Fintech accelerator AWI is organising an expo for self-directed investors amidst booming interest in Australia’s booming finance industry startup sector. Open to both investors and those interested in learning about the sector, the 2014 Self Directed Investor Expo will run from 9am to 4pm on November 27 in the theatre under the ASX Exchange Centre in Bridge Street, Sydney. AWI head Toby Heap told Private Media the past 12 months has been a period of rapid growth for the sector, which includes peer-to-peer lending, equity crowdfunding, and other financial services. “When we started earlier this year, when I told people about fintech they would look at me blankly. Now everyone knows what fintech is, and the momentum is exciting,” Heap says. “Financial services were slow to be disrupted compared to other things being disrupted by the internet and the cloud. That’s why, when it comes, it happens fast. “The big innovation is to cut out the middle man. Until now, there was a sense people had to outsource control of their financial future. Now there’s a range of products that allow people to take control of their own finances.” It is this growing interest among consumers keen to take control of their own finances that led its accelerator demo day to morph into a full-blown expo. “We run an accelerator program specifically focused on financial services startups. Each six months, we take on another bunch of startups,” Heap says. “So this day started out as a demo day for our first batch of startups, but fintech has been getting so big lately that we asked a bunch of other businesses to come along as well. “We spoke to the ASX and they like what we’re doing, so they’re supporting us.” The first intake, announced back in July, included Simply Wall St, Debt to 10k, MacroVue, and Equitise, while the second intake closed in September. Aside from the graduates, companies such as Sharesight, SelfWealth, LiveWire, Intelligent Investor and Stock Spot will also make presentations at the expo. In the afternoon, there will be a panel on P2P investing featuring Society One, Thin Caps and RateSetter. People interested in attending the event are advised to contact AWI to obtain tickets. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Taxing bitcoin with sales tax is a “monumentally stupid” idea, according to digital currency expert Andreas Antonopoulos. Earlier this year the Australian Tax Office released its guidance on bitcoin, announcing that it did not consider the digital currency to be money, or a foreign currency. The decision means the Goods and Service Tax (GST) applies twice to some bitcoin transactions – firstly on the goods and services being supplied and secondly on the ‘supply’ of bitcoins as payments. “It’s as monumentally stupid as it would have been in 1994 to classify the internet as a fax machine service, and put it under the control of telecom companies,” Antonopoulos said at a Bitcoin Melbourne meetup on Monday. “Or to classify it as a CB radio, a fancy CB radio and ask every user of the internet to pass a Morse code exam and have an operator’s licence. “Those things didn’t happen at the time because regulators took a wait and see approach and decided to let the technology itself flourish for a while before trying to apply regulations. “By doing regulation in that way, Australia’s not making bitcoin slow down, what they’re doing is making bitcoin move out.” He says governments should take a similar approach to the rise of digital currency. “(It’s) a good idea. Because the truth is very few people really understand what bitcoin is exactly, and how it works,” he says. “And I don’t mean a few politicians; I mean very few people in general really really understand bitcoin. “I would count myself as one of them. I understand parts of bitcoin, but I don’t think I can predict where this thing is going. I don’t think I can predict even a fraction of the applications that are likely to be built on bitcoin. None of us know. This is unchartered territory. The reason it’s unchartered territory is because nothing like bitcoin has ever happened before. “The idea of a trusted decentralised network that allows any individual anywhere in the world to transmit value or establish ownership over digital networks and transmit that in a matter of seconds anywhere in the world, transparently, safely, almost instantaneously, and for less than a third of a penny.” Antonopoulos speculates on what the development of digital currency could mean when combined with the rise of the internet of things. The blockchain, the technology behind bitcoin, which contains a database of all confirmed transactions, could be used to inform objects of their true owners, through smart contracts. “For example, a car could use the blockchain to identify its owner,” he says. “So instead of being presented with a physical key, you can present it with a key that’s a mobile wallet, for example, which proves ownership to your car every time you step inside, over Bluetooth with your mobile wallet. The interesting thing here is you could sell your car to someone, and transfer that total in a bitcoin transaction. We create a transaction that has two parts. One part has $10,000 and the other part of the transaction transfers the key token from my car (to the new owner). “As soon as that transaction is recognised on the blockchain, the car can validate that transaction itself. The car says this transaction says I have a new owner, this transaction has proof of work behind it, and has been included in the block, therefore I believe it because it’s on the blockchain. “I basically not just sold the title and transferred it, but I also transferred electronic control of the car. “The internet of things, combined with the internet of money, you have this incredible potential for creating tokens that transfer ownership, for anything you can imagine. And that’s a really exciting thing.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Education marketplace startup WeTeachMe had a secret weapon when it came to building trust and a sense of ownership with its virtual team – T-shirts. The startup, which earlier this year was a joint winner of Oxygen Ventures’ The Big Pitch event, is a marketplace for education classes. It allows users to find local cooking classes, painting classes, dancing courses and just about any other informal education course you can think of. Co-founder Demi Markogiannaki says once WeTeachMe reached a point where the team felt they could justify hiring people, they couldn’t afford to hire a team locally. So they looked to the Philippines and built a virtual team, which came with its own challenges. “I’ve never done anything about building teams or anything like that, so that was another learning process,” Markogiannaki told a Pulse Melbourne event last week. “When you’re not talking to someone in person, but you’re seeing them once or twice a day – like through Skype – you need to establish a close relationships, you need to make them part of your team. “You need to make them follow you and believe in your vision. And part of that was really hard.” So the WeTeachMe team purchased its entire staff branded T-shirts, and while Markogiannaki says it’s not the be-all and end-all of team building, it made a difference. “They would wear it of a morning and say, at least I know which company I am working for,” she says with a laugh. “We made sure they had everything they needed, all the resources required, and slowly we scaled the team up.” WeTeachMe was founded following a Launch48 startup event in Melbourne. Markogiannaki says she was involved for no more than a bit of fun. “We started with no funding at all, we didn’t even fund it (ourselves), we all had different skills that allowed us to pretty much bring this product to market,” she says. “We worked from cafés, city libraries, anywhere there was a space to get it up and running. We’d take turns going to each other’s house. “I’m really proud of how far we’ve come so far.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Beyondblue and Smiling Mind have released a new iPhone and Android app that aims to reduce the risk of developing postnatal depression and other mental illnesses among new parents. The free app, titled Mind the Bump, was released alongside Postnatal Depression Awareness Week, which runs from November 16 to 22. It comes against the background of growing interest in both health tech and social entrepreneurship. It provides mindfulness meditations to both mothers and their partners for the period between the earliest stages of pregnancy through to when a child is 24 months old. Smiling Mind general manager Lucy Richards told Private Media there are potential therapeutic uses of apps, wearables and cloud services to help treat conditions such as post-natal depression. “Certainly there’s been a lot of research lately about how tech is taking over our lives and overstimulating us. But it can also use it to engage in the real world,” Richards says. “Through our psychologists and psychiatrists, we’ve identified the key stresses that come with pregnancy: change, identity and a changing relationship with your partner. There are exercises in this app that can help new parents overcome those stresses.” According to Richards, apps are a cost-effective way of delivering services, while partnerships between social entrepreneurship startups and traditional charities can help to avoid duplication. “So Smiling Mind is a new non-profit founded in October 2012 that is trying to get mindfulness added to the curriculum by 2020. We think that stress management and resilience are invaluable when taught at a young age,” she says. “So we teamed up with Beyondblue, which has been fantastic at driving awareness. “It’s a nice combination of old school and – very much startup – skills sets.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Computer security researchers at Symantec say they have discovered a Trojan piece of malware likely built by a nation-state, which has spied on business and governments since 2008, Re/code reports. While the origin of the sophisticated piece of malware, dubbed “Reign”, is unclear, a shortlist of capable countries would include the United States, Israel and China. Researchers say Reign has an extensive range of capabilities depending on the target. It provides its controllers with a powerful framework for mass surveillance and has been used in spying operations against government organisations, infrastructure operators, businesses, researchers, and private individuals. Yahoo acquires photo startup Cooliris Photo app-maker Cooliris has announced that it has been acquired by Yahoo, TechCrunch reports. Founded in 2006, the startup was originally known for creating a 3D wall for navigating photos and other media content. It also created a platform for mobile ads called Adjitsu, which it sold to Singtel’s Amobee division in 2012. Recently the company shifted focus to a mobile app that allowed users to browse photos from across services like Facebook, Flickr, and Dropbox. “Yahoo has a clear vision and unwavering commitment to making mobile an intuitive and effortless experience,” the company says in a statement on its website. “This makes Yahoo the perfect partner for Cooliris, and we are excited to come together to bring indispensable products to a worldwide audience.” The secret life of passwords Passwords don’t just protect data; they reveal our hopes, dreams, secrets, fears and memories, The New York Times reports. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 91.06 to 17,810.06. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US87 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
A Perth app developer alleges Western Australia’s Department of Fisheries stole the idea behind his shark alert app, with the state government interpreting the allegations as a legal threat. In March, Paul Holliday launched iKoast, an iPhone and Android app that allows beachgoers to pin real-time shark sightings and coastal warnings on a map, claiming to have spent $140,000 developing the app. Holliday claims he began developing the app in 2012, following a series of meetings with the WA Department of Fisheries, as well as Surf Lifesaving WA. He also claims that since its launch, 250 shark sightings have been reported on iKoast. In January, the WA government launched a new website called SHARKSMART as part of its $22 million Shark Hazard Mitigation Policy, which initially offered education about shark risks. In a statement issued at the time, fisheries minister Ken Baston promised it would soon offer “technology providing world-first, satellite-based live shark tracking information”. “The development of that feature is well under way, and once we know that the data it provides is reliable and well tested, it will be added to the site,” Baston said. This week, the WA government launched the shark tracking features of the website, at an estimated cost to taxpayers of $370,000. Holliday told Private Media the first he heard about the government’s shark tracking app was by watching the evening news. “When the story ran last week on Seven News, it was like watching an ad for my app. It was very upsetting to see they’ve done the same thing, claiming to be the first in the world,” he says. In comments to The West Australian newspaper, Holliday went further, claiming he has already spoken to an intellectual property lawyer over the matter, but that he doubted he could afford to take legal action. Holliday clarified to Private Media he would not take legal action, saying: “We did speak to a solicitor friend, but there’s nothing we can do. There’s no legal course of action we can take.” In a statement Department of Fisheries executive director regional services, Bruno Mezzatesta told Private Media that comments by Holliday in The West Australian newspaper are being viewed as a legal threat. “The Department of Fisheries understands from the information published in The West Australian today (21 October) that the developers of the iKoast app are contemplating legal action. In these circumstances the department will not be making any further comment,” Mezzatesta says. According to Holliday, there has been a silver lining to the controversy. He points out that his app has a range of other features beyond spotting sharks, including mapping whales, rips, dolphins and good sea conditions. “Our app only sends out notifications within a 100 kilometre radius of a shark being spotted, and their app doesn’t even do that,” he says. “Since the story ran, I’ve never had so much positive feedback from Spacecubed and the startup community.” He also says the app has attracted a paid customer since the story broke, and that are other opportunities for the technology, including creating versions for the US and South African markets. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Mobile messaging apps such as Whatsapp are killing traditional text messages while multi-screening is going mainstream, according to an Australian Communications and Media Authority. The ACMA paper, titled Six emerging trends in media and communications, attempts to identify disruptive media and communications trends that “strain the effectiveness and efficiency of existing regulatory settings”. Here are the six media and communications trends identified in the report: 1. Communications go over the top Consumers are increasingly rejecting carrier-based phone calls and text messages in favour of apps and online services such as Apple iMessage, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Snapchat and Microsoft’s Skype. According to the report, revenues from fixed line phone services have collapsed by 34% in five years, from $18.296 billion in 2008 to just $12.045 billion in 2013. Over the same time frame, the number of voice over internet protocol (VOIP) users has surged from 2.1 million to 4.6 million. However, this extra data users has been good news to mobile phone carriers, which have seen their revenues surge from $15.967 billion to $20.014 billion. 2. Consumers build their own links It’s not just the number of communications apps that is booming. Australian consumers are using them with a wider variety of devices, which are connected over a growing number of network technologies. Consumers now regularly switch between fixed-line internet connections, Wi-Fi, mobile broadband and – especially in remote areas – satellite connections, depending on the time of day. The number of devices they use is also increasing, with the number of Australians owning a tablet, laptop and smartphone increasing from 28% in 2013 to 53% in 2014. 3. Wearables are set to boom On top of smartphones, tablets and laptops, the report predicts wearables (including Google Glass, smartwatches and fitness trackers) are set to become increasingly common over the coming years. The report suggests the number of wearables worldwide will grow from 22 million in 2013 to 177 million in 2018. It also predicts that an increase in the number of devices running Google’s Android Wear platform, along with the release of the Apple Watch early next year, will lead this trend to accelerate. 4. Online content is going mainstream The internet is not just disrupting the way we communicate. According to the report, consumers are increasingly viewing a greater number of TV services (including pay TV, broadcast TV, streaming TV and catch-up TV) delivered to a growing number of devices, over a growing number of network technologies. In a typical week, 97% of Australians watch a free-to-air or pay TV service. By contrast, one-in-two Australians have watched online TV over the past six months. This includes professionally produced catch-up or streaming TV services, pirated movies and content from video sites such as YouTube. Meanwhile, people aged between 16 and 24 now watch more TV over the internet than they do from broadcast television services. 5. Multistreaming is now mainstream In many cases, new forms are television are complementing, rather than replacing older ones. The report shows 74% of Australians with internet access regularly watched TV and used the internet at the same time, up 25 percentage points from 2009. It is as high as 89% for people aged 25 to 34. Overall, 71% of people still prefer to watch TV shows and movies on television, compared to on mobile phones (5%), tablets (4%) and computers (29%). Meanwhile, user-generated content is mostly watched on computers (71%) or mobile phones (41%), rather than tablets (17%) and televisions (10%). 6. TV is still the one for news Finally, when it comes to getting the news, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The report shows that 92% of free-to-air or subscription television viewers watched a news or current affairs programs on television in 2014. While newspaper circulation has dived 18% between 2009 and 2013, the drop has been a drop of just 10% from TV over the same time. Image credit: Flickr/alvy Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Startup Weekend Australia gains new sponsorship and launches platform, making events easier to organise11:07PM | Sunday, 23 November
Startup Weekend Australia has launched a new national platform at an event held last Thursday at Sydney’s Tank Stream Labs. Theopening speech for was delivered by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, who told Private Media the Startup Weekend program is a means by which people interested in becoming entrepreneurs can dip their toe in the water in an accelerated way. “I think there’s no doubt the Abbott government wants to see a vigorous startup community in Australia – there’s a growing sense of momentum gathering,” Fletcher says. Event organiser Darcy Naunton told Private Media the new platform comes at a time Startup Weekend events are “gathering more and more startup people than there’s ever been before”. “Startup Weekends have obviously been around far longer internationally than they have in Australia – they first started out in Seattle – but we’ve been running them in this country for about three-and-a-half-years now,” Naunton says. “The first was in May 2011 at the Melbourne Sensis office and the second was in the York Butter Factory in November 2011. Since then, we’ve rolled out events in Sydney and Brisbane in late 2011 and 2012, and from there we’ve had local champions to organise events in other cities. “Now what we’re doing through Startup Weekend Australia is bringing a little more coordination and help with sponsorships to help make those local events viable. “Every one of them is run by a volunteer, venues are donated for the event, and tickets often only cover around one-third of the cost of organising an event. We think sponsorships can help out a lot.” Startup Weekend events run for 54-hours spread over three days. After pitching ideas on Friday night, aspiring entrepreneurs and developers are grouped into teams and given 54-hours to turn their ideas into a minimum viable product. According to Naunton, the platform will help people looking to organise events, as interest grows in hosting events at regional and rural incubators. “We’re a support network for local Startup Weekends, so we’re not going to go out and start Startup Weekend Horsham – say – ourselves, but if someone in Horsham wants to organise an event in Horsham, there’s a number of ways we can help them out. “We can help them find a co-ordinator that has helped to organise Startup Weekends in the past. We can help with the format of that event, and we can help to make that first event a good one. “If that works, they can be more autonomous for the next one, and we’ll help them out more with sponsorships.” Citing the recent success of Startup Weekend Toowoomba, Naughton says Queenslanders have been especially enthusiastic about organising and attending Startup Weekends in regional cities. “In other states, it’s dominated by an event in the capital city, but in Queensland people have been to events and then come back and organised one in their home town,” he says. Recently, the Toowoomba Startup Group recently held its first Startup Weekend event, while Cairns is preparing to link up with events in Townsville and the Gold Coast. Toowoomba entrepreneur David Masefield, who organised the event with fellow entrepreneur Leanne Griffin, says Toowoomba’s first startup event was a big success. “It was fantastic, a very successful event. We had around 30 participants and around 20 ideas pitched. And as far as participation goes, there was a 50:50 gender split, so we had 15 male and 15 female participants,” Masefield says. “Greg [Burnett] from Startup Weekend and Startup Lakes said it was one of the best participation rates in Queensland outside female-only events. And out of the 30, maybe two had participated in a Startup Weekend before, so we expect an event bigger turnout next time. “We were impressed with all five of the teams that formed, especially the three teams on the Global Startup Battle Track. They included Roll Call Global, which is developing a device that signals accidents on quad-bikes in the event of a rollover or a flip; Checker Style, a fashion app at an economic price; and Time Trade, which is developing a gamified method for people what want to volunteer.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
As the number of people using mobile apps continues to rise, so too does the amount of tools available to the developers that build them. The latest Australian startup to enter this space is Appee, which has built a HTML5 plugin that developers can use to survey their users, and get real-time responses. Its cofounders, Steve Brendish, Ken Kades and Alberto Simongini, all have a background in development. Founded in October 2013, the Melbourne-based startup is currently in the process of raising seed investment, having been bootstrapped up until now. Brendish, its creative director, told Private Media the trio came up with idea because they couldn’t find any tools that helped app makers engage with their users. “We’ve all been involved in building apps at one time or another, whether for clients or ourselves. There’s always been an issue in that everyone stands in front of a board and thinks about what should go into an app, but no one really knows what the customer wants,” he says. “Appee is HTML5. It’s a simple plugin for mobile apps and iOS and it allows companies to publish in app questionnaires. We’re obviously riding on the back of the big data boom, and the rise of crowdfunding, or crowd-decision making.” After launch customer feedback on Appee suggested it could also be best used as a real-time in-app survey tool. The startup has had interest from sporting clubs, who would use the tool to increase engagement with members during games, and gather valuable data about those members. “A (sporting team) could put a question on the big screen, say download our app, run a survey, ask a couple of questions. Simple questions about the team and present a winner at halftime, with a signed shirt,” Brendish says. “They can do this and ask for email address, and find out which of their members are at the game, which is really important information.” Since its launch five weeks ago, Appee has secured a number of customers on a trial basis. It’s targeting large companies and organisations, with its product offered on a $995 per month subscription fee. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australian startup inkl is the latest attempt to solve one of the media industry’s biggest problems – how to make people pay for online content. Take, for example, the content paywall that surrounds Fairfax mastheads The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. According to inkl founder and chief executive officer Gautam Mishra, who as former director of Strategy at Fairfax built that paywall, it converts just 2% of readers to paying customers. “And that’s widely seen as one of the best paywalls in the world,” Mishra says. “It’s ahead of most publications. The question that needs to be worked out is what to do with that other 98%.” So Mishra founded inkl, a web platform that will soon be available as an iOS and Android app, that gives users access to content from some of the world’s major news publishers in one place. A $15 per month subscription fee gives unlimited access to inkl’s catalogue of news content, in the same way Netflix or Spotify do for the music and entertainment industries. For those that don’t want to subscribe, they can access content for 10 cents per article. Inkl keeps a portion of the revenue generated and shares the rest with the publishers. Inkl launched on Wednesday with content from seven of the world’s major news publications including The Guardian (Australia, UK and US editions), The Sydney Morning Herald, the South China Morning Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, the Washington Post and Indian business publication Livemint. More partners will be announced in the coming weeks. Mishra says 10 years ago the music and entertainment industries were struggling to get people to pay for content too, but the launch of the Netflix, Spotify and similar platforms changed that. “I think we need to build the same model for news,” he says. “There’s about 200 million people using news sources globally, and there’s probably only 2-3 million paying for news online.” Mishra bootstrapped the startup from its creation at the beginning of the year, up until August when he received seed investment led by North Base Media, a media focused investment firm co-founded by former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, and former executive editor of the Washington Post, Marcus Brauchli. Mishra was not willing to disclose the amount of seedfunding inkl has raised. “A really important part of inkl’s purpose is to help ensure that high quality journalism continues to be financially sustainable,” he says. “As the trend towards mobile news consumption continues, publishers need innovative business partners who can help them find new ways to grow revenue. inkl generates 50 or even 100 times as much revenue per page as most readers earn from mobile ads, and still delivers a very cost effective solution for readers.” inkl isn’t the only startup trying to solve media’s big problem. Last month, the New York Times invested in Dutch startup Blendle, which allows individual articles to be purchased for a price set by the publishers, between 10 euro cents and 30 euro cents for news articles, and up to 80 cents for longer features. Mishra says it inkl is avoiding that magazine style content, instead preferring to focus on news articles that are best consumed on mobile devices. “(Blendle) is an amazing business and we really like them and their model, but ultimately it’s being setting up to do something a little different,” he says. “They’ve taken the view that the value in journalism is largely around print products in a digital medium. They’ve got a web interface and a virtual kiosk for picking articles. That sort of experience is fantastic for evening use, when people are using tablets and other devices. “We’re really focused on your morning and daily news.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Making the leap from a secure, well-paying corporate job to the world of startups can be a daunting task. StartupSmart spoke to two entrepreneurs who have been in this very situation for their four top tips. 1. Do the maths – can you quit your day job and still sustain yourself? Cofounder of budgeting app Pocketbook, Bosco Tan, told Private Media before you quit your day job to work on a startup full-time, you should do what he calls “survival maths”. “Work out what sort of runway you have to make it work,” he says. “How much savings do you have, what lifestyle do you have and how much does that cost? If you don’t do the maths, you don’t know how long you have before you have to find some funding or revenue.” Tom LeGrice, director and co-founder of Pet Home Stay, told Private Media he would encourage entrepreneurs to stop and think before quitting their day jobs and pursuing their startup idea full-time. “I would suggest having paying customers and raising capital before you quit [your day job],” he says. “You have to budget for your lifestyle. If you’re over 30, you might have to mortgage a house. Generally speaking, your lifestyle’s going to be more expensive than a student who is 18-years-old.” 2. Find a good co-founder (or a really good life partner) Tan says having a good co-founder is “critical” when making the jump from a corporate career to working on a startup. “A business that has a sole founder typically is less likely to be successful,” he says. “And that is all the way from the nuances of not being able to be motivated enough to go through the pains of making it work, to making VCs look at it adversely.” LeGrice, meanwhile, stresses the importance of a supportive partner. “Make sure you have an other-half who is really supportive, as this [working on a startup full-time] definitely impacts your relationships.” 3. Recognise that life as an entrepreneur isn’t glamorous LeGrice says if you’ve worked in the corporate sphere all your adult life, then drop any preconceptions you have about launching your own startup. “Leave your preconceptions at the door,” he says. “You can’t leave your work at 5pm. This is your life.” Tan says entrepreneurs need to be realistic, and all too often the life of an entrepreneur is made out to be glamorous when – in the early days – nothing could be further from the truth. “It’s actually quite a challenge to always be on that stress level to make sure things work,” he says. “Being grounded is absolutely important and being lean in terms of your lifestyle helps because that helps the ‘survival maths’.” Tan says all entrepreneurs are often made out to be overly enthusiastic youths, however he points out that not all the world’s problems can be solved by young people. “I’m 31 now, but at 21 I would never have been able to do Pocketbook because my life wasn’t as complicated to see the opportunity and need.” 4. Learn as much as you can LeGrice says he would encourage entrepreneurs to soak up as much information about the Australian startup ecosystem as possible before making leaving a nine-to-five job. “Go to as many meet-ups as you possibly can,” he says. “Understand the community, learn the language, go to meet-ups for the other positions and skills you don’t have and meet people. If you’re not a technical person, you’ve got to go to technical meet ups. That is definitely something that doesn’t happen enough.” LeGrice says it is also helpful to find a mentor or sit down and chat to someone in the tech industry for one-on-one advice. “Not a family friend, someone who’s going to give it to you straight,” he says. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
As part of Apple’s revamp of Beats Music, the recently acquired music streaming service will be bundled directly into iOS. The service will be bundled with the operating system early next year, instantly making it available on hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads, the Financial Times reports. Beats will continue to be a paid service and will likely be rebranded under the iTunes umbrella. UK government funds free online startup education courses An initiative funded by the UK government and backed by the tech industry has launched, offering free online courses to those who want to learn commercial digital business skills, TechCrunch reports. The Digital Business Academy is being overseen by Tech City, working in partnership with a host of educational institutions and tech mentorship organizations including Cambridge University Judge Business School, University College London, and Founder Centric, which in turn works with tech accelerators such as Seedcamp and others. 500 Startups launches 10 million mobile collective fund Global seed fund 500 startups has launched a new micro-fund, a $US10 million ($AU11.6 million) fund it’s calling the 500 Startups Mobile Collective, TechCrunch reports. The fund will be headed up by Edith Yeung, who joins after running marketing and business development for Sequoia-backed mobile browser Dolphin Browser. She also co-founded angel investment firm RightVentures, where she made more than 20 investments. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 2.09 to 17,685.73. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US86 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Design startup Canva has launched a marketplace that will allow professional graphic designers to contribute layouts and earn royalties every time their designs are purchased. Canva co-founder and chief executive officer Melanie Perkins says the marketplace has been part of the startup’s plans since “day dot” and she’s excited to be giving designers a chance to monetise their work through the platform. All images on Canva are licenced for $1 with a One Time Use licence. Designers will be paid royalties of 35% on the dollar. “Every time a photo, or a layout, or a design is purchased, a designer will see a cut of the prices every single time,” she says. “What’s really exciting is a designer can create a layout, in say 30 minutes, and have an ongoing revenue stream infinitely. It’s completely transforming design. “Rather than selling that one design once, the design can be used thousands upon thousands of times to tell different stories.” The Canva layout marketplace will provide the startup’s users with greater choice of layouts for their designs. Designers can create layouts for more than 20 web and print design types, including social media posts, presentations, posters, business cards and invitations. “Traditionally designers have only been able to sell their stock layouts to other people who have access to the professional design tools,” Perkins says. “However with Canva, they can now design layouts for everyone to use.” Canva has had expressions of interests from thousands of designers who want to be involved in the marketplace and contributor accounts will be rolled out to a limited number on Wednesday, Perkins says. Professional designers can apply to contribute at http://canva.com/designers. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Startup Victoria chief executive Lars Lindstrom says there have been lessons in the six months since Startup Victoria launched, as Melbourne prepares for a national tech innovation conference called above all human. “It’s been a group of people and a not for profit organisation finding its feet and its purpose. We want to see more tech success stories in Victoria, through a mix of more founders and better founders, and we’re working out ways to do that,” Lindstrom says. “We run Lean Startup Melbourne meetup group, we had a chat with Paul Bassat in July, two weeks ago we had a full house for Steve Blank, and we’ve got an event coming up on December 1 with Dave McClure. “That will be our first paid event – $40 to get in – but free for Startup Victoria members.” As with any good startup or app, developing the organisation and learning what the community wants is an iterative process. “We have learnt a lot about what our members want. One of these things is a big tech conference in Melbourne,” Lindstrom says. “That’s what we’re doing with Above All Human, and it’s sold out – 500 tickets so far. That’s just off the Lean Startup Melbourne list.” 'above all human', a one-day tech conference, which will take place on December 9, from 8am to 5pm, at the Arts House Meat Market in North Melbourne. The conference is being organised by Stripe founder Susan Wu and StartupSmart editor Bronwen Clune. Big name international speakers include Y-Combinator partner Justin Kan, MIT Media Lab fellow Joyce Kim, early Skype investor Morten Lund, early Pinterest engineer Tracy Chou, Reddit cofounder Steve Huffman and Pase founder Tikhon Bernstam. “Y Combinator in live Office Hours on stage hasn’t been done before in Australia,” Lindstrom says. “So Startup Victoria’s events are building on what individuals have done in the past. The problem with individuals organising events is they run out of steam. Putting on a big budget event Above All Human is not something an individual could do.” While he has no firm numbers at hand, Lindstrom says he feels the Melbourne startup community is growing in momentum. He says he has been surprised by is the level of enthusiasm in the startup tech ecosystem. “From feel, yes we are growing. There are bigger events, more people attending, and a growing awareness among corporates that to innovate they have to be close to the startup community. “One of the things about being a startup founder is that you have to be an expert and you have to constantly pitch to your customers and staff that what you’re doing will be successful. But it can be tough. “So networking means something different in startup land than for corporates. In corporations, you network to make contacts for your next job. In startups, you look for ideas you can apply to your startup. That’s why an ecosystem is more important. “We feel the top 100 startup founders in Melbourne should know each other, so we’ve put together the Better Founders Group, where we put them in groups of 10 to meet up regularly. Looking forward, Lindstrom says Startup Victoria has big plans for the future. “'above all human' growing – with mainstream media we could have sold 8000 or 9000 tickets. It will probably double next year and grow from there. We can’t replicate South-by-Southwest, but we can grow to be the best tech conference in Australia,” he says. “We will improve the monthly events with more big names, workshops, and a new initiative around office hours so members can spend some one-on-one time with members of the board.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Email marketing startup Campaign Monitor has acquired San Francisco-based online survey startup GetFeedback. GetFeedback’s online survey technology allows anyone at any organization to collect customer feedback by creating engaging, branded, mobile-ready surveys. The acquisition will accelerate Campaign Monitor’s growth in the $5 billion market for email marketing and online survey software. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Campaign Monitor founder Dave Greiner says it’s a match made in heaven. “We share a deep passion for customer success through amazingly intuitive, design-orientated products,” Dave Greiner says. “The combined product offering establishes Campaign Monitor as a clear leader in the new way companies communicate with their customers.” The acquisition will allow Campaign Monitor to offer an integrated set of email marketing and online survey applications. Campaign Monitor customers consistently rank online surveys as one of the most requested new capabilities, and GetFeedback customers rank email as their single most desired offering. The two products can be used together immediately, with deep integration to come in the first quarter of 2015. GetFeedback was founded in 2013 by former Salesforce executives Kraig Swensrud and Sean Whiteley. Swensrud says they’re thrilled to be teaming up with Campaign Monitor. “By joining forces, we have a unique opportunity to create a world-class integrated product offering that will supercharge Campaign Monitor’s growth in this multi-billion dollar industry,” he says. Swensrud will assume the role of CMO for Campaign Monitor. It’s been an eventful year for Campaign Monitor. It released a major new version of its email marketing application, received a $US250 million investment led by Insight Venture Partners, surpassed the 120,000 customer milestone, and made key executive appointments including CEO Alex Bard, a former executive vice president at Salesforce. “We couldn’t be more excited to bring GetFeedback into the Campaign Monitor family,” Bard says. “In addition to acquiring a market-leading survey product and a phenomenal set of customers, GetFeedback brings a deep bench of world-class talent. The GetFeedback team will add horsepower to Campaign Monitor as we aggressively invest in growth and open our new US based headquarters in San Francisco.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Everybody wants to be startup. Recently, The Guardian claimed they were one, along with Westpac and a number of other large and well-established companies. And if they’re not claiming to be one, they certainly want to get in on the startup action, the latest being KPMG. The professional services firm has just announced a partnership with Artesian Venture Partners that will enable it to gather non-sensitive data, from up to 1000 startups over the next five years. The data will come from a number of funds which it operates including, the Slingshot Venture Fund and the BlueChilli Venture Fund, the funds behind the Newcastle-based Slingshot Accelerator Program and the Sydney-based BlueChilli incubator. In addition, it also operates the Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund. It provides investors with tax free exposure to all those funds through its Australian VC fund, for which it’s currently raising $100 million. Artesian Venture Capital COO Tim Heasley says the data will inject some much needed evidence into the Australian startup ecosystem. “The partnership allows us to accelerate the capital raising for the (Australian VC Fund) through KPMG’s corporation connections. Importantly, it gives us a means of capturing and ultimately processing data from the Australian startup ecosystem, data that has been missing or lacking up until now,” he says. “No one has a complete read on what’s happening, what verticals are being targeted? What are the technical of other backgrounds of founders? How many have had other successful startups? How many are women? Men? What age range? “Once we have that info we can start reporting it in a meaningful way, we’re going to end up with a rich data set, and we’re effectively professionalising the startup investment scene in Australia.” KPMG was one of three professional service firms that tendered to become Artesian’ s partner, with KPMG Australia head of innovation Martin Sheppard saying it’s an important milestone for the firm when it comes to doing business with startups. “Proactively engaging with Australia’s startup ecosystem is critical to our innovation strategy,” he says. “It will expose us and our clients to new growth opportunities; provide early insights into emerging and disruptive technologies, and help us and our clients stay ahead of the curve.” They’re not the only ones seeing the opportunity. Telstra, was one of the first starting its Muru-d accelerator program. But there are other signs too. Pollenizer, BlueChilli and 25fifteen are used to hearing startups pitching to them. Now they’re doing the pitching too. Competing to secure lucrative consultant-like roles with big incumbents in a whole host of industries, including banking, insurance, telecommunications, and logistics – shipping, warehousing, things of that nature. Services they provide range basic lean startup education courses, organising and running hackathons. BlueChilli chief growth hacker Alan Jones says corporates are aware of the competition that startups face. “Primarily what they’re aware of as a corporate is a lot of disruption in their industries is going to come from startups in the next five to 10 years,” he says. “They can see evidence of this already, particularly in banking and insurance, in travel and even in industries like automotive and airlines. We’re starting to see online native, early stage startups creating industries that have never existed before massively disrupting traditional industries. “So if there’s an opportunity to invest one million in a couple of years, in a startup that may eventually contribute 20% of your annual revenue, why wouldn’t you start exploring that?” Jones says the nature of accountability in big corporates leads to a risk averse culture and that, combined with large slow moving corporate bureaucracy, means innovation is a weakness not a strength. Realising this Woolworths recently made its own attempt to engage with startups when it launched its Wstart program. According to the program’s website it aims to foster Woolworth’s relationships with startups, bit at this stage is not doing much more than meeting with them. The first event is speed dating that gives successful applicants a chance to showcase their idea “and gain insights from the Woolworths team”. StartupSmart asked Woolworths to elaborate on its goals, they types of relationships it plans on fostering with startups, and whether it might lead to investment. “Wstart is a new program that aims to open up communication between Woolworths’ business and the startup community to drive innovation that will simplify the shopping experience for our customers and improve our business,” a spokesperson says. “We understand for a lot of startups there are few opportunities to engage with industry leaders and large organisations. Wstart is an opportunity for them to network and be mentored by senior Woolworths executives and collaborate with likeminded individuals.” No comment on whether or not it will lead to anything more meaningful, like investment or an ongoing relationship with the startups involved. Pollenizer partnerships manager Nicola Farrell says its great Woolworths is joining a growing trend of large enterprises realising that startups can help them experiment and learn faster. “We look forward to seeing a structured program in place which drives compelling outcomes for the startups involved,” she says. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
With social network startups popping up in numerous industry verticals, leave it to a Perth-based startup to create a social marketplace for miners. Mineler launched last week, a web-based platform soon to be available on iOS and Android, where people can discover mining locations around the world, bid for work and contracts, build a global mining work profile and connect with others via LinkedIn-style interaction. It says it had over 60,000 pre-registered members at the date of launch, with members from as far as Colombia, Peru and Canada. Geolocation is at the heart of the platform. Users can share their work history and experiences individual mining sites, and interact with others who might be connected to those sites. Mineler marketing manager Cam Sinclair says the location of mining sites, and the communities that pop up around those sites, is an aspect of mining that sets it apart from other industries. @MiningOnline @MinelerApp I see Facebook to LinkedIn, to Mineler to be a natural progression for mining professionals, so yes it will work. — Larry Ting (@Larrynoi) November 7, 2014 “Essentially, the idea behind Mineler is to give people in the mining industry a social marketplace where they can share ideas, and interact on a site-based geographic basis,” he says. “The mining industry is kind of unique in that it’s based around remote and distant projects. Often, you’ll find people sharing ideas based on what sites they’re on, and you get a sense of community there.” The startup will encourage people working in those communities to move those interactions onto the Mineler platform. Once there, users can search for jobs, post contract work, and share content specifically related to the mining industry. The startup has raised $500,000 in seed funding, which helped push it to launch, and is currently in the midst of a $3 million round, according to co-founder Paul Faix. “The idea was always that mining, which is perceived as very innovative on one side, in the mining technologies, mining machines and everything that comes with it,” he says “But it’s also very antiquated when it comes to people, management, labour and how it does those things. “What we really wanted to do is actually help mining companies digitise the latest management practices, including the outsourcing of labour and people, by creating a global marketplace.” Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
That Startup Show, the Melbourne-based web series aimed at the startup community, has announced the line-up for the final instalments of its premiere season. The panel of experts for the final four instalments include chief executive of Shoes of Prey Jodie Fox, Chris Ridd from Zero, chief executive of Thankyou Water Daniel Flynn and country manager of Airbnb Sam McDonagh. Hosted by comedian and tech commentator Dan Ilic, the show focuses on the Australian startup ecosystem and the issues facing local entrepreneurs. The aim is to bring together entrepreneurs, incubators, investors and creatives to celebrate all things innovative. Since the pilot episode launched on YouTube in August, the web series has attracted more than 110,000 viewers across Australia, Europe, Asia, Canada and the United States. That Startup Show recently announced funding from angel investor Alan Jones and technology foundry Digital4ge. The capital injection will allow the production to complete the remaining episodes for 2014 and build an online platform. Series co-founder Ahmed Salama told StartupSmart the premiere season was really about validating the concept and the response to the series so far has been overwhelmingly positive. “That’s only going to help us expand and grow even more,” he says. “We’ve got a few exciting things planned for next year. Our vision is to grow this show beyond a show and into a platform to give a voice for startups not just in Australia but around the world. “For us to do that, we have to take it to the next level and mature the show into the platform it can be. We look forward to doing that.” The final four episodes That Startup Show for this season will be filmed live between Monday November 24 and Thursday November 27 at The Savoy Tavern in Melbourne. Tickets are available here. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Transportation network startup Uber has partnered with Spotify to allow those catching a ride with its service to select songs that will play during their trip, Engadget reports. Riders will need to connect a Spotify paid streaming account to Uber’s mobile software to access the feature. It’s set to launch on November 21 in Sydney, London, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Nashville, New York, San Francisco, Singapore, Stockholm and Toronto, with a widespread rollout in the weeks that follow. Uber drivers will need to connect their phone to the car’s stereo, if the driver chooses not to play music, Spotify won’t show up as an option in the Uber app. Shark Tank backed GrooveBook sold for $14.5 million As Network Ten prepares to release its own Shark Tank, GrooveBook, a startup on the popular US version of the show, has been acquired by photo printing giant Shutterfly for $US14.5 million ($AU16.7 million). GrooveBook is a photo-printing app and subscription service that creates personalized photo books with up to 100 of your photos, that is shipped monthly. The startup received a $US150,000 investment from Shark Tank investors Mark Cuban and Kevin O’Leary for licensing rights only. Airbnb launches Pineapple Sharing economy startup Airbnb has launched its own print magazine, Pineapple. According to the New York Times, Airbnb will formally unveil the new magazine at a convention in San Francisco later this week. The first issue carries no advertising and contains features on San Francisco, London and Seoul, which are popular cities among Airbnb hosts and guests. Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 13.01 to 17,647.75. The Australian Dollar is currently trading at US87 cents. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Few can explain bitcoin and the blockchain with the eloquence of Andreas Antonopoulos and next week he’ll be in Australia to discuss all things digital currency. Antonopoulos will be speaking at The Bitcoin Address in Sydney and Melbourne next week, free events organised by the College Cyrptocurrency Network, the Bitcoin Association of Australia, CoinJar, with the support of Atlassian and Inspire9. A noted bitcoin evangelist, Antonopoulos recently made the case for bitcoin’s freedom before the Canadian Senate. The College Cryptocurrency Network (CCN) is an international body that aims to foster student interest and adoption of bitcoin and CCN Oceanic regional director James Eddington says Antonopoulos is the rarest type of bitcoin expert. “I don’t think I’ve seen anyone speak as engagingly about the technology,” Eddington says. “He’s one of the only guys who can really walk the walk when it comes to navigating bitcoin and understanding the blockchain. “A lot of the time software guys are brilliant, but they don’t inspire people; Andreas can.” Antonopoulos says he’s looking forward to visiting Australia because of its vibrant and active bitcoin community. “Australia’s high tech and entrepreneurial culture combined with its young population make it fertile ground for bitcoin,” he says. Joining Antonopoulos will be bitcoin law expert Pamela Morgan, and entrepreneur and musician Tatiana Moroz. Morgan specialises in startup regulation and smart law, among the topics she’ll be discussing how the blockchain has the potential to help improve legal frameworks. Moroz, a musician, recently launched Tatiana Coin, an experimental crytpocurrency crowdfunding hybrid. Users donate bitcoins in exchange for Tatiana Coin, which can then be redeemed for members-only rewards. “It’s really exciting to have all three of them in town,” Eddington says. The events in Melbourne at Inspire9 on November 24 and Atlassian in Sydney on November 25 and both quickly sold out. “I didn’t know what the public response was going to be,” Eddington says. “We were concerned, what if we throw out this major event and we don’t get the numbers. But it pretty quickly became apparent that wouldn’t be the case.” For more information, head over to the Sydney or Melbourne events meetup pages. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.