Australia’s 10 Internet of Things companies to watch

6:57PM | Wednesday, 11 June

Everybody is talking about the Internet of Things.   Australia’s emerging maker movement is the “light behind the storm clouds” for the Australian manufacturing industry, according to a recently released Deloitte research paper.   “The emerging maker movement is the new mineral to mine and the future of industry in Australia,” the paper says.   Alfred Lo of Optus Innov8 seed, organisers of a recent Internet of Things event at Sydney’s Vivid Idea’s Festival says the traditional barriers to entry like the cost of tools and prototyping are becoming smaller and making IoT more accessible. Apple’s announcement around HomeKit also got people excited.   And we’re now seeing new hardware co-working spaces popping up, like this one in Sydney.   So here are our top 10 Australian companies to watch in this space.   1. LIFX: A Wi-Fi enabled, multi-colour energy efficient LED light bulb that can be controlled with your smartphone. It recently won the top award for smart systems in the consumer goods category at the 2014 Edison Awards. It also remains one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever run.   2. Smash Wearables: The world’s first digital tennis coach. The company has developed a lightweight wristband which is worn whilst playing tennis and feeds information back to an app which provides technique analysis and personalised recommendations.   3. Moore’s Cloud: Has developed Holiday, the world’s first connected, intelligent set of holiday lights. The lights can display countless patterns and can be controlled by apps available on a smartphone, tablet or web browser.   4. Wearable Experiments: Caused a buzz when they released Fundawear, a set of vibrating underwear which allows couples to remotely control their partner’s underwear. The startup is focused on incorporating wearable technology into clothes but not at the expense of fashion.   5. Ninja Blocks: They’re on to their second successful Kickstarter with the Ninja Sphere, following the success of the original Ninja Blocks. Ninja Sphere uses data from your devices, environment, and location to advise you intelligently and give you control only when you need it.   6. WattCost: Using a device which is attached to electricity boxes WattCost provides home and businesses owners with real-time updates on energy efficiency and steps they can take to improve that efficiency.   7. Catapult Sports: A wearable device for athletes that feeds data from a variety of sensors to an app. It is being used by sports teams round the world as a tool to help prevent injuries.   8. LEAPIN Digital Keys: Has developed smartlocks, locks which are controlled by your smartphone. Enables the use of digital keys which enable users to control who can access the locks at certain times.   9. Homeboy: It’s billed as the world’s most accessible home security system. Based in Sydney and Austin, Texas, Homeboy’s simple hardware and apps have won a number of industry accolades including an Australian International Design Award, Powerhouse Museum Design Award and CES Honoree.   10.GoFar: Using an in-car display and phone app, GoFar makes it obvious how to subtly change your driving style to save fuel and money.

Plans for Silicon Beach TV in the works

3:39AM | Friday, 28 March

Silicon Beach Melbourne, a community for entrepreneurs and startup founders, is hoping to branch into TV.   The ambitious project is the brainchild of organiser Athula Bogoda, who was inspired while browsing TV channels one night and stumbling across infomercial channel 4Me TV.   While Bogoda was less interested in the ads for Roomba, a short section called App Central, produced in Canada caught his eye. It features short segments on the growing culture and business of apps for Smartphones and tablets.   It occurred to Bogoda that he could develop something similar in the Melbourne startup community, and put a call out to the Melbourne Silicon Beach. So far he’s recruited a motion graphics producer and editor, a videographer, assistant organiser, a marketer, a sponsorship deal wrangler and a sound person (who is based in Munich and plans to record interviews via Skype).   While they don’t have a set format as yet, the idea is to produce 2 to 3 minute segments focusing on the Melbourne startup scene to begin with. All videos will initially be placed on YouTube, but Bogoda is hoping they’ll catch the attention of a TV channel.   “If we can run a show from Canada, surely we’d prefer a local effort,” Bogoda says. “We might land up on 4Me TV, we might not, it’s just an experiment and we want to see what the interest is.”   Bogoda says depending on the success there is no reason they won’t take it to other cities, noting that the Melbourne Silicon Beach community is the only one thriving in Australia.   “Adelaide and Sydney barely get anyone along to their events these days,” he says.   It’s hoped the videos will be useful to the founders they feature, building their profile.   “It might be something they can use when they pitch to investors,” Bogoda says.   While still in the planning phase, Bogoda is calling for more volunteers.   “As the project progresses we will be expanding the team,” he says.” If you have skills, new ideas and a few hours a week to spare towards this project (it will be great for your profile), get in touch with us please.”   Most of the work will be done after hours as most of those involved in the project have day jobs.   It’s hoped the project will deliver its first few videos by the end of April.

Australia beats Silicon Valley on almost every entrepreneurial trait: Global accelerator

3:12AM | Tuesday, 25 March

Australian founders are emotionally stable.   That was the finding of The Founder Institute’s psychometric tests that all candidates are required to complete, with Australia coming out on top for several qualities.   Of the two Australian cities in the program, Sydney and Perth, Sydney scored the highest for emotional stability and Perth came in third.   The Founder Institute’s pre-screening psychometric tests assess candidates on six key entrepreneurial characteristics: emotional stability, fluid intelligence, openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness and capacity for extroversion.   Over 20,000 applicants across 55 cities have completed the test.   Sydney and Perth, were found to have average higher scores than Silicon Valley in almost every trait, but Perth beat Sydney when it came to agreeableness, clocking in at fourth globally with Sydney ranking 10th.   Program chief executive Adeo Ressi says they weren’t surprised at Australia’s high rankings.   “You would be hard pressed to find a faster-growing startup ecosystem than Australia’s, and so it is no surprise that Australians have many of the traits that we find to correlate with strong startup founders,” he says.   When the global findings cross-referenced with over 1000 successful startups that have emerged from the program, agreeableness, along with openness and fluid intelligence were found to be the most important traits.   Age was also found to be an important trait, with entrepreneurs over 40 generally performing better.   The research also found conscientiousness and IQ had little correlation with entrepreneurial success.   According to the program, about 10% of companies that complete the program fail.   Startups that go through the program put 3.5% of their equity in a shared pool for the cohort. If the company exits (gets acquired or lists), 30% of this equity goes to the mentors, 30% to their fellow class members, 25% to the city coordinators and 15% to the overall program.   Melbourne will host its first The Founder Institute program this year. Ressi says he’s keen to see chapters launch in Brisbane and Adelaide soon.   Four startups were named last week as Australia’s strongest graduates of the program.

Start-ups named to join ANZ Innovyz START summer 2014 program

2:14AM | Wednesday, 12 February

Leading Australian accelerator ANZ Innovyz START has announced its latest intake of seven start-ups for summer this year, with director Dr Jana Matthews saying it’s one of the strongest groups to enter the program so far.   “We’ve raised the bar again in terms of requiring the founding team to include people focused on sales and marketing, finance and operations, as well as technology,” she says in a statement.   “As a result, we identified the strongest companies with the best potential to grow rapidly. Some teams already have investor interest, so we’re very excited about how quickly we’ll be able to accelerate their growth.”   The program will be run across two cities – Adelaide and Sydney.   The companies taking part in Adelaide include: FTE Solutions, which provides education providers and industry with links to technology, software and hardware; Maker’s Empire, a company that makes it easy for people to design and print in 3D from tablets; Tootz, an advertising and promotions platform; and Pozzey, a provider of indoor and micro-location solutions for mobile devices.   In Sydney the companies in the program are: Edisse, a company focused on becoming the leading provider of medical devices and analytics for the elderly; Wahuna, which uses technology to create one-on-one learning experiences; and World Academy, a global edutech start-up that provides high value online courses in partnership with experts.   Also taking part in the accelerator is Broken Arms Games, an ANZ Innovyz BRIDGE program company, which combines narration, music animation and user interaction to create a new form of media that engages, entertains and educates customers and users.   The program will end with a pitching event to investors on May 8.

Wine entrepreneur among women chosen for Springboard Australia

3:51AM | Friday, 15 March

Melbourne-based entrepreneur Georgia Beattie is among the first group of Australian businesswomen selected to participate in the US-founded Springboard Enterprises program.   Springboard Enterprises was founded by US entrepreneur Kay Koplovitz, who is in Australia this week to raise the profile of Springboard’s Australian arm, which launched in May last year.   Koplovitz founded Springboard in 2000. Since then, it has helped more than 500 female-founded US companies get off the ground.   These companies have raised more than $US5.8 billion, with a third sold to larger companies or listed on the sharemarket.   Springboard Australia is the country’s first venture forum program for women-led, technology-oriented businesses seeking investments for product development and expansion.   It is led by Sydney businesswoman Wendy Simpson, who has remained vocal about the plight of Australian female entrepreneurs since stepping into the role.   After encouraging businesswomen to apply for the program, Springboard has selected eight standouts from more than 100 applications.   Among them is Georgia Beattie, whose start-up offers single serve wine packaging.   This idea came about while Beattie was at a festival, where she witnessed the limitations of wine packaging when a bar manager couldn’t serve wine because “it was too hard at outdoor events”.   Since then, Beattie – whose father and brother also work in the business – has launched the brand Lupè Wines as well as the contract packaging arm of the company, Single Serve Packaging.   But it wasn’t until she launched Lupè as a trial in Japan, Korea and Singapore that she realised the potential of the brand in the Asian export market.   Now Beattie has become part of the Springboard Enterprises network. In addition to receiving advice from successful entrepreneurs and investors, she will be offered support from specialist mentors on an ongoing basis.   When asked how much money she hopes to raise, Beattie told StartupSmart it will be “definitely over the $3 million mark”. But the value of the program goes far beyond funds, she says.   “The past 24 hours have completely changed my perception of how big my company can be,” she says.   “I’ve gone from being a little bit afraid of the idea of getting venture capital to, ‘This is the only way I’m going to be able to achieve the fast growth my company needs’.     “There are past alumni [of Springboard Enterprises] who have flown in from the states and these guys are just absolute killers. They’re such an inspiration.”   The other women selected for Springboard Australia are Samantha Cobb, Melanie Perkins, Tessa Court, Natasha Rawlings, Deborah Noller, Vanessa Wilson and Fiona Waterhouse.   Their businesses are spread across a broad range of categories including biotech, clean tech, cloud computing, consumer technology and marketing.   Noller’s business, Switch Automation, received a $2 million Commercialisation Australia grant in 2011, while Rawlings’ start-up, StreetHawk, was among the 2012 Tech23 companies.   According to Koplovitz, Australian female entrepreneurs need more support in order to access global venture capital markets.   “There are plenty of people who are willing to invest in young companies at the very [early] start-up stage,” Koplovitz told The Australian.   “What is needed is to help women at the next level of growth who need to raise formal capital, equity capital.”

Pie in the sky

9:43PM | Tuesday, 13 September

When customers walk into a Pie Face store, they are greeted with the sight of numerous pies adorned with endearingly childish faces – a smiley face for chicken, a squiggly face for chunky steak and a lip-licking breakfast version.