2023 — A Year in Review

Michael Batko
8 min readDec 31, 2023

2023 in Review + 2024 Goals

2022, 2021, 2020, 2019 , 2018, 2017 in Review here.

Pic of 2023 — the wedding.

Status Quo

  • 🏡 Location — Live in Australia, Sydney, Coogee (we bought a flat!)
  • 👩‍❤️‍👨 Fiance/ 🆕 Wife — Gabby (we got married!), lawyer @ Square Peg
  • 🧳 Work — building the Startmate Nation
  • ✈️ Travel — 2 weeks India (Kathi’s wedding), 4 weeks Europe (Filip/Sonia and our wedding)
  • 🏃‍♂️ Sports — Beach Volleyball (training 3x week), Runs (3x week = 5k Startup Striders, 10k Coogee Run Club, 9k Monday Striders)
  • 📺 Hobbies — Anime (One Piece, Jujutsu Kaisen — so good! we also have a Whatsapp group now 🤓) + Series (Succession)
  • 💥 Things I do Read, Puddle Pod, Write a Substack — focus on weekly productivity tips

Update vs Last Year

  • 🏡 We bought a flat and moved to Coogee, Sydney.
  • 👰🤵 We got married!
  • 🌇 Startmate raised $16m, 1,000 fellows, team of 20 FTE.
  • ✈️ Incredible Europe and India Trip.
  • 🏃‍♂️ Massive year on the sports front — 3x week training beach volleyball, 3x week runs with a half-marathon mid-year and a 45k distance 2k elevation ultramarathon to finish the year.
  • 📝 Puddle Pod keeps on giving with another 100+ Puddlers this year and expanded offering with an AI for your day-to-day cohort.

Family & Friends

👰🤵 The event of the year: we got married.

We spent a blissful week with 30–60 of our closest family & friends in Montalcino, Tuscany. It was the best week of our lives. The ultimate delight for everyone to meet and become friends — from Australia, Austria, Poland, Germany to Switzerland. Such a unique time. Cooking, wine tasting, mountain bikes, Montalcino Gold 5k race, shots, and so much more.

✨ Karo (my sister) visited us twice this year!

🏝️ We moved to Coogee into our 2-bedroom apartment exactly 12 months ago and absolutely love it. Did some small changes, but still have bigger renovations ahead of us.

And just some great, great times with friends this year:

  • Legends — Nick’s 40th + Merrijig
  • Barrington Tops — for Brian’s bday
  • Tamworth — to visit Nigel and Alice

Our second bedroom was a revolving door for Lauren/Jarrad, Brian/Anna, Jonny, Vanja/James and Freya/Fraser — and we absolutely loved it.

🥂 To top it off we had some excellent conversations over Prosecco Think Tank dinners.


Two massive trips this year.

🇮🇳 India for 2 weeks.

Filip and I worked from Bangalore for a week with a hospitable reception by his Indian team who gave us the most incredible experience. The highlight was taking us to a Cricket game, unbeknownst to us one of the teams stayed in our hotel (incl Virat Kholi).

The second week we got to spend time with Sonia and Gabby in Mumbai, which included the two-day Kathi/Rohit wedding festival. Hilariously, we performed a Sangeet dance.

🇮🇹 Europe for 4 weeks.

Outside of our own wedding, we had the most incredible time at Filip and Sonia’s wedding. Giving a speech will go down as one of my most cherished life moments. Madrid was absolutely stunning.

Our honeymoon we got to explore Tuscany — plenty of wine, cheese, hiking and scopa.

To top it off we had a second civil wedding in Austria with our parents.

Health & Sports

Super healthy year.

LOVE being back by the beach and making the most out of it.

🏐 Beach Volleyball — I got into a squad, which means I get to train 3x week with the same crew of 6 + trainer. Quickly getting better.

🏃‍♂️ Running — big year here as well with consistent runs.

  • Saturdays 5k — Startup Striders — a community that I started now in 9 cities with over 600 members which kept me accountable for consistency. We were even covered in SmartCompany.
  • Sundays 10k — with the Coogee Run Club.
  • Mondays 9k — with Chris and Karl.

Raced the City2Surf, a half-marathon and a 45k ultramarathon up 2,000m elevation on Mt Buller.


Another big year. Full year in review here.

We have such a great team, it is fun going to work every day.

  • Raised $16m — includes $5m Accelerator and $11m Continuity fund — this is 3x more than any other year EVER.
  • 1,000 fellows — who went through our 20 cohorts this year.
  • Team of 20 —up from 17 FTE last year and excitingly we promoted Phoebe to COO.
  • Fun Offsites — 2x for Demo Day, 2x in Sugarloaf and Daylesford.
  • BIG demo days — 600+ people in the Factory Theatre, 1,000+ for SXSW with Ed Husic, Minister for Innovation attending.


📚 Read 20 books — incl the epic 12 book fantasy “Cradle” series.

🤖 Puddle Pod had another 100+ Puddlers through the 3x Productivity cohorts. We also extended it with an AI for your day-to-day cohort that has run twice already.

🎥 Leaned into one of my biggest fears, to speak on camera. First through a 30-day challenge to record a video a day, then through a Mythbusting series for Startmate. This was a defining month for me as, still not great, but I feel 10x more confident on video.

📝 I wrote a couple more blog posts, but not quite as much as I would have loved to.

Social & Hobbies

🕺 We did a bit of ballroom dancing to practice our first dance which was super fun.

♟️ I became the world’s most average chess player. (I just checked my rating… 50 percentile 😅)


❤️‍🔥 Donations through Startup Striders + 1:1 Notion template I facilitated $1.6k of donations.

2023 Goals

1. Proactivity ✅

Proactively schedule time and plan out my holidays, weekends, dinner parties, events and socialising. I get so much energy from it, I want to have the big parts planned out months ahead. — plenty of proactive socialising which really shaped this year!

2. Stories ✅❌

Lean into collecting and telling stories. This is mostly Startmate and Puddle Pod related to tell the hundreds of incredible stories that are happening in our community every day. I’ll start with the internal storytelling to my team in my weekly Edrolos, All-Hands updates and then translate it more widely into external comms. — good storytelling at Startmate, leaned in at All-Hands, PR and video series, no storytelling for Puddle Pod outside of an AFR article.

3. Morning Routine ✅

I love a solid start to the day. Now, that I’ll be living in Coogee, I want to spend active time on the beach and get into a good routine. I’ll aim for a mix of beach volleyball, run, meditate, breakfast and reading on the bus to work. — excellent morning routine, really focused on beach volleyball and running, unfortunately no meditating and I didn’t commute as much as I thought.

2024 Goals

1. Social Circle

We have finally settled into Coogee. The goal for this year will be to meet awesome, ambitious, fun people on the same wavelength.

  • in Sydney — in particular closeby in Coogee
  • at work — specifically a CEO group around me

2. Stories

Tell the Startmate and Puddle Pod story as it deserves to be shared much more widely.

  • write blog posts, record videos, speak at large events
  • get a Puddle Pod intern

The goal is to do this internationally.

The stretch goal is TV, Radio or TED talk.

3. Speed

Keep fit, keep running.

  • 5k = 19 mins 30 seconds (3:53mins pace)
  • 21k = 100mins (4:44mins pace)

🥳 Happy New Year! 🥳