Success stories

Year In Review – Wrap-up Of Achievements Of Australian Incubators, Co-working Spaces

How Australia’s top start-up incubators performed in 2012

By Michelle Hammond
Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Ifeature-incubator-thumbt’s fair to say 2012 was a mammoth year, not only for the various incubators and co-working spaces, but for the Australian start-up scene in general.


While the last few years have seen a surge in the number of new start-up programs and venues, this year has been very much focused on helping those start-ups succeed. And it shows.


Here’s a wrap-up of how the various start-up incubators and accelerators have performed this year, as well as a look at what’s in store for 2013:




In 2012, Sydney-based incubator Pollenizer created six new businesses, opened an office in south-east Asia, established a training school, published a book called Startup Focus and celebrated its fourth birthday.


It welcomed a bevy of new businesses including Big Happy, Coachy, Ryuu, GetListed and Flikgift, and was named Best Startup Investor at the 2012 StartupSmart Awards.


Pollenizer also worked with Startup Genome, Deloitte and From Little Things to launch Silicon Beach: A study of the Australian Startup Ecosystem, offering an in-depth analysis of the sector.


Among other things, 2013 will see Pollenizer focus on opportunities that require less scale to validate. These will typically be non-consumer products, says Pollenizer co-founder Phil Morle.


“We will also be focusing on customer acquisition or ‘growth science’ so that we can validate our businesses in large pools of customers. We need to be systematically better at this,” he says.




“It’s been a pretty amazing year actually. I think 75% of my predictions have come true,” BlueChilli’s head honcho Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin told StartupSmart.


“The challenge for this calendar year was to start 12 investments, and we’ve started 14 and launched 11… Five of our start-ups have gone on to raise angel rounds, with the total amount raised at $1.7 million.”


In addition to launching 11 start-ups, BlueChilli offered its support to start-ups such as Housl, and snapped up Vividways, an app designer and developer that specialises in loyalty programs.


“The other challenge we set ourselves is a broader long-term vision of 100 start-ups by 2016. That means that next year, we’re going to have to do 24,” Eckersley-Maslin says.


“When we set ourselves high-level challenges, it becomes the focus of everything in the BlueChilli organisation. We’ll probably do a capital raising as well, very early next year.”


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For the Startmate program, which looks to fast-track budding entrepreneurs into the big time, there’ll be no time to ease into 2013. The year will start with a bang in January, when eight start-ups are welcomed into the Startmate fold for a period of five months.


These start-ups have been accepted into the annual Startmate program, which, in addition to $50,000 per start-up, will include two demo days and a two-month stint in Silicon Valley.


Startmate obviously devoted much of this year to its 2012 class, which included Happy Inspector, ScriptRock and Ninja Blocks.


In March, co-founder Niki Scevak defended Startmate’s decision to advise its 2012 class to become incorporated in the United States rather than Australia.


“I completely disagree with comments characterising it as a brain-drain… Incorporating there will simply allow the companies to accept payments from all around the world,” he said.




Like Startmate, start-up incubator AngelCube was also kept busy this year with its class of 2012, which included Broccol-e-games, Vinspi and Kickfolio.


Meanwhile, film rating and review site managed to raise some funds following on from its stint in AngelCube’s 2011 program.


After announcing the participants for its 2012 class, AngelCube co-founder Andrew Birt told StartupSmart the incubator would be taking a tough-love approach.


“[There are] strict milestones that each team must hit each week,” he said.


Birt also weighed on in the debate about the lack of female tech entrepreneurs and mentors, admitting more can be done to entice women into the industry.




In February, co-working space Fishburners launched a new space for start-ups, called EngineRoom, in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst after partnering with the City of Sydney.


Then in August, Fishburners extended its sponsorship deal with Optus, ensuring it remains viable for the next three years.


“The movement has got a real momentum now and is heading in the right direction. There are some great start-ups that are using Fishburners,” director Peter Bradd said at the time.


Just last week, former Fishburners-based start-up Rezdy secured $300,000 from existing investors, adding to a $250,000 round raised earlier.


While 2012 was a year of expansion for Fishburners, next year will see Fishburners take a more active role in the start-ups it accommodates, director David Vandenberg told StartupSmart.


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