10 Aussie start-ups gunning for Silicon Valley


feature-silicon-valley-map-thumbFor Australian start-ups dreaming of making it big in the US, the transition time from launching to jumping on a pan-Pacific flight seems to be getting quicker and quicker.


This week, Flightfox, a Sydney business that proactively searches for the best flight deals on behalf of customers, was accepted into famed US accelerator Y Combinator, after raising a handy $800,000.


The move comes just a few short months after the business was chosen by Startmate, the Australian accelerator, to be part of its 2012 program.


The headlong rush to America isn’t without its downsides, as Startmate founder Niki Scevak eloquently put it in his StartupSmart blog this week, pointing out that Silicon Valley isn’t a “magical kingdom of start-ups.”


But that hasn’t stopped a growing number of Aussie ventures from aiming big and setting their sights firmly in the direction of California, and beyond.


So which businesses are leading the charge to Silicon Valley?


Here are 10 start-ups near the front of the queue:



1. ThereitIs


If you think that a world-class business can’t be built from Adelaide, you need to take a closer look at tech start-up Thereitis.


The business’ technology displays long lists of information in a refreshingly new way. Rather than show a long linear list of, for example, clothes for sale on a web page, Thereitis’ technology presents the products in a virtual 3D “cloud”, which allows users to easily move through the products and pick them out visually.


Earlier this year, the business scored $2 million from local investors ahead of a rapid global expansion.


Guy Sewell, founder of the business, is set to relocate to the US and the technology, developed within Flinders University, appears ripe for a host of big-name clients or for acquisition.



2. Swarm.fm


Peter Watts is the archetype of the kind of entrepreneur that the US churns out on a regular basis but is still something of a novelty in Australia.


Aged just 23, Watts, who is from Sydney, is embarking upon a six-month tour of the US to promote his business, Swarm.fm, and hopefully snare some funding.


His trip’s funding source also screams of modernity – rather than plunder the family jewels or go cap in hand to a bank, Watts is using $20,000 won in “hackathon” competitions, half of that from a recent event organised by Spotify.


Following a successful showcase at SXSW, Watts hopes that Swarm.fm – which develops apps to help people find music more easily – is showing up on the radar of Silicon Valley’s major players.



3. Klick Communications


Silicon Valley is packed to the gunnels with ambitious young tech start-ups, many of them crammed into rented garages in the hope of replicating the success of Google or Microsoft.


But what about the whole infrastructure surrounding these ventures? Like any other business, they require staff, an accountant, insurance, sales support and so on.


Sydney start-up Klick Communications thinks it has spotted a gap in the market for a tech-focused PR agency, last week revealing that it has set up an office in Los Angeles.


Founder Kim McKay told StartupSmart: “There’s a big opportunity in LA around the tech and start-up community. Not many agencies there are homing in on that space, going by our research, so we think we can get runs on the board there.”


“Another sweet spot for us is travel. We are looking for travel destinations, with Honolulu in Hawaii being a possibility.”