The federal Department of Communications has issued a survey to industry and developers to gauge the interest in creating a geocoded national address platform that would be free for users. Under the proposal, all Australian addresses would be included in a data set. In this data set, each property record would contain a unique identifier, along with its street number, name, type (i.e. road, street, highway, etc.), suburb/locality, state and postcode. Each record would also contain geographic coordinates for each land parcel, a field indicating whether those coordinates refer to the parcel of land itself or the street or suburb/locality in which it’s located, and a quality indicator for that data. If created, the database will be managed by PSMA Australia and presented in a single flat file, with one record per row, and attributes separated by commas for easy importing. For many startups, such a system would have the potential to streamline app development and allow an easy way for developers to verify addresses. In a statement, the Department of Communications told StartupSmart it is interested in developer feedback on the proposal. “The Department of Communications is exploring the possibility of making a simple geocoded national address file available to Australians at no cost to the end user,” the department states. “The Department is seeking comments from industry and developers on the proposed product. The content of the proposed product is still under consideration, and the feedback obtained through this survey process will inform the Department’s consideration of the product.” The Department also stresses that various privacy protections will be in place for the data. “If, following market testing and further examination, the Department proceeds with the proposal to make a simple geocoded address file openly available to Australians, the Department will ensure the provision of the product is in keeping with relevant privacy legislation. Personal information would not be published.” The survey is available here and is scheduled to conclude on 19 February 2015. Image credit: Flickr/mikecogh Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
As the nation focuses on the outcome of the Queensland election, the Toowoomba startup community is looking forward to a big year ahead in 2015, with a number of events and a new coworking space on the agenda. It comes after the regional city, located in Queensland’s Darling Downs region, hosted its first Startup Weekend event in November last year. David Masefield, who cofounded the Toowoomba Startup Group with local entrepreneur Leanne Griffin, told StartupSmart plans are well underway in the co-working space. “We intend to trial a co-working space during the first half of this year, which we are working on with support from the Toowoomba Regional Council. “Of course, we don’t just want to import a model that works for Perth or Melbourne – we want to create something that works locally. So we’ll be holding some meetings to see what that will look like and function.” Aside from the new coworking space, there are three major events planned for the year, including a Startup Weekend Education event in May. The education-focused event, which follows the success of a similar event in Sydney last year, will take place at the Glennie School. It will encourage school students to pitch their business ideas; while in parallel, adults will pitch their education-related startup ideas. TSG also recently hosted its first monthly meeting of the year at the Toowoomba Chamber of Commerce, with Mark Thomas sharing lessons about lean manufacturing from auto giant Toyota. The less formal Coffee Club meetings are also continuing each month at the Engine Room Cafe, with the next one scheduled for 7.45am on February 10. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Equity crowdfunding platform Equitise launched in New Zealand on Friday, with one startup seeking to use the platform to raise $350,000. The launch comes shortly after the startup closed a $500,000 funding round, led by a venture capitalist from Sydney. Equitise co-founder Chris Gilbert told StartupSmart he expects a larger funding round to follow later this year. “Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of my time in New Zealand getting Financial Markets Authority (FMA) licence – the FMA being New Zealand’s main financial regulator. Before Christmas, we obtained our FMA equity crowdfunding licence,” Gilbert says. “The New Zealand launch went live this morning, and we’ve had the first people validating their business ideas through the platform.” The first company to use the platform is tourism travel guide Tourism Radio NZ, which had revenue over $950,000 in 2014. Gilbert says it has already secured $50,000 in funding and is seeking to raise $350,000, having already secured funding from a high-profile New Zealand-based angel investor. The second deal, set to go live in the coming days, is an Auckland-based biotech business working on cystic fibrosis. It’s already raised $1 million and is looking to raise $2 million. Equitise relocated from Sydney to New Zealand, where equity crowdfunding legislation is already in place, rather than wait for legislation to be implemented in Australia. There was concern that Australian legislation might not be implemented until next year, but progress has quickened. Gilbert says equity crowdfunding legislation in Australia is starting to take shape, and he has been spending time with parliamentarians discussing the reforms. The consultations included a round-table meeting involving ASIC, Treasury officials, Small Business Minister Bruce Billson and six or seven platform providers. Treasury is in the process of gathering submissions as to what the legislation should look like. While there are still intricacies of the reform to iron out around investors and capital, Gilbert says the reforms are on track to be implemented sometime around the middle of this year. “The federal government has been supportive since it has become aware of equity crowdfunding as an issue, and I’m confident we’ll see changes soon,” he says. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A world-renowned coworking conference will be held in Australia for the first time as part of Vivid Sydney, the southern hemisphere’s largest festival of light, music and ideas. The Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) will explore trends in technology, design, community and marketing. Specific topics will include coworking spaces and collaboration with government and China. Founder of Hub Australia and CoActiv8, Brad Krauskopf, said in a statement he was thrilled the conference was being held in Sydney because it meant Australians would be able to “be on the crest of the wave” of smart working trends. “How and where people work is undergoing a rapid evolution thanks to the rise of the sharing economy, a demand for quality working environments and a need for increase in work life balance,” he says. “GCUC Australia is set to bring together the best of local and international co-working leaders who will tackle the most relevant co-working topics. This is an invaluable opportunity for startups, freelancers, small business owners, government, corporates, educators and professionals in the property and design industries.” Speakers will include the general manager of Tank Stream Labs, Balder Tol, general manager of Fishburners, Murray Hurps, co-founder of York Butter Factory, Darcy Naunton, and Peta Ellis from River City Labs. GCUC will be held on June 4-5, 2015 with day two being hosted by co-working space Fishburners. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Want to volunteer for a charity or cause you believe in, but concerned about the lack of hours in your day? An Australian startup by the name of Communiteer is looking to connect skilled professionals with low-commitment, short-duration volunteering work. Co-founder Victor Lee told StartupSmart he and his other founders, Vincent Feng and Revsion Tam, all juggle full-time work with the startup on the side. “We’ve all been through the whole graduating from uni, working for a good eight to 10 years and trying to find a way where we can balance our daily lives and contribute to the community with whatever spare time we have,” he says. “What we’d like to do is target skilled professionals – whether that is the newer generation between 21-30 or recently retired professionals – with a new way of volunteering so they can contribute to the community in a way that matches their cause and skills.” Lee says the startup is not trying to compete with traditional volunteering, but rather allow people with limited time on their hands to assist not-for-profits in a way that they might not have thought was possible before. “For our system we used a principle called micro-volunteering where we try to break down the whole project into bite-sized chunks so that people can find the chunk of work that relates to their skills, passion and availability,” he says. “Together all these volunteers can complete a major project. It’s a hybrid between crowdsourcing… and also the more traditional way of a Seek job board where people apply for those positions.” Lee says the team will spend the next five months refining a beta and pitching to investors, with the aim of launching publicly at the end of this financial year. “At the end of the day we’re not here to make millions and sell it off,” he says. “It’s more about doing it on a cost-recovery basis so we’re not too much out of profit. On our platform, the volunteer skills and the time they contribute are the unifying quality – just because you’re a graphic designer doesn’t mean your skills are worth less than a lawyer just because in the real world your billing time could be four times the difference.” According to Volunteering Australia, 6.1 million Australians over the age of 18 participated in voluntary work in 2010 – with women slightly more likely to give up their time for a charity or not-for-profit than men. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
PayPal’s John Lunn on how digital currencies will disrupt the way “inefficient 30-year-old banking services move money”1:00AM | Thursday, 29 January
The potential for digital currency to move money around the world more efficiently is huge, according to PayPal developer network global director John Lunn. Last month PayPal made a submission to the Australian Senate inquiry into digital currency arguing that digital currencies themselves shouldn’t be regulated, but the entities that use them should. PayPal, through a deal between its subsidiary Braintree and Coinbase, began enabling all US merchants using its platform to accept bitcoin payments. Lunn says the primary driver behind PayPal and Braintree’s decision to implement bitcoin payments is not so much an endorsement of digital currencies, rather a reaction to PayPal and Braintree merchants who wanted consumers to be able to purchase with bitcoin. “We thought, let’s look at it and let’s get some real data about who’s going to use this, are people going to use this to buy real products in the real world,” he says. Braintree only added bitcoin to its merchants’ payment options this month, so there’s not yet enough data to examine whether consumers are embracing bitcoin as a means to purchase. Lunn was a bitcoin miner up until recently, “for scientific purposes”, he says with a chuckle, before adding: “One of the things I always think about bitcoin is can I explain it to my grandmother? I can’t and I don’t think my grandmother will ever use it.” “Which is a barrier; until someone comes up with a smoother and easier way to use it, I think it’s a barrier to mass adoption. “I’m fascinated with the concept of digital currencies and a shared ledger. I think it’s important and there’s so many things you could do with it, which aren’t necessarily how it’s being used at the moment. “I think it’s going to disrupt the way a lot of inefficient 30-year-old banking services move money.” Lunn is in Melbourne this weekend as a judge for the Melbourne leg of PayPal and Braintree’s BattleHack. The hackathon tasks developers with building mobile applications to solve a local challenge incorporating the PayPal API or the Braintree SDK. The winner will be flown to the finals at PayPal’s headquarters to compete for the $US100,000 grand prize. “We’re thrilled to bring BattleHack back to Australia and give local developers a chance to showcase their skills and creativity. We chose Melbourne as one of the cities due to its status as a technology and innovation hub.” For more details, visit https://2015.battlehack.org. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Sydney-based rostering startup Zenshifts has raised $107,500 in seed funding, which will be used to ramp up marketing and build out the feature set of its software-as-a-service platform. That platform allows businesses to quickly create rosters which highlight scheduling conflicts and budgeted costs, while also communicating those rosters via text messages, emails and mobile applications. It notifies staff of any roster changes that affect them, in real time. Co-founder Julian Cartwright says the platform, which charges a monthly subscription fee, targets an area of the market that’s underserviced – small businesses. “The problem in the market is the software available is far too feature bloated,” he says. “It really comes down to core features and core elements of the product, based around obviously roster, engaging staff availability and communication teams.” Cartwright says Zenshifts’ five core functions – rostering, engaging staff availability, communication tools, timesheets and timekeeping – keep the platform simple. One of the biggest concerns for investors was whether or not the team had the capability to build and deliver the product, and whether or not there was a market for it. The Zenshifts founding team has experience developing technology systems which allayed the former, while they used search engine keyword statistics to convince investors of the market. “All of the search traffic around rostering and staff rostering in Australia and in the United States around employee scheduling and things like that, all of it has been trending up in the last months,” Cartwright says. “And in the last 18 months, it’s been starting to trend up significantly. There’s around 100,000 searches a day globally around the keywords we want to target with our online marketing and online presence. “People are becoming more and more familiar with cloud as a term. They don’t need to know how it works; they just need to know they can rely on it.” The seed round was led by John Studdert, managing director of 80/20 Advisors and a member of the advisory board of Start Up Australia. Cartwright says the funding is an important step for Zenshifts, which was founded early last year, as its founders didn’t have the luxury of bootstrapping much more than they already had. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A new startup is helping Melburnians get their caffeine fix without having to whip out a wallet or fumble with loose change. UpShot, based out of the depo8 co-working space in Prahran, is an app where users can pay a weekly subscription in exchange for unlimited coffee at participating cafes. An introductory subscription costs $15 a week – however, the fee will rise to $25 in the near future. For every coffee sold via UpShot, the startup takes a 3% commission. If a user drinks more than $15 a week in coffee at a cafe, then UpShot pays for those additional coffees. Co-founder Jerrold Poh told StartupSmart the major hurdle the startup has had to overcome since launching in December last year was encouraging cafes to come onboard. “The problem wasn’t going to be getting new users – we had already put up a landing page and got a lot of emails whenever we put advertising towards it,” he says. “It was very hard to get cafes onboard and we thought we had to make it as easy as possible. It was a long process to get to where we are now.” Just paid for my first unlimited coffee from @ontheupshot app at @ST_ALi - AMAZE! pic.twitter.com/DGxQqIbZZV — Kate Pattison (@katepatto) January 28, 2015 While Poh would not reveal how many users UpShot currently has, he did say the startup has partnered with 11 cafes so far with “a couple more” in the pipeline, which he expects to sign up with the service in the next few weeks. “Most of them are around Prahran and South Yarra, which is where we’re based out of,” he says. “But we’re currently doing a big push into the CBD area – a lot of our users are based there.” Poh hopes coffee’s popularity will encourage people to be more open to subscription and mobile payments. He encourages other entrepreneurs to validate their ideas and form partnerships before throwing time and money at a project. “The first step is to continually test your assumptions,” he says. “If we went in with our original idea and spent six months building it, I’m not sure it would have been readily accepted by cafes. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Startup Weekend Adelaide co-founder Orren Prunckun has been honoured for his contribution to the startup community. Prunckun recently received an Australia Day Citizen of the Year Award from the City of Unley for his contributions to the local startup community. Speaking to StartupSmart, Orren Prunckun says Adelaide is at a “critical point of activity” thanks to support from the state government, investors, corporates, local universities and other stakeholders. He says the recognition was unexpected. “I was very, very surprised they asked me to do a speech in the end… I hadn’t prepared anything because there was no expectation that I was even in the running,” he says. Prunckun says organising community meet-ups and mentoring is crucial for a strong startup ecosystem, and one of the reasons why Adelaide was recently cited as having the best coordinated approach to entrepreneurship at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs summit. “On the surface they [meet-ups and mentorships] don’t seem to have that much impact, but depending on the person’s level of commitment, small actions like that do go a long way,” he says. “In places like Adelaide those connections are forged and unofficial networking happens. Within the tech startup community that’s super important.” With a population of one million, Prunckun says a lot of people in Adelaide know each other and “more and more people get drawn in”. “Every week there’s at least one or two things week-in week-out,” he says. “That wasn’t around two years ago – there was virtually nothing. There’s numerous people who are getting in there and getting their hands dirty. We’ve got accelerators and funds and everything that a tech ecosystem needs is here in some foundation. And all the three major unis are jumping onboard.” However, Prunckun also says more can be done over the next few years to ensure people are up-skilled and more capital flows into the city. “The knowledge level or skill level is not quite at the level it needs to be for people to go and create super successful companies,” he says. “So what I mean by that is there is still a bit of time and learning we need to go through to get people as a whole up to a Silicon Valley level. We’re at the beginning but there’s so much potential for Adelaide and we’ve got past that really difficult stage – I don’t think we’re going to regress or go back.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
During the process of a capital raise it is likely that you will need to present some documentation for due diligence purposes. The bigger the raise, the more likely you will encounter a more intense due diligence process. This may include a full audit of your company's legal documents. I can't recommend enough that if you haven't already got a good cloud-based filing system in place, that you get one as soon as possible. Developing good habits now could save you from expensive, time-consuming admin work later. I often come across entrepreneurs who think that written agreements are unnecessary in the early stages of their business. This can be agreements relating to things such as employees, contractors and commercial partners. What is often overlooked is how this kind of thinking may present potential risk issues for future investors. If you are just starting your business I suggest that you consider setting up a simple framework from day one. I recommend Google Drive or Dropbox. If you already have something in place but it's not organised, it’s not too difficult to make some changes. The key is keeping the high level structure simple and then developing good disciplined habits to maintain it. Here's how I always set up a simple structure using either Google Drive or Dropbox: Set up two main folders: Folder 1: Highly Confidential – imagine you have a filing cabinet in your office; this is the one that you would lock and keep private. Folder 2: General Admin – this is the folder for the whole team to use. Folder 1 is the main focus of a due diligence process, it will need to contain all legal, financial and HR records. I always keep it as simple as possible by creating three sub-folders. I always think of each of these sub-folders as drawers of a filing cabinet, I guess that's because I'm old school and I've done lots of filing the old way. Once you've created your three main sub-folders then you can create more sub-folders for each one. I find this flow works in all startups that I've worked with: ● LEGAL ○ 3rd Party Agreements ○ Company ○ Investment ○ Employee Share Scheme ● FINANCIAL ○ Bank Accounts ○ Sales Invoices ○ Suppliers Invoices ○ Management Reports ● HR ○ Employees ○ Contractors Folder 2 is for general admin, this is where you keep all things general, items that anyone on the team may need to access at any time, e.g. R&D product development, shared company policies, etc. Of course everyone has their own way of setting things out so there are no hard and fast rules here. This is just an example that might help you to start a filing framework for your business. The secret is to have a framework in place and then to continually add your documents into the correct folders on a regular basis. If you know you don't have the discipline to do this yourself, then I recommend that you make it a priority to engage someone who does. I also recommend that once you have this in place you provide clarity to your team on the importance of keeping the startup house in order. Clare Hallam is a Startup Operations Specialist. Follow Clare on Twitter. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Weddings, corporate functions, birthday parties – Sydney-based startup EventMojo wants to be the platform where every aspect of them can be sorted. Not just the venues, but the food, drinks, photographers, DJs and just about anything else one might need to hold an event can be booked through the platform. Co-founder Sanjay Sundarjee, who’s bootstrapping the startup with fellow co-founder Ben Pecotich, says the web platform makes it easier for people to organise events and for event suppliers to market their services. Prior to working on Event Mojo, Sundarjee was a marketing manager, a role in which he often bumped into the difficulty of organising events. “We decided there was a need for one place for events, similar to Wotif or Airbnb for accommodation, where you could find everything you need,” he says. The site gives users the means to source suppliers, look at reviews and prices, and a means to book. “When you are planning an event, you shouldn’t need to spend hours trying to find the right services,” he says. “Why do you have to go through so many sites to search for venues, catering and other services?” Founded in December 2013, Sundarjee says in the first few months the challenge was to build a database of suppliers that offered everything their customers needed. “One of the big things we needed to contend with is we want to cover any service associate with events; a very broad area,” he says. “For us, our strategy has been saying for the next few months we will focus on (recruiting suppliers in) this area.” Event Mojo takes 3.5% cut from all the sales on the platform, but will also look to advertising and sponsored content as additional revenue streams. “Suppliers have loved it because it’s a win-win situation – 3.5% isn’t a big fee,” Sundarjee says. Event Mojo launched in August last year with over 200 event organisers from sporting clubs, to universities, banks and government agencies. One of the challenges at launch was messaging. The startup had originally used the text “Plan the moment”, but had found few visitors heading to the site were converting to customers. As a result they decided to make their message more obvious: “Find and book everything for your event.” “You can become pretty immersed in your startup. When creating the layout we thought what works is keeping it as simple as you can,” Sundarjee says. “But we didn’t explain what it was enough, what it was about. The way we looked at it other websites out there like Airbnb kept it very simple. “But they can be very simple because they’ve got a really strong brand now. ‘Plan the moment’ – that’s something cool sounding, something you might see on Airbnb – but it might be down the track for us because it didn’t make sense for our users. We needed to be less abstract.” Event Mojo will continue to work with the goal of proving the model in Australia before targeting overseas markets. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Entrepreneurs from around Australia will flock to Adelaide next week as part of the city’s commitment to becoming a startup hot-spot. Entrepreneur’s Week 2015 is a collaboration between the Adelaide Entrepreneurship Forum, Brand South Australia, Adelaide City Council, the state government and a range of stakeholders. The festival aims to showcase South Australia’s startup ecosystem and provide budding entrepreneurs with the resources and networks to start their own business. Paul Daly, convenor of the Adelaide Entrepreneurship Forum, said in a statement Adelaide is the perfect place to host a startup festival due to the city’s small but active community of tech-enabled businesses. “There’s a fair bit in place but there’s a whole lot of new things starting up,” he says. “At the G20 Young Entrepreneurs summit in Sydney we were cited as the city that had the best co-ordinated approach to entrepreneurs. And at the moment I think we’re on the cusp of some really exciting things – there’s certainly advantages to the size of Adelaide. It’s a cohesive community and you can trial new businesses at reasonable costs and take feedback before launching nationally or internationally.” Daly says promoting the local startup community helps everyone from investors to other stakeholders feel part of a larger ecosystem. “Traditional industries are under real pressure – the closure of Holden is a dark cloud over the state,” he says. “You begin to realise people developing new businesses focused on the future are the future of Adelaide and South Australia.” “There are 95 programs available to South Australian entrepreneurs – a few driven by government, others by universities and many by entrepreneurs themselves,” he says. “These include accelerator programs to help bring new products to market, co-working spaces that encourage collaboration and business support to help grow new businesses. Entrepreneurship is thriving in Adelaide, which is a very good sign for the economy.” Entrepreneurs’ Week will also include the second SouthStart 2015 conference, with speakers such as Shark Tank investor Stephen Baxter and OneShift founder Gen George. Chhai Thach, event founder and director of Adelaide’s first co-working space Majoran Distillery, previously told StartupSmart SouthStart will be about showcasing local startups and encouraging locals to come up with great business ideas. “We want them to come and connect with the local community here,” he says. “The more people that know about startups and get excited, the more people will get interested and inspired to start something new this year.” Entrepreneurs’ Week 2015 will run from February 2-6. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The founders of car-sharing app Ride Surfing have launched an on-demand grocery delivery service set to compete with the major supermarkets as well as a range of other early-stage delivery startups. Last year Manutea Dupont and his co-founders launched Ride Surfing – an app where passengers ‘donate’ money to drivers in order to get around the legal issues faced by Uber in NSW and other states. Despite telling StartupSmart last year that Ride Surfing would expand into other Australian cities, Dupont and his team have focused their efforts on “getting Shop Wings off the ground” for the past few months. “They are definitely two different businesses,” Dupont says when asked whether the launch of Shop Wings was a sign of a pivot. “The thing that is true though is that there is a huge overlap in the back-end in terms of know-how and what we’ve learnt with Ride Surfing. In terms of the focus… right now it is very much on Shop Wings and a bit less on Ride Surfing. The reason for that is that we have a small team working on both.” According to the startup’s website, Shop Wings delivers groceries to your door within two hours of placing an order between the hours of 8am and 9pm. Orders must be a minimum of $29 and deliver costs $8.90 after the first order. The service is currently available in the Sydney CBD, eastern suburbs and inner west. While there is an overlap when it comes to people working behind-the-scenes on both startups, Dupont says Shop Wings will not use drivers from Ride Surfer to deliver groceries at this stage. “For a lot of the people who are from Ride Surfing, they’re busy doing what they have to do on Ride Surfing and they are very different jobs,” he says. “So what we want to make sure is all of our shoppers [for Shop Wings] are focused on being shoppers. But in the future my guess is there won’t be zero overlap.” Dupont says while he believes both Ride Surfing and Shop Wings have huge potential, he says the grocery market is “the next great barrier online”. “We will make a decision on what we will focus our energy on, but right now we’ll keep both balls in play and see how it goes.” Competition between on-demand delivery startups has increased in Australia recently as new businesses compete for market share. Sydney-based startup Your Fork also promises to deliver groceries within a two-hour period, while in Victoria on-demand courier Swift – which was born out of alcohol delivery startup Liquorun – turns over around $100,000 a month. Dupont says he welcomes the challenge and plans to be “more flexible and agile” by quickly scaling his fleet of shoppers. The startup recently secured seed funding from Rocket Internet for an undisclosed sum. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
The maker movement in Australia and overseas is set for a big push thanks to a startup that wants to make it simple and easy for people to learn about hardware and electronics. Pirates Electronics wants to make it simple and fun for people to learn about electronics through a series of online tutorials. Founder Stéphane Recouvreur says he originally had the idea for the startup a couple of months ago after looking to learn more about electronics. “What I realised was all the resources available online are absolutely horrible,” he says. “At the same time, Codecademy was teaching coding skills on the internet. I thought there should be a Codecademy for electronics.” Within two days of putting up a simple landing page, around 400 people had signed up via email to flag their interest in the service. From there, Recouvreur turned to crowdfunding through Kickstarter. “After a week I collected just less than $7000 and there are still 20 days to go,” he says. “It’s a very good feeling that people are interested in your project and willing to give money based on a few mock-ups and your idea.” Recouvreur says he is hoping to get the site up and running in around six months, and will be bringing other people with expertise in electronics and websites to help turn the project into a reality. “The past couple of years there’s a lot of focus on coding and making websites and I definitely think there’s room for going beyond that,” he says. “I’ve been helping with a few hackathons – one in Wollongong – and there’s a fair few [participants] that do websites and another group that do hardware. There is a missing link for people – they don’t know where to start. I want to provide them a simple way to get started in electronics.” Recouvreur says the Kickstarter campaign was a great way to promote the startup. “From day one it was definitely focused all over the world,” he says. “I’m looking at a few backers from Australia, the US, Finland and a couple from India. I want the solution to be available everywhere.” Australia is home to a number of successful startups to come out of the ‘maker movement’, including the Wi-Fi enabled light bulb LIFX which raised $1.3 million in six days on Kickstarter in 2012 before raising an additional $2.1 million from investors. In December, Adelaide startup Makers Empire announced a partnership with US toy giant Sphero. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Being an entrepreneur is serious business. While some seem to thrive under the pressure of growth and competition, others harden, taking their focus off their own businesses to think up ways to sabotage their competitors. Hiding under the cloak of anonymity, their dirty tricks are many. They plagiarise your blogs, website content, promotions, newsletter, social media updates, products, services or innovations and claim it as their own. Some open fake social media accounts to harass you through posts or subtly (and not so subtly) promote their own business on your page. Others leave scathing online reviews for products and services they haven't even purchased, or pose as a complimenting customer trying to glean suppliers and the inner workings of your business. All in an attempt to surpass you, distract you and break you. While it can be distressing, annoying and downright unethical the truth is you can't control how your competitors will react. You can, however, control how you respond. So before you go out and declare a full-scale competitor war, here are five tips to help you deal with their dirty tricks. 1. Feel satisfied that you are doing something right Know that to cause such a stir and have your competitors scared you must be doing something right. People don't copy or get concerned about competitors with bad businesses or ideas. They get concerned about competitors with great ones. You are doing your job too well in their eyes and they don't like it. See their jealousy as a compliment. In fact, the only time you really need to worry is when they stop looking to you for their ideas. 2. Mind your own business While it's necessary to keep a check on what a competitor is doing, the minute they consume your thoughts and energy or alter your actions they've won. Stay focused on your business. Keep disrupting, keep innovating, and keep making your competitors uncomfortable. 3. Build your fans I'm not talking about more social media followers here; I'm talking about actual raving fans. You want to create customers that have a great experience with your business or love what you do so much they become your extended sales team, and in this case, your supporters and defenders. Customers who have a strong relationship and emotional connection with you will start to notice (as will others) that your competitors are copying you or playing dirty tricks. What’s more, they won’t be reserved with their opinion. 4. Respond with kindness Use negative reviews as a way to showcase your character and customer service. There are countless examples on social media of how a complaint turned into a massive PR opportunity for a business. Respond with kindness, show your customers why they love you and how positively you act under pressure. You will often build more rapport with your customers, fans and followers when they see you handle a negative situation positively and authentically, it will give them even more of a reason to believe in you. 5. Let them be their own undoing People who act in desperation or greed always slip up eventually and those who copy you will always be one step behind. So as tempting as it can be to lower yourself to their level and play their dirty games, don't. It catches up with them. It may not be in your time (or how you have plotted it in your head), but it does. The business world is too small for it not to. So seek legal and business counsel if and when you need to, though make sure your main focus is on building your business and serving your customers. Succeeding will always be the best revenge. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Pinterest will start to push more ‘Promoted Pins’, otherwise known as ad content, on to its users in coming weeks. The visual social network launched its Promoted Pins function last year, allowing a number of US businesses to pay to give their pins more visibility in search results and category feeds. But the latest move will give advertisers the ability to promote their pins directly into users’ home feeds, the first screen you see when accessing Pinterest. In a blog post, Pinterest assured users all paid-for pins would be clearly labelled “Promoted” and that anyone who didn’t like a promoted pin would be able to hide it from their feed and tell Pinterest why they didn’t like it, making sure the platform can target the right ads to the right users. “Recently, I was looking to redo my bedroom, and I found a rug in the Home Décor category on Pinterest that’s just my style. It happened to be a Promoted Pin from Target,” said Annie Ta, Pinterest product manager. “That’s exactly what we’re hoping Promoted Pins can be: one more way to discover and save creative ideas, connecting you to businesses that’ll help you make your plans a reality.” “We want to make sure Pinterest is a service that’s here to stay for all of us, and advertising helps us ensure that happens,” Ta added. There is no indication if Australian businesses will be able to advertise with Promoted Pins, but it is likely Pinterest will want to open up this new method of monetisation to a bigger group of advertisers in time. This article originally appeared at SmartCompany. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A new digital “start-up” inside the Canberra bureaucracy will explore more innovative uses of data along with bringing quality control to online service delivery — and it’s already attracted international attention. More details have been released about the Digital Transformation Office, the new Department of Communications unit announced by the Abbott government on Friday. A “small team of developers, designers, researchers and content specialists” will drive the existing myGov digital platform and other projects focusing on “end-user needs in developing digital services”. A recruitment process for senior roles in the new agency — including a chief executive — will begin shortly, looking for digital transformation experts regardless of whether they cut their teeth in the public or private sector. Whoever fills those roles will quickly get to know all of government’s service arms as it takes on a central agency-like position, assuming responsibility for leading all government ICT investment decisions relating to citizen-focused service delivery, as well as acting as “digital champion” and educator for agencies with limited digital expertise. A spokesman for Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull told The Mandarin there are synergies in the Department of Communications between the digital-by-default ethos and practice that the public have come to expect — seamless interaction with government: “This agency isn’t designed to operate in a silo. Some agencies do things already incredibly well … others have made very little progress. The point behind this agency is that it’ll be the first time that we will have that whole-of-government perspective. “You won’t see dribs and drabs of good stuff and quite a lot of bad. You will see, hopefully, a level playing field of very good performance.” Turnbull (pictured) said on Friday the unit will “operate more like a startup” than a traditional government agency. One of the primary tasks will be to develop a unitary log-in for government services, while protecting privacy and security of digital identities. The myGov log-in process — which won the Silver and Collaboration Award at the Excellence in Public Service Management awards last year — will be expanded. According to Turnbull’s office: “That identity assurance space is probably the most significant issue governments around the world are grappling with in the digital space. Are you who you say you are? And therefore once we’ve determined that you are who you say you are, we’re providing a seamless log-in process where that can be duplicated across agencies as opposed to having to do that countless times.” The government’s vision includes a consistent “look and feel” that meets the needs and expectations of the user, fewer roadblocks, and digital from start to finish. Turnbull will also direct the new agency to look at all possible advances in digital service delivery across government. According to the spokesperson: “The classic example is going to be how we utilise data. Obviously there’s been quite a bit push in the open data space already, so how have we leveraged that data, and how have we leveraged analytics to improve the services we deliver?” Trials of more open data uses will be announced later this year. So is this a complete takeover of ICT? Not according to a spokesperson at the Department of Communications: “Government agencies will retain responsibility for ICT investment decisions that do not relate to citizen-focused digital service delivery.” The Department of Human Services developed myGov for Centrelink, Medicare and other welfare transactions, but it now includes the Australian Taxation Office’s online system. The department had begun engaging other agencies on expanding the service. Human Services senior executive Ben Rimmer was a significant driver of the project before he departed earlier this month for a post as CEO of the City of Melbourne. The UK government’s Mike Bracken, executive director of Digital in the Cabinet Office and head of the Government Digital Service GDS, extended his congratulations to DTO on Monday, blogging that it was “exciting stuff”: “Needless to say, you have our heartfelt support. If you need input from us, we’ll be happy to provide it. And if any of your team find yourselves visiting the UK, you’ll be made welcome at our office in Holborn. It will be the least we can do to repay the hospitality shown to Ben Terrett and Liam Maxwell when they visited Australia last summer at the invitation of Minister for Communications Malcolm Turnbull. “Digital transformation is fast becoming an international effort, something we saw clearly at the D5 summit we hosted in London last December. The Australian team joins others in Mexico, Israel, the USA, Estonia, Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand — together, we’re building an amazing community of knowledge and experience. The pace of momentum is striking.” This article originally appeared at The Mandarin. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Twitter has announced it is rolling out a range of new features aimed at boosting public conversations on the platform. Group messaging will now be available for the private message function, including for people who do not necessarily follow each other. New! Use Direct Messages to speak privately with a group of up to 20 people. Share Tweets, show emoji & be yourself. https://t.co/8giGhC6OO0 — Twitter (@twitter) January 27, 2015 Users will also be able to capture, edit and share videos directly from the Twitter app in the same way that they can upload photos. Videos can be up to 30 seconds in length. The new features will be available to users in the coming weeks. Snapchat introduces news and entertainment service Snapchat has launched a new feature aimed at selling ads and sharing content from news organisations such as Vice and CNN. “Snapchat Discover is a new way to explore Stories from different editorial teams,” the company said in a blog post. “It’s the result of collaboration with world-class leaders in media to build a storytelling format that puts the narrative first.” Snapchat is currently valued at around $10 billion. Fintech startup raises $1 million in seed funding Credit card startup Final has raised $1 million in seed funding ahead of its 2015 pilot program. TechCrunch reports the round was led by Ludlow Ventures, T5 Capital Partners, Y Combinator and other angel investors. Founded a year ago, Final aims to give credit card users more transparency about their spending and eliminate the friction around having to cancel a card due to fraud or theft. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 1.62%, falling 287.22 points to 17,391.48. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US79 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A Sydney startup is heading to Switzerland to battle it out for the chance to win $US500,000 in funding. Car-monitoring startup GoFar will represent Australia at the Seedstars World Final Competition in Geneva, pitching against 36 other startups after winning the Australian competition in October last year. Participants will take part in a three-day bootcamp and have international investors and mentors coach them on their business models prior to the final pitch-off. GoFar hopes to use an in-car display and corresponding phone app to help drivers make smarter and safer decisions – saving them money on both fuel and insurance in the process. Danny Adams told StartupSmart while he and his co-founder Ian Davidson have refined their pitch over the years, encouraging potential investors to get onboard is never an easy task. “It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you are pitching, it always seems like you’re starting from scratch every time,” he says. “For people coming into pitching for the first time, you’ll be nervous the whole way through no matter how skilled you are or how comfortable you are with it. The main thing with pitching is practise and practising as much as you can.” Adams says entrepreneurs should pay more attention to how they plan to make money in order to improve the pitches. “Certainly early on it was a problem I ran into where you talk about the product or project you’re working on because that’s what you’re really excited about,” he says. “And usually early on you haven’t spent a lot of time on traction.” Adams says he closed a seed funding round last month after working on GoFar on the side for a number of years. He encourages those in a similar situation to form networks and friendships before deciding to work on a startup full-time. “I was unaware for a number of years of the entrepreneurial and startup communities that exist in Sydney and in the other cities around the country,” he says. “I reached out to a few meetup groups and had a few false starts, and then came across Fishburners and soon enough decided to go full-time on this thing. That was the best thing I have done – that’s when the networks started to be made and things really started to happen.” The focus for GoFar after the international pitching competition, according to Adams, will be getting the product ready to deliver and expanding the number of trials ahead of a launch in the third quarter. “We’re also looking for partners in the insurance space and in the fleet space,” he says. “Lots of corporates have fleet vehicles and we’d be interested in speaking with them if they’re interested in safety and the efficiency side of things.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
BlueChilli is looking to invest in early-stage startups as part of its Disrupt@Scale program. However, some Australian entrepreneurs have raised concerns over the amount of equity the Sydney-based accelerator is asking for. As part of the program, four teams will each receive a $50,000 investment initially in exchange for 30% equity, and then a further $25,000 upon completion. In addition, the winners will take part in a six-month accelerator program and receive support from a large Australian financial institution which is yet to be announced. Alan Jones, chief growth hacker at BlueChilli, told StartupSmart the accelerator is looking for startups that focus on mobile and online communications. “We think is the first opportunity for the people at the idea stage to get their idea backed – and that $75,000 is a pretty substantial backing,” he says. “It’s not just about the cash, you get to enter the BlueChilli accelerator program and spend time with us. And we can actually build the startup technology for you as part of the program.” Jones says he hopes the program will encourage new people into the startup ecosystem who might not otherwise make the jump from the corporate world. “Blue Chilli exists to serve a particular problem that Australia has, in that we have a shortage of entrepreneurs but we do have a real shortage of technical co-founders and early-stage people.” Jason Seed, president of Kounta.com, told StartupSmart he thinks there are a combination of issues with the Disrupt@Scale program. “There is not enough money to build anything worthwhile combined with too much of the company given away,” he says. “There is no chance that you can both build a product and release it commercially for that much money. The consequence of this is that the founders will likely lose their control of the company at the next round and in that situation it is very rare for a startup to succeed.” Seed says startups should not be giving away more than 20% of their company each time they raise money in order to build a product based on their own vision. “It is critical for the founders to control the company in the early days,” he says. “It is their vision that they are following and if they can no longer set the direction or feel at risk of loss of their company or position, the company will flounder… good quality investors understand this.” However, Jones says while there are a number of accelerator programs in Australia that ask for less equity in exchange for investment, Disrupt@Scale is different for a number of reasons. “In all those programs you can’t just be at an idea stage because competition in those programs is increasing all the time – this program addresses people much earlier in the cycle,” he says. “The way the investment stage works is the earlier it is, the risker the investment is, and they [the investors] can rightly claim they have a larger stake in the business. We’re asking them to put their brains behind the business and make it work, so it has to be worth their time as well. “The most important thing is that people apply for the program which is best for them and we don’t want to pretend for a moment this program is right for all startup founders.” Entries for BlueChilli’s Disrupt@Scale program close on Friday, January 30. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.