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“When the front door is shut in your face, climb in the side window.” These words, though their origins elude her, became the guiding light for Andrea Gardiner on her remarkable journey to entrepreneurship. From this unconventional entry point, Andrea carved a path that would lead to the establishment of Jelix Ventures, a beacon of early-stage investment opportunities in the dynamic landscape of Australian and New Zealand technology startups.

Andrea’s conviction in the transformative power of disruptive, scalable technology businesses fuels her mission to bolster the future economic prosperity of Australia. At the heart of Jelix Ventures is a commitment to supporting audacious technology founders, driven by a collective desire to make the world a better place. “We love the excitement of potentially world-changing technology and the tremendously positive and generous nature of the sector, where so many are keen to help each other change the world,” Andrea shares with infectious enthusiasm.

A seasoned financial professional, Andrea Gardiner infuses Jelix Ventures with passion and dedication, drawing upon years of experience as an investment banker and lawyer. In an exclusive feature, Andrea opens up about the challenges she faced, the transformative growth she witnessed, and the visionary future she envisions for both Jelix Ventures and the tech startup ecosystem.

This story delves into the inspiring insights shared by Andrea Gardiner herself, offering a glimpse into the mind of a trailblazing entrepreneur who believes in the power of unconventional approaches and relentless determination. Join us as we explore the narrative of Andrea’s journey, highlighting not only her personal triumphs but also the impact she’s making on the landscape of technology investments in the Southern Hemisphere.

In a world where innovation thrives on resilience and audacity, Andrea Gardiner’s story stands as a testament to the incredible heights one can reach by climbing through the side window of opportunity.

Dreams of Adventure and the Climb to Success

Andrea’s childhood dreams revolved around exploring beyond her small Australian town and embarking on thrilling adventures. Before delving into technology startups, her diverse career spanned roles as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers in London, a global debt capital markets lawyer, a social worker, and even a professional rock climber. A pivotal lesson learned during her climbing days emphasized the critical importance of risk mitigation in high-reward pursuits, a principle now embedded in Jelix’s approach to investing in high-risk startups.

The foundation of Jelix Ventures emerged from the insights gained through co-founding Innovation Bay in 2013 with Ian Gardiner. Recognizing a gap in experience and confidence in angel investing, they initiated Jelix Ventures as an experiment. The successful oversubscription of their initial investment in StorReduce solidified their belief in providing a platform for confident startup investments. Over the years, Jelix has returned impressive results, including a 10x return for StorReduce investors upon its acquisition by a Nasdaq-listed company.

A Passion for Venture Capital

The journey of establishing a venture capital firm in Australia has been a rollercoaster for Andrea. While the highs are euphoric, the lows, often induced by exhaustion, highlight the emotional toll. Despite the challenges, Andrea’s passion for the work, the privilege of collaborating with extraordinary founders, and the intrinsic value beyond profits keep her motivated. Recognizing the critical role startups play in job creation, Andrea finds endless fascination in the dynamic world of venture capital.

Overcoming challenges has been possible through the unwavering support of family, friends, and influential figures in the Australian startup sector. Mentors like Michelle Deaker, Rick Baker, and Daniel Petrie, along with the backing of her husband Ian Gardiner, have played pivotal roles. Andrea emphasizes the generosity ingrained in the Australian startup sector, creating a supportive ecosystem that benefits both first-time founders and experienced investors.

Backing Daring Tech Founders

Jelix Ventures positions itself as a supporter of daring tech founders with a mission to make the world better. The firm invests its funds in exceptional early-stage startups and invites co-investors on the same terms. Currently raising a venture capital fund, Jelix aims to offer investors a diversified portfolio of Australian and New Zealand tech startups.

Jelix Ventures has achieved success by building a robust track record of 27 investments, resulting in a high-performing portfolio of 19 startups. Notable achievements include a 10x return for investors in one exit and significant valuation uplifts in follow-on rounds. The firm’s reputation for value-added investment and trust among founders contributes to its strong position in the startup sector.

Building Confidence Beyond Gender

As one of the few women venture investors in Australia, Andrea acknowledges the initial intimidation but underscores the importance of valuing excellence, integrity, and transparency over gender. While statistics suggest potential challenges, Andrea believes that building investor confidence and raising funds hinge on these core values, emphasizing that trust transcends gender.

Jelix Ventures maintains a competitive edge by focusing on a strong brand and a highly visible profile in the innovation ecosystem. Andrea’s frequent invitations to speak at events and provide commentary, coupled with Ian’s role as the co-founder of Innovation Bay, contribute to the firm’s high-profile presence. The combination of visibility, reputation, and relationships with other venture investors ensures that Jelix remains ahead in attracting strong investment opportunities.

Prioritizing Health and Relationships

Maintaining balance is crucial for Andrea, who starts her day at 5 a.m. with physical activities before work. Regular interactions with friends and the support of her family contribute to sustainable emotional and physical health.

As the CEO of Jelix Ventures, Andrea serves as the leader, visionary, and strategist, with the final say on investment decisions. However, she emphasizes the paramount importance of attracting and retaining a high-caliber team to build a successful business. The success of Jelix is attributed not only to its reputation, deal flow, and track record but, more importantly, to its small yet superb team.

Proud Yet Humble

Andrea describes herself as proud and humble, acknowledging the long journey ahead. As a leader, she recognizes the significance of being profiled as a woman leader, emphasizing the crucial role of role models in motivating young women to aspire to greatness.

The excitement to raise funds, back exceptional startups, and contribute to positive change in the world motivates Andrea and the entire team at Jelix Ventures. The goal is not only to support economic growth but also to generate strong returns for investors while fostering innovation in the Australian startup sector.

A Vision Beyond Borders

Looking ahead, Jelix Ventures plans to focus on investing in the strongest Australian and New Zealand startups. The vision includes raising new funds every 2 to 3 years, with an emphasis on maintaining a manageable fund size to ensure continued motivation and impact. As resources grow, the plan is to expand support services for portfolio companies and leverage the expertise of investors for mutual benefit. While Jelix will continue to be a prominent player in the Australian startup sector, future endeavors may include a presence in other cities and potentially a fund in New Zealand.

A Sought-After Source of Innovation

Andrea’s overarching vision for Jelix Ventures is to become the most sought-after source of early-stage technology investment opportunities in Australia for global investors. Simultaneously, Jelix aims to be the preferred source of funds for entrepreneurs, contributing to innovation, economic growth, and exceptional returns for investors.

In conclusion, Andrea Gardiner’s journey with Jelix Ventures reflects not only the triumphs of a successful businesswoman but also her commitment to fostering innovation, supporting startups, and creating positive change in the technology sector. As the story of Jelix Ventures continues, it promises to be a beacon of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and a driving force for innovation in Australia and beyond.

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