Profile: Oxygen Ventures

Ilya Frolov, Investment Director of Oxygen Ventures

Partnering with startups to build stronger businesses and limit venture risk

At Oxygen Ventures we distinguish ourselves from the traditional venture capital crowd by leveraging more integrated relationships with founders and their startups. We’re an Australian firm whose main financial backer is Larry Kestelman, founder of Dodo. And we’re building businesses around a fundamentally different approach.

The traditional VC model has its risks. The isolated nature of a one-way ROI-based relationship can lead to choked information flows. The results are anything but desirable, with much of the responsibility for success resting on the shoulders of time-starved founders. At Oxygen Ventures we limit risk by developing working partnerships with startups, revolving around a core of technical, strategic and operational support. 

We’ve innovated a business model that centres on providing core resources across design, development, marketing, finance and legal assistance. We think it’s a tempting proposition for founders. By helping startups with business-critical support, we reduce the risk of investment – giving startups the resources they need without diminishing the leadership responsibility of passionate founders.

Ilya Frolov, Investment Director at Oxygen Ventures, is a keen proponent of our philosophy: “We can assure the day-to-day operational requirements of startups are met. Founders focus on innovating and leading, secure in the knowledge that behind-the-scenes requirements are taken care of. The benefits are split evenly between the startup and us: we ensure our ventures are healthy and running with a minimum of risk; and startups can safely grow and develop without juggling resources between essential business areas.”

Though our portfolio includes diverse businesses ranging from Silicon Valley networking startup, Saisei, to Melbourne-based news sourcing startup, Newsmodoone element remains common throughout. We work exclusively with disruptive digital startups.

“It’s a more focused approach,” says Ilya, “We’ve found that by honing in on the specific requirements of digital enterprises, we can provide the resources our ventures really need. There’s a collaborative environment that we foster among our startups and our own team. It means when one company identifies a breakthrough approach, it gets shared throughout the group. 

“It’s a game-changing model, where we can cross-pollinate and leverage each startup to work together and increase value as a whole.”


We launched The Big Pitch competition to find a standout startup from among Australia’s burgeoning scene. With a top prize of up to $5 million funding, the investment is substantial, but with our unique approach we see every addition to our portfolio as another string in our bow.