Startmate opens applications for 2015 intake

7:54PM | Sunday, 27 July

Sydney-based mentor-driven seed funding program Startmate has opened applications for its 2015 intake, with the iconic program now entering into its fifth year.   First run in 2011, the Startmate program was a pioneer in the Australian startup scene. Based on an observation that VCs were missing in action in Australia at the time, it was inspired by the success of US-based seed funding programs such as Y Combinator and Techstars.   Startmate and Blackbird Ventures co-founder, Niki Scevak told StartupSmart the program has proven Australia has the talent to build world-class tech companies.   “If you look at something like 500 Startups or Y Combinator, a large proportion of the teams there are international and they’ve moved to San Francisco to start their business,” Scevak says.   “But really, you can launch a startup anywhere and we believe Australia punches well above its weight in terms of talent.”   Scevak says the big change in 2005 will be the increased importance of Startmate graduates from past years.   “The big change after five years is the network of alumni companies. We’ve invested in 29 companies over the years, and that network is increasingly becoming even more important to the program than the mentors.   “The folks who have gone through Startmate want to give back to the program, so the alumni and the mentors is really a one-two punch.”   Startmate initially offered startups a $25,000 investment in exchange for a 7.5% stake – a figure that has since been increased to $50,000 (which gives successful companies a valuation of $666k). Aside from the investment, the program offers startups office space and legal advice for its duration, and includes demo days where technology can be demonstrated to potential early-stage investors.   A key feature of Startmate has always been the use of high-profile mentors from the Australian startup and tech community. Some of the mentors have included Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar; Tjoos co-founder Bart Jellema; and Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy.   The first program in 2011 generated 86 applications, which were eventually narrowed down to just five participants. The first intake was made up of Bugherd, Chorus, IRL Gaming, Grabble, and Noosbox. By the end of the year, one of the participants, Grabble, had been acquired by the US retail giant Walmart.   Between January and April 2012, Startmate returned with its second intake, with the program increased to eight participants. The number of aspiring entrepreneurs and startups boomed to 164, with Clique, Flightfox, Property Inspector, Invc.me, Ninja Blocks, ScriptRock, Setkick and Young Republic eventually chosen for the program.   It returned bigger than ever in 2013, with the initial investment doubling to its current level of $50,000 for 7.5% equity. The 2013 participants included 7pm Anywhere, Bugcrowd, GetStall, Kinderloop, SalesTeam, Shiftr, Storyberg, and Tutor on Demand.   In late 2013, applications opened for Startmate’s fourth intake, with the 2014 program kicking off earlier this year. The participants included Lumific, HayStackHQ, Inductly, Drawboard, Flirtey, Foogi, Composure, and SportHold.   In 2015, Scevak predicts Startmate will attract more than 250 businesses, with the growth of applications now tracking the number of startups in the ecosystem.   Applications for the 2015 program are available on this page.

Want a job at a startup? Get sh-t done

5:57AM | Monday, 12 May

For many people getting a job at a startup is as compelling as starting one. A panel held in Sydney last week had founders reveal how to secure one, and while not that different from finding any other job, applying for a job at a startup has its quirks.   How do you find a job listing? Katie Hume, marketing director at Airtasker, mentioned how she found her role in an unlikely way. Hume 'liked' a posting by 99interns founder Yvonne Lee and someone else saw the like online and sent her a direct message asking if she was looking for work.   Kim Heras, founder of 24fifteen and Pushstart, talked about how applying with a resume is still standard for Australian startups, but it was important the resume reflects the skills needed when responding to a job listing.   “There are baseline skills needed for startups, but you also need certain characteristics,” Heras says.   “Be who you are, since there has to be a good fit.”   He says a job is like a relationship and “you want to be in a relationship with the company that wants you”.   One question from the crowd concerned what to wear for an interview. One of the founders of Tank Stream Lab, Balder Tol, told the story of his first interview at Airbnb.   He didn’t have enough time to research the company so he showed up for the interview in a suit while the interviewer had on shorts, flip flops and a t-shirt. Balder told him, “give me 5 minutes”, and quickly took off the jacket and tie and untucked his shirt.   Kim noted that it was important to “try to put in some effort in your appearance”. He said that what was especially important was “not what you’re wearing but do you seem to care and appreciate the opportunity to come in to interview”.   Dean McEvoy, founder of Spreets and Iconpark, explained, “The reason startups are so casual is they look through the facades that people put on in corporate culture.”   “People are focusing on getting shit done so appearance is secondary,” he says.   Another question from the audience was around the key attributes of a successful employee at a startup. Heras identified one fundamental characteristic was enthusiasm.   “Within a startup there’s always this sense of urgency, so you have to be enthusiastic and follow through,” Heras says.   McEvoy added, “To work at a startup you have to be comfortable with uncertainty since each day you might have to do something different.”   McEvoy mentioned that he sometimes screened potential employees by asking them to follow up at a certain time since only some people would do so, which indicated their enthusiasm.   He also mentioned it was great to put people on the spot in interviews. He mentioned one question he liked to ask was, “do you believe in aliens?” He says you learn a lot out about someone by listening to how they answer that type of question.   Dave Michayluk is a founder at 99interns – connecting interns with startups and startups with interns.

Rushing your investment round can have devastating consequences: Veteran angel investor

2:27PM | Monday, 17 February

Leading angel investor Jordan Green has called for a reality check for start-up founders seeking funding, advising against rushing into deals and prioritising speedy decisions over building sustainable relationships.   Green spoke with StartupSmart shortly after Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy called for Australian entrepreneurs to make decisions within two weeks at an angel investor education night last month.   “You’re only option is to be fast money here in Australia, because if you can’t be the fast money you’ll miss out on the good deals which will find the smart or big money elsewhere,” McEvoy said.   Green says start-up founders should expect investment decisions with private or angel investors to take a few months.   “Investment is a relationship and you need to get it right. If it’s formed very young in the lifecycle of the business it’s going to have a significant impact on the growth and shape of the business. Rushing into anything won’t have a happy outcome,” he says.   According to Green, rushed investment processes can often lead to misunderstanding the expectations of both parties. This tension can lead to advisor and entrepreneur having conflicting opinions on where the business should focus, how rapidly it should go and what is worth investing in.   He adds the impacts of poor investment partnerships are significant.   “When there is money and company ownership involved, it can be devastating for those who have these things at stake. So it’s important entrepreneurs understand good investment process takes time,” Green says.   Entrepreneurs should expect to spend two to three months liaising with potential investors, especially those who invest in groups.   “Good investments very, very rarely happen in a couple of weeks. Two to three months is a reasonable time frame, especially for angel groups,” Green says.   He adds the timeframe might be shorter for a full time independent investor, but start-up founders should still take as much time as they need to assess their potential investors.   “Entrepreneurs should assess their investors as much as their investors assess them,” Green says. “And you probably don’t want an investor with a huge ego. Anyone who has been through a serious, successful start-up experience knows there is very little room for that kind of ego. It almost always destroys because you need a collaborative environment to build a business.”

Why you probably shouldn’t take on advisers who aren’t also investors

1:14AM | Tuesday, 14 January

Everyone agrees that mentors and advisers can be incredibly valuable for most new businesses if you pick the right ones.   But when you get to the investment stage, should you avoid committed advisory relationships from people who won’t financially back you too?   This question is particularly pertinent with Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy recently calling for Australians to get better at angel investing and the Australian start-up investment scene developing well.   Ed Dowling, co-founder of rapidly growing tech start-up App.io, spoke to StartupSmart about this question at the Startup Victoria Conference last year.   Dowling also shared how his team raised over $1 million in Silicon Valley.

Leading accelerator program Startmate opens applications for fourth intake

10:26PM | Monday, 7 October

Designed to turn Australian technical founders into successful global entrepreneurs, one of Australia’s first start-up accelerators Startmate is now open for applications.   The program will run next year from January to May. Companies will spend three months in Sydney and two in San Francisco.   Startmate is seeking around eight companies, which will receive $50,000 in seed capital, in exchange for 7.5% equity.   Startmate co-founder Niki Scevak told StartupSmart they’re seeking founders with big dreams and plans.   “Beyond the very product centric technical team, we’re looking for people with large ambitions, the crazier the idea the better. We really want to work with teams who want to make a big difference in the world, so the scale of the ambition is what we’ll be selecting,” Scevak says.   He says they’re committed to approaching each pitched idea with an open mind, adding that being the hundredth start-up to tackle an idea didn’t hurt Google, Facebook or Atlassian.   “Anyone doing anything in an incredibly crowded area will be taken as seriously as brand new ideas. The ideas may sound incremental, but it really does matter why the founders have chosen to pursue this idea, and if they have a unique insight into it,” Scevak says.   “It’s about why they care about their customers and if they have an authentic connection to the market. We look for what in their lives have driven them to this idea.”   The program includes an impressive line-up of mentors including Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar; Tjoos co-founder Bart Jellema; and Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy, as well as several partners from Square Peg Capital and Blackbird Ventures.   This will be the fourth intake for the program. Previous participants include BugCrowd and NinjaBlocks.   Start-ups can apply via Angel List.

Pollenizer celebrates fifth birthday: Five lessons from the start-up pioneer

3:34AM | Monday, 4 March

Mick Liubinskas has highlighted the trials and tribulations of Pollenizer, including how it turned Spreets into a $40 million company, as the online venture builder celebrates its fifth birthday.

12 key things investors look for in web start-ups

7:50AM | Friday, 6 July

The fall of online retail business Shooii into administration this week is a further sobering reminder to entrepreneurs of the importance of cashflow.

Spreets co-founder points to start-up passion after leaving Yahoo!7

6:01AM | Friday, 1 June

Spreets co-founder Dean McEvoy has declared himself a “start-up guy”, after it was confirmed he and fellow co-founder Justus Hammer are leaving Yahoo!7, which acquired Spreets last year.

Yahoo!7 to stop Spreets performance payments as group buying market dries up

4:00AM | Monday, 16 April

Yahoo!7 may be starting to encounter the downside of the group buying industry as a new report indicates the media giant is no longer expected to make any more performance-related payments to its subsidiary Spreets.

APN and Pollenizer strike partnership following Friendorse deal

3:34AM | Monday, 11 March

Australian tech incubator Pollenizer has partnered with APN News & Media to fund a vehicle for testing digital business models, after APN invested in Pollenizer-backed start-up Friendorse.

Startmate unveils eight start-ups for its class of 2012

3:57AM | Monday, 11 March

Mentor-driven seed fund Startmate has unveiled the participants of its 2012 program, investing in eight tech start-ups that it says are aiming to be “the best in the world.”

12 ways to make your web start-up investable

5:47AM | Wednesday, 2 May

2012 is shaping up to be the best year yet for Australian tech start-ups.

How to snare a US investor

4:13PM | Saturday, 28 April

The business world has been abuzz with talk of a second dotcom bubble, fuelled by the huge public debut by LinkedIn last week.

Packer tipped to pour $40m into Catch of the Day

5:58AM | Tuesday, 10 May

James Packer is reportedly planning to pour $40 million into daily deals and group buying site Catch of the Day, suggesting tech companies are the current flavour for large investors.

Mother’s Day spending subdued but daily deals to surge

5:52AM | Wednesday, 4 May

Gift cards, coupons and daily deals are among the most popular ideas for Mother’s Day this year, as value-driven consumers reign in their spending after splurging on luxurious gifts in 2010.

Facebook trials new Deals platform as Australian group buying sector revenue hits $377m

4:08PM | Wednesday, 27 April

Social networking giant Facebook has launched a trial of its new Deals program, with users in a select number of cities now able to purchase discounts for various experiences and products in an attempt to challenge the growth of group-buying giants Groupon and Living Social.   The news comes as research from IBISWorld shows spending in the group buying industry has soared to $377 million in 2010-11 from essentially nothing in the previous year.   As reported in the New York Times, Facebook has launched a trial of the previously announced service in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. Users are able to "like" the Deals services on Facebook, which then allows deals to show up in their news feed.   Facebook claims that as the service grows, more deals will be integrated into the site itself, acknowledging that the best deals are ones that grow virally and are shared among friends and family.   The new deals service represents another possible source of revenue for the company, which will allow deals to be purchased using Facebook Credits – the company's digital currency.   "You can receive Facebook deals via email," Facebook director of local Emily White told the New York Times. "But if there is a deal that is good for you, it will likely show up in your news feed at some point in the day."   The announcement comes as the group-buying scene continues to explode, with major companies wanting to get in on the action. With a user-base nearing 600 million members, Facebook is well positioned to take advantage of any deals service as the most successful require substantial email marketing lists.   Telsyte senior research manager Yip says the social network is in a good way to challenge Groupon, Living Social and other competitors.   "In the past three months, our research shows that we've seen an increase in group buying database building on Facebook. Campaigns are being run on there, rather than on Twitter."   "Facebook deals is very much a strong prospect because group buying marketing is all based on there right now. I think the main challenge will be getting major merchants on board and getting into local markets there."   However, he says that if the Deals service were to expand into Australia, it may have more problems as the market is already well saturated here.   "There is a real challenge coming into Australia here. We're around 15 months into the market here, perhaps more, and most of the large sites are generating a substantial amount of revenue."   While Yip says Facebook's infrastructure is sound and the company operates very well in dozens of countries, expanding deals into those countries may be a different challenge.   "The Facebook infrastructure is there, to be sure, but it's about getting the merchants on board. And not having a strong local presence in certain areas will be a challenge."   Spreets chief executive Dean McEvoy says while Facebook is well positioned to open a deals platform, they have some difficulties ahead of them.   "I think if they are smart, the way they will work it will be a connection for other deals and so on."   McEvoy says while Facebook has the user base to show off deals, he also says depending too much on them will change what the site is about.   "They're an advertising business, if they go out and start getting deals they're changing who they are in. If you're checking in on Facebook somewhere and there happens to be a good deal nearby, that could work. But if they pushed me deals, it may not particularly work well."   Meanwhile, new research from IBISWorld shows the group buying industry in Australia is definitely not slowing down any time soon, with general manager Robert Bryant saying the industry now accounts for 1.8% of total online retail spending.   "Offering three major selling propositions – group voucher discounts, clearance goods and travel for limited periods – this sector is now the fastest growing retail platform in Australia," Bryant says.   Travel and accommodation deals take up the majority of all sales at 29.3%, followed by retail goods at 29.2%, beauty products at 14%, dining out at 10.6% and leisure activities at 8%. Sport and fitness deals only make up 1.5% of all sales.   Catch of the Day has been named as the biggest player with revenue of $110 million, IBISWorld says. The company adds that with intense competition growing, a merger is likely within the next couple of years as the "general market is somewhat saturated".

Are there trends that indicate where investor money is going?

3:15AM | Wednesday, 2 March

We regularly survey the 9,200 investors on our Wholesale Investor database to find out what sectors they are keen on, which provides an interesting snapshot into what investors are looking for.

Groupon reaches for the Star Deals in Australia

2:07PM | Tuesday, 15 February

US-based group buying site Groupon has officially launched in Australia under the name Star Deals, with the company reporting it has already sold more than 100 vouchers.

Yahoo!7 acquires Spreets for $40m

5:22PM | Monday, 23 May

Yahoo!7 has acquired Australian group-buying site Spreets in a $40 million deal, despite the start-up only launching in April last year.