Why Antler is both a VC and a business partner

Updated: Sep 18, 2020

‘They don’t just act like a VC’: Aurelius co-founder shares how Antler supported her beyond investment

At Antler, we share a lot of information about how founders benefit from working with us when building their company, but the value that the VC firm provides portfolio companies beyond this phase is just as significant. This series aims to share the experiences of the founders, and what they have benefited from most.

“Nothing can prepare you for starting something from zero to one,” says Sally Krebs, co-founder and CEO of Aurelius, an application that connects and matches people fighting addiction to communities of support.

“I had experienced working for startups and understood the nuances that go with product market fit, market sizing, and figuring out where you should start, but I think the value that I found from Antler was actually putting some structure around that.”

Sally joined Antler in Sydney with a burning desire to build a better solution for people and their families looking for addiction recovery support.

“I came into Antler looking for the best minds and capital to help me solve something close to my heart.

“I looked at many different incubator programs and spoke to a whole bunch of VCs, and landed on choosing Antler.

“The problem that Antler solves, the foundations to find a founding team, but also to help validate ideas, identify blind spots and put a framework around how to execute… Antler helped me think a level deeper, and gave me the tools and the insights to guide me in the right direction, or advise whether I was working on something that wasn’t important for this stage of company building.”

While building her health tech business with Antler in Sydney, Sally said, the time each team receives with their dedicated coach, and access to the partners of the business is “really valuable”.

“The one-on-one and weekly coaching allows you to distill really succinctly what the biggest risks are for your business, how to overcome them, or how to approach de-risking the business to get to the next stage.

“Having coaching from people that have built and launched businesses before and who understand what you’re trying to achieve, what your blind spots are, what your weaknesses are, and then being able to do that really quickly with fast feedback loops that would normally take months on the outside was so important.

“And being able to call the partners, which I probably do too much, but they don’t just act like a VC. They genuinely act as a mentor. They have deep insight into me as an individual, but also what I see the vision for Aurelius being.”

Since building Aurelius with Antler, the team has secured $600K in pre-seed investment, from Antler and Tempus Partners, grown their team to four, and launched version one of their product with 18 users — all in just three months.

“Version one connects people with addiction to a community of support,” says Sally.

Early metrics from this product and its 18 users includes:

  • 80% of members are more supported since joining Aurelius

  • 40% of people said they’ve used drugs less since joining

  • 80% of people said they’ve learned something to help them in self management of their recovery for triggers and cravings

  • 75% of people are active daily

The team is looking to raise their seed round at some stage next year.

“We’ve closed off version one for now, because we gearing up for launch of version two.

“We have two pilot customers signed which will give us access to about 10,000 members. After the success of version one we are very confident about version two being 10x better.

“We also have a research partnership lined up to make sure everything we do is backed by science.”

Aurelius is also currently in discussions with two large private hospitals.

Either way, Sally Krebs was focused and relentless.

She saw a huge problem that demanded to be fixed, and she wasn’t going to rest until it was solved.

“I had complete conviction that I was going to solve this problem irrespective of Antler,” she says.

“Antler is extremely helpful and helped fast track that process, but I knew that I had a vision for Aurelius and I was going to execute on it.”

While Sally had the idea, she needed a funding partner that would support her beyond investment. A partner that would help her with idea validation, access to broader networks, and a global platform to enable and encourage growth and scale.

“Either way, it’s wild and humbling to have two pretty incredible VCs back you in a couple of months in the middle of a pandemic and pre-product.”

Antler in Sydney is currently recruiting for a January intake. Apply now to build your next company with Antler: www.antler.co/apply

This article was written by Sarah Kimmorley, Director of Communications at Antler in Sydney.

About the Author

Sarah Kimmorley

Sarah has spent the last 6 years at the forefront of Australia’s digital media. She is now the Director of Communications for Antler.

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