2021 — A Year in Review

2021 in Review + 2022 Goals

Michael Batko
7 min readDec 31, 2021

2020, 2019 , 2018, 2017 in Review here.

Pic of 2021 — Puddle Pod catchup inMelbourne

Status Quo

  • 🏡 Location — Live in Australia, Melbourne
  • 👩‍❤️‍👨 Girlfriend — Gabby (7Y anniversary in July 2021), M&A lawyer
  • 🧳 Work — Startmate the Platform for Startup Ambition
  • ✈️ Travel — 2 weeks camping in Tasmania, 1 week in Dorrigo (NSW)
  • 🏃‍♂️ Sports — Run 5km and 🆕 Kitesurfing
  • 📺 Hobbies — Anime (One Piece, 7 Deadly Sins, Demon Slayer, Black Clover, Code Geass, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sword Art Online, The Promised Neverland, Tokyo Ghoul, Wonder Egg Priority) + Nintendo Switch (Witcher 3, Hades) + Shows (The Office (US), Stranger Things, Squid Games) 👉 👀 looking at this, I’ve watched a lot of Anime 😬
  • 💥 Things I do Read, Write a Substack, 🆕 Puddle Pod (productivity course)

Update vs Last Year

  • 🏡 Moved from Newcastle to Melbourne in July 2021
  • 🌇 Startmate expanded from 2 programs to 6 programs
  • 🧑‍💻 Startmate went from 4 FTE to 14 FTE
  • ✈️ Hardly any travel and a lot of working from home
  • 🏃‍♂️ Puddle Pod kept me accountable with running and I picked up Kitesurfing which I love
  • 📝 Started Puddle Pod (productivity community) and it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of this year
  • 🚗 Our car was stolen with my kitesurfing gear in December and found two weeks later with a smashed window, hunting knife and skull mask 😅 (not mine 😬)

Family & Friends

Gabby and I spend the first 6 months in Newcastle and lots of time with her family, which was lovely. We also managed to get in two trips before OZ went into lockdown — to Dorrigo, to visit the family on a fam and to Tasmania, for a two week campervan trip (Tassie trip video here). Unfortunately, they were our only holidays that year.

We moved to Melbourne in July, where we only had 3 weeks before we went into a full lockdown that lastest a couple of months. After a couple of weeks, we settled in quite well with many new hobbies, like making kombucha and pasta from scratch.

Two of our highlights were both of our 30th birthdays.

For my bday on the 6th January — we rented out a stunning Airbnb in the Blue Mountains with a couple of friends.

For Gabby’s bday on the 20th Oct — I organised a scavenger hunt as Melbourne was still in its final days of lockdown.

Tasmania Campervaning
Birthday Celebrations
Home Cooking

Health & Sports

I wouldn’t say we were overly sporty in 2021, but stayed pretty healthy without any health issues.

I started the year strong playing 5 a-side soccer as a sub in a Newcastle team and finished a 45 day F45 gym challenge (where I gained +2% body fat 😅).

Throughout lockdowns, Gabby really got into healthy cooking and Puddle Pod kept me accountable to running Monday to Friday 5km and meditating before work.

My personal favourite activity this year was learning how to Kitesurf in Newcastle. I then bought some second hand gear and kept going Kitesurfing in Melbourne on weekends.


Another big year for Startmate — more detail here.

  • Team: Built out a team from 4 to 14 FTE superstars.
  • Founders: Funded 37 companies + 10+ follow-on investments.
  • Operators: Ran Fellowships to help 750+ Fellows looking for a startup job.
  • Investors: raised $6.8m and distributions returning 9x, 1.4x and 1.1x of the respective funds.

The highlight was definitely building an awesome team and the pride seeing everyone grow. It was also a nice recognition of what we’ve built to be on the cover of The Australian Innovators magazine.


I read 16 books with my favourite this year being “What you do is who you are” about culture.

I also started a productivity community called Puddle Pod (= productivity huddle pod). It started off as an experiment with 15 Puddlers on a journey with me whilst I wrote 8 weeks worth of productivity tips and tricks. Each Sunday I would sit and write for 6–8 hours knowing that 15 people were waiting for the content. The feedback was great and I’ve know run 4 cohorts with a total of 195 Puddlers.

I now even incorporated Puddle Pod as a company and have loved learning myself from all the tips and tricks shared by everyone else.

First ever Puddle Pod catchup in Melbourne

Social & Hobbies

We did a whole variety of things this year — here are a couple of fun and not so fun ones:

  • Ballroom Dancing — we signed up for ballroom dancing classes in Melbourne. When we weren’t in lockdown we learned how to waltz, bookie, cha cha, samba, etc
  • Woodwork class — I went to a community college timber working class and learned how to do very basic wood work — see box below.
  • Cryptoslimes — every October I draw each day as part of Inktober.com. This time around I learned how to photoshop too and turned my drawings into NFTs and sold a couple. So yes — you could say that I’m a real artist now 😬
  • Car stolen — Our car was stolen from outside our house in Richmond, Melbourne. Unfortunately, that included my kitesurfing gear. Two weeks later the police found the car with a smashed in window, hunting knife and skull mask inside 😰 We’re yet to repair and receive the car back after the Xmas holidays.
Cryptoslimes — hand-drawn, photoshop-enhanced, NFT’d
Proud owner of a Planter Box


Still not eating beef, avoiding plastic bags and bottles.

2021 Goals

I still think the same three goals are the best goals for myself. I added a couple of metrics to make the goals more quantifiable for myself. Tbf they might not end up being the right metrics, but the underlying goals are the right ones.

Overall, I spend my time on the right areas — relationship, work and some hobbies. The Evangalisation didn’t play out as I imagined it at the start of the year, but Puddle Pod absolutely exceeded my expectations.

1. Spend quality time with Gabby —💫 80% success

Weekly ritual, celebrate monthly anniversaries, two 1+ week holidays together.

Largely successful — we made the most out of life out of lockdown and got into some good rhythms during lockdown. The two 1-week holidays were short but both highlights last year.

2. Build a great team culture — ✅

Maintain CultureAmp score as we scale from 4 FTE to 14 FTE.

As the company trippled to 14 people, it was crucial to keep our Startmate culture. Despite lockdowns, we maintained our CultureAmp score of 92 with the biggest detractor being everyone’s lockdown fatigue.

3. Evangelise Startmate and Personal Brand — 💫 62.5% success

Daily tweet, weekly LinkedIn, monthly Substack, launch productivity product.

  • Daily tweet — No. I like reading Twitter, but didn’t find a way to want to post something every day myself.
  • Weekly LinkedIn — Much more. I shared a lot on LinkedIn. It is my favourite channel in terms of “reach” as most of my posts are about Startmate and jobs.
  • Monthly Substack — Partly. I wrote 8 Substack posts and most of them at the beginning of the year, Puddle Pod took over my writing capacity.
  • Productivity Product — Hell Yes. Created the full course and had 4 cohorts go through it — this has been the most fulfilling project of the year.

2022 Goals

My 2022 goals are pretty similar to 2021 to double down on what’s working and what I get energy and joy from.

1. Spend quality time with Gabby and the Family.

  • Regular weekly and monthly quality time with Gabby.
  • Spend at least a month with my family in Europe.
  • Buy a house.

2. Triple Startmate’s and Puddle Pod’s impact.

  • Startmate tripled in 2021, let’s triple it again to have a life-changing impact on even more lives.
  • Puddle Pod helped 195 people this year, I would love to be able to help 1,000 people become more productive next year.

3.Tell the Startmate and Puddle Pod Story.

  • With the Startmate team and community increasing, I want to lean into telling the Startmate story — write it down, rehearse, practice, tell it widely.
  • Similarly, but slightly differently, my goal is to lean into some classic content creation marketing for Puddle Pod — spend $0 on marketing but experiment with content and video creation.

🎄Merry Xmas! 🎄