Australian startup trailblazer Pollenizer is shutting down

Phil Morle. Photo: Supplied.

Pollenizer, Australia’s first startup incubator, is closing down after a decade.

Employees and investors were told Tuesday that the company would be winding up at the end of the financial year, reports the AFR.

“I have passionately pursued success and loved every moment trying, and that makes it sad when the evidence tells you that you haven’t nailed it,” Pollenizer co-founder and CEO Phil Morle said.

Non-bank lender Pepper only announced two weeks ago that it had partnered with Pollenizer to start a new incubator to provide early-stage fintech companies with funding and resources. In a statement to Business Insider, Pollenizer said that “the current phase” of incubation for Pepper’s SmallStash startup project would continue “undiminished”.

Pollenizer was considered Australia’s first startup incubator when it began in 2007, but changed its strategy to become a consultant to corporates on the startup scene. Morle said that this shift had proved financially unsustainable, as well as not appealing to its entrepreneurial roots.

“We are entrepreneurs and we get out of bed in the morning to do something massive, and while it is certainly possible that Pollenizer could have continued indefinitely as a boutique consulting business, everyone on the team is motivated to do something huge and change the world somehow,” he said.

“In the end we just couldn’t see the path to that, and now the important thing for me is that the amazing team around me get to move on and do amazing things.”

In 2013, Morle revealed to Business Insider that Pollenizer had made $3 million in revenue but only just broke even. At the time, the company had turned $5 million of venture capital into a $20 million portfolio.

The AFR reports that the wind up has begun and 22 people will lose their jobs. The company still has Lawpath, HiveXchange, Mezo, CohortIQ and Spot in its incubator portfolio, with the operational shut down expected to save cash to fulfil promises made to those startups.

Morle said he was hoping to commercialise software developed at Pollenizer. That project is funded to July while pilot testing is in progress.

“I would like to do something like that very much. The software itself is very interesting, because it is essentially like Pollenizer in a machine… it would be history materialising its own destiny if it becomes what we hope it will become,” he told the AFR.

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