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Why having a support network of entrepreneurs and coaches makes you more successful as a founder

The journey of a startup founder can be challenging, and without the right network, entrepreneurs can feel alone in their experience or crave advice from an external perspective.

Recognising this and aiming to support founders at scale, Antler offers its portfolio companies in Sydney an opportunity to join Founder Forums, a place where founders can connect with like-minded entrepreneurs and business coaches to share learnings and ask questions that may crop up as a startup founder.

For Adam Ferguson, co-founder and CEO of SiteHive, an IoT environmental monitoring business, this is “the most valuable part of being a portfolio company of Antler — being part of an alumni”.

He says, “the Founder Forums act as a support network.

“We’re all going through the same journey, facing similar issues. So it’s great knowing that you’re not going through these challenges alone. The group and coach also add to how you might think about things or approach some of those challenges.”

SiteHive’s journey with Antler

Adam met his co-founder Ben Cooper-Woolley in Antler in 2019 and together the pair launched SiteHive, an IoT environmental monitoring for the built environment.

“Antler provided a platform to meet a broad range of like-minded individuals, and ultimately a co-founder,” says Adam, “as well as a range of different ideas and opportunities.

“It accelerated the process for us — if I was to try to do that by myself through networking, it probably would’ve taken me six to 12 months.

“The beauty of it for us was that it allowed us to bring together domain expertise with technology know-how — so we could develop products and a business that really serves a market need. Ben has a deep understanding of the construction environment and the problems it faces, and with my software background we were able to see how we could solve those issues with modern technology.”

Within 12 months of meeting each other, Adam and Ben secured Antler’s pre-seed investment of $100K, have grown their team to eight people, ranging from tech, including software and hardware development, to business development and marketing, and launched an enterprise IoT solution that is being used in 15 multi-billion projects across New South Wales, Victoria and New Zealand.

SiteHive as also secured contracts with a number tier 1 and 2 contractors in Australia, such as Lendlease, CPB, John Holland, Laing O’Rourke, Fulton Hogan and McConnell Dowell.

“SiteHive is being used on infrastructure projects running across Australia and New Zealand, such as Western Sydney Airport, the redevelopment of the Sydney Football Stadium, the level crossing removal project across Melbourne and freeway upgrades such as the M80 in Melbourne — these are multi-million dollar projects,” says Adam.

“SiteHive does environmental monitoring in a new way. By leveraging digital sensors, we capture images and audio files to get a greater understanding of what’s happening onsite. We’ve been able to bring real innovation to the market that our clients have loved. And importantly for our clients, because we’re using new technologies, we can do it a lot cheaper than has been available before.”

Along with the advantage of Founder Forums, Adam says the the coaching and advisor network that Antler offers is key to growth and fundraising.

“During the program, having Bede Moore as a coach provided a sounding board, and the access to the advisors was great. Being able to call on the likes of Matt Browne and others was really valuable — they’ve made introductions that we wouldn’t have been able to make ourselves.

“The advisers have put us in contact with individuals that we’ve since hired — that ability to find the right people to bring into the business is pretty critical. That’s probably been the biggest thing. And then there’s just general advice, whether it be fundraising, whether it be thinking about product development or a specific business problem to address.

“The advisors have been able to introduce us to people to help solve those problems; we’ve had access to lots of different people with different experience, contributing to how to think about different problems.”

Both co-founders, while very experienced through their own careers and Adam having experience as Angel Investor, lacked the VC knowledge needed to raise their next round alone.

“Fundraising is a new activity for us and how to think about VCs, how to approach them, how to think about Angel Investment — it’s a new world,” says Adam. “Being able to have that conversation with the Partners and coaches at Antler has been valuable in navigating that whole capital-raising world.

“[Overall], the post program support and advisory network has been able to provide introductions to key individuals to help accelerate the business to where it is today, and provide the necessary emotional support going through the challenging journey that you do as a startup business.”

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

Read more articles from this series below:

  • How partnering with a global VC validates your brand and opens doors

  • This startup raised $450K in just 3 weeks during Covid-19 — here’s how it leveraged brand & network to do it

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

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

About the Author

Sarah Kimmorley, Director of Communications at Antler in Sydney.


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