While RAC’s $3M BetterLabs fund was only launched officially last night, it turns out the organisation had had its eye on one of Perth’s most prominent startups for some time…
A new player is in town, and it wants to invest in your startup.
That was the message from last night’s public launch of the newly created BetterLabs Ventures, a $3M seed capital fund set up by the RAC and run by seasoned entrepreneur and investor Derek Gerrard.
Not a bad first cab off the rank, you might say.
Innovation in its Veins
RAC has been wracking up a deserved reputation as an innovator, since its beginnings as a motoring organisation in 1905. They put up the first sign posts and published the first road maps in those early days. Today, they have over a million members.
Recent initiatives such as tech accelerator RAC Seedspark (2014) and the autonomous vehicle RAC Intellibus ploughing the South Perth foreshore (since 2016) have seen the 113 year old member organisation continue to push the boundaries.
With the launch of the BetterLabs Ventures fund, RAC is literally putting its money where its mouth is, making available a pot of $3M to be invested across 10 or so worthy WA startup companies over the next couple of years.
An Entrepreneur To Guide Them
As RAC’s Entrepreneur-In-Residence and leader of the BetterLabs, Derek Gerrard took pains to mention that the team are primed and ready to invest in very early stage startups and even pre-revenue companies, which should help fill a gaping hole in the Perth funding market.
“Seed funding is vital in supporting the growth journey of a startup, so I’m excited to be a part of launching the BetterLabs Venture Fund,” he said.
“Innovation is part of our future and I’m looking forward to finding the right people with the right ideas, so we can work with to help make WA a better place.”
Why Not Perth?
Terry Agnew, the (soon to be departing) Group CEO of RAC, has spearheaded the company’s innovation charter in his 17 years at the helm.
After admitting his surprise at the lack of jeans and hoodies in the room for a startup event – startups weren’t in the room but startup ‘connectors’ and advisers were – he challenged the audience to answer the question: if there’s to be a tech centre rivalling others, why not Perth?
It’s a fair point that few the room would have disagreed with.
A few more such moves from some inspired corporates in town and who knows what could happen? This not-so-little mining town might just find itself on the brink of a major shift towards becoming the tech hub it has the potential to be.
And while we don’t like to hope against hope, the BetterLabs fund certainly feels like a step – certainly not the first and hopefully not the last – in the right direction.
The BetterLabs Venture Fund will initially build its portfolio of companies focused around six key streams that RAC has identified as being strongly aligned with its capabilities:
- Clean Tech: Technology that enables sustainable living and commuting;
- Member Community: Innovation that generates deeper connections, fosters collaboration and builds meaningful community;
- Third Age: Opportunities that support the transition of the aging population into their next stage of life;
- Life, Work & Money: Technology that supports the new ways we will design life and structure our work and money;
- Mobility of The Future: Innovation that supports the new ways we will get around; and
- Next Gen Insurance: Technology that supports the new models of insurance.
Applications for between $100,000 and $500,000 seed capital are now invited – willing applicants should head on over to the BetterLabs website for more information and to apply.
FEATURE IMAGE: Derek Gerrard launching the BetterLabs Ventures at the Flour Factory last night.