Startup Founder Research 2019

Startup Founder Research 2019

In a data poor environment, it is hard to make informed decisions. Without a benchmark, there can be no understanding of what good looks like. This report aims to uncover valuable insight that will help us provide founders with the support they need to become high-performance startup leaders, and in turn supercharge the Australian startup ecosystem.

Amanda Price

Head of High Growth Ventures

KPMG Australia


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What is it that makes it possible for certain founders to build global companies like Atlassian, Canva and Airwallex, when so many fail? It’s the multi-billion dollar question facing every startup sector across the world.

As we identified in our inaugural Fitness, fulfilment and foresight report in 2018, a founder’s personal performance is the determining factor for the success of their business. This is even more relevant in the high intensity, high risk arena of high growth ventures.

The report, based on quantitative and qualitative research, surveyed 167 founders and 35 VC firm representatives, as well as experts in founder health and wellbeing who were also founders themselves. It revealed that while 40 percent of founders were satisfied with the progress of their startup, only 22 percent were satisfied with their stress and mental wellness. Just 20 percent saw a counsellor or therapist in the past year, and 70 percent spent zero on mental health.

This is why High Growth Ventures believes that more needs to be done to support Australia’s startup founders when it comes to mental and physical wellbeing. This year, we’re taking it a step further in our research, and looking at the differences between startups at different funding stages, and whether female and male founders approach wellbeing in different ways.

We’re also considering what we can actually to do help. Who is responsible for supporting the wellbeing of founders? Should VCs or sponsors play more of a role? What can ecosystem advocates do to improve founder wellbeing? Are founders aware when they need help, and are they willing to accept it? What methods do they use to deal with the pressures of founding and running a company, and how confident are they about their own ability to deal with pressure.

All these questions are important when it comes to supporting innovation and high growth ventures, so that critical potential isn’t lost. Perhaps, most importantly, we need to ask if there is a better and more reliable way to build high performing businesses without sacrificing founder health and wellbeing. We believe there is.

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