How a start-up tweaked its investment pitch and brought in $1.2 million via a round planned to raise $500,00012:20AM | Wednesday, 18 December
Emergency Warning Systems, a tech start-up for emergency radio broadcasts, has raised just over $1.2 million in an oversubscribed round launched to raise $500,000. Chief executive Geoff Drucker told StartupSmart the three-year-old company had raised more than they planned to, thanks mostly to a significant restructuring of their investment seeking collateral. “We thought we’d raise $500,000, but if someone comes along and says ‘I have $400,000 to invest in you’, you don’t say no,” Drucker says. The funds came from several high net worth individuals. The company has also recently received $50,000 in grants from Commercialisation Australia. Emergency Warning Systems originally went into the investor market with a robust financial model and a 60-page long information memorandum. “It was very comprehensive, but we realised it was too long. We turned it into a few much shorter options including a one-pager, and this meant people knew who we were and if they wanted to know more about our competitors and strategies, they would ask,” Drucker says. “So our presentation changed from being a company with good tech to being a good investment option.” The software enables emergency services to locate and take over the radio broadcasts of every available radio station in an area to share messages about what’s going on, and what people should do. The team has recently done major demonstrations in Australia, Sweden, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Qatar. They’re negotiating partnerships to cover most of the roads in Qatar, and most of Australia via Telstra’s emergency SMS network. The funds will go towards funding the start-up’s global expansion by hiring business development managers in the US, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The software is able to be applied outside of natural disaster emergencies also. The Victorian Roads Commission is looking to use the software in traffic accident black spots to encourage drivers to rest. “A number of elements suddenly made EWS attractive to investors namely, the strength of our board, the progress we have made with sales and new opportunities that have arisen as word-of-mouth builds awareness of the capabilities of our system,” Drucker says. Prior to opening the round, the team of seven brought on board three new board members: Dr Ed Manners, previously a senior executive in Kerry Packer’s business empire; the chairman of Brumby’s Bakery, Bruce Esplin AM; and former Victorian Emergency Services commissioner and IP lawyer Michael McDonald.
With bushfires already burning around the edges of Sydney, Australia’s natural disaster season has arrived early this year, and businesses need to prepare for how to survive the worst case scenarios. Michael French’s start-up idea emerged during the Brisbane floods in 2011. With the office of his 20-plus year old digital marketing company only kilometres away, French watched the water in his flooded home street swirling and realised business owners needed a way to quickly check that all of their systems were still functioning. He started building what became his Bizeo app, which launched earlier this year. Essentially a dashboard app, Bizeo monitors all available data from servers to engines on key machinery, to temperature to exchange rates and social media. “Business owners spend a lot of their time running around checking on things, but this does it for them, and gives them a single indicator that everything is alright,” French says. “Bizeo monitors the status and data across your whole enterprise, and watches everything at once.” As the waters receded and Brisbane began to clean up the mess, many businesses struggled to stay afloat. French realised he could add more functions to the dashboard. “Our cashflow was struggling as our debtors blew out and our sales pipeline struggled as many Brisbane groups went under,” French says. “Bizeo now plugs into your CRM, accounting and social media systems.” Bizeo received a $200,000 grant from Commercialisation Australia last year. French used the funds to hire a business development manager, and file for intellectual property protections such as trademarks and patents. French says he realised he would need a strong sales team and partner network as one of the key challenges facing the company has been launching dashboard into an already crowded marketplace. “Getting people’s attention to have a look at it can be tough because there are so many options out there. But once they see it in action, they get sold on it. People don’t want more dashboards but we solve the dashboards problem by only having one,” French says. This marketing angle inspired the Bizeo team to pivot their focus from small to medium enterprises to large businesses after they realised big businesses were often struggling to manage multiple dashboards. “We thought the big corporates would have their dashboards sorted, but we discovered a lot either had none or they had so many they couldn’t see the forest for the trees. We started getting a lot of traction in the large corporates, and pursued that,” French says. Bizeo is currently working with clients in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Mexico and London. “The demand has been high and we’re expanding out partner network to meet it. We had someone sign up for the service in Abu Dhabi this morning, so we should probably start advertising internationally too,” French says.
Surfwear giant Quiksilver has missed second quarter revenues and sales targets, announcing that it will dump non-core brands and liquidate excess inventory, placing further pressure on embattled rival Billabong. Quarterly losses at Quiksilver blew out to $US32.4 million, up from $US5.1 million a year ago, as revenue fell 6.8% to $US458.7 million. “Asia-Pacific revenues fell 9%, with the shortfall driven by headwinds in the Australia wholesale market. But we were pleased to see solid positive comp store sales growth in our full-price retail stores in that market,” Quiksilver chief financial officer Richard Shields said. Echo attacks Crown as Sydney casino battle intensifies Echo Entertainment chairman John O'Neill has lashed out at James Packer-controlled rival crown, alleging the casino giant is waging a “smear campaign” against Echo chief executive John Redmond as part of its campaign to win a second Sydney Casino licence. According to reports, the leaked emails allegedly detail an internal investigation by Echo into whether Redmond fell asleep in one of the bars at its Star Casino just weeks before taking over as chief executive. “These allegations are entirely baseless and the timing of this cheap smear campaign comes as no real surprise," Mr O'Neill told The Australian. Virgin looks to spread its wings further into Asia Virgin Australia is looking to begin running flights to Singapore using its long-range Boeing 777 or A330 aircraft in a bid to strengthen its alliance with Singapore Airlines. For its part, Singapore Airlines has purchased 19.9% of the shares in Virgin, with Virgin in turn recently cleared to take a controlling stake in Singapore Airlines controlled low-cost carrier Tiger Airways Australia. The move comes as Qantas moved its new international hub to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average lost 0.06% to 15,238.59. the Aussie dollar is down to US94.64 cents.
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