James Edwards

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Meet the finalists for the Fast Growing Startup

3:41AM | Thursday, 27 March

Every startup is after one thing: growth. The finalists in this category have demonstrated the highest percentage revenue growth over the past four years.   Paws for Life   Pet supplies may not sound like a rich opportunity for startups at first, but when you consider the prevalence of pets and how much their owners are willing to spend on them, it becomes a very attractive industry quickly.   For the Paws of Life cofounders Mike Frizell and James Edwards, it was too good an opportunity to miss, as they saw the millions of venture capital dollars being poured into similar online offerings in the US.   The company made over $5 million in revenue last year and is growing rapidly.   They spoke to StartupSmart about their $1.5 million raise and growth plans last year.   Off-Grid Energy Australia   Off-Grid Energy concentrates purely on off-grid energy solutions – devoting 100% of their time researching, developing and implementing systems and innovations that identify client needs, and give clear, honest advice on system development and are designed specifically for Australian conditions.   The majority of existing solar companies concentrate solely on the provision of solar systems connected to the national electricity grid with clients still requiring an electricity supplier (e.g. Origin, Powercor).   Off-Grid Energy uses cutting-edge AC-coupled technology, which increases flexibility and extends equipment life.   Wine Cru (Vinomofo)   After a couple of years trying to find the right business model to monetise their passion, wine deals site founders Andre Eikmeier, Justin Dry and Leigh Morgan have settled on a good one that brought in over $10 million in revenue last year.   Taking on the two biggest grocery sellers in the country, Vinomofo connects wine consumers to deals and a wider range of winemakers.   In the past six months, the user base has almost doubled, and their e-commerce rates have skyrocketed.   Eikmeier spoke to StartupSmart about the struggle to find the right business model and the risks they took to make it work in November last year.   Lighting Matters   Lighting Matters offer LED lighting in Melbourne and Sydney, with the promise of sourcing the best products at the lowest prices.   They believe LED has numerous benefits over other light forms and are dedicated to sharing these perks with homes and businesses around Australia.   Their aim is to provide accurate information to customer's relevant to their needs – recognising that one lighting solution will not cater to everyone.   Macro Traffic Control   Macro Traffic Control provides a safety focused approach in providing traffic management and traffic control service based on their core values of safety and providing solutions to their customer needs.   Macro Traffic Control has made a conscious effort to providing an exceptional level of service and nurturing client relationships in order to succeed regionally. They have prospered in an competitive industry despite being regionally based and focused.

Introducing our Best Startup finalists for the 2014 StartupSmart Awards

8:03AM | Tuesday, 19 August

With so many excellent and diverse startups out there, picking only five startups to celebrate as candidates for the big title this year was never going to be easy.   The following were picked based on the strength of the idea and how well the company has performed on their early goals.   The winner will be announced at the StartupSmart awards night. You can follow the awards night with the hashtag #susawards.   b2cloud   Mobile app development is a booming industry, with this startup well placed to make the most of it, already working with major brands such as Virgin Mobile and the official Sydney New Year’s apps for Telstra.   Founded by Luke Smorgon and Josh Guest, b2Cloud brought in over almost $1 million last year. < The team are keen to stay ahead of the crowd and are already experimenting with apps for wearable technology such as Google Glass and Galaxy Gear.   Tommy Swiss   Online furniture retailer Tommy Swiss launched with a new way of buying furniture.   Founder Jimmy Du says there appeared to be only three options: aggregators and drop shippers; local focused offerings; and importer focused stores. All had their pros and cons, especially around delivery.   Du’s hybird model, where 50% is exclusive to his brand, is working for him: the company brought in over $2 million in revenue last year.   Paws for Life   Pet supplies may not sound like a rich opportunity for startups at first, but when you consider the prevalence of pets and how much their owners are willing to spend on them, it becomes a very attractive industry quickly.   For the Paws of Life cofounders Mike Frizell and James Edwards, it was too good an opportunity to miss, as they saw the millions of venture capital dollars being poured into similar online offerings in the US.   The company made $5 million in revenue last year and is growing rapidly.   The founders spoke to StartupSmart about their $1.5 million raise and growth plans last year.   Bugcrowd   Online security is a multibillion-dollar industry set to keep growing for years to come. Crowdsourcing is also a burgeoning phenomenon. This startup is right in the sweet spot to ride both waves. Founded by Casey Ellis and Chris Raethke, BugCrowd runs competitions, known as bug bounties, with professional hackers and testers for big clients who want to make sure their websites are as safe as possible.   Built on a marketplace model, the company made over $250,000 in revenue last year.   Ellis spoke to StartupSmart about their $1.6 million fundraising round, moving to the US and learning to speak American in September last year.   Wine Cru (Vinomofo)   After a couple of years trying to find the right business model to monetise their passion, wine deals site founders Andre Eikmeier, Justin Dry and Leigh Morgan have settled on one that brought in over $10 million in revenue last year.   Taking on the two biggest grocery sellers in the country, Vinomofo connects wine consumers to deals and a wider range of winemakers.   In the past six months, the user base has almost doubled, and their e-commerce rates have skyrocketed.   Eikmeier spoke to StartupSmart about the struggle to find the right business model and the risks they took to make it work in November last year.

All the winners from the 2014 StartupSmart awards

4:46AM | Tuesday, 1 April

The fourth annual StartupSmart awards have again uncovered a diverse and creative entrepreneurial spirit alive and well in the Australian startup community.   The judges remarked it was tough just getting the entrants down to five finalists, never mind selecting the winners of categories.   This year also saw the addition of a People’s Choice Award with over 7000 votes recorded by our enthusiastic community.   The awards ceremony was held on Wednesday night, culminating in a celebration of all the hard work so many have invested in their startups.   StartupSmart would like to congratulate all the winners.   The winners for each category are listed below:   Best NEW Start-up: Pocketbook   This personal finances management app has been growing rapidly, accruing its first 50,000 users without spending a cent.   Pocketbook combines a variety of financial information such as bank statements, bills and receipts in one easy to follow forum.   Co-founded by Bosco Tan and Alvin Singh, the app has been making waves online with their own Whirlpool thread and across the media. The app brought in just over $50,000 in revenue in 2013.   Pocketbook recently raised $50,000 and shared their growth plans with StartupSmart.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   Best Start-up Idea: CareMonkey   CareMonkey is a software for schools, clubs and businesses that enables these groups to access parent-controlled emergency and medical forms.     From permission slips to serious medical information, the app is designed to ensure carers have access to the information they need to make the right decision for kids.   The app was part of a Startup Leadership Program and has rolled out into 21 schools in 2013.   Launched by Troy Westley and Martin Howell, they’ve been building their sales team and are looking to expand into the UK and US later this year.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   Best Disruptor: Health.com.au   The simple name may belie how significant an impact this online-only health insurance offering could cause in the competitive but slow-moving health insurance industry.   After struggling to understand their own health policies, co-founders Andy Sheat, Chloe Quin and Alex Geers decided there had to be a better way to do insurance and decided to find out.   Health.com.au is two years old and makes over $58 million in annualised revenue. Sheats spoke to StartupSmart about becoming the first new health insurer in 30 years in August last year.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   Start-up Hero: BENT OVER Silicone Nozzles   The idea for this nifty flexible plumbing tool was born after founder Alex John landed badly on his back while using a self-constructed home waterslide, dislodging a fragment of his spinal cord that could have turned him into a quadriplegic.   While watching a demonstration of what happened to his spine in hospital, John had a lightbulb moment about a problem he kept facing in his plumbing business with silicone and sealant application.   He patented the BENT OVER Silicone Nozzles technology and has been busy selling it ever since to the building and construction.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   Best Regional Start-up: She's Empowered   Before She’s Empowered launched, pregnant women working the construction, resources and transport industry struggled to find safe, high-vis gear that they could fit into and often had to resort to wearing male clothing with dangerous long or large sleeves.   Based in regional Queensland, founder Kym Clark created a range of appropriate maternity wear for the growing number of women employed in these industries. Clark has sold over 300 shirts already and says she’s just getting started.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   Best Social Change Entrepreneur: TalkLife   Launched by Jamie Druitt, TalkLife is a mobile phone app and social network for important conversations about mental health using social networking. Designed to reach out to the thousands who struggle to get the support they need, they offer a helpline via smartphone technology for those considering self-harm, so the barrier to getting help is lowered.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   People's Choice: Simply Raw   Simply Raw was established in October 2011, offering a range of organic, raw super food products, handmade in a home kitchen at Bondi Beach, Sydney. Simply Raw started selling its products at local Sydney food markets in early 2012.   Simply Raw then introduced a range of Raw Superfood bars to the Sydney retail market, with a handful of stockists in Melbourne and Adelaide. Four of the most popular Raw Superfood bars were launched on to the national market in March 2013.    Fastest Growing Start-up: Paws for Life   Pet supplies may not sound like a rich opportunity for startups at first, but when you consider the prevalence of pets and how much their owners are willing to spend on them, it becomes a very attractive industry quickly.   For Paws for Life cofounders Mike Frizell and James Edwards, it was too good an opportunity to miss, as they saw the millions of venture capital dollars being poured into similar online offerings in the US.   The company made over $5 million in revenue last year and are growing rapidly.   They spoke to StartupSmart about their $1.5 million raise and growth plans last year.   A full list of finalists in this category can be found here.   Best Startup: Wine Cru (Vinomofo)   After a couple of years trying to find the right business model to monetise their passion, wine deals site founders Andre Eikmeier, Justin Dry and Leigh Morgan have settled on a good one that brought in over $10 million in revenue last year.   Taking on the two biggest grocery sellers in the country, Vinomofo connects wine consumers to deals and a wider range.   In the past six months, the user base has almost doubled, and their ecommerce rates already have.   Eikmeier spoke to StartupSmart about the struggle to find the right business model and the risks they took to make it work in November last year.   We'll be profiling all the winners in a series running over the next few weeks. 

Two-year-old pet eCommerce start-up closes $1.5 million series A round

12:54AM | Wednesday, 4 December

Online pet products retailer Paws for Life has closed their series A funding round with a $1.5 million investment from Blue Sky Alternative Investments.   Launched in 2011, Paws for Life has shipped almost 100,000 orders of pet food and accessories in the last year.   Co-founder and chief executive Michael Frizell told StartupSmart the pet industry was one of the hottest investment areas right now, and his idea was spurred by a conversation with a private equity investor who told him it was an industry ready to boom.   Frizell explored four different business models for a pet food business before meeting a highly successful start-up in the US operating under a subscription model, and decided to pursue that option.   The new funds will go towards developing the systems and 25-strong team at Paws for Life.   “A lot of people are good at getting a company off the ground, but to get from the stage from two people turning over a million to where we are now and beyond with 20-plus people turning over north of 10 million needs totally different skills,” Frizell says, adding they intend to triple the size of the business in the next year.   Frizell says they’ll be building out the finance, marketing and customer service parts of their team. They’ll also be hiring someone to lead the development of the product range, currently around 3000 items to between 7000 and 10,000 within the year.   He adds their challenge will be staying focused on their customers as they scale rapidly.   “Our biggest challenge is to make sure the service doesn’t worsen or we neglect our existing customers so they start to lose trust. It’ll be a challenge, but it’s also our number one focus to make sure our customers stay happy with us,” Frizell says, adding building systems so everything runs like clockwork is part of their strategy.   This is the second investment round for Paws for Life, which raised $1 million from angel investors last year.   In a statement, venture capital investment director at Blue Sky Alternative Investments Dr Elaine Stead says Paws for Life had a clear value proposition for customers, a large market and a high growth profile.   “First and foremost at Blue Sky, we back the people behind the business, as they are the key drivers of success and co-founders Michael Frizell and James Edwards have overseen Paws for Life’s growth since it was established in 2011,” Stead says.   “Paws for Life is currently the number one online pet company in Australia and we’re confident that this is the team to take the online market to the next level. A similar business in Europe, Zooplus, has become a market leader in the space with turnover of over four hundred million euros per year and they are still expanding. We’re thrilled to be investing at this exciting time of growth.”

Paws for Life

10:53PM | Monday, 24 October

Kim Miller and Michael Frizell are the founders of Paws for Life, a Sydney-based business aiming to change the way consumers purchase pet food.

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