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MEGA opportunity for tech start-ups

Thursday, 24 March 2011 | By Michelle Hammond

Tech start-ups have been offered the chance to pitch for investment through the three-month MEGA program, which kicks off in April.

 

The after-hours course specifically targets entrepreneurs with a mobile and cloud technology focus wanting to launch their business with the potential to go global.

 

The course consists of a series of workshops whereby industry presenters and mentors share their expertise in market research and analysis, idea generation and evaluation of ideas, testing the technical and business feasibility of an idea, and producing a business plan or business proposal.

 

Event manager Roger Kermode says the event culminates with a pitch day attended by industry experts and investors, enabling entrepreneurs to make connections and seek assistance after the event.

 

The program has run twice previously in Sydney and Melbourne, and has been running for about five years in South Australia.

 

“MEGA was last run in NSW in 2009… That program resulted in the creation of four ongoing businesses: Big Richard, HopShopper, Mobeseek and Scan2List,” Kermode says.

 

Big Richard is a digital marketing campany using social media to sell underwear and condoms, while HopShopper manages mobile-based loyalty and reward systems on behalf of retailers.

 

Mobeseek is a full service mobile agency, and Scan2List is an iPhone shopping application enabling users to scan barcodes, create lists and share them.

 

Kermode says the creation of each of these businesses was a direct result of the support provided by the MEGA program and its mentors.

 

“MEGA is [also] designed as a feeder program into other programs… I have contacted active incubators, seed stage funding programs and start-up agencies to position MEGA as a program that generates seed investment-ready companies,” he says.

 

According to Kermode, MEGA feeds into existing incubators including Startmate, Pollenizer and PushStart, and angel groups such as Innovation Bay, Sydney Angels and AngelLoft.

 

“There is no other NSW-based program that affords nascent digital media entrepreneurs the opportunity to test and develop their business concepts in this way, before making the jump to committing to actually doing it,” he says.

 

With regard to the selection criteria, Kermode says companies must work within digital media, be highly capital-efficient and preferably work on a business-to-customer model.

 

“The important thing to note... is that companies who meet [the criteria] are high-growth vehicles and have a very good chance of achieving rapid market adoption and entering overseas markets,” Kermode says.

 

Innovation Bay co-founder Phaedon Stough says he is seeing a strong trend towards start-ups operating in the business-to-consumer model.

 

The investment network recently held its latest angel dinner, whereby companies pitch their idea to investors, and Stough says three of the four companies invited to attend the dinner operate within a B2C model, while all four are internet or mobile-based.

 

Stough says companies are under increasing pressure from investors to generate cashflow in a much shorter period of time, and investors also expect a lower level of investment to go further in terms of profits.

 

But he says start-ups should not be put off by the challenge of delivering on these key criteria.

 

“While the technology and start-up landscape in Australia is indeed a tough place, great ideas – executed well with a great team and smart funding – can lead to incredible results,” he says.