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Australian fintech Athena Home Loans raises a $25 million Series B funding round

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Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey

Fintech start-up, Athena Home Loans, has closed a $25 million Series B raise, led by Square Peg Capital. Australia’s biggest venture capital investor and industry super fund, Hostplus, and Australian venture firm, AirTree – have also joined the round, taking the start-up’s total capital raised to date to $45 million.

The Series B raise comes six months after the company announced a Series A fund raise led by Macquarie Bank and Square Peg Capital – and three months after announcing a strategic partnership with Resimac Group.

The latest round has firmly set the start-up’s path to becoming Australia’s most innovative home loan provider and validates the company’s model through the strength and calibre of backers.

What exactly does Athena do?

Athena is built to be a very different kind of home lender and a genuine alternative to the big banks. Powered by Australia’s first cloud native digital mortgage platform, Athena delivers great rates through a unique funding structure, bypassing the banks to connect borrowers to superfund backed loans.

The company was founded by two ex-bankers, Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey, who are passionate about making the journey to home ownership faster, cheaper and stress free.

Currently in pilot stage, the Athena customer proposition is hugely compelling.

Athena CEO Nathan Walsh says, “During our pilot, we are already seeing the power of the Athena proposition to save money and change lives. A single mum who will be able to pay off her home loan 19 months earlier and save $130,000 over the life of the loan. A family with three young kids who will save $40,000 on their home loan can now take the family on the first holiday in years. It’s powerful stuff.”

Commenting on the company’s launch in Q1 2019, Nathan said, “Our key priorities with the investment will be to continue to innovate our platform, invest in talent and scale the business.

“Australia, Athena is coming!” concluded Nathan.

Why has Athena attracted this funding?

Square Peg Capital invested in Athena in Series A and has further solidified its support of the home loan provider by leading the Series B round. Venture capitalist and co-founder of Square Peg, Paul Bassat, who also sits on the Athena Board, said investing further into Athena proves the potential they see in the business.

“Having worked with Nathan, Michael and the team over the last year I have enormous admiration for the speed at which they have navigated complex financial systems to develop a robust and customer-centric mortgage service. Athena is solving a really important problem for home buyers and is certainly one of the most exciting Fintech companies in Australia. We are thrilled to back the team again and look forward to supporting them on this extraordinary journey,” he said.

Industry superannuation fund Hostplus is one of the highest-performing and most forward-thinking super funds in Australia with over 1.1 million members and $37 billion in funds under management. Hostplus has spearheaded investment in the local start-up ecosystem, with over $1 billion of its fully-diversified portfolio committed to Australian venture capital managers.

Hostplus Chief Investment Officer, Sam Sicilia, said that the industry super fund’s long-term venture strategy attracted them to Athena Home Loans. “We are a firm believer in the potential for tech-led innovation to deliver future prosperity for Australians and strong risk-adjusted returns to members. Athena is a great example of disruptive innovation delivering big savings for home loan borrowers,” he said.

Athena COO Michael Starkey says, “We are delighted to have Hostplus and AirTree joining Athena as investors. Athena’s journey has benefited hugely from the insights and support from some of Australia’s smartest investors. It’s clear the timing has never been better to offer a fairer home loan.”

AirTree is an Australian venture capital firm that invests in world-class entrepreneurs, and most recently raised $250 million to invest in disruptive Australian technology companies.

James Cameron, Partner at AirTree Ventures says, “Athena has assembled one of the strongest teams in the Australian fintech market and are building a home loan company that is very different to anything that exists today. They have built what we believe is the most technologically advanced mortgage platforms in the country – and this means a better experience and better value home loans for Aussie borrowers. We’re excited to be backing them on the journey.”

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