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IoT home check-up: China provides CliniCloud with unexpected silver lining

9:54AM | Thursday, 24 September

Despite doing the rounds in Silicon Valley, it was when the CliniCloud founders returned to Australia that an investment fell into their laps.   The Internet of Things healthtech startup has secured a $5 million seed round led by China’s largest internet company Tencent, and co-founder Hon Weng Chong says it was the investor that came to them.   “Rather than an outbound one, this was more of an inbound request,” Chong says.   “We were up in the Valley this time last year meeting with VCs and investors. We didn’t have time to complete the round so we came back to Australia to launch. Then we caught the attention of Tencent.   “They engaged us really early on, and they’ve been really supportive.”   CliniCloud’s first product, which is yet to be shipped, is a medical kit including a digital stethoscope and non-contact thermometer. This connected technology allows carers and patients the ability to measure important medical information in their homes, and then send it to a doctor or specialist.   Partnering with Best Buy   The capital injection will be used mainly to roll out this first product, and CliniCloud already have a huge partner on board to help out.   Best Buy will be stocking the startup’s products in the US and Canada from as early as this year. CliniCloud will be launching in Best Buy Canada in November and in the US in January next year.   It was a relatively quick process getting the major distributor which has over 1000 locations on board, Chong says.   “They pretty much agreed on first meeting, so it was more a matter of logistics and all the other different pieces that go into that,” he says.   The funding will also be going towards expanding the team, enabling further international expansion, and working towards future products.   Chong says it’s important for startup founders not be swayed by initial rejections.   “It’s always tough, especially for first time entrepreneurs,” he says.   “You’ll get very many nos before you get a yes.   “Don’t give up, keep going, keep trying and something eventually will happen.”   Waiting for change in Australia   Although the entrepreneurs are both based in Australia, the product won’t be available here in the short-term future, with the company still looking for the right tele-medical business to come on board.   “We’re waiting for the right partner and for the government to decide how tele-medical reinvestment will go in the future,” Chong says.   “If you were living out in the bush you’d have to go to a GP first, you can’t do a direct call with a specialist or GP from your home.   “Hopefully we’ll see a lot more progressive thinking, and with the leadership change that might be sooner rather than later.”   Chong and his fellow co-founder Andrew Lin both turned away from becoming doctors to work on the startup, a decision that now seems to be paying off, despite initial concerns from their parents.   “It’s always been the right decision for us,” Chong says.   “I’ve always been passionate about technology and medicine. I tried to figure out how I can combine these two areas, and I have a great sense of pride and achievement being able to do this.   “It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like a long and great side-project that keeps on going.”   Want to grow your business with Instagram? StartupSmart School can help.

How this Aussie startup plans to become a leading player in the booming world of bitcoin: #2015istheyear

12:53PM | Thursday, 18 December

Today I’m joined by Asher Tan from CoinJar, a startup that lets you buy, sell, and manage your bitcoin. CoinJar was founded by Asher and Ryan Zhou in mid-2013 and it’s been a whirlwind ride ever since.   With something in the area of $50 million worth of transactions in their first 12 months of operations, they now have a team of 12 people and offices in Melbourne and London, as they look to become a world leading bitcoin exchange.   AN: Asher, thank you for taking the time with me today, I know you just arrived back in the country from the new office in London. How is that going for you?   Asher Tan: London is great. It’s one of the finance centres of the world. The UK have very progressive laws relating to bitcoin that make it an attractive market, and one that we will be focusing our efforts on in the coming year.   AN: Nice one. To take it back to the beginning, can you tell us what you were doing before startups?   AsherT: I was working as an analyst, writing economic forecasts for a large firm.   AN: And so what made you want to do a startup?   AsherT: I’ve always enjoyed building and creating new things. And I think I’ve always had the startup bug in me, it just took a while for me to find it! In my previous job I had a small team working with me and tried to cultivate a close bond within the team, in order to reach and surpass our targets. The thing was, we bonded so well and met all our targets easily, yet head office didn’t want us to do any more and probably viewed us as loose cannons.   AN: Was there any trigger point, any incident in particular that spurred you into action?   AsherT: Nothing specific, I was gradually getting more and more immersed in the local startup eco-system, going down to events, making friends with people actively working on startups. Reading all of Paul Graham’s essays on the subject. Seeing other people build and create great product and companies – I wanted to do it too!     AN: So how did you get the idea for CoinJar then. Were you on the bitcoin train from the early days?   AsherT: I had been working on a completely different idea for a good six months before applying to AngelCube. I met Ryan online and another partner at a networking event, and we applied to AngelCube. During the interview process, they told us that they liked the team, but not the idea, and that if we wanted to get in we should change the idea. At the time I thought it was like Dragon’s Den or The Shark Tank, and they were testing us to see our commitment. Turns out it wasn’t a test. So over the weekend we brainstormed a bunch of other ideas, and CoinJar was the one we agreed upon. Thankfully AngelCube liked the idea as well, and the rest is history!   AN: Haha, too funny! It sounds like you’ve never been short of ideas… When did you know that this was the one?   AsherT: The early signs were good, even during the first few weeks of AngelCube it was obvious that we were having early signs of success relative to the other teams. For a while things were very stressful, but one of the mentors at AngelCube reminded us that the stress was due to our product being too popular, which is a really good problem to have. It wasn’t too long into the CoinJar journey that we did our first million in transactions. From that point onwards there wasn’t a doubt in my mind.   AN: Indeed. Given how fast things have been moving with CoinJar, I’m sure you’ve hardly had time to take it all in. But to date what would you say has been the biggest lesson learnt?   AsherT: When you can't figure things out that's what your co-founder is there for. Ryan built bitcoin businesses before, and especially at the start of our journey it was him leading the charge in terms of what direction we should take, what we need to build, etc. Some of his ideas were crazy, and we spent many a night arguing over what was worthwhile and what was not. Thankfully most of his ideas were right!   AN: Excellent! And just lastly, do you have any advice for the would-be entrepreneurs out there reading along and getting inspired to be the next Asher Tan and Ryan Zhou?   AsherT: Hustle. You have to use every resource at your disposal to keep your startup alive. At the end of AngelCube all the teams went to the US as part of the program, with the goal of raising a seed round. As a group we went down to a startup trade show called TechCrunch Disrupt, the thing is, all the other startups looked very slick and professional, with banners and display monitors and everything.   As a three-month-old startup we had none of this. So what we did was go down to Best Buy and purchased the biggest screen we could get our hands on. We were careful to take very good care of it whilst in our possession and not remove any of the stickers. As a result, we were the only AngelCube team to have a display monitor in our booth, which we returned as soon as the trade show was done, so it cost us nothing”! AN: Wow, thanks a bunch, Asher. Best of luck with CoinJar in the coming year.   Amir Nissen is program manager at AngelCube   This is the part six of our #2015istheyear series.   Part one – 2015 The year for my idea.   Part two – How to validate your idea this Christmas.   Part three – How Ash Davies created his ‘YouTube for books’ startup Tablo.   Part four – Why ‘manual first’ can help you MVP quicker.   Part five – David Chung of etaskr on chucking in corporate life to chase the startup dream. Follow StartupSmart on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

THE NEWS WRAP: Microsoft splashes $US200 million on email startup

12:24PM | Monday, 1 December

Microsoft is believed to have spent over $US20 million to a startup called Acompli, which makes an email app for Android smartphones and iPhones.   The news was reported by Re/Code, with Microsoft later confirming the deal in an official blog post from the company’s corporate vice president for Outlook and Office 365, Rajesh Jha.   The email client was developed by veterans from Zimbra and VMWare, and supports both Microsoft and Google email services.   US retailers concerned about Chinese online marketplace Alibaba   A number of leading US retailers have called on Congress to end special tax treatment for online retailers, citing fears Chinese marketplace Alibaba could “decimate” their businesses.   According to Reuters, claims were made in a series of TV and radio ads by a lobby group called Alliance for Main Street Fairness, which includes major US retail chains such as Best Buy, Target and JC Penney.   While Alibaba has not yet launched in the US market, the retailers are concerned the company could use some of the money raised through its recent IPO on a US expansion.   Google Fiber signups in Texas   Google Fiber has opened up signups in the US city of Austin, Texas, according to The Verge.   The fibre-to-the-premises internet service costs $US70 per month for data only, with 1 terabyte of cloud storage and TV setting consumers back $US130 per month, and a slower 5Mbps download and 1Mbps upload service available for a once-off $US300 fee.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 43.45 points to 17784.8. The Aussie dollar is down to US85.04 cents.

THE NEWS WRAP: Mooted Alibaba deal could put Snapchat in the $10 billion club

7:25PM | Wednesday, 30 July

Snapchat is in talks with Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba for a round of financing that may value the company at $10 billion, sources told Bloomberg.   Talks are ongoing and the terms of the funding may change, one of the sources said.   If the funding is completed, Snapchat would join an elite group of technology startups, including Airbnb and Dropbox, valued at or above $10 billion.   People send more than 700 million disappearing “snaps” a day and more than 500 million stories are viewed daily.   Tablet sales crashing?   Best Buy chief executive officer Hubert Joly has told Re/code that the company has seen a revival in PC sales in the company’s first quarter.   Joly puts attributes the growth in PC sales at least in part to Microsoft’s decision to stop supporting Windows XP, and says tablet sales have dropped off.   “The tablets boomed and are now crashing,” he says.   “The volume has really gone down in the last several months.”   He says the issue facing tablets is that once you have a tablet of a certain generation, it’s not clear that you have to move to the next gen.   Twitter acquires Madbits   Madbits, a deep-learning-based computer vision startup, has been purchased by Twitter.   Details of the acquisition are unknown, but Madbits confirmed the purchase in a statement on its website.   Over the past year the company has been building visual intelligence technology that “automatically understands, organizes and extracts relevant information from raw media”.   Overnight   The Dow Jones Industrial Average is down 31.75 to 16,880.36. The Australian dollar is currently trading at US93 cents.

Super Bowl 2013: The marketing trends, and five early ads

2:40AM | Monday, 4 February

The Super Bowl is one of the most anticipated sporting events of the year. For American football lovers it’s an opportunity to watch the two champion teams of the season go head-to-head – but for marketers it’s almost like a study tour.

Academic names worst CEOs of 2012 – five lessons for start-ups

3:08AM | Friday, 15 March

Start-up founders looking to avoid being labelled a bad chief executive should heed the advice of US university professor Sydney Finkelstein, who has compiled a list of the worst CEOs of 2012.

Cyber Monday sales up: Three eCommerce lessons from the US

3:44AM | Monday, 11 March

A week after the Click Frenzy debacle in Australia, Americans have started Cyber Monday – the yearly sale that inspired the local version.

Richard Branson invests in Square

11:40AM | Wednesday, 9 November

British entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson has invested an undisclosed sum in mobile payment start-up Square, founded by former Twitter chief Jack Dorsey, following a $110 million funding round.

ANZ declares mobile payments trial with iPhones a success, but wants to wait on NFC

6:03AM | Thursday, 30 June

Mobile payments technology may take longer than expected to reach Australia, with ANZ and credit giant Visa both announcing they will not commit to a timetable for the introduction of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology despite a successful four-week trial of consumers using iPhones to pay for goods.

10 lessons Aussie retailers can take from overseas sites

4:49AM | Friday, 27 April

He finally did it. After fulminating strongly against the relevancy, and then, conversely, the damaging impact, of online retailing, Gerry Harvey has decided to take the plunge with Harvey Norman Big Buys.

iPad 2 to hit Australian stores 5pm Friday

3:39PM | Wednesday, 23 March

Apple has confirmed its much-anticipated iPad 2 will go on sale in Australian from 5pm this Friday, with local users to enjoy a modest discount from last year’s launch.