Australian transportation network and mobile payments startup Ingogo has raised $9.1 million, as it increases its focus on mobile payments, ahead of a planned ASX listing next year. The investment round was led by UBS and Canaccord Genuity, and brings on board new investors including MYOB co-founders Craig Winkler and Chris Lee, Pitt Capital, Janchor Partners’ John Ho and a number of Australian and Asian Institutional Funds. It takes Ingogo’s total funding to $16.2 million and values the startup at over $45 million. Interestingly, of the $9.1 million, $1.2 million was raised via equity-based crowdfunding platform VentureCrowd, the first deal facilitated though the platform. Almost 50 sophisticated investors took part in the raise through VentureCrowd, each investing at least $1000, and at least one individual investing $50,000. Australian legislation does not yet allow retail investors to participate in such raises. In August, Ingogo announced it was expanding beyond the taxi industry and had signed a partnership with Xero to roll out its mobile payments platform to small businesses. Ingogo founder and managing director Hamish Petrie says this pre-IPO funding round will help the startup get some “runs on the board” in the mobile payments space, before listing next year. “We talked about listing late this year, but then we reached the partnership with Xero and it seemed premature until we get runs on the board behind that partnership. “ he says. “The strategy is to go and build some momentum behind that opportunity and create more value in the businesses when it lists.” Despite this increased focus on the mobile payments portion of its business, Petrie says it’s not pivoting away from the taxi and transportation industry. “We’re still highly committed to winning the taxi space, and we’re putting a lot of resources into improving both the passenger and driver applications, and some of the smarts behind those applications,” he says. “We’ve divided the businesses in two essentially. To ensure we’re still firmly focused on the taxi opportunity, we’ve literally created a second arm of our business to take the advantages we have in mobile payments and start to broaden that into other verticals. “Xero was the way to take that next step. Our job is to make it easy and seamless for a merchant to accept as many forms as payment as they want.” As for the transportation network side of Ingogo, some of the funds raised will go towards expanding the platform outside of Sydney and Melbourne, the two cities in which it currently operates. Petrie wouldn’t say for sure which city that might be, but says a state capital like Brisbane would be a logical step. Meanwhile, VentureCrowd is hailing Ingogo’s raise as one of the first major examples of how equity crowdfunding can work to provide startups with capital. The platform, powered by Artesian Venture Partners, the firm behind the Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund, an early Ingogo investor, gave the startup access to a large amount of individuals who invested smaller amounts than might typically occur during a raise. Chief operating officer of Artesian Venture Partners, Tim Heasley says the fact that applications were oversubscribed, demonstrates VentureCrowd is a “robust, viable investment platform for startups and investors”. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australian e-commerce player the Catch Group, the company behind Catch of the Day and Scoopon, has launched its latest digital venture, hoping to take a further slice out of the online market. YumTable allows diners to eat out at fine-dining restaurants at a discounted price, complementing the company’s takeaway ordering website, EatNow. In June, Catch Group also launched into the homewares space and operations manager Levi Aron says there’s no slowing down for the company. “There is always more exciting things happening, but we’re very careful with what we choose,” says Aron. He says EatNow has been a great success story for the group and it couldn’t look past the opportunity to complement a takeaway service with a dine-in service. “We wanted to capture the other side of market,” he says. But he says the new venture has its own merits as a “standalone” business. YumTable was created by Madewell Enterprises in 2011, an internet technology company founded by MYOB co-founder Craig Winkler. It has since been purchased by Catch Group, who according to Aron, have been waiting for the right time to re-launch the offering. Aron says they’ve turned the business model on its head in order to make it more appealing for restaurant owners. “Traditionally restaurants have been looked on outside of the industry as a cash cow,” he says. We’re not locking them into contracts, we don’t charge them a fee, and we charge the consumer a small fee. The reason why customers are happy to be charged is they’re paying $1 to get access to the discounts.” So far it has between 850 and 900 restaurants from around Australia using the platform. Aron says the site will not be a deals website like some of Catch’s other offerings and will provide something more consistent for consumers and restaurants. “This is a consistent offering throughout the year, which is quite different from anything else around.” Aron says the company will continue to further expand its offering and is often approached by “people with different ideas”. “We want to choose the options we believe are right for the consumer and the retailer and for us.” The group sells on average one item every second. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Australia is the hottest market at the moment for cloud software, according to Spotlight Reporting chief executive officer Richard Francis. The company offers business intelligence cloud software to hundreds of professional firms and organisations across the globe, with a particularly focus on Australasia, the United Kingdom and the United States. It recently raised $3 million that will be used to expand the company’s physical presence in Australia as well as the UK and US, and fast track its product development. Investors participating in the funding round include MYOB co-founder and Xero director Craig Winkler, former Xero chairman and former Kiwibank chief executive officer Sam Knowles and Xero director and Spotlight Reporting advisory chair Graham Shaw. “You have Xero shaking things up big time, QBO aggressively pursuing market share, MYOB coming back to market with cloud products, plus dozens of add-on software providers like Spotlight Reporting trying to enrich the experience of business owners, accountants and others,’’ he says. “We already service many leading accounting firms and organisations in Australia, and have accomplished ex-Xero Jason Forbes as our director of sales. “He’s based in Brisbane and we are looking actively right now for senior account managers in New South Wales and Victoria. “Even in the age of SaaS, having a physical presence and getting to know your customers personally is so important. “Australia is so important to get right.” In addition to its Brisbane office the company also has offices in New Zealand, San Francisco and is about to open an office in London. Francis says the company’s immediate focus will be to add more sales and account managers, positions key to expansion. “You can’t skimp on customer service or experience,’’ Francis says. The company is also looking at expanding other core functions by adding developers and marketers; Francis says time will tell where it is best to place them. “Our vision is nothing less than supporting millions of business customers and their advisors globally in making better decisions for superior outcomes,’’ Francis says. “This capital raise is an important step on the long road towards achieving our vision.”
MYOB co-founder Craig Winkler among early investors, as Practice Ignition raises $650,000 seed funding2:08AM | Friday, 21 February
Practice Ignition, an Australian firm that helps accountants to streamline their interaction with clients, has raised $650,000 in seed funding from investors including MYOB co-founder and early Xero investor Craig Winkler. The new funding will go towards expanding the company’s development team and business team. “Our aim is that all accountants across Australia can use our platform by the end of fiscal 2014,” founder Guy Pearson, told StartupSmart. Other investors include New Zealand-based software developer Trineo, several accountants, and Xero’s vice president of payroll, Stuart McLeod. Pearson, a former accountant, is also behind cloud-based services advisor Interactive Accounting. He says the investors who’ve injected funds into Practice Ignition, which was formed in 2012, were people he’d met through his previous venture. “Pitch to people that know your industry or find someone that likes your solution,” he advises fellow entrepreneurs. “That might be 100 cups of coffee later.” The seed funding was in exchange for around 22% equity in the firm, valuing it at $2.5 million. More than 400 accounting practices in 20 countries around the world are currently using Practice Ignition’s platform to on-board new clients, the company says in a statement. The platform automates the creation and acceptance of legal engagement documents and provides tools to collaborate with clients, as well as giving firms the ability to offer real-time quotes and turn traditional websites into a service-based check-out system. Craig Winkler said in a statement that he invested in Practice Ignition because its cloud platform enables accountancy practices to scale up their businesses by automating workflow, invoice and payment tasks. “Practice Ignition re-invents and streamlines the collaboration between advisor and clients, while dramatically reducing administration costs for accountants,” he said.
Accountancy software company Xero has raised $15 million to fund global growth and has made its first acquisition for the year, snapping up Max Solutions in a deal worth almost $5 million.
A Melbourne telegram start-up has been approached by Universal Studios, which wishes to pre-purchase several thousand telegrams to help promote a new Hollywood blockbuster.
Restaurant booking start-up YumTable is to expand internationally with financial backing from MYOB co-founder and former CEO Craig Winkler.