Elaine Stead is one of Australia’s longest serving active venture capitalists, having established a globally competitive, award-winning track record as a fund manager. Across 20+ years in the innovation sector, Elaine has built an enviable career as a scientist turned entrepreneur turned venture capitalist.
Elaine has been involved in the management of 5 venture fund vintages, most notably as a director and key executive of an ASX listed funds management business with $4bn of funds under management where she was responsible for a venture capital portfolio of ~$250m funds under management.
Elaine demonstrates a proven ability to deliver sustained commercial performance over long timeframes, and being benchmarked in the top quartile globally (Bella Research, Boston). It is no surprise her track record extends to investments in 80+ startups across Australia, the United States and South East Asia including some of the very best such as: Go1, Lexer, Tritium, Myriota, Vinomofo, ParcelPoint, FluentCommerce, Hatchtech, PetCircle, Fivecast, Eloquii, aCommerce, Akulaku, Shopback, and many others. Whilst she has also navigated investment and company failures, her track record has delivered realised returns of 13% net of fees, and a portfolio that is in the majority still active including two unicorns.
Elaine has 15+ years of direct experience in highly effective stakeholder management, building financing syndicates, managing sensitive/challenging issues at a Board level, managing high performing teams, and developing industry partner networks across a broad range of investment strategies and asset classes including agriculture, property, private equity, and hedge funds.
As a serial entrepreneur, Elaine has founded 3 companies: Blue Sky VC, HumanVC and Artefact Ventures. Elaine was also the early CEO and integral to the spinout of medical device startup, Reproductive Health Science, has also been a director/board member of over 15 public, private, and not for profit organisations across the breadth of the innovation industry.
Elaine wields substantial private/public experience in technology led, high growth, global companies in Australian and US markets and has driven the development of Australia’s innovation policy as a board member of StartupAus and as a trusted advisor to several state governments, successfully executing several state backed initiatives including the $755m Advance Queensland policy portfolio, $50m SAVCF in South Australia, and the $40m QLD Business Development Fund.
Passionate about helping the next generation of entrepreneurs, Elaine is also a director of Cicada Innovations, advisor to the Federal Government’s Entrepreneurs Program, the architect of the New Ventures & Entrepreneurship Strategy for ANU, an investment committee member for the ANUCV venture capital fund, and a regular conference speaker and contributor to publications such as Sydney Morning Herald, Smart Company, InnovationAus, and Women’s Agenda.
Leveraging strong knowledge of the research and commercialisation sectors, Elaine has mentored founders in startup programs including: Bond University, Australian National University, Queensland University of Technology, University of Queensland, Thinclab, River City Labs, muru-D, and Innovyz.