“I’m still pinching myself”: BlueChilli’s CEO on the deal that will generate 240 tech startups


BlueChilli's CIO Colette Grgic with CEO Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin

Leading tech accelerator BlueChilli will create 240 early-stage startups over three years with the aid of a US$125 million fund managed by Singapore-based VC firm Hatcher+.

[Related: Investors in BlueChilli startups automatically qualify for tax deduction after ATO ruling and Why the startup ecosystem needs more non-technical entrepreneurs, not stereotypes]

Commenting on what the partnership means for BlueChilli,  founder and CEO, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin said: “In three years’ time, we’ll have 353 startups… this is what global scale looks like!”

In conversation with Dynamic Business, Eckersley-Maslin discussed the value the partnership will generate for all parties, including BlueChilli’s startups.

DB: What is the scope of the partnership with Hatcher+?

Eckersley-Maslin: BlueChilli’s role will be to source, build and invest in 240 startups over a three-year period commencing in April, and feed them into the Hatcher+ VC fund. Meanwhile, the guaranteed supply of capital from Hatcher+ will enable us to invest in the engineers, the creatives, the UX professionals and the product people necessary to build all 240 companies. In this way, the partnership will completely remove the barriers our entrepreneurs face around finance, product and go-to-market strategy.

DB: Will BlueChilli leverage the global network of Hatcher+?

Eckersley-Maslin: Absolutely. The guaranteed underwriting from Hatcher+ will give us the ability to scale our operations globally from a strong foundation. In order to create support 240 new companies, BlueChilli will need to expand and open up office around the world, which we’ll be doing this year – watch this space. To this end, we’ll be leveraging the global network of Hatcher+, which will also help us launch our accelerator program in various countries around the world.

DB: What value will the partnership generate for startups?

Eckersley-Maslin: The deal means that when BlueChilli founders raise seed capital they will receive US$200,000 funding from Hatcher+ and up to AU$250,000 in matched funding from the BlueChilli Venture Fund. So, if one of our startups is able to raise US$500,000 from angel investors, they stand to receive up to $500,000 in additional funding. This gives our startups the firepower they need to accelerate faster and double down on their success. It also gives them greater confidence in being able to raise because the investors who back a BlueChilli startup will know there are two funds supporting its growth.

Plus, the Hatcher+ investment platform boasts around 8000 investors, which means that when or startups do capital raises, they’ll have exposure to a global pool of investors.

DB: How was the deal between BlueChilli and Hatcher+ struck?

Eckersley-Maslin: I was introduced to Hatcher+ partner and founder John Sharp around 18 months ago by a contact I’d made through Young Presidents’ Organisation (YPO). Wanting to partner with an APAC-based accelerator program that was ‘best-in-class’, Hatcher+ essentially sought out BlueChilli. Following a year of due diligence, during which Hatcher+ interviewed our team and observed how we work and operate, both parties came to the conclusion that a partnership was worth pursuing, so we entered negotiations. The partnership contract was signed a couple of weeks ago.

DB: What sort of validation does the deal provide BlueChilli?

Eckersley-Maslin: Hatcher+ have partnerships with other accelerators, globally, but I’ve been told we’ll be their largest provider of startups. In three years’ time, we’ll have 353 startups including the startups we’ve already invested in and the 240 startups we’ll be building for Hatcher+. I’m still pinching myself because those numbers sound crazy… but this is what global scale looks like! We now have a global partner that thinks big like we do, so I’m super excited by this.