Why We Invested In Haast

Portfolio Updates
November 6, 2023
Annie Liao

We are pleased to announce that Aura Ventures has led the oversubscribed Pre-Seed round for Haast. We first met the founders in May this year and are beyond excited to announce them to the world and partner with them on their journey. We are joined in the round by Black Sheep Capital, Go1 co-founder Vu Tran, Campus Plus founder Nick McNaughton and other angels.

The hair on fire problem: regulatory tailwinds and explosion of digital marketing

The surge in online content and assets, fuelled by the rise of “digital growth marketing”, has created a critical challenge for organisations in managing their online footprint. Ensuring compliance with brand, commercial, and regulatory requirements across diverse online channels has evolved into a labour-intensive, resource-demanding, and inefficient process, giving rise to a growing and tangible business-critical risk.

The escalating focus on greenwashing has also underscored the dire consequences of missteps. A recent illustration of this challenge is the heightened scrutiny from ASIC and the ACCC on misleading sustainability and ESG claims. As a focal point of their 2023 enforcement priorities, these regulatory actions have strained already extended compliance and legal teams, introducing additional complexities that teams must actively monitor and stay atop of in real-time.

Notably, the management of this can impose significant costs on businesses, leading to decreased sales, harm to brand reputation and the imposition of fines.

It’s a field dominated by legacy players, ripe for disruption by an AI native play.

Haast’s approach: the digital brand compliance firewall

Haast’s vision is to be the market standard for brand and regulatory compliance in digital marketing. Their mission is to help organisations ensure brand and legal compliance across their entire digital presence, by enabling them to find and resolve issues before they result in brand damage, lost revenue or even costly fines.

Ultimately, they operate as an AI native ‘compliance firewall’, enabling real time collaboration between marketing, legal and content owners.

Haast uses cutting edge AI to discover potential issues, automatically monitoring digital assets such as images, videos and documents through their powerful data collection tool. Powering this is a unified data model building an always-on monitoring system over an organisations entire digital presence.

Their granular dataset means customers will receive hyper-personalised and actionable product level AI rule suggestions — a stark difference from the incumbent industry rules-based approach.

For the first time, organisations can take a proactive approach to monitoring their various digital assets across web and social channels; allowing quicker resolution of issues, with enhanced transparency throughout the process.

Today, Haast’s service supports large institutional customers including one of the largest universities in Australia and a super fund.

Originated in the National’s Capital

When we assess founder teams, we look for complementary skill sets and founder market fit. But equally important is that we search for founders with a dynamic relationship, which is typically forged over a long period of time.

The Haast team are tight knit, and they met while studying at Canberra’s Australia National University in their first year.

Jason Watling first started working on the idea while on secondment at one of Australia’s largest telecommunication company’s legal teams. He found the process of checking assets was painstakingly manual, often involving reactively updating historical web pages and manually sorting through pages of web content. Kunal Vankadara, who has a background in strategy consulting at BCG and in government, brings valuable expertise in strategy and sales. Liam King brings his deep technical knowledge in applying AI/ML to legal and regulatory environments, which he gained through studying, researching, and working at ANU and consulting at Deloitte.

Together, the team combines their diverse backgrounds and skills to drive innovation and success through their domain expertise and deep networks in the industry.

The secret sauce, served on a bull market

What attracted to us to Haast on day one is the thesis we were able to form in the regulatory and marketing market and product scalability. This is underpinned by the domain expertise and insights of the founders enabling them to tackle the market from a unique angle.

Notably, Haast’s focus on a post-execution of assets sales wedge means that it is extremely easy for complex organisations to onboard and begin to use. Their focus on building a robust rules engine and regulatory compliance means eventually they will transition from a sales led growth motion to a product led one as they become distinguished in the industry.

We are excited to see these market trends play out at an accelerated pace, as demand for greenwashing has 10xed organic demand for Haast to serve beyond its initial target verticals into maturing markets such as affiliate brand and influencer marketing regulation and the entertainment industry.

Organisations now see this as table stakes to remain competitive on market.

The traction they have to date, being live for only six months is impressive and a testament to this. This funding round will be used to accelerate Haast’s product road map and initiate its go-to-market strategy.

We are beyond excited to be on the journey with the team.

P.S. If you would like to read more about Haast, you can read the exclusive in the Australian here or SmartCompany here.