Melbourne-based grocery delivery startup YourGrocer has just closed out a $500,000 seed funding round, led by Bevan Clark, Guy King and other private investors. YourGrocer is an online service that allows people to order products from their local butcher, greengrocer, bakers, delis or independent supermarket, offering independent retailers and their customers a “full-stack e-commerce” and same-day delivery. According to founder Morgan Ranieri, while a lot of customers prefer to shop locally, many end up buying their groceries at Coles and Woolworths out of convenience. YourGrocer allows local retailers to make deliveries at a time convenient to their customers, making their value proposition much stronger than that of the major supermarkets. YourGrocer initially covered a number of suburbs in Melbourne’s north, including Brunswick, Coburg, Northcote, Collingwood, Carlton, Fitzroy and North Melbourne. Since then, it has added a second run covering inner-eastern suburbs such as Richmond and Balwyn. Ranieri told StartupSmart, further development and hiring a team that will allow it to scale will be key focuses in the short term. “At this stage, we’ve built a product our customers love, and now we’re focusing on customer acquisition and growing. Our next step is hiring the right people to increase our UX and development capabilities, and expanding into new suburbs,” Ranieri says. “We now have 17 retailers, two vans, and several hundred customers… Right now our sales up around the $50,000 per month mark – which is quite a milestone – and means local shops are selling $50,000 more groceries per month,” Ranieri says. “We’re laser-focused on our business model. We’ll test other things but this funding round will help us build a team to rapidly scale. “We want to launch a few more runs and build them up to capacity and profitability in a short period of time, and that’s when we’ll expand interstate. So we want to cover all of Melbourne as soon as possible – by mid to late next year.” Clark, who built discount shopping website RetailMeNot.com with King before selling it for $77 million and is also an angel investor in LIFX, personally endorses the service. "YourGrocer is a service that my family use and love. The large supermarket chains can't offer the same level of personal service and quality that you get from your local stores, and now as consumers increasingly buy groceries online, the local stores can compete there too,” Clark says. “Morgan and his team have an innovative and scalable approach that I believe could have a huge following in Australia, and internationally.” YourGrocer is one of the supporting sponsors of Startup Victoria’s aboveallhuman conference, with Ranieri crediting the startup’s rapid growth to the strength of the Melbourne startup community. “Startup Victoria has been a huge support. The whole Lean Startup and Startup Victoria community has been awesome to meet people and get support, and we’re really excited about the aboveallhuman Conference," he says. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
Autonomous vehicles, or self-driving cars, are likely to be seen more widely on roads in 2015. Already, legislation authorising the use of autonomous vehicles has been introduced in the US states of Nevada, Florida, California and Michigan, with similar legislation being planned for the UK. To date, these laws have focused on legalising the use of autonomous vehicles and dealing, to an extent, with some of the complex issues relating to liability for accidents. But as with other emerging disruptive technologies, such as drones and wearables, it is essential that issues relating to user privacy and data security are properly addressed prior to the technologies being generally deployed. Understanding autonomous vehicles There is no single, uniform design for autonomous vehicles. Rather, it is best to understand an autonomous vehicle as a particular configuration of a combination of applications, some of which – such as adaptive cruise control, lane departure warnings, collision avoidance and parking assistance – are already part of current car design. The most well-known prototype, Google’s self-driving car, uses a variety of technologies, including: a laser range finder (LIDAR) that generates a detailed 3D map of the environment; radars; cameras for detecting traffic lights; and a GPS. Other projects, including prototypes being developed by Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Toyota and Oxford University, use different combinations of technologies. This means that the privacy and data security problems arising from autonomous vehicles depend upon the precise technologies applied in any particular design. Some generalisations are, however, possible. The relationship between the virtual and the real The rules (or “code”) governing the online world have been different to those that apply offline. For example, online activities invariably generate digital traces, including metadata, which can be used to build profiles of users. With emerging technologies, such as drones, wearables and autonomous vehicles, we are increasingly seeing the transposition of virtual models onto the real. One consequence of the range of sensors and data collection devices being deployed (and interconnected) is that our offline activities can leave traces at least as extensive as those generated online. One way to understand types of autonomous vehicles is by reference to the kind of data collected and the ways in which that data is processed. For instance, autonomous vehicles often incorporate event recorders, or “black boxes”, to provide essential information in the event of an accident. This raises questions about who has rights to this data and about who can have access to the data. Anonymising data There is an overlap here with questions of liability, as insurance companies have clear incentives to collect as much data about user behaviour as possible. The potential for intrusive surveillance of personal activities is particularly jarring, as the car has been an archetypal space of personal privacy and freedom. A fundamental distinction must be drawn between self-contained autonomous vehicles, in which the data collected from sensor devices installed in the car are stored and processed in the vehicle itself, and interconnected vehicles, in which data is shared with a centralised server and, potentially, with other vehicles. Regardless of whether a vehicle is self-contained or interconnected, design decisions have to be made about whether or not the data collected is anonymised or linked to individual users. If the data is not anonymised, especially with interconnected vehicles, this poses serious surveillance threats. After all, once the data exists, and especially if it is connected to a server, it is vulnerable to access by third parties. It is possible to envisage implementations of autonomous vehicles where data about a particular user is linked to other data sources, such as an online profile, for purposes such as tracking or marketing. This might take the form of personalised advertising displayed in the car, or even adjusting a vehicle’s route so that it passes retail outlets which match a user’s imputed preferences. What else is at stake: human autonomy and hacking We are now familiar with technologies, such as predictive search, which in the online context, attempt to predict what we want to do and make more or less persuasive suggestions. It is likely that some versions of autonomous vehicles will implement predictive technologies. In any case, the progressive delegation of human decisions to machines raises system-wide questions about the cumulative impact on human autonomy: the more people are habituated to decisions being made for them, the less likely they may be to make their own decisions. We are also now depressingly familiar with the vulnerability of computer systems to malicious third parties. Just as effective data security is essential to online safety, autonomous vehicles must be designed with a high level of data security, especially given the potentially calamitous consequences of hacked vehicles. As interconnected data processing systems are progressively rolled out in applications such as wearables and autonomous vehicles, we seem likely to see an offline version of the same sort of perpetual guerrilla warfare played out online between information security and hackers. Protecting privacy at the design stage Autonomous vehicles promise significant social and economic benefits, especially in potential improvements to road safety. There are, nevertheless, considerable legal and regulatory challenges. As with other emerging disruptive technologies, it is vital that privacy and anonymity be properly protected at the design stage. To date, in the face of significant challenges relating to the legality of autonomous vehicles and liability issues, the privacy rights of users have been relatively neglected. But unless the era of artificial intelligence is to be accompanied by us sleepwalking into ubiquitous surveillance, we must recognise that safety and security needs to be balanced against the legitimate rights of people to control their own data and to retain their fundamental rights to privacy. David Lindsay is a board member of the Australian Privacy Foundation. This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.
Let’s assume we have already explored the reasons for why businesses fail and focus on what you can do to maximise your chances of being successful. Here is a list of 20 actionable tips: 1. Be aware of the reasons why people fail! By reading this, you’ve shown you want to learn and become aware of the traps, pitfalls and mistakes that people before you have experienced. 2. Start selling. Become a sales guru. Learn to sell. No sales means no cash. Sell everyday even as the founder, particularly early on. With cash, you can hire people and improve your systems. Pick up the phone, start prospecting, and start speaking to customers. If you aren’t getting rejected, then you simply aren’t trying hard enough! 3. Know what you don’t know. The problem is that most people don’t know what they don’t know. This might sound confusing, but it’s important to become aware of the areas in which you lack understanding or experience. This is a positive thing as now you are more aware of where you need to either up-skill yourself and those around you or otherwise seek professional assistance. Accept that you can’t be an expert in everything and that if you try to do so, you are going to get bogged down. 4. Be clear on your skill sets and interests. Stop doing what you aren’t good at and dislike doing. Outsource it as soon as you can afford to or invest in getting assistance in those areas. If you focus on what you are good at and what you like doing, you will be more efficient and happy, but ensure that these activities help drives sales and add value to your business. 5. Build a support network around you. Building a business can be a lonely journey. Once you are in the game, surround yourself with others who are also ‘in the game’. It’s an emotional rollercoaster at times and it’s imperative that the support you have around you understands and recognises the commitment required to succeed. Positive people are a great influence and will be great sounding boards when you are going through the ups and downs. 6. Educate your spouse, partner and family. Conflict often arises on the home front if those who are closest to you can simply not understand or appreciate your journey. It is well documented that a successful business starts in the home, and a happy home helps fuel success. 7. Get a mentor. If it’s good enough for Tiger Woods or Roger Federer to have a coach, then I guarantee we are all good enough to have a mentor to guide us and help us strive to improve. Without a coach, we can drift along the wrong path, stay stagnant, move sidewards and in fact go backwards. Even the most successful entrepreneurs have mentors – whether they are paid or unpaid. Reach out to people who may be able to mentor you. You’d be surprised at how successful entrepreneurs like to give back to those starting out. 8. Be committed to learning. Always keep an open mind and allocate a percentage of your time for self-development and continuing education. There is an infinite amount of material to read, so be fussy with what you read and focus on topics that are most relevant to you today or in the near future. Chip away and keep adding to your stockpile of knowledge. I am a firm believer that any new knowledge gained today means that you will make better decisions tomorrow which you may not have otherwise made. 9. Be willing to fail. Once you achieve the feeling of invincibility, anything is possible! There is no such thing as failure. I am a proud failure and will continue to be proud to fail. The word ‘fail’ should be seen as a positive learning experience which makes you smarter and stronger while fuelling your passion and desire for success even further. 10. Be Passionate. Passion drives everything. With passion, people feed off your energy and buy in to your vision. Passion is one of those things that is too hard to fake. Passion drives you to work long hours and weekends but makes it never feel like work. If your passion dies, your business will inevitably stagnate. 11. Build a powerful network. It’s not just who you know. It’s who THEY know. Invest time in building trusted connections with people who can help you along your journey. Be first to ‘give’ and good things will return. Get to know the right people in your industry and be the person that is seen and heard and who people want to get to know. Your network lasts with you a lifetime if maintained properly and will help thread you through to the right people fast. By knowing who to turn to, you can solve problems, get access to clients and achieve things very fast in business. Constantly think of others, and how you can help others in your network. 12. Work really hard but smart. There is no escaping hard work. Passive income is rarely passive. The entrepreneur is what ultimately fuels growth. It is up to you to work hard but smart. Be outcome-oriented but continue to demonstrate a work ethic second to none. When I played semi-elite sport I always trained like I was number 2, and wanted to make sure that I was ready for battle and did more work on the training track than my competition to give me the best chance of succeeding. Entrepreneurs are rarely lazy beings. They are inspired to achieve and often highly self-motivated people who often live and die by their own sword. 13. Hire people better and smarter than you. The most successful entrepreneurs hire really smart people around them who are experts in their field. They recognise that they don’t need to be the smartest person, but they need to hire people who are smarter and better than them. It’s a simple philosophy, but they don’t have any desire to be an expert at everything. 14. Manage key relationships. Some of the best advice I received from a high profile entrepreneur was to recognise which relationships are critical for the owner to maintain. Whether this be with key staff, suppliers or customers, it is critical to ensure that the entrepreneur does not risk losing key relationships in the event that staff or partners exit the business. 15. Learn to lead. The best leaders attract the best clients and the best talent. By being able to lead well, you can train other leaders effectively and grow and scale a business successfully. Without leadership, a business has limited chance of success. 16. Manage cash flow. Cash is king. You can’t grow without cash. Be aware of the differences between cash flow and profit. If you run out of cash, your business can die quickly. Prioritise managing cash flow each week so you spend wisely. Many businesses grow too quickly and run out of cash and die despite having profitable businesses. 17. Stay fit and healthy. Self-care is critical to optimise performance. If you are unfit or unwell, you, your family and your business suffers. Prioritise exercise, eating well, drink water, maintain stress-relieving activities and ensure good sleep. Schedule in recreational time to clear the mind. Take breaks and have holidays. Regular exercise and a healthy body will ensure a healthy mind providing you with loads of positive energy and a positive outlook. 18. Manage risk. Look at all the risks in your business. Be aware of them and ask yourself what you can practically do to mitigate any risks. Most risks can be identified and managed to some extent and can help you plan for contingencies. 19. Stay focused. The number one tip overall is to stay focused. Every successful entrepreneur has had a laser sharp focus on one thing at a time before being able to scale into multiple ventures. Give yourself the best opportunity of succeed, otherwise you may spread yourself too thin and take the opportunity away from maximising potential. Remember this: F -ollow O -ne C -ourse U -ntil S -uccessful 20. Persist. I have had a motivational sign on my wall for the last 10 years which reads, “Persistence. It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.” If you manage to stick to these tips along your journey, you will be way ahead of the pack and heading towards a successful business ready to replicate your skills over and over throughout your business lifetime. All of these skills don’t magically appear overnight, so be patient in developing your skills which will hold you in good stead. This is an excerpt from Jonathan Weinstock’s book, Why You Are A 90% Chance to FAIL In Business. Download your free copy from here for a limited time. For a bit of fun, I have even created “Failure” T-shirts which say “Proud Achiever of Failure” – Failure = Learning = Success.
With a goal of raising $45,000, and having reached $300,000 with 16 days to go, Darkly Lab’s LazerBlade looks to be Australia’s next runaway Kickstarter success. LazerBlade makers bill it as ‘the affordable entry-level laser cutter/engraver for the maker, artist and hobbyist.” Its design and capabilities certainly look impressive, with the ability to work on most materials aside from glass, aluminium and steel. Darkly Lab founder and head developer Domenic Di Giorgio says the team was blown away by the response to their campaign. “We loved it and so many people we showed it to loved it as well, telling us about all the ways they could use it that we had never thought of ourselves,” Di Giorgio says. “But we never expected the response we got, it’s been mindblowing.” Darkly Labs was conceived a few years ago by Di Giorgio and some of his colleagues at Creature Technology Company, where Di Giorgio still heads up digital design. The aim was to use their shared passion for experimentation to try and develop products that they needed. They’ve prototyped a few ideas, but the LazerBlade is the first they’ve made public. The idea has taken about a year to get to its current state and has been personally funded so far. “We developed it as far as we could and then went to Kickstarter as we needed the funds to finish it off and do a production run,” Di Giorgio says. Di Giorgio says that they had heavily reduced the cost of their product for the campaign in recognition of the fact that people supporting them were taking a risk – much as they do with any other Kickstarter – but that also meant they weren’t making any margin off LazerBlade’s sold through the campaign. It’s hoped that Darkly Labs will continue to create new products. “The truth is I enjoy the process of designing new products more than I do using the product for the intention it was designed for,” Di Giorgio says. The LazerBlade also comes with free software. A video of it in action can be seen below: From the Kickstarter campaign, LazerBlade key features, include: Available in A4 and A3 sizes. 2 watt M140 Laser Diode. Variable laser power control, 0% to 100% (not just on/off). Cleverly designed for accuracy, performance and safety. Partially Assembled Kit. Stores vertically when not in use.
Solidifier, a subscription-based hardware co-working space, is set to launch in Sydney looking to serve the rising number of hardware startups. The co-working space will give hardware startups all that’s required to get a product to market, whether it is tools like laser cutters and 3D printers, or access to experts in the areas of crowdfunding, manufacturing, distribution or industrial design. Founder David Vandenberg says the aim of Solidifier is to help lower the barriers faced by those wanting to develop a product. “There’s still quite a lot of investment in hardware required to do that sort of stuff,’’ he says. “Prototypes are hard to make and manufacturing is still something Australia doesn’t have a whole lot of experience in these days.” Vandenberg says that while those barriers are still in place, they’re lower than they’ve ever been before because of technological developments like 3D printers and laser cutters. “There has been a lot more hardware startups popping up,’’ he says. “There’s a reason for that. One is that cloud software startups have been around for a while and to some extent a lot of the ideas, someone’s already done it. “In that space now it’s more a matter of incremental improvements. “In the hardware space it’s a lot more interesting. “Another reason is just the tools that have become available for prototyping things now are much more accessible. “That’s because 3D printers and laser cutters are becoming affordable, and Arduino and Raspberry Pi have made electronics more accessible.” Vandenberg has tentatively planned to launch Solidifier on Kickstarter next week a number of membership options will be available and 50% of the profits raised will go to purchasing more tools for the space. “It’s all about engaging the core of the community that have hardware devices. They don’t need to be electronic, it could be anything innovative, something that an industrial designer might do, the types of things that require prototyping and crowdfunding,’’ he says. This Thursday, Vandenberg has organised a town hall-style event at the new space which is located in suite 6, level 1, 66 Oxford Street, Sydney and anyone interested in the project is encouraged to attend. He says the time of the event has yet to be finalised, but those interested should keep an eye out for more details at OzBerryPi.
Cut-price internet services provider Crazy Domains has offered just $100 to compensate customers for losing their web hosting data. The former Perth-based company, which is now owned by Dubai business Dreamscape Networks, told customers via email last week that “due to an unforseen incident in a storage upgrade the data from your hosting account has unfortunately been irretrievably lost”. A spokesperson for the company told SmartCompany 18 out of a possible 10,000 Australian clients using the particular server were affected by the incident and Crazy Domains is in the process of re-allocating their data to a new storage system with "enhanced" capabilities. Crazy Domains has offered customers $100 in credit to make up for the error. However, one Crazy Domains customer told SmartCompany their financial losses due to lost email, productivity, support and the need to rebuild their website will total up to $2000. The customer said they first became aware of an issue on Thursday, May 8, when their Crazy Domains-hosted website went down. As a WordPress website, most of the data was hosted on the site. “It’s a shared service and my guess is at least this entire service, and maybe more, are dead, so lots of people out there will be impacted,” said the customer. “I’m lucky as it’s not an e-commerce site.” The customer said they made multiple calls to Crazy Domains since their site crashed and despite being told the problem would be fixed and all data was recoverable, did not receive any sanctioned information from the company until the email on May 15. The Crazy Domains spokesperson said while the company's support team does operate 24 hours, seven days a week, it's possible they did not respond to affected customers immediately or "did not notice the problem straightaway". Crazy Domains said in the email while “data backup remains the responsibility of the customer with hosting services”, the company’s engineers had been “working tirelessly and around the clock with the storage vendors to try and recover this data”. “However, I am sorry to say in this instance the relevant backups were also damaged, and I regret that our engineers have not been successful in their efforts to restore the lost data,” said a member of the Crazy Domains support team called “Laser M”. “It’s never easy to say sorry, or to break bad news, but it’s our policy to always be upfront and honest with you,” said the team member. This is not the first time Crazy Domains customers have suffered, with at least a thousand customers losing access to their email and websites in October last year. At the time, the company received multiple complaints about its poor customer service and lack of communication. David Markus, founder of IT company Combo, told SmartCompany that while web hosting companies “usually do a good job of backing up and restoring data”, business owners “can’t assume these providers are stable and need to take precautions”. Markus said web hosting providers are “very volatile at the moment”, with numerous businesses being bought and sold, and one large provider, Distribute.IT, collapsing in 2011. “What we learnt from that is that if you have a website, you should keep a backup on your own system,” said Markus. “That way, if the company goes under or makes a mistake, you can restore your data to them or very quickly move it to somewhere else”. Markus said there is also the possibility that the Crazy Domains servers were hacked, and this throws open the question of how safe data is once it is “in the cloud”. “We all assume that data is protected, but businesses need to have good advisers who know their company,” he said. This article first appeared on SmartCompany.
Australian-based online expert consultant marketplace Expert360 has raised $1 million in funding as it seeks to expand overseas. Co-founders Emily Yue and Bridget Loudon told StartupSmart the funds came from a variety of start-up investors and business leaders who are mostly based in Australia, but also two in Hong Kong and one in New York. The capital raising for the business, which has seen triple digit revenue growth since it was officially launched in July 2013, was oversubscribed, with offers from a range of senior business and investment leaders in Australia, Asia and the US. “The funds will go towards improving the platforms, towards ensuring we’ve got the best and brightest advisors through awareness raising campaigns and then helping on-board these people. We’ll also launch awareness-building campaigns for potential clients too,” Loudon says. She adds they’re particularly excited about investing in some tools they’re creating to help the expert consultants promote themselves and make the best use of the platform. The target customers for Expert360 are medium-sized corporations, private equity firms and boutique consulting firms that need extra capacity. Over 3000 consultants are listed on the platform, based all over the world including Australia, the US, the United Kingdom, Germany and France. Yue and Loudon, who was last year named among StartupSmart’s Future Makers, met while both were working with management consulting firm Bain & Company, where the idea for the online platform was born. “We saw that businesses of all sizes found it difficult to engage experts and consultants on a flexible basis. They might need a person or two for particular projects and couldn’t access top talent. We also saw a huge and growing pool of top notch execs and consultants who want to go freelance, so came up with an online solution,” Loudon says. Yue adds the consulting industry is worth over $30 billion. “The consulting industry is on the cusp of a major disruption and Expert360 is perfectly positioned to ride that wave,” Yue says. The transition from staff management consultants to start-up founders has been a fun but challenging one for the team. “Coming from a resource rich environment to a lean start-up, it’s totally different. You have to totally change your mindset and how you make decisions from the tiny ones right through to the big ones,” Loudon says. “We had to get laser-focused. Anything that’s not on the immediate launch and growth agenda you have to drop. We were bootstrapped from the beginning, and nothing teaches you to be lean like running a business on your credit card for six months!”
This article first appeared on December 21st, 2011. Franchising a business is something which requires systematic planning and expertise.
Female entrepreneurs in high-growth sectors are being encouraged to submit an application to Springboard Enterprises, which aims to help them secure funding from local and US investors.
Firstly, I’m not into policies. Too many rules. Rules change.
When it comes to 3D-printed clothing, one company is starting small. Very small.
The ability to sell can make or break a start-up. If a business in its early years can’t sell its products or services, it hasn’t got much chance of success.
In a world first, scientists have used a 3D printer to create a new lower jaw for an elderly patient.
Despite celebrating a decade at the helm of his $30 million revenue business, Melbourne entrepreneur Michael Schreiber has no intention of slowing down any time soon.
Yesterday, we introduced you to four of the talented start-ups that will be taking part on this year’s Startmate incubator program.
Opposition leader Tony Abbott has renewed his pledge to repeal the carbon tax, which passed through the House of Representatives yesterday, in a move that could compromise SMEs’ long-term plans.
Computer users could soon be saving their work to hard drives made of glass, after scientists developed memory crystals similar to those in the Superman films.
If there’s one target every small business should have in their sights, it’s business value. Too often I come across business owners that focus on profits or revenue.
In my interactions with different women’s networking groups and the regular discussions I have about female participation in business and on boards, it is clear that issues around barriers to entry and representation for women in start-ups and as entrepreneurs still exist.
Events where a group of strangers build a start-up over a weekend are nothing new, tech specialists and geeks have been doing it for decades, but a new wave of high-profile brands are bringing this concept to the mainstream.