The NBN: why it's slow, expensive and obsolete

9:14AM | Wednesday, 9 September

 The Abbott Coalition government came to power two years ago this week with a promise to change Labor’s fibre to the premises (FTTP) National Broadband Network (NBN) to one using less-expensive fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technologies, spruiking its network with the three-word slogan: “Fast. Affordable. Sooner.”   But with the release in August of the 2016 NBN corporate plan and in the light of overseas developments, it is clear that the Coalition’s broadband network will not provide adequate bandwidth, will be no more affordable than Labor’s FTTP network and will take almost as long to roll out.   With the benefits of two years' hindsight since 2013, let’s look at the Coalition’s performance against each of the three assertions in their 2013 slogan.   Affordable The graph (below) shows funding estimates for the NBN from December 2010 to August 2015. Labor’s funding estimates for its FTTP NBN rose from A$40.9 billion in December 2010 to A$44.9 billion in September 2013, an increase of 10%. By comparison, the Coalition’s funding estimates, both for FTTP and the so-called multi-technology mix (MTM), have fluctuated wildly.     Labor and Coalition peak funding estimates from December 2010 to August 2015. *December 2013 data adjusted to account for different contingency. Rod Tucker, Author provided   The estimated funding required for the Coalition’s NBN has almost doubled from A$28.5 billion before the 2013 election to between A$46 billion and A$56 billion in August. Before the 2013 election, the Coalition claimed that its proposed multi-technology-mix network would cost less than one-third (30%) of Labor’s FTTP-based NBN.   But in new estimates released in the 2016 corporate plan, the cost of the multi-technology mix favoured by the Coalition blew out and rose to two-thirds (66%) of the cost of a FTTP-based network.   Also, the cost of repairing and maintaining Telstra’s ageing copper network was likely underestimated, as was the cost of retraining and maintaining a workforce with the wider range of skills needed to install and maintain the multi-technology-mix network – costs that are unique to the MTM.   In the space of two years, the lower-cost deal the Coalition spruiked to Australian voters has turned out to be not so affordable after all.   Sooner The Coalition probably underestimated the predictably lengthy delays in re-negotiating the agreement with Telstra as well as delays in re-designing the network the new IT systems needed to manage a more complicated network with multiple technologies.   The graph (below) shows the actual and planned number of premises passed (or in today’s parlance – ready for service) for the original FTTP network and the Coalition’s network.     Premises ready for service, plans and actual, as published by Labor and the Coalition. Rod Tucker, Author provided   The Coalition’s original target was to bring at least 25 Mbps to all 13 million Australian premises by 2016. That target has now been quietly dropped and replaced with a target of more than 50 Mbps to 90% of premises by 2020.   At the end of July 2015, almost two years after the 2013 election, only 67 premises had been served by multi-technology-mix technologies. In the meantime, as shown (in the graph above), the roll-out of FTTP has continued, albeit at a lower rate than Labor originally intended.   This lower roll-out rate has led to fewer connected customers and lower revenue. It will be interesting to see if the newly released targets for premises ready for service will be achieved (blue broken line in the graph above).   Labor certainly had its problems when it was in charge. For example, slow negotiations with Telstra and asbestos in Telstra’s infrastructure caused delays of around one year. The funding requirements for Labor’s FTTP network crept up by about 10% from 2010 to 2013.   But the delays and cost blowouts have been very much worse under the Coalition than under Labor.   Fast Australia’s broadband capabilities are falling behind its international peers. According to internet companies Ookla and Akami, Australia’s broadband speed lags well behind other advanced and even emerging economies.   In 2009, Ookla ranked Australia’s average broadband download speed as 39th in the world. Since then, our international ranking has steadily declined and slipped to 59th place earlier this year.   What’s worse, my studies of trends in internet speed in Australia and in a range of developed and developing countries show that FTTN technology – a key part of the Coalition’s MTM – will not be enough to meet the needs of Australian broadband customers.   In short, FTTN technology will cement Australia’s place as an internet backwater. Our world ranking could fall as low as 100th by 2020.   In many forward-looking nations, fibre-to-the-node technology has never been entertained as an option. In some countries where it has been installed, network operators are planning to move away from FTTN in favour of more advanced broadband technologies like FTTP. In doing the opposite, Australia is moving backwards.   If FTTN magically appeared on our doorsteps by 2016, as originally promised by the Coalition, there would certainly be a short-term advantage. But the 2016 target has been missed and the FTTN component of the network will be obsolete by the time the roll-out is completed.   Of course, there is no point in speed just for speed’s sake. Studies in Europe and the United States have shown a strong correlation between GDP growth and internet speed.   In the US and elsewhere, increasing numbers of homes and businesses are receiving services at 1 Gbps and higher. A recent study presents evidence that communities served by 1 Gbps and more are faring better economically than communities with slow-speed broadband.   If in 2013 the Coalition had simply allowed NBN Co to get on with the job of rolling out its fibre-to-the-premises NBN, rather than changing it to an inferior multi-technology mix, it may well have ended up spending less money and delivered Australia a much better network.   The Coalition sold the Australian public a product that was supposed to be fast, one-third the cost and arrive sooner than what Labor was offering us. Instead the Coalition’s NBN will be so slow that it is obsolete by the time it’s in place, it will cost about the same as Labor’s fibre-to-the-premises NBN, and it won’t arrive on our doorsteps much sooner.   By my reckoning, we didn’t get a good deal. Rod Tucker will be one hand for an Author Q&A between 10am and 11am AEST on Wednesday, September 9, 2015. Post your questions in the comments section below. Rod Tucker, Laureate Emeritus Professor, University of Melbourne This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Foxtel boxed into a corner as sport streaming takes hold

8:23AM | Monday, 17 August

  The Nine Network this week secured the broadcast rights for the NRL, in a five year deal to start from 2018. This has removed the possibility of Foxtel and Ten establishing a combined bid for NRL, although the AFL rights are yet to be confirmed.   The deal will see Nine pay A$185 million annually for the NRL rights, which some argue will see Nine not place a bid for the new AFL rights. The amount Nine will pay could be lower if the NRL allows pay simulcasts of games, although Foxtel has not yet confirmed its interest.   Former NRL adviser Colin Smith was unimpressed, saying the rights deal announced by Nine and the NRL was disrespectful toward Fox Sports, a long-term broadcaster, and left them with “crap content”. He says the the public announcement of the deal, before “ever going to market properly”, could make it more difficult for the NRL to secure a deal with Foxtel.   Digital is the future One of the biggest surprise shifts to come from the new deal is associated with digital rights. As part of Nine’s deal it has secured the streaming rights, with no confirmation how this will impact the previously titled “digital rights”.   It comes as Telstra this week revealed growth in streaming of both AFL and NRL games which “increased by over 70 per cent and 100 per cent respectively in the past year”.   Nine boss David Gyngell has said the NRL deal is “transformational” because it enables “viewers to see the best of the NRL, live and free, four days per week, anywhere, on any device”.   This statement in itself shows commercial television broadcasters are no longer solely concerned about TV content being viewed on TV sets. Content is king, regardless of the platform it is viewed upon. It also shows that live sport, as many have already argued, will be a key contributor in the future success of free-to-air broadcasters, particularly in Australia.   What about digital rights? If Nine is to hold the streaming rights, what does this means for the digital rights currently held by Telstra?   It appears from the NRL’s CEO, Dave Smith, that digital won’t be segregated in the same way it has for previous rights deals. Smith says: “By 2018, the digital world will be very different and we want to be in the best possible position to take advantage of any changes. So negotiations with the pay-TV and digital providers will continue and, again, our focus will be on ensuring the most widespread coverage on whatever platform fans choose to watch rugby league.”   Recent reports are making it unclear as to how Telstra will approach the new rights of both the NRL and AFL. It has been reported that Telstra will pull back from paying any big fees to gain the rights for both codes. In addition, it could be that Telstra doesn’t make a bid at all, yet could still be able to stream games via its services.   Sports subscriptions There are various ways Telstra could still stream games, if they were not bid for the rights. The first would include Foxtel, which Telstra has a 50% share in. If Foxtel were to make an agreement with the NRL for broadcast rights, Telstra could provide the stream to its customers via the Foxtel Sports app.   Another option relates to Nine and the way in which it may utilise its rights to stream NRL games. Nine is currently involved in two online ventures that could be utilised for streaming of the games – 9Jumpin, which is the networks catch-up TV service and also Stan, its video-on-demand service; a joint venture with Fairfax Media.   Stan is currently struggling to compete with the other major video-on-demand (VoD) service, Netflix. To ascertain a point of difference, the streaming of games in addition to other exclusive content via Stan, could give the service the difference needed to claw back some of the lead gained by Netflix. Netflix has said it is not interested in live sport.   The VoD service Presto could also take the same approach, with its joint partners Foxtel and Seven. Foxtel has used Presto subscription figures to lift its overall result. It could use Presto to stream the NRL content if it was to obtain the rights. This may provide fewer issues, than Nine and Stan, due to Nine’s rights associated with free-to-air, where as Foxtel and Presto are both subscription services.   But how would this help Telstra?   Telstra the all-in-one provider Telstra has recently announced Telstra TV, and has been in negotiations with the three prominent VoD providers, Presto, Stan and Netflix to have all three services available via this new service.   This could see Telstra take on a role as a media aggregator, a role used to describe itself in its 2015 annual report.   Telstra says: “Rather than restrict our customers’ choices, we are open to hosting all Subscription Video on Demand services on our platforms and making it easy for them to get all the content they want in the one place.”   This could see Telstra less focused on obtaining the digital rights themselves, but rather providing the digital rights holders alternative platforms for content distribution.   The announcement of the NRL rights with Nine and the lack of clarity for any additional bidders raises many questions for the future of sports broadcasting and the rights in Australia. Could it be the sporting organisations themselves that obtain the digital rights and provide the services currently provided by Telstra, removing the middle man?   The urgency by Nine and the NRL to announce the rights deals, of which only part has been confirmed, is also questionable. The NRL rights will not start until 2018. This is a year later than the AFL’s, which is yet to announce any of its rights agreements or any make any suggestions of deals.   The announcement this week could impact the new AFL rights and its yet to be seen if it will be a positive or negative one. What the announce does signal is a change in the way in which Australians will view sport in the future.   Marc C-Scott is Lecturer in Screen Media at Victoria University This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Up next: video-on-demand shakes up the television industry

8:25AM | Tuesday, 4 August

 Telstra last week announced that it will launch Telstra TV in September. This could be the “all-in-one” video streaming service many Australians have craved, bundling together the three leading video-on-demand (VoD) services: Netflix, Stan and Presto.   However, it also puts Telstra in an odd position, straddling multiple services, some of which compete with other products Tesltra is intimately involved in, such as Foxtel.   It also underscores how the introduction of VoD services have disrupted and fragmented the television market in Australia. Even ISPs are now starting to play a role in delivering content to the biggest screen in the house.   So what will the future of television look like in Australia?   All-in-one Telstra TV will run on the Roku 2 device, which is comparable in function to Google Chromecast and Apple TV. The Roku 2 already runs hundreds of international apps, although it is unclear how many will be available when the device launches in Australia.   An attractive feature of the new service could be that it will launch with access to Netflix and Presto, with Stan to follow. Telstra has said it is trying to negotiate a bundled price for all three services for less than A$30 a month.   The announcement by Telstra raises questions about where the company sees its future and involvement, not only as an ISP but also as a media distributor.   The Telstra TV device, based on the Roku 2, and remote. Telstra   Telstra is already heavily involved in a number of areas of the Australian media, across broadcast and streaming. The company has an even share of 50% with News Corp Australia in Foxtel, which has Foxtel Play, arguably a competitor to Netflix, Stan and Presto. Foxtel itself is involved in a joint venture in Presto with Seven West Media.   Foxtel also recently purchased a 15% share in the Ten Network, and last year completed the joint production of Goggle Box with the network, which was broadcast on pay television with a one day delay to free-to-air (FTA).   In addition to Telstra’s various media company associations, it also has services that could be argued to compete with its new Telstra TV service. Telstra’s current T-Box could be seen as offering many similar digital services to Telstra TV. Despite this, there is no discussion that it will be discounted when the new service is launched.   One key reason for this could be due to the fact that T-Box provides access and recording of FTA broadcast television, similar to its competitor Fetch TV, a service linked with Optus and iiNet. The Roku 2 does not allow FTA viewing or recording, therefore solely relying on internet and app entertainment.   As a Telstra spokesperson said: “We will not be positioning this as a substitution for Foxtel at all. This is very much for non-pay TV customers.”   Despite this claim, Damien Tampling from Deloitte said there is “potential the move would cannibalise Foxtel customers”.   The Roku service does provide access to HBO Go, which provided immediate access to the most recent season of Game of Thrones, a series high on the piracy list for Australians. If HBO Go was to become available in Australia this would impact Foxtel, which relies heavily on exclusive programs such as Game of Thrones.   Shake up This move by Telstra also raises questions for the future of television and VoD in Australia, such as: who will be the big media players in the future? Will the future of these services rest with the current traditional broadcasters, free-to-air and pay-TV? Or will ISPs play a larger role in this space in the future?   Telstra has the largest number of individual customers subscribed to Netflix of all Australian ISPs, but the lowest percentage: only 5.2%. This is far less than the leader, iiNet, at 16.8%.   Stan and Presto are yet to have a strong uptake since their launch at the beginning of this year. Recent figures show Netflix had three times more users than Presto, Stan, Quickflix and Foxtel Play combined.   Telstra’s spokesperson said live sports will be the reasons for customers to stay with Foxtel and free-to-air TV. But even sports broadcasting is changing, with new players such as YouTube, along with sporting organisations becoming their own broadcasters.   What’s next on TV? There is no doubt that 2015 will be an interesting year for TV.   We will see how VoD might force old players to adapt to the changing media landscape. Seven and Nine are already involved with VoD services, with only Ten yet to make a move in this space, although the recent purchase by Foxtel could change the network’s direction.   There will also be interest around any new players that may appear as the race continues to establish some structured approach to a changing media distribution environment. In this we might see ISPs take a greater role as media outlets.   Marc C-Scott is Lecturer in Digital Media at Victoria University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

YouTube could change the way we broadcast sport in Australia

6:16AM | Monday, 22 June

  Australian rugby league games could be heading online following reports the National Rugby League (NRL) has been in discussions with Google as part of the sporting organisation’s latest media rights. The discussions are said to be associated with having NRL games broadcast via Google’s YouTube video website.   These are not the first discussions rumoured to have taken place between YouTube and an Australian sporting organisation. Last year it was said that the Australian Football League (AFL) was in discussions with YouTube, as part of its new media rights deal to start in 2017.   It should also be noted that YouTube has made a shift toward professional sports media over the past few years. In 2010 it secured the live-streaming rights of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket. Three years later, YouTube began to experiment with major American sports, including Major League Baseball (MLB) and the National Basketball Association (NBA).   How would a deal between an Australian sports organisations and YouTube impact Australian sport media rights?   International sport media rights   Sports media rights are much sort after. The investment banking group Jefferies Group LLC sees sports as vital for TV channels because 97% of all sports programming is watched live.   This is evident by the high stakes of the sports media rights globally. In the UK recently Sky and BT paid a record £5.136 billion (A$10.48 billion) for live Premier League soccer television rights, almost doubling the previous £3 billion (A$6.12 billion) deal.   The annual amounts paid for sports media rights in the US range from US$1.5 billion (A$1.93 billion) annually for Major League Baseball to US$3 billion (A$3.85 billion) per year for the National Football League (NFL). The NBA’s recent media rights deal of US$2.66 billion (A$3.42 billion) annually more than doubled its previous deal.   How does this compare to Australian sport media rights?   The AFL’s current media rights, which includes Seven West Media, Foxtel, Fox Sports and Telstra, are valued at A$1.25 billion. The new media rights are expected to reach more than A$2 billion for a five year deal. The current NRL media rights deal with Nine and Fox Sports are valued at A$1.025 billion over five years, just under the AFL.   There is a clear gap between the value of Australian sporting media rights and those in the UK and US, which is arguably one factor in YouTube’s interest in the Australian sports market.   Could YouTube become a sport broadcaster?   Today the online video market is estimated to be worth US$200 billion to US$400 billion (A$275 billion to A$514 billion), with YouTube having the largest share. YouTube currently has more than 1 billion users, has more than 300 hours of video uploaded to its site every minute, is localised in 75 countries and available in 61 languages.   It was recently reported that in the US YouTube reached more Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 than any cable channel, including ESPN. There has also been a 50% growth in the amount of time users spend watching videos on YouTube year over year, of which 50% of viewing is via a mobile.   The live streams on YouTube have the potential to far outweigh the highest audience ratings of Australian television broadcasters. Felix Baumgartner’s world record free fall skydive, for example, had 8 million simultaneous viewers. VIDEO 1   Who will pay? Advertisers or the users   If YouTube was to commence broadcasts of Australian sports, the question is, who will pay?   YouTube has a subscription based services already available that would allow Australian sports to charge per game, per month or per year. But how would this impact the current alternative platforms that both the AFL and NRL have?   Both have services for mobile and online viewing, part of digital rights deals with Telstra. The AFL’s deal worth A$153 million and the NRL deal worth A$100 million. Any digital rights deal with YouTube would have an impact upon the current approach toward digital rights.   A similar deal could be struck as with the IPL, where YouTube “involves every country outside the US”. YouTube could become a digital partner to broadcast AFL and NRL for countries other than Australia, assisting in the internationalisation of the codes.   YouTube and new ways to watch sport   In addition to the shear reach of YouTube globally, the other area to consider is broadcast technologies and the way in which YouTube has begun to experiment in this area.   In recent months Virtual Reality (VR) and 360 degree video, has been a big talking point. Particularly with the release Microsoft’s Hololens and more recently the new Oculus Rift VR headset, now owned by Facebook.   Google has also released Google Cardboard which gives anyone with a smartphone a cheap entry to the VR headset. Google also recently announced its Jump camera rig for 360 degree videos, which holds 16 GoPro cameras, costing well over US$8,000 (A$10,280) with cameras.   But there are cheaper alternatives to Jump coming into the market. The Giroptic camera is under US$500 (A$643) and the Bubl camera is US$799 (A$1,027), both are smaller than Jump and extremely affordable in comparison.   YouTube allows for 360 degree video to be upload to its site, something that has been taken up by artists such as Björk and the Red Bull Formula 1 racing team.   The 360 degree effect only works when viewed in Google’s Chrome web browser.   Sporting organisations are willing to experiment with new technologies. This is evident by the recent virtual reality content filmed for Samsung’s Gear VR at the NBA’s all-star weekend. The National Hockey League (NHL) also experimented with using GoPro cameras for its all-star weekend to give viewers a point-of-view perspective.   Example of NBA All-Star Virtual Reality via a Samsung Gear VR Headset These new ways of viewing video content could have a major impact on the future of sports broadcasts and what the viewer sees on a screen, but does not need to entirely replace the current methods.   Future of sports broadcasting   In the current media environment it seems that YouTube will not replace the current broadcast of sport.   For Australia, the anti-siphoning laws prevent subscription or pay-for view only broadcasting many Australian major sporting events. This would prevent YouTube from having a major impact in the near future of sports broadcasts, but it could shake up the digital rights component.   The other factor is Australian viewing habits of television. The current reports still show a strong difference between television viewing and online video viewing habits.   What YouTube could do for Australian sports is allow for both the AFL and NRL to be internationalised by making it available to people outside Australia, something that the AFL in particular has been strongly working on.   In addition to providing a liner stream, YouTube could be a potential platform for sporting organisation to experiment further with new broadcast and viewing technologies, such as the 360 degree video.   Imagine being able to experience being in the crowd at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. A 360 degree video could allow the viewer – both in Australia and overseas – access onto the ground, a fly on the wall perspective, via cameras installed on goal posts or positioned above the ground.   YouTube thus does have the potential to lead the way in new forms of sports broadcasting. Marc C-Scott is Lecturer in Digital Media at Victoria University. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Muru-D to host startup workshops for indigenous Australians, says that’s just the start

5:22AM | Thursday, 21 May

Sydney-based startup accelerator muru-D is looking to give indigenous Australians a leg-up when it comes to turning their business idea into a fully-fledged technology company.   The national accelerator, which is backed by Telstra, will hold a free two-day workshop in July at the Coder Factory in Redfern.   The aim of the Path to Digital workshop is to help people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent explore entrepreneurship and see launching a startup as a viable career path.   Annie Parker, co-founder of muru-D, told StartupSmart the accelerator’s name comes from an indigenous word, muru, for ‘road’ or ‘path’ – however, to date no one of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander descent has come through the program.   “I wanted to fix that or understand why it isn’t happening,” she says.   “We’ve been doing lean startup training all across the country for 18 months now with the help of Pollenizer and there isn’t a huge amount of training for people who do want to be entrepreneurs – whether they’re from indigenous communities or not. So we decided instead of going out there and finding a specific startup, how about we invest in the indigenous community by investing in some pre-training.”   Parker says the sessions will be free and it doesn’t matter what level of experience participants have.   “It could just be a germ of an idea,” she says.   “We just want to harness that excitement and enthusiasm and give them some of the training, skills and experience they’ll need to build that idea out to be a fully-formed business, a fully-formed startup concept. And ideally we’d like to welcome those entrepreneurs into the next class of muru-D, class three… I think it will just be the start of what we can do. We’re here to stay anyway, so the more we can do to help indigenous communities the better.”   The chief executive of the National Centre of Indigenous Excellence, Jason Glanville, previously told StartupSmart technology and culture go hand-in-hand.   “Culture matters and it matters in all things,” he said.   “We need to get past this fear that digital spaces are against culture. It’s unavoidable that we all need to get better with how we engage with the digital space.”   Glanville says it is important for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to get involved in startups and software because digital technologies create genuine economic opportunities.   “I’d encourage all blackfellas – but in particularly young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – to not lose the opportunity that’s presented by the digital space and not to be driven by digital opportunities, but to drive digital opportunities that suit them, their communities and culture.”   The free workshop will run from July 25-26. Tickets can be booked here.   Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Australia needs to create a media and entertainment accelerator – or risk falling behind

5:55AM | Friday, 8 May

Australian entertainment and media companies risk falling behind the rest of the world unless they organise startup accelerator programs focused on their industry, the author of an award-winning thesis examining US media giant Time Warner’s accelerator programs has warned.   The thesis, by researcher Chantal Abouchar, is titled Inventing the Future, and uses the accelerator programs run by Time Warner subsidiaries Warner Bros and Turner Broadcasting as case studies of industry best-practice.   Drawing on more than 20 interviews with key figures including Time Warner executive Ethan Applen, the research won the Wake in Fright Trust’s inaugural prize for the most outstanding AFTRS (Australian Film, Television and Radio School) Masters Of Screen Arts And Business thesis.   Abouchar told StartupSmart her key finding was that Time Warner is using its accelerator program as much to engage with startups as to future-proof its own business, and in the process quietly revolutionise its own business.   “The three major media accelerator programs are run by the BBC, Time Warner and Disney – BBC and Time Warner are in their fourth year, Disney began theirs as I was conducting my research,” Abouchar says.   “What my research shows is that Time Warner bets on creative technologies. They’re looking to harness their content any way they can, and startups are a new way for them to exploit their intellectual property.”   Time Warner has now invested in more than 27 startups, including an Australian company called Incoming Media, whose technology allows users to turn their mobile phones into a personal remote control.   The research highlights the fact that since 2010, the Australian startup ecosystem has boomed through the creation of generalist (e.g. Startmate), university (e.g. Sydney Uni INCUBATE), vertical (e.g. Griffin Labs), and corporate (e.g. Telstra’s Muru-D) accelerators. Abouchar argues these models should be applied to create a media and entertainment accelerator in Australia.   “This is a new category and by engaging with it, we can be a part of the evolution of its future landscape – but we’ve got to be a part of the conversation,” Abouchar says.   Fairfax Media’s missed opportunities in the online classifieds market and the Ten Network’s poor performance in recent years are examples of why Australian media companies need to seek out digital media startups through accelerator programs.   “Accelerators in media have only been around for about four years. I’m very excited about the possibility of Australia waking up. And all the research tells us tech jobs have a multiplier effect. Every business will be a tech-based business in the near future,” Abouchar says.   Australia’s proximity to Asia is a key potential advantage to an Australian accelerator.   “And a simple mechanism for doing that is through an accelerator program. But because our ecosystem is immature compared to the US and the UK, we also need to draw in startups from the Asia-Pacific region,” Abouchar says.   “There’s no significant media accelerator program in the Asia-Pacific region, and there’s a big opportunity for us as a region.   “The UK has become the gateway for people in English-speaking countries that want to access the European market, and I see Sydney could be the same for the Asia-Pacific region.”   The thesis is available online at:   Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

A startup named Disrupt on why muru-D’s second wave was a gnarly ride

5:30AM | Friday, 8 May

Customised 3D-printed surfboard and sporting goods startup Disrupt was among 10 graduates to pitch to investors at muru-D’s demo night, marking the end of the Telstra-backed accelerator’s second program.   Disrupt co-founder and chief executive Gary Elphick told StartupSmart the night was a good opportunity to meet with potential investors, and the beginning of its fundraising journey.   “It was pretty awesome. Telstra had 10 startups that presented to a hall full of investors and industry folk for five minutes each. Afterwards, there was a showcase where everyone had their own space for a booth and the investors had a chance to get to know all the investors and the teams,” Elphick says.   Before launching Disrupt around eight months ago, Elphick was undertaking an MBA program, but decided instead to focus on his business. He now describes muru-D as being far more valuable in terms of developing the mindset necessary to successfully launch a startup than an MBA course.   According to Elphick, one of the signs customisation is gaining popularity in the sporting goods market is that Nike’s customised shoes and accessories brand, NIKEiD, now accounts for 20% of its online sales. He estimates customised equipment could similarly represent 20% of the broader sporting goods market.   “[Disrupt] came about because I’m a surf instructor, and when we were out we noticed a lot of people would be out drawing on their boards with Posca pens. Then a friend of ours introduced us to 3D software, and we found somewhere to physically produce the designs we came up with.   “We made custom boards for ourselves, and then friends, and friends of friends. Soon, I had a queue of 10 people at my door, and my housemate said ‘you’re going to either have to put a stop to this, or turn it into a business’.   “If you’re into sport and you’re passionate about it, it defines who you are as an individual. So you go into a sporting goods store and everything on the shelves is mass-produced – the same size, same styles, same colours. For something so personal, you don’t want equipment that’s mass produced.”   Looking to the future, Elphick estimates there are around 125 sporting goods product lines that could potentially be custom-manufactured.   Disrupt is expanding into the skiing and snowboarding equipment market, ahead of a move into yoga equipment. It is also fundraising ahead of opening its UK office on July 2, while also looking at additional manufacturing facilities.   According to figures revealed by muru-D cofounder Annie Parker during the event, the10 startups from the first muru-D cohort have raised $3.7 million in funding and have generated $1.7 million in turnover to date. They have also created 21 full-time and 20 part-time jobs, with seven expanding internationally.   Alongside Disrupt, the other nine startups presenting on the night were:   CrowdSourceHire is an online platform for assessing the skills of technical hires using crowdsourced industry experts. Fanfuel is a sports sponsorship platform that allows brands to easily search for athletes, secure sponsorship deals and measure their return on investment, while also helping athletes understand their marketing potential. Freight Exchange is a digital marketplace that enables long-distance freight carriers to connect seamlessly with their customers to sell their excess capacity. Instrument Works make data collection for the lab, the field and the factory simple, reliable and accurate through sensor devices connected through the internet and controlled by smartphones. SoccerBrain is a platform for soccer clubs to manage coaching, training and development of players. Tripalocal is an online platform that connects travellers with local hosts for authentic local experiences – it's like the Airbnb for local experiences. Vclass is a hybrid education platform that combines the power of Internet, VoIP and traditional pen and paper to create an online teaching experience just like face to face classes. Wattblock offers quick, customised, web-based energy saving roadmaps for residential and commercial strata buildings without the need for onsite energy auditors or installation of hardware devices. You Chews is an online catering platform making it easy to find great food for meetings and events.   Do you know more on this story or have a tip of your own? Raising capital or launching a startup? Let us know. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Icehouse says muru-D partnership will improve trans-Tasman collaboration and access to markets

4:41AM | Friday, 10 April

The Icehouse chief executive Andy Hamilton says the new trans-Tasman partnership with Telstra-backed accelerator muru-D will help to connect startups with funding and overseas markets, while sharing valuable lessons on topics such as how to boost venture capital funding in Australia.   “Icehouse started in 2001; muru-D has been around a few years less than that. The startup world has changed and partnerships between countries are now very important in terms of mentoring, investment and market access, especially into Asia. It was such an easy conversation to have with muru-D,” Hamilton says.   “New Zealand has a pretty vibrant startup ecosystem. Many angel investors from Australia – I wouldn’t say are jealous – but they’re certainly very surprised by how cohesive and vibrant it is. There’s accelerators, incubators, angel funds and now even corporates getting involved.”   Hamilton notes that over the past 14 years, The Icehouse has helped more than 250 startups to raise $117 million of funding, with just under half coming through its ICE Angels angel investor network.   “A lot of our startups want to enter the Australian market, so partnering with muru-D and Telstra makes a lot of sense from that point of view, and we’re also able to team-up to enter into Asia,” Hamilton says.   “So the first thing is to share learnings and leverage networks. And then, in the future, there’s scope for things like joint demo days, joint missions into Asia, and even something like a collaborative fund.”   Annie Parker, the cofounder of muru-D, agrees that education and networking are key priorities, citing the possibility of having startups from The Icehouse participate in muru-D trips to China, or muru-D startups in a pitching event organised by The Icehouse.   Parker told StartupSmart over the 18 months that muru-D has been operating the value to startups of advice from international contacts has become more apparent.   “One of the gaps we’ve noticed is around early-stage Series-A funding. So we started to look overseas to see how they address the problem and Rick Ellis [formerly a Telstra Media group executive and muru-D advisory board member] spoke really highly of The Icehouse,” Parker says.   “I found it staggering how much process they’ve put into early-stage investment, and in practical terms, that knowledge is something we can tap into.”   Parker says she’s “very open minded about the possibility” of muru-D entering into other partnerships with overseas or interstate startup organisations in the future.   “Why The Icehouse? Our motivating objective is to grow the ecosystem locally. That philosophy is something we share with Icehouse and is the starting-point of this partnership. I’m certainly interested in working with other organisations that share that philosophy,” Parker says.   However, Parker says the issue of access to funding would need to be addressed before muru-D considers launching similar programs interstate.   “We have to be cognisant that the whole process is in place. There is a phenomenal amount of talent in this country, but there’s also a big gap in follow-up funding, and I’d be concerned about doubling the talent going through the program until that macro-problem is fixed.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Obama hires former Twitter product manager

3:14PM | Wednesday, 25 March

Silicon Valley veteran Jason Goldman will become the White House’s first chief digital officer as part of the Obama administration’s bid to grow its tech staff.   Goldman is best known for his work on Twitter, Medium and Blogger and will now lead the White House’s Office of Digital Strategy.   “Goldman brings new energy and coveted expertise as someone who’s helped shape the digital age,” President Obama told Politico.   The announcement follows a string of recent appointments, including former Facebook engineering director David Recordon being brought on as the White House’s director of technology.   Facebook is looking to host news content directly on its site   Facebook is in discussions with several media partners including BuzzFeed and National Geographic in order to “make the experience of consuming content online more seamless”, according to The New York Times.   The new format will be tested in the next few months and will see Facebook directly host content, rather than users having to click through to a link to read a news story.   Facebook has 1.4 billion users worldwide.   Wearables are coming   Wearables will soon be the new smartphones, according to Telstra’a chief technology officer Vish Nandlall.   “I think the curve starts to bend around probably 2020 leading into 2025,” he told Fairfax.   “That’s where we’re going to see a lot more industries start to come in, and then you’re going to see much more penetration of these services across the population.”   The Apple Watch will launch worldwide on April 24.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 104.90 points, falling 0.58% overnight to 18,011.14. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 79 US cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

KoalaSafe wants to claw back quality time with your children

3:52AM | Monday, 23 March

A Sydney startup is looking to help parents control the amount of time their kids spend on gaming consoles and the internet.   KoalaSafe, which is part of Startmate’s 2015 accelerator program, is turning to Kickstarter to launch a device that allows parents to control internet usage and block websites and apps from their smartphone.   Children in Australia spend, on average, almost an entire day each week glued to a smartphone, according to research by Telstra.   Co-founder Steve Pack told StartupSmart KoalaSafe is about giving parents the tools to effectively manage their children’s screen time.   “So it offers time limits, content filtering and insights,” he says.   “At a broader level though, it’s about addressing a growing health issue that young kids get addicted and obsess over games and there’s not really tools for parents to address it. While parents, of course, do implement their own controls it’s a source of friction in the home and a lot harder than it needs to be – with KoalaSafe the parent is no longer the bad guy.”   KoalaSafe has already received $50,000 in seed funding from Startmate, however the business needs another capital injection in order to fund the first shipment. Pack says crowdfunding is the obvious solution.   “Being a company with a hardware element … to make it commercial we need to do a big order with a manufacturer and to crowdfund it is the most obvious way,” he said.   “It proves the demand is there and at the same time provides the funding for the initial run.”   The startup isn’t about demonising the internet or saying it is bad for children, according to Pack. Instead, it’s about bringing balance and a routine back into people’s lives.   “The internet is a treat for children and Minecraft is a great game – there are definitely a lot worse ways kids could be spending their time,” he said.   “It’s just about setting up a routine to use those things in a healthy way. And that’s what parents keep saying to us – it’s so addictive and it’s all they want to do and it’s this constant battle.”   KoalaSafe has a Kickstarter goal of $US98,000, however, should the target not be reached, Pack and his co-founder Adam Mills will look elsewhere – including the US.   “Part of the Startmate program is we all go to Silicon Valley as a cohort to raise our proper seed round,” he said.   “So we actually have quite a bit of interaction locally, so we’ll be doing a roadshow in the first week of April in Melbourne and Sydney and, depending on the interest there, we’ll then be going to Silicon Valley to access that venture capital market.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Netflix undercuts competition by $1 a month

3:22PM | Monday, 23 March

Netflix will charge $8.99 a month for its standard service when it launches across Australia on Tuesday, undercutting rivals Presto and Stan by $1.   Neflix’s move to undercut its Australian rivals comes as competition reaches fever pitch in Australia’s streaming market, with a slew of services vying to secure viewers.   The company officially announced its Australian pricing structure on Monday morning after details were leaked on Reddit and Imgur on Sunday night.   Netflix will offer its single-stream standard definition plan for $8.99 a month, a dollar cheaper than rival Foxtel and Seven Network’s Presto and Fairfax and Nine Entertainment’s Stan, which both offer their entry-level plans at $9.99 a month. The fee will allow users to stream all Netflix content on one device.   The three-tier pricing structure also allows users to choose to stream content on two devices for $11.99, or on four devices in ultra-high definition for a $14.99 "family" plan. Meanwhile, Telstra today announced it will offer its T-Box customers a free six-month subscription to Presto. The service will be available unmetered through Telstra’s fixed home broadband, meaning users can watch shows without it affecting their monthly data allowance.   Presto’s offering is headlined by US comedy Modern Family, alongside popular TV shows Homeland, Sons of Anarchy, The Newsroom and Girls.   Netflix is meanwhile pushing House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, and Stan has Breaking Bad spinoff Better Call Saul as its meal ticket.   All three services are also offering 30-day free trials to new members. Telsyte managing director Foad Fadaghi told SmartCompany it will be the battle for content – not pricing – that will make the difference in the streaming wars.   “It will be about getting new content and killer programs that entice people to first run with the service and then stay with it,” says Fadaghi.   “The biggest challenge will be churn. It will be easy to get trial members and easy to have one [or] two hook shows,” he says, believing users will mix and match content to suit their interests from different providers.   “Users might get Better Call Saul on Stan, use Netflix for House of Cards, and have a Foxtel subscription for subscription for sport.”   “We think it will be a fragmented marketplace and it will remain that way,” he says. Fadaghi believes Netflix’s pricing will have the biggest impact on Foxtel’s multi-pack premium offerings.   “It’s very likely people will look at $25 a month for content [with Foxtel] and put that side by side with $15 with Netflix,” he says.   “Foxtel’s premium pricing will face the biggest threat, given consumers now have more choice,” he adds.   SmartCompany contacted Netflix and Presto but did not receive a response prior to publication.   This story originally appeared on SmartCompany.

THE NEWS WRAP: Facebook updates its community standards policies

3:41PM | Monday, 16 March

Facebook has attempted to clarify its community standards and approach to government requests following criticism of the way it censors content and has discriminated against users who are not using their legal name online.   Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert said in a statement the social media giant’s updated community standards are designed to “create an environment where people feel motivated and empowered to treat each other with empathy and respect”.   “It’s a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community,” she said.   “For one thing, people from different backgrounds may have different ideas about what’s appropriate to share – a video posted as a joke by one person might be upsetting to someone else, but it may not violate our standards.”   Facebook’s updated community standards, which clarify how and when the social network removes content online, can be viewed here. Yik Yak founders say their app has “very little” cyberbullying The founders of anonymous messaging app Yik Yak have defended their startup following criticism around cyberbullying on the location-based platform.   Speaking at the South by Southwest conference, co-founders Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington said it was a misconception their app was a melting pot of threats and cyberbullying, according to TechCrunch.   “Both of those are not what we see on a daily basis,” says Droll.   In November last year Yik Yak raised $US62 million in funding, bringing the startup’s valuation to between around $US300 million and $US400 million. Aussie kids are spending almost a day each week on their phones Children in Australia are spending almost an entire day each week on their smartphones, according to research published by Telstra.   While the average age of smartphone ownership for children is 12, the study found 10-year-olds spend on average 14.7 hours a week glued to their phones. Meanwhile 17-year-olds spend on average 26.3 hours each week on their smartphones.   Family researcher Justin Coulson told Fairfax children shouldn’t be given a phone until they are at least 12 or 13, and even then there should be rules surrounding the phone’s usage.   “Smart parents give their kids dumb phones,” he said.   “You don’t give them too much too soon… kids don’t need smartphones.” Overnight The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 228.11 points, rising 1.29% overnight to 17,977.42. The Aussie dollar is currently trading at around 76.41 US cents.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Why enterprise solutions could be the next billion-dollar opportunity for startups

3:20AM | Wednesday, 11 March

Long sales cycles, traditionally the biggest barrier to startups gaining a foothold in enterprise, have been drastically shortened. Pioneers like Yammer have shown it’s possible to enter on the back of a groundswell of support amongst employees in the trenches.   The proliferation of personal computing means employees are far more empowered to use whatever tools aid them in their work, without needing permission from legal and corporate headquarters.   Yammer made its way in via the computer, whereas more recently startup companies like Slack have done so through mobile phones. This could be just the tip of the iceberg and the next wave of billion-dollar companies may be those that serve enterprise problems.   Enterprise is a huge opportunity for startups. Organisations of that size are so big and complex that they invariably have a multitude of problems. And generally speaking, these problems are shared across a sector, so a solution for Telstra will also likely be a solution for Optus, for example.   Startup accelerators and early stage technology investors tend to focus mainly on business to consumer or software-as-a-service businesses, due to the speed at which they can be created and tested in the market, and iterated upon.   Business-to-enterprise startups move slowly by comparison, and long sales cycles which can take up to two years to close a deal are a hindrance. But this is changing as the opportunity in enterprise is too big to ignore.   Enterprise-focused accelerators, such as Alchemist, are beginning to appear in the United States, achieving impressive results in a short period of time. And they are attracting both interest and investment from some large companies (Salesforce invested in the Alchemist fund in 2014).   Two AngelCube startups, etaskr in 2013 and Arcade in 2014 are tackling the enterprise space. While both of these companies are still operating, the learning curve has been steep. We’ve found the best results come when you can create a competitive environment for your product or service. The idea of gaining an advantage over the competition is as much, if not more of a motivator than solving the problem itself.   Founder/market fit is an important consideration too.   The founders of etaskr came out of the innovation department at KPMG’s Melbourne office. They’re working on a problem they had to deal with first hand as graduates starting out in the company. They’ve got deep connections into the corporate world and understand it intimately given the time they spent working in it. That experience acts as a natural barrier to entry from founders starting outside the enterprise space.   AngelCube will be hosting a free fireside chat with etaskr founder and chief executive officer David Chung at Inspire 9 on Thursday March 12. For tickets click here. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

It's not 'what' but 'who' you connect with in metadata retention

2:30AM | Tuesday, 24 February

The purpose and implementation of the Australian government’s proposed metadata retention scheme is making less sense as political pressure mounts to get the legislation passed. So what’s going on?   The bill, as written, suggests it can be easy for criminals to “opt out” of data collection, while the remainder of Australians still have their personal communications spied on, retained for two years and kept in commercial data centres at taxpayers' expense.   The Australian Greens senator Scott Ludlam recently raised a number of such concerns about the bill which has already met opposition from privacy advocates.   But the bill’s worth as a tool to specifically fight terrorism, or any other serious crime, seems dubious if potential terrorists and criminals in Australia can easily “opt out” of having their data retained simply by choosing any internet messaging service where the persons operating the service do not own or operate “in Australia, infrastructure that enables” that service.   So what does that mean for the apps commonly used on smartphones today?   Whatsapp, the popular mobile messaging app with 700 million users, around 10% of which come from the Middle East, or Viber, a similar app with 20 million users in Pakistan alone, would both be excluded from data retention. These are some of the apps that the UK’s prime minister David Cameron recently mused about baning in the UK.   According to answers given by Australian Attorney General’s (AG) department staff during the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Reference Committee, the “in Australia” provision also means that even Google’s web-based Gmail service is excluded from data retention. So what does the bill call for? With all the reports of what the bill leaves out and doesn’t do, no one seems to acknowledge what is actually in the draft bill, and how that language might affect policing, government and privacy. So what is at play?   One possible explanation is that Australia is carrying out its obligations as part of the “five eyes” network of English speaking intelligence partners. The logic here is that it makes economic and political sense to have Australian internet service providers (ISPs) such as Telstra and iiNet retain what originates in their infrastructure rather than have the US’s National Security Agency (NSA) collect it.   A more plausible explanation is that, contrary to the PM’s politiking, the data to be retained is not valued by the Australian government for its national security or anti-child abuse value.   Instead, Australians are to be spied on for data that will become valuable for other state functions including the expanded reach of civil litigation. The expanded value considers normal policing, civil subpoenas and even copyright disputes. A look inside the bill The Australian government is not explicitly interested in the internet protocol (IP) addresses that you visit. The bill in its current form states in section 187A that the government:   […] does not require a service provider to keep, or cause to be kept […] [information that] states an address to which a communication was sent on the internet, from a telecommunications device.   In more detail, the helpful “explanatory memorandum” codifies that:   Under proposed paragraph 187A(4)(b), the retention obligation is explicitly expressed to exclude the retention of destination web address identifiers, such as destination internet Protocol (IP) addresses or uniform resource locators (URLs).   So what are we talking about then? It’s all about the destination What the government does seem to be after is “destination” data that basically amounts to an assortment of dummy variables that help identify you, and who you are communicating with.   Instead of IP address or web pages, it is interested in retaining email accounts, Skype handles and phone numbers, etc. for the connections you have made.   The government’s “destination” is in many ways more invasive than IP addresses or web URLs alone. For instance, think about how each person in Australia connects to the IP address That’s the IP for, and is physically located in the US.   Retaining the metadata of time spent at that address would not produce much actionable intelligence on you or the other 8 million Australians who browse Facebook each day. Nor would it be all that invasive to privacy.   “Destination” data is different. “Destination” data seeks to capture who, specifically, you’re spending time with online; who is the destination that you are messaging through email, Skype or possibly even Facebook’s real-time apps and services?   Think of it this way: two “destinations” pass data through the same communications service at a series of very specific times, again, again and again. No other two “destinations” share this unique pattern of time and connection.   The government’s definition of “destination” is multiple click here, search for “destination”), but we can isolate a key phrase:   This information can then assist with determining the subscribers who sent or received relevant communications.   That is to say, who you’re talking to online, not where you went.   Analysing how these “destinations” link together with other metadata (geo-location, device type/operating system, etc.) allows the government – or anyone else who snoops in on the retained data – to predict, for instance, that these communications were yours, and whether you targeted them to, let’s say, your spouse, or an “old friend” across town. And whether you meet up with that person from time to time. And where. And for how long.   Geolocation data alone is incredibly powerful when we all carry smartphone and other devices that connect to the internet in our pockets. People are just starting to learn how powerful this type of metadata is.   Retaining all of that metadata provides an incredible amount of information for civil litagants that can ask for it through a subpoena. As an former iiNet lawyer wrote:   The Data Retention Bill does not impose any limitation on access to the retained data by other legal avenues. This means there’s nothing stopping your ex-husband, your employer, the tax office or a bank using a subpoena to get access to that data if it is relevant to a court case.   All this data also creates a very valuable target for hackers, including “adversarial intelligence agencies” trying to infiltrate your identity, ransom you for your secrets, or run some form of economic espionage.   Can we trust Australian service providers can keep all the data safe once they’ve accumulated two years worth of intimate connections for each Australian who uses any sort of telecommunications device?   Sadly, recent security breaches at companies as diverse as Apple, Target, and the latest heist from “100 banks and other financial institutions in 30 nations” suggest otherwise.   The flawed explanations of what good the bill does, what privacy risks it creates and the reality of how our retained data will be used, offers many red flags on why this legislation should be reconsidered.   This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Fears Abbott's metadata laws could force small ISPs out of business, as calls for more consultation grow

2:39AM | Friday, 6 February

There are growing concerns the federal government’s proposed data retention laws could force smaller internet service providers and telcos out of business, with frustration mounting over inadequate consultation over the issue.   Metadata generally describes data about calls, emails, website visits and other electronic messages, such as the time they took place and where they originated, but does not include the content of these messages themselves.   Under legislation proposed by the federal government last year, ISPs would be required to store this data for a period of up to two years, with law enforcement agencies given the ability to access this information without a warrant.   Director of Smart50 finalist Broadband Solutions, Sam Bashiry, told SmartCompany if the legislation is adopted, the impact on smaller ISPs will be much larger than on telecommunications giants such as Optus, Telstra, Vodafone or iiNet.   “The likes of Optus and Telstra have a massive budget for that sort of thing – we don’t,” Bashiry says.   “And the last thing we want to see in this country is some of the smaller ISPs going out of business.”   Bashiry says the lack of information and consultation with smaller ISPs is his biggest concern with the legislation.   “There should be one law for all and there should be more consultation with smaller ISPs, because not all of the information is out there. It’s like the NBN – there are so many changes constantly being made,” Bashiry says.   “And how it will affect smaller ISPs will depend on how deep it goes. If it’s just browser history, that’s not really an issue. But if emails also need to be stored, there are costs involved with that.   “I read in the paper that under the laws, there is to be no need to keep records for Gmail accounts, but if a customer uses their ISP’s email account, then you’ll need to keep records. Now, that’s a huge loophole and there needs to be one rule for all.”   Bashiry’s concerns echo those made by industry lobby group the Communications Alliance in comments to News Corp, as well as by the peak body for Tasmania’s Information Communication Technology sector, TasICT.   TasICT executive director Dean Winter told SmartCompany small ISPs are anxious about what the new laws will mean for them.   “TasICT is very concerned that these proposed laws have been poorly communicated and not well understood,” Winter says.   “Any new requirement for data retention will have a proportionally higher impact on small ISPs. They would be likely to spend considerably more time and resources in attempting to understand the regulation and then implement and maintain the systems required to comply.”   “The process needs to be delayed so that government and industry can clarify which organisations will actually be covered by the scheme.”   SmartCompany contacted the Department of Communications and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull this morning but did not receive a response prior to publication.   However, in a speech to Parliament late last year, Minister Turnbull defended the proposed legislation, pointing out that historically phone companies held records detailing the time, duration, and A and B parties of phone calls.   “Access to metadata plays a central role in almost every counter-terrorism, counterespionage, cybersecurity and organised crime investigation,” Turnbull said.   “It is also used in almost all serious criminal investigations, including investigations into murder, serious sexual assaults, drug trafficking and kidnapping. The use of this kind of metadata, therefore, is not new. However, as the business models of service providers are changing with technology, they are keeping fewer records.”   “In June 2013, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security concluded that this diminution in the retention of metadata is harming law enforcement and national security capabilities, and that these changes are accelerating.”   Image credit: Flickr/gabitogol   This article orignally appeared on SmartCompany.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Putting customers first: can corporates and startups really work together?

2:38PM | Thursday, 5 February

Corporates are paying more attention to startups but there is still a long way to go when it comes to the two collaborating, according to a number of experts helping Australian businesses drive innovation.   Speaking at the SouthStart conference in Adelaide, Jenny Vandyke – author of The Innovation Recipe: Key ingredients for world-class results in big business – said innovation is one of the most-hyped words used in business today.   “Everyone is talking about it,” she says.   “When you look at corporates and entrepreneurship, a lot of people would say that they are two worlds that are completely different. The wardrobe that people wear might be different, and the language, but when it comes to innovation the key ingredients are the same for all businesses of all shapes and sizes, and the mistakes are the same.”   Vandyke says part of the reason why corporates are turning to startups is their graduate programs are not yielding the same results as they once did because talented individuals are exploring opportunities beyond big brands.   “There are so many different opportunities for the corporates and what you [as startups] are going to get out of the situation,” she says.   Mark Drasutis, national innovation manager at News Corp Australia, agrees.   “Corporates are going down that line of taking cues from startups that they need to have plastic structures and innovate very quickly,” he says.   “It’s the maturity of a corporate to realise it can’t do everything. We need to understand what customers are doing in this space and people outside that platform.”   Trey Zagante, founder of the Venturetec Group, told the crowd that a corporate partnering with a startup can be a huge brand risk because the corporate world is all about minimising failure.   “Sponsorships of events like this and sponsorships of co-working spaces are quite easy ways for corporates to dip their toes into the water,” he says.   “Other ways they can get innovative is through accelerator programs – we’ve seen Telstra run their own accelerator program.”   Zagante also says corporates need to understand that if they really want to innovate, they can’t kill off a program at the first sign of failure.   “You can’t expect that there is going to be any success at all from a corporate startup, or that you are going to get quick returns from it,” he says.   “The KPIs need to be thought through very thoughtfully at the start so you have some kind of proper expectation about what the return on investment is going to be. There needs to be some sort of strategic alignment… it can’t be ad hoc innovation.”   Neal Mann, senior manager of digital media and editorial at News Corp, says for a company to really drive innovation it has to get the right people to do the right things.   “The two major issues are the failure issue and accepting that failure is OK, and ripping apart the status quo of the business you’ve got and probably for the first time putting the customer first,” he says.   “You have to understand that and work out how you get members of staff who work at a corporate – who are used to doing their job on a daily basis – to come out of their comfort zone and drive in the same way a startup drives.”   StartupSmart travelled to Adelaide courtesy of Brand South Australia.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The finest truckin’ convoy since CW McCall: 20 OzAPP Awards finalists named, including a freight marketplace

1:45PM | Sunday, 18 January

Online freight capacity marketplace FreightExchange, which is currently part of Telstra’s Muru-D program, is one of the 20 startups named as a finalist in this year’s OzApp Awards.   Each of the top 20 finalists from this year’s OzAPP Awards will receive $24,000 worth of hosting, education, mentoring and marketing support, along with six months free service on Hootsuite Pro and Hootsuite University.   They will also present video pitches to be selected in the top five finalists. In turn, the top five will pitch to a panel of leading VCs, tech judges and industry heavyweights at the West Tech Fest on Wednesday February 18 for the chance of winning a top prize of $US100,000.   Freight Exchange co-founder and chief executive Cate Hull told Private Media unlike Uber’s freight offering, the Sydney-based startup marketplace and real-time tracking focuses on long-haul trucking on the east coast of Australia.   “I used to travel a lot, and I always wondered what the excess capacity of those planes, trains and trucks I travelled with was. I did a bit of research and found that one-in-three trucks have spare capacity – that’s $18 billion a year in empty trucks,” Hull says.   “We help companies in the logistics industry save time and money organising transport. We’re a two-sided marketplace – because there’s pain-points on both sides of the marketplace.   “The pain point on the trucking side is that a prime mover costs up to $500,000, not to mention the expense of petrol and drivers, and if that’s not being used, that’s expensive.   “And on the retailer and manufacturer side, getting quotes and availability can usually take days. So our slogan is we let you do what normally takes three days in three minutes.”   FreightExchange, which has been bootstrapped aside from the angel funding it received through Muru-d, is currently working on a pilot version of its real-time tracking system.   “At the moment we’re working with carriers with between 20 and 200 trucks doing a pilot implementation of real-time tracking. We’ve already got two companies on-board for real time, along with our online platform that anyone can use.”   The other finalists this year are:   APE Mobile: a paperless site app for contractors. Assignmenthero: a solution to the problem of lack of effective collaboration in academia for students. Churn: Pinterest meets WordPress, designed exclusively for video. Class: the fastest mobile-only hotel booking platform in the world and first of it’s kind in Australia. Disrupt: allows people to choose their surfboard using a learning algorithm before personalising the design and finish. ePAT (Electronic Pain Assessment Technologies) for Kids: an electronic pain assessment device. High Ferritin: a referral tool for doctors that enables them to receive a real time outcome. JOBDOH: a location based, last-minute booking and scheduling platform to source casual workers. Joy Sprouts – Kids Preschool Education: award winning games and activities to develop a range of important skills to help every child’s total development. Kindy: helps working parents find quality, affordable and local child care. MobiMe: a unique App solution for schools to make Teacher – Parent communication easy. OnFlow: a platform for sharing video content of action sports. Pamperologist: a social beauty app. It is a fusion of Yelp and Pinterest, but is exclusively for beauty services. PEERS (Paediatric Evaluation of Emotions Relationships and Socialisation): a first-in-class assessment tool to identify social impairments in children and adolescents, with future extension to adults. realAs: predicts the actual prices homes will sell for within, on average, around 5% of actual sale prices. Simply Wall St: visualises listed stocks in Australia, UK and the US everyday. Tap Into Safety Interactive Safety Training Tools: interactive, ‘game like’, self-paced safety training and assessment tools. Two Hoots: an entirely new way to improve customer satisfaction. WiseTime: a passive timesheet platform designed to facilitate a greater degree of freedom and flexibility in workplaces. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Crowdsourcing startup partners with Microsoft to promote innovation through coding

1:18AM | Thursday, 15 January

Crowdsourcing startup CrowdSourceHire is collaborating with Microsoft for the first time in order to run a competition showcasing how businesses can drive innovation by hiring programmers with original ideas.   The Code4Goal Coding Challenge, which is sponsored by Microsoft and will take place in February, is for programmers looking to promote their coding skills as well as solve issues faces by Australian companies.   Participants will be asked to develop a product that helps businesses sift through large volumes of resumes in order to help them save time and money – while at the same time assisting them in choosing the right candidate.   The competition’s judges include Shaun Clowes, director of product growth and analytics at Atlassian, and Andrew Coates, developer evangelist at Microsoft. The winner will be selected based on speed, accuracy, the cleanliness of their code as well as how innovative their solution is.   Co-founder of CrowdSourceHire, Des Hang, told StartupSmart the competition was about “identifying and providing a solution” for a problem faced by large companies.   “It’s also about promoting how you come up with a logical implementation to a solution – and that’s the part that is important for coding,” he says.   “At the end of the day you can always take a course and learn how to code. But if you want to be a good coder you need that experience to plug in your skills.”   Hang says he also hopes a few participants will get hired due to their work or at least build some strong connections with companies interested in being innovative.   “Raising the candidates’ profiles will be the whole outcome of this,” he says.   “We hope to help people in their career projection as well as any opportunities they may have as well.”   CrowdSourcedHire is currently taking part in the Telstra-backed Muru-D program. Hang says the startup is currently in talks with Grabtaxi, an Asian-based company that uses taxis instead of private drivers and is looking at taking on Uber.   “We’ve engaged with a couple of Telstra business units and engaged with a big startup – Grabtaxi – in south-east Asia. They are ramping up their hires and they want to use us to help them with that.”   CrowdSourcedHire uses crowdsourced industry experts to assess prospective hires for startups and other businesses that may not have the infrastructure in place to adequately vet candidates.   Registration for the Code4Goal Coding Challenge is currently open, with submissions closing on 2 February.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Where’s the baby? How Tago wants to help you never lose or misplace a thing

1:26AM | Wednesday, 14 January

If you or someone you know often misplaces their keys, remote or phone then this Australian startup is here to help.   Tago is a product that toggles to an app on a user’s smartphone, allowing them to easily locate a missing item. Alan William, co-founder of Tago, told StartupSmart while there are a number of item trackers on the market he doesn’t think they are “revolutionary enough” or make better use of smartphone technology.   William says the idea for Tago came about because he and his co-founders were constantly misplacing things such as their keys, and wanted to be alerted when they left something behind so they didn’t have to back-track.   “Then one of our friends was in a shopping mall and she took her eye away from her 15-month-old for a fraction of a second, turned around, and the kid was gone,” he says.   “She found the child, but we just started talking about it and started brainstorming a device that would alert you should you leave something behind in the first place.”   Tago will be sold for around $30, and William says it will hit the shelves by mid-February.   “We’re talking with JB Hi-Fi and also with the Telstra shops,” he says.   “The mobile app for Android is not quite finished yet because our concern was iOS as we needed to get Apple’s approval.”   William says Tago has a range of other features, including what he and his co-founders are calling “crowdfunding”.   “Should you lose something like your bike and it goes astray, if it comes within the range of anyone else with Tago it will anonymously send you a notification through the app to show you exactly where your bike is in real-time,” he says.   “There’s no monthly fee on this device at all – it’s all a one-off.”   In addition, William says the device makes way of “two-way” technology. This means should a user lose their smartphone, they can press a button on their Tago device and it will call it for them.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Is 2015 the year of enterprise software?

1:02AM | Monday, 12 January

An increasing number of startups are helping Australian companies boost their performance and streamline services by leveraging new technology.   Matt Allen, director of the Founder Institute Melbourne, told StartupSmart he has noticed large corporations starting to form partnerships with tech startups in order to drive innovation.   “A lot of that is to do with the enterprise starting to pay attention,” he says.   “You see some of this with the Muru-D Telstra accelerator. The thing about these enterprises is a small amount of help, from their perspective, can be the make or break for one of these startups. One customer can often bring one of these startups to positive cash-flow.”   Chris Duell, co-founder of enterprise software startup Elevio, told StartupSmart he has seen a “growing community” of like-minded startups launching locally without any sign of startups with b2b models slowing down.   “That's been helped by an increase in interest in venture capital funding being made in Australia,” he says.   “But it’s also been a slowly snowballing effect helped by events like AboveAllHuman, Pause Fest, Startup Grind and others gaining exposure, and changing local mindset that big things can and do happen here.”   “When you add that to a younger workforce moving their way into management roles, bringing with them a better understanding of tech and its role, it’s a recipe for more local enterprise software companies being given a chance to bloom.”   However, startups don’t have it easy just because companies are beginning to understand the value of new technology, according to Duell.   “With a population less than a tenth of that of the US, it is a great deal harder to reach critical mass in a local market,” he says.   “Not being able to hit levels of critical mass as easily, makes it harder to jump to the next stage of a startup’s life cycle and capture customers who, for example, are waiting on social proof before they come on board.” Duell says funding can also be a difficult task.   “While there is a growing amount of funding being made available, it’s no secret that better deals can be done when funding rounds are led by US-based firms,” he says.   Allen points out that when it comes to startups aiming to disrupt sectors dominated by large companies, investors want to know the team has specific experience in the industry.   “These guys are looking for a team, a product and a little bit of revenue,” he says.   “The team coming up with this stuff needs to explain why this team is the right one. There needs to be a real shining light in there. You may have an expert, or an ex-industry person. A lot of these things are quite specific in what they do and a lot of expertise needs to be built into them.”   However, there is an upside, according to Allen.   “If you can identify a process or requirement that a lot of businesses need and are doing poorly, and you can make it easy for them, then uptake can be quite quick if you push it in the right direction,” he says.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.