Investing in people & AI innovations 

Empress Capital is a venture fund backing early stage Australian & New Zealand Artificial Intelligence Companies. Our vision is to lead positive change for humanity by investing in people and innovations. We believe that Artificial Intelligence is changing the way we live, which provides for unique new business models and exceptional high growth opportunities.

Recognised as a Leading AI Venture Capital Fund

Read about us in the publications below.

Empress Portfolio Companies

Leading the Charge in Artificial Intelligence Venture Capital

Pioneer in AI Investment with Impact 

Empress Capital is a pioneer in artificial intelligence funding. The venture capital firm focuses on the Pre-Seed and Seed stage investments to help AI companies succeed beyond these necessary starting points, targeting 10x returns and payback of initial capital within a 5 year horizon.

Empress Capital will also be using profits from their funds to create Empress Foundation, a foundation geared towards investing in non-profit organisations, equally providing them with the same commercial due diligence, access to funding and support to help them succeed. Impact is central to our vision, but not at the expense of investor success.

Once In A Generation Opportunity

Artificial intelligence is providing great opportunities in almost all sectors. Empress Capital believes that there are huge disruptions occurring in health, education, cyber security, Ag-Tech and Property tech. The impact AI is having and will continue to have is not dissimilar to the impact the internet has had on almost all industries from the early 2000’s providing a once in a generation opportunity.

Empress Capital AI Fund will look to target these sectors ripe for disruption.  There are significant opportunities in not only investing companies developing AI solutions but also in companies developing tools and infrastructure to support this high growth industry.

Empress Capital is in a league of its own with its focus on AI companies in Australia and New Zealand. The focus on AI allows the fund to target companies at the forefront of AI development and commercialisation.  Empress Capital targets investments in AI across 3 broad areas:

  1. AI Solutions 
  2. AI Tools
  3. AI Infrastructure 

Where experienced founders meet ambitious ones

An entrepreneurial team with deep expertise

Yash Varma

Yash Varma

Founder & Partner

Yash is a seasoned tech founder & investor
High performance coach
Lover of life. He is a global citizen having lived and worked in Australia, UK and Switzerland.

David Baxby

Advisory Board

David has significant global experience working with Goldman Sachs
Former Co-CEO for the Virgin Group in Geneva.
Former Managing Director, Wesfarmers Industrials Division

Prabhat Sethi

Advisory Board

Prabhat is former Managing Director of Murdoch
Regional Head for a leading Management Consulting firm.
Prabhat currently sits on corporate boards in the US, Singapore, Australia and India and has managed operations and executed transactions in more than 20 countries around the world.

Tim Baker

Trustee and Compliance

Timothy Baker is a Financial Services Professional with more than 25 years’ experience in the financial markets.
Tim has established and operated Hedge Funds, Superannuation Funds
Tim is also the Managing Director of Boutique Capital a fund incubator platform.

Dror Ben-naim

Chief AI Investment Strategist

Dror Ben-Naim is the visionary entrepreneur behind Smart Sparrow, the edtech company that revolutionized personalized learning on a global scale using AI. With a Phd in AI and Education and a BsC in Physics and Computer Science, Dror took his groundbreaking adaptive learning platform from humble beginnings to multiple rounds of VC funding, strategic expansion into the US, and an ultimate acquisition by Pearson, the world's leading learning company. As a first-time founder, Dror knows the challenges of navigating the startup world and wishes he had a "pro-founder" in his corner. Today, he's your go-to ProFounder guy - a seasoned ex-founder who is unapologetically pro-founders and invests in and advises early-stage startups. Whether you need mentoring, coaching, assistance with fundraising, investor management, team building, or product positioning, Dror wants to help founders succeed

Stuart Cook

Venture Partner

Stuart is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader and an Australian Young CEO of The Year.
Stuart has invested in over 30 businesses, led capital raises, and has been an advisor, board member and mentor to numerous startups, charities and businesses.
Founder TWIYO Capital & Advisory.

Darren Heathcote

Venture Partner

Darren is a seasoned entrepreneur, investor, and startup advisor with more than a decade of experience in the tech industry. Throughout his career, he has developed a keen interest in the rapidly-evolving fields of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), and their profound impact on society. In particular, Darren is fascinated by the intersection of AI and digital health. He sees tremendous potential for AI to transform the lives of billions of people by improving healthcare outcomes, reducing costs, and increasing access to care. As an experienced entrepreneur, Darren has a deep understanding of the challenges faced by startups in this space. He has advised numerous early-stage companies on their product development and go-to-market strategies, and has invested in several promising AI and ML startups. Darren's expertise and passion for AI and ML make him a valuable resource for any startup looking to leverage these technologies to disrupt the healthcare industry and improve patient outcomes. His vision for a healthier, more connected world through AI is both inspiring and actionable, and he is committed to helping others achieve that vision as well.

Simon Herrmann

Senior Analyst

Simon Herrmann - Corporate Advisory Manager at TWIYO Capital
Simon has a background in public markets with nearly a decade experience as stock market analyst and research partner
Simon is a serial investor and passionate about ESG & impact investing.

Grace Tan


Grace has degrees in music and finance
Grace has Investment banking experience at Macquarie Group and Credit Suisse
Grace has a creative and eclectic career background. Born with an entrepreneurial mindset, she started her career as a small business owner launching a piano teaching business and growing it over 4 years.

Nam Hoang

Venture Partner

Nam is Partner at LBH Partners. NAM has extensive consulting experience, advising technology and management teams to successfully navigate transformation and M&A of enterprise IT assets.
Nam supports clients to develop and align technology and business strategy.

Phuong Hoang

Venture Partner

Phuong is a partner at LBH Phuong is an experienced technology leader with 16+ years experience in delivering enterprise IT solutions.
Extensive experience working in multiple industry verticals including real estate, banking & finance, software, retail, insurance and health.

Ryan Barnes

Venture Partner

Ryan is the Managing Partner at TWIYO Capital & Advisory
Ryan has consulted to over 50 scale-up businesses and numerous high-growth entrepreneurs in the positive impact space, assembling a growing team of 20 professionals working to help provide entrepreneurs with stronger financial literacy, governance and decision support.

Support beyond funding

Business Development

Corporate Introductions Strategy development Virtual CFO, CTO Help with scaling up International expansion

Investor Network

Leverage our LP network to help portfolio companies with more than money Key introductions for growth

Mentoring, Coaching, & Team Building

Certified High Performance Coaching. Help founders and team to focus and productivity. Support overall wellness of founders and team for the long term. Key hires Team structures Culture development

Investing at the intersection of
AI and humanity

Aiming to achieve outsized returns within a disciplined framework of ethical responsibility

If you’re a motivated founder or serious investor, we’d love to hear from you


At Empress Capital we back early stage Australian and New Zealand Artificial Intelligence Companies. Our primary focus is on Pre-Seed and Seed stage investments with the view of supporting those companies to flourish not just at this stage. We will also invest in small number later stage companies where we believe there is opportunity.

We look for passionate founders who have a growth mindset and understand why they are building their products. We look for founders and teams to be honest , values driven and understand what they don’t know.

Our primary focus is on Pre-Seed and Seed stage and we do invest in companies pre revenue with sound business models. We plan to support our superstar companies across multiple rounds. We will also invest in small number later stage companies where we believe there is opportunity.

Investment Process for our Portfolio Companies

1. Application

Application via website / direct referral to venture partner send Empress pitch deck

2. Initial meeting

An initial phone / video call with one of the investment team

3. Team discussion

We will discuss the opportunity in our weekly meeting and decide if we would like to continue

4. Pitch

Meeting with investment team to pitch idea

5. Investment Committee Decision

Internal discussion with the investment committee

deeper dive on team, go to market, product,

defensibility. An investment case is pulled together for

and decision made to proceed or note. If not we give

constructive feedback

6. Term sheet

Documents signed

7. Welcome to Empress


As we invest in early stages of company growth we are always interested in talking to founders early in their journey. We believe in partnering long term so even if now is not the right time we always want to help. Why not get in touch with us.

The Empress Capital Australian and New Zealand Artificial Intelligence Fund is open to suitable  sophisticated investors or wholesale investors only.

Empress Foundation

As part of our commitment to positively impacting the world we pledge to donate a portion of our profits towards establishing the Empress Foundation.  We encourage our investors and founders to also contribute to the foundation.
The Empress Foundation will support non-profit organisations in a sustainable way based on the principles we use for investing in for profit companies.  We will look to support organisations using AI with a positive impact.

Get in Touch