March 21, 2022

Follow-on notes: Athena AU$70m Series C

We are thrilled to be leading Athena’s $70m Series C round

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October 17, 2019

Follow-on notes: Athena AU$70m Series C

We are thrilled to be leading Athena’s $70m Series C round

Paul Bassat

Ben Hensman

We are thrilled to be leading Athena’s $70m Series C round, with previous co-investors Hostplus and Airtree investing again. It is exciting to welcome Australian Super, NAB Ventures and Salesforce Ventures onto the journey.

This is our third investment in the talented team led by Nathan Walsh and Michael Starkey, and this significant funding will support ongoing innovation in Athena’s digital platform to help find even greater customer savings with increased scale. You can read about our previous investments here.

An extraordinary year

In the eight months since Athena launched their first product, a refinance loan, the team has consistently wowed customers with phenomenal service and outstanding savings.

In particular, homeowners love that Athena rewards loyalty, with annual discounts and the guarantee that new customers won’t be wooed with better rates. They also don’t charge a single cent in ongoing, application, account or exit fees.

It’s no wonder that Athena has a market-leading Net Promoter Score of 60+!

So far, they have helped families access refinanced mortgages worth over $500m – saving each customer, on average, $60,000 over the life of their loan, and bringing their dream of homeownership a lot closer to reality.

In total, Athena expects the total savings of their current customers to top $70m!

While the refinancing market is significant, accounting for $90bn of annual loans, Athena has its eyes on the ~$440bn total annual mortgage market.

We are thrilled that today they have expanded their service, allowing new homeowners to access Athena’s service from the moment they get the house keys.

Homeowners need Athena

The need for more competition in the mortgage market has never been more acute

Much of what we learned in the far-reaching Royal Commission has not changed. Despite this golden opportunity to make a step-change improvement in culture and treatment of customers, many incumbents continue to prioritise profits ahead of customers.

After being found to charge loyal customers 0.32% per annum more on average for mortgage interest than new customers in recent years, many institutions have not passed on RBA rate cuts in full this year. Athena is different and has saved their homeowners a further $23m over the life of their loans by passing on all three rate cuts this year within minutes of the decisions. Athena has also committed to never charge a different rate for customers who have the same product, currently offer loyalty bonus every year of 0.01% per annum on the customer’s rate.

The team has also made strides to diversify their sources of funding over the last 12 months, ensuring they can continue to provide market-leading pricing to their customers. Having Hostplus investing again and Australian Super joining us in this round, is a great endorsement of the value Athena can bring to their members.

Supporting Athena’s mission again

We continue to believe that Athena is a much-needed and beautifully crafted service for Australian homeowners. What makes us even more excited, however, is that we're also confident in the final key piece of the investment puzzle: the team.

Athena's secret sauce is an unconventional one.

Unusually for startups, who ordinarily add executive leadership as they scale, Nathan and Michael hand-picked and hired their dream senior leadership team before writing a single line of code.

In teams attacking financial services markets, we look for deep domain expertise, first-principle thinking, the ability to build something from scratch and an appetite to grow with the challenges of scaling a large business. This sums up the Athena team superbly.

With the leadership team in place from day one, Nathan and Michael set strong strategic, cultural and operating foundations for Athena's team of almost 100 people. There is no doubt that this supercharged Athena's growth from day one. Across all functions of the business, we have seen a thoughtful and ambitious approach to development, and we have loved getting to know the team.

Nathan Walsh, Square Peg Founder Summit 2019

We are so excited to see what the Athena team can accomplish as a group in the coming years and feel very privileged to be a part of their journey.

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