Bevan Clark

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LIFX closes Series A funding round - $12m

6:10PM | Monday, 23 June

LIFX, the innovations company behind the award-winning Wi-Fi enabled, multi-color LED light bulbs, today announced that it has partnered with Sequoia and raised $12M in Series A funding.     The partnership will help LIFX, which is on the forefront of the Internet of Things (IoT), make homes smarter and improve the way we live. Angel investors Guy King and Bevan Clark also participated in the round. Sequoia partner Omar Hamoui has joined the company’s board of directors.   “LIFX is one of the fastest growing and most promising smart home companies,” said Omar Hamoui, Sequoia Capital.   “Phil and team have truly revolutionized the first consumer electronics device: The light bulb. As consumers adopt connected home technologies, the LIFX bulb will be a starting point because it’s easy to install and immediately useful on a daily basis. We couldn’t be happier to support them as they work to deliver the best home innovation experience.”   This Series A funding round follows one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns to date, garnering over $1.3m in pledges in just six days. The company shipped its Kickstarter pledge pre-orders in Q1 this year.   LIFX will use the capital to fund the next phase of its business. The company is also now hiring world-class engineering, sales and marketing teams to create best in class IoT products. LIFX has offices in Los Altos, CA and Melbourne, Australia and will continue to grow both operations. Interested candidates can apply to [email protected]   “We’re amazed at the level of response we’ve received since our initial launch on Kickstarter in 2012. In the short time since the launch, we’ve worked to perfect our hardware, build a beautiful app and increase manufacturing to meet demand.” said Phil Bosua, CEO and founder of LIFX.   “This partnership will allow us to accelerate the growth of LIFX and produce some of the world’s best IoT products.”   The investment brings LIFX’s total funding to $16.6m.   The Light Bulb Reinvented - now available to everyone The LIFX smart bulbs can now be purchased online and shipped worldwide for free. To date, the bulbs were only available to Kickstarter backers and select customers as the company scaled to meet the overwhelming demand.   The LIFX smart bulb works just like a normal light bulb. Simply screw in the LIFX bulb and download the free app and you’re good to go; set up takes less than two minutes.    LIFX offers three bulb models that retail for $99.00 USD each: Edison Screw, Bayonet Cap and Downlight (pre-order). Experience a virtual LIFX bulb at: virtualbulb.lifx.co.   LIFX has an open API platform so developers can freely develop apps and use cases to support the growing need for smart lighting throughout the world.

Pearcey Award winner Guy King warns Singapore’s “kicking our arse” in the race to become Asia’s tech hub

6:27AM | Thursday, 5 June

Hefty tax concessions are the only way to keep world-beating startups leaving Australian shores, according to RetailMeNot co-founder turned angel investor Guy King.   He adds that Singapore is “kicking our arse” in the battle to become Asia’s tech hub and to secure the initial public offerings that would come with it.   Last night, King and fellow Retailmenot co-founder Bevan Clark were named the 2014 Victorian Pearcey Entrepreneur Award winners at the Victorian iAwards.   The award is aimed at encouraging and rewarding innovative talent within ICT and is given to people “who during their career have taken a risk, made a difference and are an inspiration”.   In 2010 King and Clark sold their coupon trading website RetailMeNot for $90 million, they’re co-the founders of LIFX and mentors for Melbourne-based accelerator Angelcube.   “If the next Facebook is started by Australians, it will end up floating in the US and none of those jobs or taxes will flow back into the country,’’ he says.   “Increasing the amount of venture capital available in the country would go a long way to helping that, and the only practical way I can think of doing that is to provide hefty tax concessions.   “I’d love to see a concession for early stage investing, but I doubt we’ll ever see that in this country because it’s a political issue about giving rich people tax breaks and stuff like that.   “Which is a real shame because it is risky to invest in startups.”   That said, King noted that pool of venture capital could be about to expand naturally.   “I almost feel like there’s a bit of a quiet period before we start to see some new runs on the board come through relatively soon and those entrepreneurs will then feed back into the system,” he says.   “For example, Atlassian are probably on the cusp of an IPO and it’s going to create a whole new generation of entrepreneurs out there.”   King lamented the government’s general ambivalence when it came to nurturing the startup scene.   “It’s hard to criticise the government’s approach, it’s been fairly non-committal either way, which is a problem I think in and of itself.   “Even things like the ESOPs (employee share options scheme), they’re a nightmare as well – that’s really the engine for startups in the Valley.   “That’s how you attract the best people and motivate those people.”   King and Clark founded RetailMeNot in 2006, and while they believe the government can do more, they say the Australian startup system is generally much healthier than it was then.   “A lot has changed in the last six or seven years, since RetailMeNot; I don’t think the community existed then,’’ Clark says.   King agrees.   “It didn’t feel like we had mentors we could turn to or a community,’’ he says.   “It probably was there but a lot smaller and fragmented that what exists now.   “I think generally there’s a much greater awareness of the whole entrepreneurial thing.”   Clark says the changes aren’t all good, noting how the recently scrapped Commercialisation Australia helped them in their early days.   “It’s a huge thing and it’s going to have an impact, but I think entrepreneurs in this country will push on through that,’’ he says.

Start-up accelerator AngelCube launches new fund – but it’s not for soloists

4:12PM | Wednesday, 3 April

Melbourne-based start-up accelerator AngelCube has made several small changes to its program, including distancing itself from start-ups with sole founders, after opening applications for 2013.   AngelCube, named Best Start-up Investor at the 2013 StartupSmart Awards, offers seed capital, mentorship, connections and opportunities to web start-ups.   Applications for the 2013 program will close next week on April 12. Once applications have closed, 20 finalists will be chosen to pitch to a selection panel of high-profile tech players.   From those 20, AngelCube will select eight start-ups to participate. The program is completed over a three-month period, after which the start-ups head to the United States to pitch to a roomful of investors.   There are a number of noteworthy start-ups in the AngelCube fold, including Kickfolio, which raised $100,000 from US investors before being accepted into US-based accelerator 500 Startups. Kickfolio is now closing a Series A funding round.   Other AngelCube success stories include LIFX, Broccol-e-games and shopping recommendation engine Giveable, which has raised $150,000.   According to AngelCube co-founder Adrian Stone, about half of AngelCube’s graduate companies go on to raise follow-on funding from Australian and overseas investors within six months of completing the program.   Successful applicants for this year’s program will receive $20,000 in seed funding, six months of free desk space and access to a group of more than 50 mentors.   Mentors include RetailMeNot founders Guy King and Bevan Clark, Pollenizer co-founder Mick Luibinskas and Nic Hodges of MediaComm.   Stone told StartupSmart AngelCube will be doing a few things differently this year.   “I think we’ve learnt some lessons from the last round,” Stone says.   “We had too many sole founders and quickly realised being a sole founder is too much of a big task… [in a three-month program],” he says.   “[We realised] our program is not going to happen for a sole founder. We’re looking much more at teams.   “I think what we’ve learnt is one founder is too few and four is too many. The jury’s out on whether two or three is right.”   Stone also admits the net needs to be cast a little wider this year.   “A lot of the ideas were probably too small [last year]. They focused on a niche market in Australia only. If you have a niche market and your market is Australia, that’s not what we’d call a scalable start-up,” he says.   “So we’re looking for big ideas.”   Stone is quick to point out the program won’t be easy.   “Anyone would love somebody to hold their hand. We’ve realised that is probably counterproductive,” he says.   “It’s not our job to build these companies. It’s their job to prove they’re entrepreneurs, and we produce a great environment to help them bloom and succeed.   “There’ll be fewer sessions in the weeks. [Last year,] we had too many people in and out, talking to our start-ups and distracting them from the game of building their business.   “The second thing is, our start-ups started pitching their ideas too early.   “This year, we want them to focus on ensuring they have product-market fit by talking to customers and then start pitching to investors.”

2012 BRW Young Rich List – eight standouts from a tech dominated year

9:05AM | Thursday, 27 September

The 2012 BRW Young Rich List has a strong start-up and tech flavor, with Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar heading the rankings.

New payment technologies take off as RetailMeNot plans to introduce credit card coupon system

4:36AM | Thursday, 5 April

Retail coupon giant RetailMeNot is set to introduce a new coupon system where users can automatically get discounts at retailers by punching in their credit card numbers through the company’s website, in yet another innovation in the mobile payments scene.

Making waves in mature Melbourne

4:39AM | Monday, 2 April

Melbourne   Population: 4.07 million   Start-up survival rate: 74.3% (2007 to 2009)

Retail and tech start-ups fare well in Young Rich list

9:16PM | Thursday, 22 September

Some of Australia’s leading start-up entrepreneurs have made an appearance onto this year’s BRW Young Rich list, with the tech and retail sectors well represented.

Buyer of Melbourne coupon pioneer RetailMeNot gets $US10 million from Google Ventures

8:09AM | Tuesday, 2 August

The American company that purchased Melbourne internet coupon start-up RetailMeNot last year has now received a $US10 million investment from Google's venture capital division, Google Ventures.

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