goCatch takes out top prize at Tech 23


Tech start-ups goCatch, Filter Squad, OrionVM and StageBitz are among this year’s winners at innovation event Tech 23, which saw 23 early-stage companies vie for the chance to share in $150,000.


Backed by the NSW Government and organised by Slattery IT Consulting, Tech23 was held in Sydney, attended by investors, mentors and entrepreneurs.


Taxi app goCatch took out the $50,000 Innovation Excellence Award while cloud computing company OrionVM won the $25,000 Broadband Innovation Award.


Centryc – which aims to revolutionise real-life customer engagement in real-time – won the $25,000 Outstanding Collaboration Award while StageBitz won the $25,000 Catalyst Award.


App developer Filter Squad won the $25,000 Greatest Potential Award, while BugHerd won the People’s Choice Award for best presentation.


Filter Squad is currently building its flagship product – a custom magazine for iPad devices. However, co-founder Dave McKinney says the company has no intention to relocate somewhere more tech-friendly, such as Silicon Valley.


“We acknowledge that there is a strong culture of investment with start-ups in the Silicon Valley and we don’t have that here. But in another way, it’s good for us to do our own thing,” he says.


In addition to five major cash prizes, there were more than 20 minor prizes up for grabs at Tech 23, including meetings with high-profile entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.


StageBitz took out a second prize, which will see it venture to Silicon Valley, while location-based social media start-up Roamz was also recognised.


Data-mining start-up Kaggle took out two minor prizes, including a $1,500 prize and a meeting with a VC firm in Perth.



Kaggle chairman Nicholas Gruen, who attended Tech23 on behalf of Kaggle’s founder and chief executive Anthony Goldbloom, says the company is “going like the clappers”.


“They like us in Silicon Valley. We’re in the process of capital-raising there and we’re hoping to make an announcement about it in the next month or so,” he says.


With regard to the start-up scene in Australia, Gruen believes there is “a lot of vibrancy about”, particularly in Sydney and Melbourne.


“There’s no shortage of good ideas, and we haven’t found a shortage of money either,” he says.


Meanwhile, technology incubator ilab will hold its annual investment summit in Brisbane today. Aimed at tech start-ups, the summit is designed to “demystify” the process of raising capital.


Phil Hutchings, a keynote speaker and chief executive of clean tech company RedFlow, believes Australian investors are more than willing to fund promising start-ups.


“There is more money available for investment in Australia than people credit but you need to have a strong business case, an experienced management team and a good market position,” Hutchings says.


“If a start-up couldn’t secure investment then the company probably wasn’t worth investing in. The market’s a very good filtering system.”