this was you, please consider resubscribing 🥺👉👈), fumbled some presentations, killed some houseplants, and battled a termite infestation.
If you’re a termite exterminator, please -
We’re excited to keep growing at pace
If humans kept growing at the pace they do as babies, they’d be the height of the moon. Well - we’re shooting for the Kuiper Belt.
On the anniversary of our launch, we’re beyond excited to launch Astronauts AfterWork - our community-led NFT project, which is officially now minting for 2 SOL.
There are no passengers on spaceship AfterWork—everyone is crew. Since inception, the AfterWork community has helped us to punch above our weight – in the quality of our deal flow, the incisiveness of our due diligence, and the breadth of support we can offer to our portfolio companies.
The Astronauts AfterWork NFT project aims to share ownership, and stewardship, of the community with our loyal crew members.
We can’t overstate how excited we are to grow bring a broader group of people into the AfterNauts community via this project. Hop on board for our second revolution around the sun - we can’t wait to meet you.
With much gratitude,