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Four post-accelerator startups named as most exciting from a batch of 35

Wednesday, 19 March 2014 | By Rose Powell

Four startups have been named as the pick of the Australian crop of 35 who completed international accelerator The Founder Institute.


The international program is rigorous and requires psychometric testing to enrol. Programs have been run in Sydney and Perth for over a year. The first Melbourne intake will run later this year.


The four companies were chosen as the most outstanding ideas by the US-based core team.


They are document-sharing software Slidefish, direct farmer to chef connection platform Food Orbit, business education for kids apps Cashtivity, and location marketing software GeoMoby.


Slidefish founder Neil Smith has the unusual honour of being told by the director of the accelerator program he fielded “the most oddball question ever heard from a judge”, asking if he’d sell to Dropbox if offered millions tomorrow.


Prior to the global pitching event, Smith spoke to StartupSmart about the need to come out of his shell to sell his startup idea.


“To start a company is one thing but to go and face people that you don't know with your baby is hard, to take the criticism and use that to build a better product and business,” Smith said.


“For me it was at times very hard and nerve wracking, I am quite happy to sit in a room by myself and work away without seeing or talking to anyone else for days or weeks.”


Nerves haven’t been an issue for Food Orbit founder James Nathan, who recently won a pitching competition and received the backing of REA Group.


Launched in June 2013, the platform connecting farmers directly to chefs is evolving rapidly.


“The way the farming economy is at the minute, they’re also being squeezed by the strength of the dollar, so we’re shortening the supply chain and cutting out the middle man, and this makes them more competitive in terms of price,” says Nathan.


But focusing on the platform rather than sales is an approach Nathan says he’d think carefully about doing again, because it takes a while to develop sales momentum and it’s easy to get distracted by tech, which on its own doesn’t produce revenue.


The Cashtivity team has been working on their educational apps for three years.


The app guides students through developing basic business plans, managing and tracking cash and payments and finally transferring those funds into bank accounts. Students have used the app to run a variety of fundraisers such as cake stalls.


They announced a Commercialisation Australia grant in December. Founder and chief executive Marissa Di Pasqual told StartupSmart she was looking forward to launching the app in early 2014.


Also in early 2014, the fourth company selected by the Founder Institute, GeoMoby, announced a partnership that would give them direct access to over 250,000 developers.


The GeoMoby software allows businesses to take advantage of geo-location advertising, such as a coffee shop sending a registered customer a notification of a deal when they walk near the shop, without the usual challenges.


Co-founder Chris Baudia told StartupSmart the partnership could be a game changer for the fledgling company.