Indirectly through our network and directly through various venture and volunteer models we have assisted and invested in over 75 tech startups. We assist around 450 startups through various indirect channels we call ecosystem enablers.
We invest our time, skills, network and sometimes capital into emerging global technology startups with scalable product creating wealth and social impact.
Our primary focus is scalable, sophisticated, applied technology and innovation but we also want to invest in the ecosystem around tech startup entrepreneurs because it is important for the long term for all of us.
You may also like to read more about our Venture Network.
Ecosystem Development Sponsorships
The Start Society StartSoc has been helping tech entrepreneurs since 2008 and was formalised in 2013. The Start Society is the largest national tech startup group in Australia, it is an independent curated community of tech startups aiming for global product success from Australia. StartSoc exists so founders can meet and help founders through peer learning, lectures, events(e.g. SydStart), space (e.g. iCentral), micro specialist communities of interest, deals, discounts, mentoring, advocacy, expert witness and other services. more
Sample Early Stage Investments
Saasu Online Accounting Software Saasu is an award winning software as a service utility offering serving 50,000+ businesses with billions of dollars of transactions. Saasu works via the web and beautiful mobile apps (Apple iOS/iPhone and Android) for invoicing, general ledger, accounts payable, customer relationship management, inventory, payroll and via a third party ecosystem of connectors offers many more services. Saasu competes directly with the likes of Xero, MYOB, Intuit, Sage and others and has been profitable and growing for a decade.
These companies were investments we made that were subsequently acquired by other companies.
Pocketbook Online financial aggregation of account details with profiling of transactions. Pocketbook (also known as GetPocketBook) provides services to 250,000+ people mainly university students in Australia’s East Coast. Services like budgeting, cash flow management and projections are similar to mint.com from the USA (acquired by Intuit for $170m) and uses aggregation techniques similar to yodlee.com also from the USA. Pocketbook was acquired for equity by ZipMoney(ASX listed) in 2016.
FlixSense (now known as GameFace.AI Real-time Video Insights via Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence FlixSense is a video and virtual reality service that provides insight on the people, products and places in any video. Applications include – Entertainment recognising movie stars and providing background details or the person or plot context on primary or second screens while watching TV or full length movies; Identification of VIP customers for private banks and high value service businesses; homeland security insights to spot the bad guys in CCTV footage; sports and wagering identifying and profiling players e.g. English Premier League players or race horses; Fashion catwalks identifying models, designers and their latest designs; Health identifying illness or patients e.g. types of cancer or faces of people walking in/out of a nursing/hospital facility without authorisation or appropriate care. Acquired by US based Slinger Q1 2022.
Lendful is a marketplace lender offers Canadians quick and easy access to loans at interest rates that can save borrowers up to 30% when refinancing. Founded in July 2015, Lendful began originating loans in August 2016 and is now funding in excess of $1M in new loans per month. The CEO has hired a crack team, conceived and executed a unique alliance-based distribution strategy and built a diverse funding program from multiple banks and investors. This combination of strong foundations and business momentum is being recognised in the business’ valuation. Acquired by Peoples Trust aka People’s Group Canada.
Startups we have invested in that have been successful enough to list or are about to list on a major exchange globally or be acquired by a listed company.
Tinybeans Baby Journal has 3m users and is listed on the Australian Securities Exchange as a community portal for photos and insights for children, parents, families and friends that is safer than social media and targets millennial parents in North America currently with ~2m users. 2017 AGM Presentation here ASX:TNY Harvard Business Review article
ZipMoney Online financial tools and products for Australians. Interest free payments and flexible online shopping. ASX listed. Current. Acquired Tiny Beans one of our investments.
Freelancer.com online marketplace for services Freelancer is now listed on the ASX as FLN and is the largest provider of competitive one demand services globally with over 20m users. Current. Invested in IPO.
Slinger Bag is a tennis practicing and teach tool about to move cross sport with AI from the acquisition of an AI firm we were ar early investor in Game Face AI. They are expect to IPO in late 2022 or early 2023 in the US.
These companies continue to operate privately but have raised significant funds from investors eg Series B or C $100m+
Skedulo mobile field service job and workforce management – Raised 11.2m. Top 25 salesforce.com apps. Awards in 2017. Scalable service for customers through a mobile workforce. According to IDC 70%+ of the U.S. worker population is mobile and BYO app device/s with them to work. Simplify getting the right person to the right place at the right time and have it sync with a CRM.
No one has a perfect investment strategy, and we are bigger risk takers than most because we focus on early stage in emerging markets in fast moving tech and often with first time founders. The stakes are high and sometimes the rewards are too. Over overall portfolio success rate is around 15%-25% of companies we select which varies by year and segment and members of the network. Overall return rate on those investments is typically 3x-10x.
Lessons Learned – Failed Ventures
LadderChat Queue Management and Notification Software Ladder was an elegant yet powerful tool for managing busy businesses from tier one inner city cafes and restaurants to test driving premium sports cars. Originally operating in hospitality this suite of customer management tools now works in expos, travel advice, mentoring, fast food, education and health – anywhere customers need to queue or book and receive an SMS or mobile message when their table, food, goods or service provider is ready.
Lessons: Rapidly maturing market, needed more capital, marketing and technology resources. Focused on one country too early, should have tried a few and aimed global with a simpler product. Some key customers absolutely loved it and considered it critical to the business model. Emerging new variations like HelloBell and various x00m acquisitions in the space over the last decade suggest this segment is still contestable for the right product with no single global leader.
Diversifly VR was a virtual reality education service for enterprise professionals with an initial focus on understanding diversity in the enterprise workplace including unconscious bias awareness training. Diversifly evolved out of a professional education services business but scaled into VR when the impact of virtual and augmented reality education become apparent through research that shows VR eases adoption and dramatically improves comprehension and retention and hence is expected to have a material impact in online (MOOC) course completion rates. Pending completion Q4 2016.
Lessons: Everyone is human, founders get overloaded and can’t do everything. Some areas of technology are moving too fast and are too technical for non-technical founders to progress sufficiently. Probably also under capitalised.
These are businesses that have gone quiet and are either stumbling along making a little revenue with very low or no growth or contracting or perhaps have lost the focus of the founders and or are not communicating wit stakeholders effectively about progress. It seems weird to highlight this part of our portfolio but it is a practical reality, we should make a business grow or move on. don’t be a zombie even it if is keeping your family fed, do something better with your life. You don’t want to be on this part of our list.
Lumnify Technology Talent Insight Lumnify is a rules based, machine learning and artificial intelligence driven platform that helps non-technical founders and human resource managers to check the quality of programmers work (e.g. freelancers and developers) and to rank and find developers from the open source community for the commercial workforce and other projects. Candidates have their source code repositories scanned and benchmarked and Lumnify also searches millions of other repositories for comparison. Clients include Canva and DesignCrowd.
GigTripper Live Music Marketplace for Artists and Venues Gigtripper connects live musicians, bands, DJs, soloists, duos and other performers with places to perform from inner city cafes, pubs and hotels to large function centres and major event venues. Artist bookers and managers are able to search for venues and efficiently contact venue representatives by capacity (e.g. 500 people) , music category (e.g. blues rock, goth roth, classical, hip hop), style (e.g. country club, bowling club, fine dining) and location (e.g. population density, city size, route based touring) in order to optimise routes, short/long tours, team management and time planning. Pending completion 2016/17.
Gyro API is an accounting systems integration product and Gyroscope investor portfolio dashboard brings all the accounting systems into one place with a dashboard for investors and a single API (Application Programming Interface) for developers. Suitable for SME, mid market and enterprise, Gyro API has been acclaimed as the missing piece of the fintech connectivity puzzle. Gyro works with all major accounting systems e.g. SAP, Xero, MYOB, Saasu, Quicken, Sage, NetSuite and more.
Note: This is a partial list. Selected investments shown as a guide only. Includes related entities and unrelated advocates who are network referring members and friends.
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