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.

Laying down the law: Why Kate Morris chose to be an online entrepreneur instead of a lawyer

1:52AM | Monday, 5 January

Almost 15 years ago, Kate Morris studied arts law for one week before realising she had no interest in becoming a lawyer. She dropped the law, continued with arts, then had an idea to pursue the kind of work you can't prepare for at university.   She became an entrepreneur and launched Adore Beauty, an eCommerce platform selling beauty products. Although the business makes complete sense today, it seemed a long shot for success back in 2000.   Morris had toyed with idea while exploring overseas cosmetics sites in her free time and mentally planning what her own, local version might look like.   The turning point came when her partner -- who is still is business with her today -- told her to jump in and get started. His parents lent her the money and, at 21, Morris busied herself with web development and delved into the then strange world of online beauty shopping.   Today, more than two million people visit Adore Beauty a year, accessing a range of 4000 beauty products. In 2014, Morris was awarded the Business Innovation Award for Victoria at the Telstra Business Women's Awards.   "When I told people what I was doing [back in 2000], they replied 'nobody buys that stuff on the internet!'," she says. "Now I know that as an entrepreneur you have to have blind belief in what you're doing. I just thought I could do this. I was only 21 -- often you don't realise how clueless you are at that age. But I just thought, 'well why not me? "   Morris has worked for herself ever sense. She says the last three years have been particularly good: the business has tripled it's revenue and she's found herself dealing with the "great" problem of managing the cash flow and company culture as the team gets bigger. Her team has grown from around seven or eight to 25.   Meanwhile, when we talk she shares that she's just signed a major deal with the Estée Lauder Group, enabling Adore Beauty to sell major Estée Lauder-owned products on the site - a licence the brand has traditionally offered only to long-standing and traditional 'bricks and mortar' shopfronts.   "The challenges of each business are unique, there's no general roadmap," she says on what it takes to sustain and grow a business personally. "You do have to blunder your way through it. It helps to have mentors and brains you can pick about various dilemmas and challenges.   And while she's never had formal mentors, she does acknowledge the assistance of a network of female entrepreneurs in different industries who seek to mutually guide each other.   Morris runs the business with her partner, a business and personal relationship that enables them to take control of their own arrangements when it comes to caring for their young daughter and sharing responsibilities at home. She's adamant that when it comes to workplace equality, we can't overlook the importance of equality on the domestic front too.   "I don't know how people do it if they are expected to do the parenting, grocery shopping, cooking and to have a successful career, it seems a massive disadvantage to take responsibility for all of that," Morris says.   "When the kids get sick it's the woman who is expected to stay home. That's where equality really needs to start."   More personally, she believes establishing a successful business from scratch takes a willingness to accept you'll inevitably make mistakes along the way.   "You have to realise you are going to stuff up from time to time and that's ok. It's the learning process. You try something, it didn't work, revise and reiterate." The short facts on Kate Morris' story: Born. Launceston, Australia,   Grew up. Launceston, Australia   High school ambition. I was going to be a lawyer or a journalist.   First job. Working in a chemist every day after school from four to six. I started work the second I was old enough. I cleaned the toilets, took the post, vacuumed the shop.   Daily reading habits. I read a lot of blogs, Smart Company and Women's Agenda, and online business stuff like BRW. In terms of beauty stuff, I use my Instagram feed.   How she maintains her wellbeing. I don't like exercising but I do it because you've just got to do it. It's good for stress management to go for a run. I try and get eight hours sleep and eat healthy, and I make sure I take a break every evening. I try not to work past 9pm.   How she wakes up. I eat breakfast, wrangle my daughter to get dressed and ready for child care. Mornings are chaos like they are for most other parents.   An average day in the life? I wish there was an average day! I usually work from 8:30 to 5:30. I do the childcare pick up. A day at work usually involves a lot of phone calls, plenty of emails.   Leadership superpower. I think that what I'm best at is inspiration - inspiring my team to come on the journey with me. Ecommerce is a fast paced industry where change is the only constant, so working for an online retailer (particularly a fast-growing one) can be a bit of a roller-coaster ride. I'd like to think that my approach to leadership gets my team excited about being on the roller-coaster, rather than terrified!   Career advice to her 18-year-old self. I don't think I'd tell her anything. I think she did alright! There's a lot of mistakes you make when you're young but that's ok. I think being young and ready to make mistakes is fine. Everything you stuff up is all just part of the learning experience. Kate Morris' story is the 2nd of Women Agenda's 100 Stories Project. The project showcases the diverse range of leadership careers available, as well as some of the brilliant achievements and fascinating career paths of women. It also demonstrates how planned and unexpected forks in the road can take you places you never thought possible. This story originally appeared on Women's Agenda.

The startup that acts as your employee selection panel

12:33AM | Thursday, 18 December

Employee capital is critical for early-stage startups and often one of the key factors in whether a business succeeds or fails.   One Australian startup is looking to alleviate this problem by helping businesses hire the right candidates through the power of crowdsourcing.   The online platform draws on industry experts to assess prospective hires for startups and businesses that may not have the technical expertise or infrastructure to adequately vet candidates.   The cost of the assessment is then distributed between CrowdSourceHire and the panel of experts.   Co-founder Ben Liau told StartupSmart he and his other cofounders have previously worked in startups, small businesses and large corporations – and an issue across all three business types was hiring the right person for the job.   “I’ve hired people who seem bright in an interview but when they started they didn’t have the right skills,” he says.   “It’s a big issue many companies face – big and small – but startups especially.”   The startup has a very strict application process for its industry experts, which Liau says makes sense because these people are going to be vetting others.   “To date, only about 20% of the people that have actually applied to be an expert have become an expert,” he says.   “We’re pretty rigorous because that’s our main selling point and differentiates us. No one is really doing this at the moment – we need to be very particular about our experts. We want the quality not the quantity.”   CrowdSourceHire is now in its second month of the Telstra-backed muru-D program. The accelerator takes a 6% stake in companies in exchange for $40,000 in funding and access to its networks.   Liau says the fact the accelerator is backed by Telstra means his startup has access to a wide range of mentors.   “We have access to a lot of people we can talk to and it’s helped us on our way into the validation stage and we have that sounding board.”   In the new year, CrowdSourceHire plans to push for investors and afterwards look at expanding into the south-east Asia market.   “At the moment, what we’re doing is we are pushing for customer acquisitions because we’re looking at getting as much traction as we can. We’re looking at a global focus rather than just looking specifically at Australia.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Can we please just get on with the National Broadband Network?

12:33AM | Wednesday, 17 December

Earlier this year, I attended a dinner for about 150 people. The first thing we all did was head for the bar to grab a drink, swamping the staff and setting back the dinner schedule by nearly two hours. We learned that it is better to place a bottle of cheap wine and a jug of lemon squash on each table just to manage the crowd. The same lesson is now being applied to the NBN.   Last Sunday saw the long-awaited signing of two deals and new rules which will, hopefully, pave the way for the National Broadband Network under the current government’s Multi-Technology-Mix model. It’s a positive development for getting more people reasonably happy sooner, but there are significant long-term challenges ahead.   The Carrier Licence Conditions (Networks supplying Superfast Carriage Services to Residential Customers) Declaration 2014 is intended to manage so-called cherry-picking of profitable residential customers of fast broadband. The previous model under the Labor government discouraged anyone other than NBN Co from rolling out the local access network. In part this was to break the vertical integration stranglehold Telstra has over both retail and wholesale provision of access through its legacy plain old copper network; it was also to ensure NBN Co would not be undermined by competition. However, a loophole in the regulations was identified by TPG, allowing it to reach up to 5% of the NBN footprint as a retail provider of Fibre-to-the-Basement through its own network.   The new regulations recognise the advantages of other parties choosing to roll out their own networks, but require that such networks be available on a wholesale basis to other retailers - which is to say there is a requirement to structurally separate wholesale and retail operations on NBN-equivalent services. The regulations only apply to new networks rolled out after 1 January 2015. Services already in use, such as iiNet’s TransACT fibre-to-the-node network are excluded. The wording has clearly been carefully sculpted to capture TPG’s plans.   Deals with both Optus and Telstra were also signed. Both companies have agreed to progressively hand over ownership of their relevant infrastructure, Telstra’s copper access network and the HFC cable networks of both, to NBN Co. Previously, the arrangement was that these networks would be decommissioned, but they are now critical implementation options for the NBN. Agreements are consistent with maintaining the valuations of the previous arrangements so that shareholders are no worse off.   Mention has also been made of actively tapping Telstra’s experience and capabilities in the NBN rollout. There is some sensitivity around this statement from the Department of Communications, after Telstra was effectively excluded from tendering to build the NBN in 2008. There would appear to be a significant mending of relations.   But there are troublesome times ahead. The original Fibre-to-the-Premises-dominated NBN was big on vision but caused an overnight drop in investment in moderate-speed broadband technologies such as ADSL. This meant customers were stuck with 2008-vintage speeds while NBN Co geared up for planning and deployment. The political fix negotiated by independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott in 2010, which shifted priorities to rural areas, provided some longer term certainty for infrastructure investment in profitable urban areas, but further delayed urban rollout. The new policy settings encourage infrastructure competition on the basis of structural separation, once again providing opportunities for parties other than NBN Co to compete in the wholesale space.   However, the new NBN model is focused on initial speeds of 25MBit/s up to 50MBit/s in the short term, but with no mention of Committed Information Rate or specifics of upload speeds. This myopic vision fails to recognise that the NBN is not just about “more of the same, but faster”. It is entirely about enabling fundamentally new services to domestic households, both for entertainment and for productive work-at-home. What we’re left with   The emerging NBN is barely capable of delivering a couple of high-definition video streams in real time, yet this is common in a modern family household with independent internet-enabled devices. If you want to download a one-hour standard definition video, it will take about five minutes. However, if you want to produce and upload such video content, it will take three hours. Upload figures for high definition and the emerging ultra-high definition video are about fifteen and thirty hours, respectively. Cloud-based services will continue to stumble as long as policy direction fails to recognise the importance of delivery of data into the network.   The much deeper issue is what happens after 2016. I’ve argued previously that “[o]ptical fibre is the only known viable technology beyond 2025. The only justification for considering anything else in the meantime is to buy us time”.   A Fibre-to-the-Node deployment will at least provide the option of upgrading to a passive optical link to the premises of customers who want it, and some of us just can’t wait. But there is no guarantee that every other technology deployment has a similar evolution option. It would be wise for competing infrastructure providers to think this through, but there is no guarantee that solutions deployed in the next few years will evolve, efficiently, to the robust projected demands beyond 2025.   So is this good news? Actually, yes. The NBN capital expenditure won’t be any cheaper if we consider a realistic 20-30 year timeframe, but that doesn’t matter if the faster deployment of the interim Multi-Technology-Mix generates revenues and productivity gains sooner, offsetting peak funding. The interim solutions won’t deliver a clean evolutionary pathway, but that doesn’t matter if enough customers are sufficiently satisfied in the short term. The long-term fibre-to-the-premises deployment can be managed more calmly, if less efficiently, over a longer time frame.   The line at the bar is still too long. Pass me the bottle, please.   This article originally appeared at The Conversation.

Tapit opens US office following rapid international expansion

12:26AM | Tuesday, 16 December

An Australian startup leading the way in contactless communications has opened an office in New York as part of its expansion into the US market.   Tapit, founded in 2011, has been finding new ways for consumers to access information instantly on their phones – all off the back of an aggressive international expansion.   Earlier this year the startup collaborated with the likes of Google and HBO to allow people to access film and television-related content on their smartphones by scanning event posters.   In September, Tapit entered the Chinese market via a partnership with mobile commerce giant 99 Wuxian.   Co-founder and chief executive Jamie Conyngham told StartupSmart the company opened an office in New York because it wanted to position itself where its clients were.   “There’s a concentration of media in New York and a lot of iconic brands have their global headquarters there, so it made more sense for us to relocate there rather than San Francisco,” he says.   Conyngham says the startup has been using Australia as a “launchpad” for global deals, which has worked well because it can bring those case studies to the US.   “If you do a deal with Google or Microsoft in Australia you have that case study and you can then go to their global teams,” he says.   “You can’t do that unless you do those deals in the US – Skype only takes you so far.”   The company has been helped by the fact that Australia is ahead with contactless communication in comparison to other countries, according to Conyngham.   “You’ve seen the massive take-up of tap and pay with credit cards and that has put us ahead in the contactless ecosystem. So we’ve been lucky to have headquarters here in that regard because the US is a bit behind – even in the UK.”   Tapit also has offices in Tokyo, Shanghai and Dubai. The fast-growing startup has pioneered contactless communications for brands such as Telstra, Vodafone, Coca-Cola, Samsung and Sony.   There are around 635 million smartphones fitted with near-field communications technology around the world, and Tapit expects that number to grow to one billion by 2015.   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Startups are the new corporates, corporates are the new startups

11:35AM | Tuesday, 18 November

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.

Are you ready for “emotional crowdsourcing”? This startup hopes so

11:42AM | Monday, 10 November

Ello, Swarm, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter – if you thought there was no room for any more social networks, think again.   The latest – Melbourne-based startup Incogo – is a social media platform that wants to make online interactions more “powerful, purposeful and personal”, according to founder Daniel Millin, and he’s going to do that through “emotional crowdsourcing”.   Incogo’s platform officially launched last week, after almost two months in beta, and aims to fill the “gap between social media and professional media”.   It’s been designed specifically to enable friends and family to share everything they’re doing in their personal lives through “journeys”.   Users post journeys, like ‘conquering my fear of heights’, then their friends are able to follow and support them on their quest to fulfil that journey.     Millin says it’s not about lifetime goals, but for everyday life, and he doesn’t see Facebook or Twitter as competitors (though it’s more likely they don’t see him as one, given the domination of these players).   Users can post journeys, which by default are set to private, and choose those friends they’d like to share them with, or make them public if they wish.   “There can be real beauty in a public journey,” Millin says.   “My vision is around the world, any ordinary person could do something extraordinary and the whole world could come on board and support them in that journey. It’s like emotional crowdsourcing.”   Millin founded Incogo in 2013 and has since brought on three co-founders, former PwC partner Karen Crawford, designer Marty Jonas and investor Edward Wittenberg of Melbourne-based EGW Investments.   Wittenberg provided the startup with seed funding, although Millin would not to disclose the terms.   In 2008 Millin founded Mediaverse, a company news media evaluation and digital reporting service for brands, and it’s since grown to count the Australian government, Telstra and AAMI as clients. It’s this knowledge of corporate brands that Millin says has the potential to provide the path to monetisation for Incogo.   He says the platform will always be free, and he wouldn’t look to advertising like Facebook, rather corporates could start their own journeys, as a very particular brand of advertising.   “They could create a unique journey that matches their campaign’s values,” he says.   “The corporates that will win on Incogo will be the ones that create the most meaningful content.”   Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Microsoft launches Azure cloud platform data centres in Australia

10:36PM | Monday, 27 October

Microsoft officially launched two Australian data centres today as part of its Azure cloud computing platform at the start of the tech giant’s 21st TechEd Conference in Sydney.   The launch comes after Azure cloud platform became the first public cloud service in Australia to pass an Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) Industry Security Registered Assessors Program (IRAP) compliance assessment.   The announcement was delivered at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion by Microsoft Australia managing director Pip Marlow. It marks part of a major push into the Australian government, businesses, independent software vendors (or ISVs) and startup market by the company.   The launch sees two data centres or "Azure Geos" go live in Australia, with one each located in Melbourne and Sydney, which are now available to all Australian Azure customers.   The local cloud computing regions mean local Azure accounts will be hosted in a data centre within Australia, in turn allowing businesses to be able to assure customers their key data will never leave Australia.   Each data centre building is roughly the same size as a rugby field and can hold two jumbo jets or 600,000 servers. In turn, both locations are large enough to allow 16 data centres to be built next to each other.   In addition to local data centres, Microsoft announced it would allow businesses to get a dedicated fibre-optic link to an Azure data centre through either Equinix and Telstra through its ExpressRoute service.   "Today is a historic day, a monumental day, because it's the first day Australian customers can log on and choose the Azure Australian Geo," Marlow said.   "The data centre is up and running in Australia for the first time."   "The time and the tools are here and now to concentrate on what it is you do everyday."   Globally, Azure is signing up 10,000 new customers per week. It currently hosts 1.2 million SQLdatabases, 30 trillion objects, 350 million users, 18 billion authentications per week, over 2 million registered developers and 60% of customers are using higher level services.   Executive vice president of Microsoft's cloud and services group, Scott Guthrie, predicted the cloud computing marketplace will eventually shrink to three key players in Amazon AWS, Google and Microsoft Azure.   Guthrie said a key differentiating feature of Azure compared to other services is its large size (or "hyper-scale") including the ability to scale-up services based on demand. It also includes enterprise grade support, as well as hybrid cloud support, meaning on-premises servers can connect any on-premises server to the cloud.   "We plan to differentiate from the other two based on our level of enterprise support," Guthrie says.   "Going forward, we believe all our customers will need to take advantage of this hyper-scale activity and that elastic capability to save costs."   Guthrie also highlighted the recently launched Azure Marketplace, similar to a smartphone app store, allows a range of both Linux and Windows server images to be installed on virtual machines at the click of a mouse button, along with higher-level cloud-based services.   "It's a strategy where you can take the best of the Windows ecosystem and the best of the Linux ecosystem," Guthrie says.   Microsoft revealed 19 regions will get local datacentres by the end of 2014, which is twice the number offered by Amazon AWS and six times the number offered by the Google Cloud. Amazon currently has one region in Australia.   One company mentioned during the keynote speech was event management software developer Centium Software, a Brisbane-based company with 70 staff that helped organise the London Olympic Games.   Centium chief executive Trevor Gardiner told StartupSmart it will help his Brisbane-based company of less than 70 staff to scale up for major events.   "Our customers range from small event organisers right through to significant world events," Gardiner says.   "Historically, the world event space has been difficult for us because of the infrastructure involved with that, and customers being unwilling to pay for that scale in the early days.   "What Azure is doing for us is that it's allowing us to say to our customers that you don't need to pay for a lot of expensive infrastructure in the early days, you can scale up and have that data locally."   Andrew Sadauskas attended TechEd as a guest of Microsoft. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.