Thursday, January 09, 2014

5 Australian Startups to Watch in 2014


The Australian start-up ecosystem continues to grow rapidly, with hundreds of start-ups and several new funds and incubators emerging last year.

Startupsmart has picked 5 Australian start-ups to watch in 2014.

Pozible (Melbourne)

With crowdfunding taking off across the world and in Australia, this home-grown platform is one to watch as they take their show on the road and starttargeting the United States.

Pozible’s communications manager, Reuben Acciano, told StartupSmart in September they’d grown 550% in the last 18 months.

Despite their solid growth and big plans, the Pozible team will also need to keep an eye on their home market with major international competitors such as Kickstarter set up Australian offices and targeted campaigns.

“The nature of start-ups is we have strategies for anything that can happen, we know where we want to be but we need to be a little reactive. When the situation changes, we’re ready to move with it,” Acciano said.

Ollo Mobile (Brisbane)

This start-up burst onto the scene last year, taking out a series of pitching competitionsheading off to Silicon Valley briefly and launching a crowdfunding campaign, all steps in their promotional. strategy to build awareness about their alternative to the panic button for elderly or unwell family members.

Now targeting the United States for both consumers and funding, the start-up will begin their international roll out in 2014, tapping into an international demographic trend of ageing populations.

“What we’re doing is a bit different and finding investors with experience in our space and access to the market channels has been difficult here as it is such a small community and what we’re doing is quite specialised,” co-founder Hugh Geiger told StartupSmart.

Your Fork (Sydney)

Despite only being a few months old, this start-up sits amid several trends that could take off in 2014.

A hyperlocal, peer-to-peer network for delivering homemade meals, Your Fork taps into collaborative consumption, internet enabled connections and crowdsourced solutions as well as Australia’s growing interest in foreign and unusual foods.

Launched by brothers and start-up veterans Roshan and Shanu Mahanama, Your Fork is currently overseeing their first alpha test location in Sydney.

The Mahanama brothers aren’t the only start-ups to have connected the trends that could make this kind of start-up take off in 2014. Several other start-ups are exploring the idea and experimenting independently across Australia.

But Roshan says the idea is so new they’d welcome competition from other start-ups to develop the model and public understanding.

“Ironically what we need is more than one start-up attacking this space,” Roshan says. “A big challenge is raising awareness of this emerging market. So if there are more of us we can accelerate it, and consolidation will happen later down the track.”

CoinJar (Melbourne)

Everyone is talking about bitcoin this year, which comes as no surprise to Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou, the founders of CoinJar who have been passionate about the digital currency’s potential since before it was news.

In December, Tan told StartupSmart despite the ups and downs in bitcoin’s value, its time had come.

“A lot of people talk about a bitcoin bubble, but the case is too strong to ignore,” Tan said. “One of the unique draws of bitcoin is totally people-powered. As long as people remain interested, bitcoin won’t die out.”

Experimenting at the forefront of innovation and digital practice has brought challenges to the team, who found their personal accounts at the Commonwealth Bank frozen without warning or explanation in August.

Despite the newness and risk of bitcoin, the AngelCube accelerator graduate recently received $500,000 from Blackbird Ventures. The funds will go towards speeding up their global expansion.

Tan described the investment as a credibility breakthrough for their start-up.

“We’re very new to this, so the investors are bringing legitimacy to our business. A lot of people ask us how do they know we’re not a scam, so having such well-known and respected investors means people will trust us more.”

Ingogo (Sydney)

Launched in 2011, ingogo started life as a taxi booking app and has grown steadily ever since, with chief executive Hamish Petrie telling StartupSmart in August 2013 they had reached 15% of the Sydney taxi drivers.

2013 was a huge year for ingogo, who announced a partnership with ANZ, successful million dollar fundraising rounds in FebruaryAugust and December.

They also announced a game-changing payment platform via a partnership with ANZ. Not only is the payment system an additional revenue stream from their taxi business, but also has significant potential to be rolled out into other industries.

“A lot of the IP we’ve built up is applicable to other environments that are possibly less demanding,” Petrie said. “We’ve learned a lot about doing payments in a mobile and challenging environment. Taxi payments involve a lot of issues with mobile internet connections, drivers speaking different languages and the need to process payments reliably and rapidly.”

Petrie told StartupSmart the start-up will break even early this year, and shared his plans to list the three year old company on the ASX in 2014.