Innovation Bay’s Goals for 2021

Co-founder Ian Gardiner gives a rundown of the goals Innovation Bay has set for 2021 and explains a major shift for the business.

After a bit of a rest and recharge in the wake of a very disruptive yet rewarding 2020, the Innovation Bay team and I are geared up for a year full of new, exciting challenges. As my cofounder Phaedon explained in our 2020 Year in Review post, Innovation Bay is shifting much of our focus to memberships in 2021. Of course, we will still host events for the wider startup community but the frequency will be dialled back a bit so that the team can curate unique experiences and cultivate meaningful connections within our 4 membership clubs, Horizon for angel investors, Aurora for venture capital investors, Summit for Series A+ founders and Canopy for seed-stage founders.

Some major changes to Innovation Bay are underway but our mission remains constant; Innovation Bay exists to support founders on their journey from idea to IPO and beyond. No matter how we grow and change, founders will always remain our driving force. The shift to a membership model will allow us to spark deeper connections within key pockets of the startup ecosystem. The relationships and experiences facilitated by our memberships will generate positive outcomes for the entire ecosystem, including higher levels of investment in early-stage companies, founder education and empowerment and a more interconnected, supportive venture investment community.

In the spirit of openness and accountability, I would like to share the 8 major goals Innovation Bay is striving to achieve in 2021:

1. Enable Australia-wide access to our events.

Going virtual throughout 2020 allowed us to engage with our existing base, but importantly, also grew our community across the country. We are delighted that we can return to interacting with the community face-to-face at in person events, but want to continue to enable open access to many of our events. In 2021, we will host a hybrid breakfast event each month which will feature an in-person audience and also be broadcasted virtually.

2. Grow our membership offerings.

If 2020 was Innovation Bay’s year of online events, 2021 will be the year of memberships. Last year we grew Summit, our membership for Series A+ founders, and launched two memberships for investors, Horizon for angel investors and Aurora for venture investors. Later this year we will launch an additional membership, Canopy for early stage founders, and further develop our existing memberships through a full programme of tailored, impactful events and the recruitment of talented, diverse new members.

3. Connect seed-stage founders with Horizon.

We’ve assembled Horizon investment groups for angels in Sydney and Melbourne and throughout the year, Innovation Bay will continually be on the lookout for talented founders to meet with Horizon to pitch and network. We will also be launching Horizon into Adelaide this year too — SA has a thriving ecosystem and a somewhat latent angel community. We are aiming to see at least $5 million invested into these “Horizon” startups over the course of the year through our events.

4. Take Summit to new heights.

Summit is our membership tailored for Series A+ founders. In 2021 we will continue to grow the club with new, diverse members and amp up the experiences for the members, including our first-ever 3-day event for Summit where we hope to forge even stronger connections, elicit important peer-to-peer learning and make some memories.

5. Continue our venture capital community building via Aurora and Venture Down Under.

We believe a better-connected venture capital community will reap better outcomes and more opportunities for the whole ecosystem. To bring together Australia and New Zealand’s venture capitalists to bond and reflect on the industry, we will run a programme of tailored events, host an annual conference, and encourage member-led initiatives that improve access, inclusion, and ultimately the overall quality of the venture community in ANZ.

6. Launch Canopy for seed-stage founders.

The early days of founding a startup are tough, tumultuous and sometimes quite lonely. By connecting early-stage founders with one another via a structured membership program, Canopy will make the journey of building and growing a company less isolated and more memorable. The team is quite excited about this launch — it’s going to be our biggest membership yet!

7. Expand the impact of Open the Pod Bay Doors.

Hosting our podcast is one of my favourite parts of the gig because I get to learn so much from our amazing guests. Phaedon and I get to chat with the best and the brightest founders and investors in the startup ecosystem and these people impart an abundance of wisdom and inspiration when telling their stories. There is much to be learned from those who have walked the path before us. In 2021, Innovation Bay will continue to grow Open the Pod Bay Doors listenership so that more and more people have access to the stories within the ecosystem that need to be heard.

8. Grow our memberships in New Zealand.

We love New Zealand. And we are constantly blown away by the quality of the founders and investors that we meet there. Our mission is to help founders from everywhere, and whilst Covid may have stopped us from getting on a plane to meet our Kiwi cousins, we would love to bring our community-building ethos and memberships to them over the course of this year.