The co-founders of Melbourne startup Maths Pathway are the first Australians to win Echoing Green Fellowships, a US-based social entrepreneurship fund offering seed funding and support to young entrepreneurs solving important social problems. It gives Maths Pathway co-founders Richard Wilson and Justin Matthys $90,000 in funding for two years, training in leadership development, and support in the form of its network of Echoing Green Fellows, partners and friends. Maths Pathway replaces traditional maths courses in primary and secondary school with a cloud-based e-learning curriculum. The money will be used to fund the expansion and development of the Maths Pathway program. Co-founder Richard Wilson says Maths Pathway enables teachers to spend more time teaching the specific areas of maths which students are having trouble with. “It’s a very different way of teaching maths, you don’t have a teacher up the front lecturing students on a particular topic,” he says. “What you have instead is teachers allowing Maths pathway to run the instructional part of the class, and then the teacher is able to be very reactive to feedback from students.” Teachers are able to react to what students admit to struggling with themselves, but Maths Pathway, which assesses students roughly every two weeks, provides its own feedback to teachers, enabling them to help students even when they won’t admit they need it. The startup is currently running a pilot program in collaboration with the Mathematical Association of Victoria and early indications are it is very effective. The program began last year and has since grown from 11 schools to about 55. Wilson says those schools have done benchmarking based on government standardised testing and found students are achieving maths milestones at between two and three times faster than their previous rate. “The key is treating students as individuals rather than a homogeneous group,” Wilson says. “Each student has vastly different learning needs when it comes to maths. In the past, teachers haven’t had the right tools, so they’ve done their best teaching a one-size-fits-all approach. Now that’s changing.”
Venture capital group OneVentures has today announced they’re raising $100 million for a second innovation and growth fund. The first OneVentures fund of $40 million was supported by $20 million from the Australian Government’s Innovation Investment Fund. The other half is from 55 high-net worth individuals or family trusts, which are also the target groups for the second fund. Since then, OneVentures has closed three co-investment funds securing $30m in additional funding for the portfolio. The fund has invested in a wide range of companies including e-learning startup SmartSparrow, which has recently raised an additional $10 million, photo app Paloma Mobile and head lice treatment Hatchtech. In a statement, managing director Dr Michelle Deaker said Australia’s innovation economy and early stage investor community have both been growing but there was still a dearth of later stage capital. “This dynamic should create downward pressure on valuations and generate scope for superior returns. We see no reason why Australia’s entrepreneurs, with the assistance of experienced venture capital firms, like OneVentures, cannot compete successfully in global markets. For investors, the fund provides an opportunity to truly diversify a portfolio and gives access to emerging businesses with true breakout potential.” Deaker spoke to StartupSmart about what they look for in companies and how they invest a few months ago. The average investment plan is for three to four years and OneVentures usually takes 20 to 30% of a company. “We don’t just give them a big wad of money, and we help them structure what they’ll do with our money,” said Deaker. “Most of the time it’ll go to driving the business forward, such as profit development staff, or sales and marketing staff because often our companies have great products but no marketing expertise.”
Cloud computing has been a buzz term for businesses for a little while now, but it appears that Australians SMEs just aren’t that keen on jumping on the bandwagon.
An automated health monitoring system for the Sydney Harbour Bridge has been announced as a winner of this year’s iAwards, along with a host of other innovative technologies nationwide.
Only 38% of Australian business leaders believe imagination is linked to revenue but organisations who value imagination are the highest earning, according to a report published last week.
Steven Marks’ enthusiasm for Guzman Y Gomez, the Mexican restaurant chain he started up, is palpable. He speaks about the business with the excitement of someone explaining their ‘eureka’ moment for the first time.