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The “brutal” process behind selecting the DataStart finalists

Monday, 11 January 2016 | By Denham Sadler

A “brutal” selection process has seen more than 200 applicants for the government’s DataStart program whittled down to eight finalists who will pitch for $200,000 in funding as well as Pollenizer and government mentoring.


With one of the finalists unable to take part due to personal reasons, seven of the startups will now pitch at a showcase event on January 18th that will decide the overall winner.


DataStart will see the federal government making treasure troves of public data available in a pilot program. The seven finalists will present ideas for using this data, from treating chronic illnesses to helping people sell their homes.


The finalists include CohortIQ, a startup utilising medical services trends for chronic illnesses, and Gemini3, the tech company behind a job sharing and matching enterprise platform.


A brutal process


Selecting these finalists was a challenging process, Pollenizer partner Daniel Ringrose says.


“It was brutal,” Ringrose tells StartupSmart. “We had a lot of really good applications come through and it took us longer than anticipated.”


He says the process involved balancing the wants of the government, investors and Pollenizer.


“We were looking for someone who was working with an idea that is going to be able to use open data in a viable and meaningful way – that was a priority from the government,” Ringrose says.


“The investors wanted commercial potential and good market potential, and Pollenizer wanted strong founders that will be able to take an idea from the start and turn it into growth.”


It was also crucial for the program to find founders at the right stage of startup life to fully benefit from the Pollenizer course.


“The program is looking for a business at a really early-stage that we can work with and build over nine months,” Ringrose says.


“There were a few that had come up with an idea for a few weeks and applied without any real thought.


“They were too early-stage for what we were trying to achieve.”


But these startups won’t be left empty-handed though, with Pollenizer offering free access to its online startup course and waiving the application fee for the Founder’s Institute for those that applied to DataStart.


Interesting but realistic ideas


It was also about using public data in unique but realistic ways, Ringrose says.


“Someone may find a fantastic use for data that may not be commercial, or they may have a great commercial opportunity that doesn’t leverage data,” he says.


“A lot of them would have been a nice service and community concept to put in place but they may not have been commercially viable or the data may not be able to be released.


“The companies that have been chosen are the best mix of something that can create real growth and build a meaningful business.”


The seven finalists will now complete a five-day course with Pollenizer that will involve market testing and validation and pitch training, before taking part in a showcase in front of four judges on Monday.


The room will also be filled with potential investors that will be operating separately to the competition.


The eight Datastart finalists:

  • CohortIQ – medical services trends for chronic illness
  • Till – virtual retail point of sale platforms
  • Ovass – agriculture smart farming and monitoring
  • Comployment – small business compliance management
  • Gemini3 – job-sharing and matching enterprise platform
  • Commercial – DIY real estate sales marketing platform
  • Mezo – maritime and fisheries data platform
  • VolunteerImpact – environmental project impact management (won’t be taking part due to personal reasons)



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