Aren’t Christmas Newsletters something only your great aunt does? Well we’re going there anyway!!

Yes, it’s Christmas again and no I’m not prepared for it. But it is one of my favourite times of the year. Despite the hype and the constant pull towards accruing more stuff, there is also a spirit of generosity, of spending time with those we love (and those we tolerate!) and it is a marker in the year – signifying the end of one thing and the beginning of another.

A family driving and singing in a car.

Each year I drive up to Brisbane with my family to see our relatives and there is something about the 10+ hour drive that I find cathartic – driving between the commanding sandstone walls of the highway heading north out of Sydney that signifies tying a bow around the year and saying, “That’s enough”. It gives time for reflection and for recalibration.

When it comes to Remarkable, we’ve seen some extraordinary successes and some temporary setbacks this year. Here are the notable features of the year.

Overall, we’re seeing extraordinary growth across multiple metrics for the 25 startups we have supported – customer reach up 418%, 44% increase in staff and more than $23M in capital raised. Our startups now see more than 32,000 customers!

We’ve seen 3 startups close investment rounds this year (Umps Health, Xceptional and loop+) and Home Care Heroes have just opened their first round. Xceptional debuted an Australian-first funding instrument – BOLD (Beneficial Outcomes Linked Debt) which could be a game-changer for startups in the social impact space. It means that cash repayments are based on a share of revenue and also that the loan balance can be reduced both by cash repayments and successful achievement of positive outcomes (placing people with autism in jobs). Great work Xceptional and Impact Investment Group!

We did get some recognition for being “The Most Disruptive Innovation Project of 2019” by GiveEasy as part of the Innovation for Impact Awards. And we also nominated cohort #4 co-founder of PolySpine, Riley Saban who won the Young Leader of the Year at the Third Sector Awards. Riley who is just 16 has plans beyond PolySpine to change the face of assistive technologies.

We always say it takes a village to raise a startup and our village got a little bit bigger this year – we extended our incredible partner network – adding to icare, Telstra and Macquarie, we introduced Microsoft as a new partner in 2019. While we say farewell to Macquarie, we’re excited for what 2020 will bring. Our village also got a bit bigger with 3 new EIR’s – people filling the big shoes of Ben Reid – we had Alan Jones, Addy Chu and Jacob Muller, joining Margaret and I. We loved working with these talented individuals as they coached our startups.

2 Remarkable Founders from Spokle speak to a customer who is a wheelchair user in the foreground. All three are laughing or smiling. While a group of five people mingle in the background.

It continues to challenge us when we see opportunities to take what we’ve learned to other larger markets and we did think that 2019 was going to be the year for that. We submitted an application for Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award – a global competition to fund 5 organisations to the tune of $10 million each to expand their impact. As you know we were selected in the Top 12 from around 1,000 applications worldwide but were not successful in our bid. It was an extraordinary amount of work from a lot of people and with support from many of you – thank you again.

While disappointing, we now can refer to ourselves as one of the top 12 most innovative social impact programs in the world (lemons to lemonade baby!) and while this is a temporary setback, we no longer see it as an opportunity, but an imperative to grow the impact of technology overcoming barriers to inclusion.

So in 2020, we will be exploring a global alliance of disability tech startup accelerators – from partners in 6 other countries – India, Canada, New Zealand, England, Kenya and China. As well as exploring opportunities in the US market. We see the opportunity to expand our impact faster when we work together.

And we want to work on what happens post-accelerator – for us, our work isn’t done until startups are no longer startups and they’re having sustainable impact. So post-accelerator program support will be a critical path of development for Remarkable in 2020.

Until then we wish you and those you care about a safe, joyful and hopeful Christmas and New Year’s. See you in the future, but for now, just know that you are remarkable!

Pete Horsley, Founder

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