Meet the Startmate class of 2012: Part two
By Oliver Milman
Yesterday, we introduced you to four of the talented start-ups that will be taking part on this year’s Startmate incubator program.
To complete the line-up, we’ve spoken to the other four participants, which range from a business that lets you know if your dog’s bowl is running out of water that has already raised $35,000 to a marketplace for designers that is looking to go global.
Read on to find out why they were picked out from a deluge of entries to be part of Startmate’s class of 2012.
What? An app that helps property managers automate inspections.
Founders? Jindou Lee, Philip Mayes and Andrew Mackenzie-Ross.
What’s the background to Happy Inspector?
I’ve always been passionate about property and at Mighty Kingdom, my previous start-up, I was asked by a client to make an app for property inspections.
At the moment, property managers do inspections with a pen and paper. It’s quite a long process, it can take them 45 minutes to an hour. With this app, we have cut this down to 15 minutes – you can make reports quickly and take photos, all on the fly.
The original client said, “No thanks” as they thought it was too expensive, but when someone else asked about it, we thought there was something in it.
Isn’t there something like this out there already?
There are a few different apps out there, but none of them are really fulfilling the need of property managers.
There are 12,000 property managers in Australia and we’ve really focused on their biggest pain points. This app is much easier for them to use and speeds up the items on the inspection sheet that can take a long time to complete.
We basically put our consulting hat on and thought of the end user and what they want. We have been developing it since the middle of last year.
How have you priced it?
Happy Inspector is on the iPad only at the moment and it is free to use for the first five inspections. After that, we will charge $9 a month up to $299 a month, depending on the number of inspections you do.
Why did you go for Startmate?
I visited the US with ANZA and it was the best thing I’ve done since I turned 18. I met a lot of venture capitalists and angels and thought, “This is what I want to get involved with”.
Startmate was just the right thing to do in order to get us to where we want to be. I tried to get in last year, but didn’t. Reading who the mentors are, I thought it was a great opportunity to go for it again.
What did you do differently this time?
We created a compelling reason for someone to buy the product and we already have a customer base in Australia – there are more than 150 paying users here.
I also added a co-founder who is technically minded. I think that balanced the team out and improved our chances.
I was nervous as hell when we had to pitch the idea. We had to travel from Adelaide and the process was scary – a bit like a first date! But to get into Startmate and be in the top eight start-ups they chose is great.
So, what’s the plan?
We are looking to move to the US in April. We will develop the business in Australia, but we need to build a customer base in the US.
We’ve already had enquiries from the US and we may well expand the model beyond property.
What? An automated system that tests IT configurations
Founders? Alan Sharp-Paul, Michael Baukes and Leo Venegas
What is Scriptrock?
ScriptRock automatically tests how IT systems are configured.
Every day, people waste time manually checking systems. These checks are not enough to prevent systems failure.
Companies now have thousands of servers, and with the advent of virtual computing will be adding thousands more each year. Manual checking is no longer an option.
ScriptRock allows you to automate these checks, saving countless hours of manual effort.
Had the three of you worked together before?
Yes, we’ve worked together on large-scale enterprises as consultants for the last 15 years, on everything from system administration to developing.
We were rolling out automation for a large bank and were facing some technical difficulties. We ruminated how easier it would be if we had an app that could automate a lot of the testing.
If you make a change to a complex system, it requires a lot of tests, which can take a lot of time. We built a way to automate this, which makes it a simpler process.
ScriptRock can apply to any system or server. We started working on it a few months ago, bringing together the fragmented knowledge there is out there about this.
Why is this needed in the marketplace?
Most IT systems need some knowledge to change and test them. The problem is that if someone leaves the business and takes that knowledge with them, no one knows what to do.
We wanted to create something that was in plain English and can be used by anyone.
You log in, sign up and create projects that everyone in the company can see and know what steps have been taken. Instead of writing it into Word or PowerPoint, it’s on a site that everyone can see.
What kind of time savings do you make then?
Normally, it will take seven to 10 hours to test everything manually. We’ve automated that, so that it takes under 10 minutes.
Also, you can run those tests again and again via automation, which removes the human element of manual tests. You get a report and see can quickly see the problems in the system.
Everywhere that we’ve been as consultants, everyone has identified system tests as a big problem, but no one knew how to fix it.
We have to make it as simple as possible for people to use.
What’s been the most challenging part of Startmate for you?
We’ve tried to start-up several times before, so from our perspective, Startmate has given us the confidence to take the leap again after building up the foundations first.
It’s been a great experience. Startmate has given us a few deadlines which have been hard to meet and the pitch day was very draining, but the feedback was eye-opening.
There’s lots of knowledge there, whether it be in tech or marketing, among the mentors. As a very technical product, it’s a challenge to communicate what we do, especially to people without a tech background. Startmate is really helping us with that.
Which other Startmate start-ups have impressed you?
There are some amazing start-ups here, you just look at them and go “wow”.
There’s such raw talent here, you can have a conversation with some of the best people around about business processes and then about technical processes straight afterwards.
It’s not often that you get to sit in a room with everyone in it keen to start-up. They are all very passionate and it’s hard to pick out one start-up, they are great.
I’d maybe say that Ninja Blocks stands out as it has got backers already, but the calibre is generally very high.
What are your ambitions for ScriptRock?
In the short-term, we want to get the product ready and get feedback on it. Beyond that, we want to build phenomenal software and be working in Silicon Valley within a year.
We’ve already turned down funding as we want to build the product and see what the customer wants. We are laser focused on that – we will look at funding in the future, maybe in two or three years’ time. When people talk of the cloud in the future, we want them to talk about us.
What? Dubs itself “Australia’s first interactive marketplace for fashion, jewellery, homewares, art and lifestyle products from home-grown upcoming and independent designers.”
Founders? Michael Mironowicz, Andrew Yang and Marianne Sea
Andrew, how did this venture come about?
Marianne and I ran a digital agency and some of our clients were designers who wanted to sell using eCommerce but didn’t really know how to do it or handle it.
We thought it would be a good idea to build an online marketplace so they didn’t have to do all of the selling themselves.
We set up a Facebook page to test the demand and had a few hundred people asking when we were going to launch the site. It was clear there was a lot of interest.
We ran Young Republic on the side for a little while until we got into Startmate and we made the decision to commit ourselves to it.
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