Startup Daily http://www.startupdaily.com.au Startup | News & Analysis | Tech | Australia | Asia Thu, 23 Oct 2014 03:35:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Startup Victoria to present co-founders of Reddit, Twitch, Scribd and partner at Y Combinator at Above All Human Conference http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-victoria-present-co-founders-reddit-twitch-scribd-y-combinator-human-conference/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-victoria-present-co-founders-reddit-twitch-scribd-y-combinator-human-conference/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 03:14:57 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=35084 Above All Human

On December 9th, Startup Victoria will play host to some of the most influential minds in the world of startups and innovation as part of the Above All Human Conference. Startup Conferences and Events have really stepped up their game throughout 2014, as corporates and Silicon Valley transfers to Australia have taken on the role of sponsorship to get them off the ground and take things to the next level beyond the grass roots pizza and beer culture. (There will always be a place for that though). General feedback from many entrepreneurs across the ecosystem, as well as imagery from the events seem to indicate that Melbourne in particular has most probably got the best track record over the last 12 months in terms of attendance to all events large and small held across the city. When you team this will large events that have attracted national coverage such as The Big Pitch and That Startup Show, the Melbourne ecosystem is not just putting on events, but constantly innovating the layout and delivery style as well, keeping things fresh and interesting - no doubt a key factor to the engagement level by locals. Looking at Sydney, the two large key events for this year were Sydstart and The Sunrise, as well as today's Tech23 - all three drew significant crowds and were regarded by attendees Startup Daily spoke to as two of the best events they have attended across the ecosystem. But in general, the attendees at many of Sydney based weekly events have dwindled during 2014. In another example of really stepping up, the latest large event All Above Human, to take place at the Art House Meat Market in December, will see attendees listening to talks from key startup players, that have never really been heard from before in Australia. I have been saying for a while to many people, including the team we have working on our Startup Downunder event for next year, that in order to keep event attendance up, the content HAS to be first class and part of that equation is 'new blood' when it comes to talent. All Above Human, being directed by Susan Wu (Head of Stripe Australia, Investor) and Bronwen Clune (Editor of StartupSmart, VP Public Interest of Journalism Foundation) is definitely delivering this. Confirmed speakers for the event include international talent such as Justin Kan, (Justin.tv, Twitch, Partner at Y Combinator) Tracy Chou (Pinterest) Steve Huffman (Reddit, Hipmunk) Tikhon Bernstam (Scribd, Parse) as well as many key startup folk from Australia that includes Jodie Fox (Shoes of Prey) Niki Scevak (Startmate, Blackbird VC) Cameron Adams (Canva) and Bevan Clark (RetailMeNot). Tickets are on sale now, and look like they are selling very fast. You can purchase yours here.   ]]>
Above All Human

On December 9th, Startup Victoria will play host to some of the most influential minds in the world of startups and innovation as part of the Above All Human Conference. Startup Conferences and Events have really stepped up their game throughout 2014, as corporates and Silicon Valley transfers to Australia have taken on the role of sponsorship to get them off the ground and take things to the next level beyond the grass roots pizza and beer culture. (There will always be a place for that though). General feedback from many entrepreneurs across the ecosystem, as well as imagery from the events seem to indicate that Melbourne in particular has most probably got the best track record over the last 12 months in terms of attendance to all events large and small held across the city. When you team this will large events that have attracted national coverage such as The Big Pitch and That Startup Show, the Melbourne ecosystem is not just putting on events, but constantly innovating the layout and delivery style as well, keeping things fresh and interesting - no doubt a key factor to the engagement level by locals. Looking at Sydney, the two large key events for this year were Sydstart and The Sunrise, as well as today's Tech23 - all three drew significant crowds and were regarded by attendees Startup Daily spoke to as two of the best events they have attended across the ecosystem. But in general, the attendees at many of Sydney based weekly events have dwindled during 2014. In another example of really stepping up, the latest large event All Above Human, to take place at the Art House Meat Market in December, will see attendees listening to talks from key startup players, that have never really been heard from before in Australia. I have been saying for a while to many people, including the team we have working on our Startup Downunder event for next year, that in order to keep event attendance up, the content HAS to be first class and part of that equation is 'new blood' when it comes to talent. All Above Human, being directed by Susan Wu (Head of Stripe Australia, Investor) and Bronwen Clune (Editor of StartupSmart, VP Public Interest of Journalism Foundation) is definitely delivering this. Confirmed speakers for the event include international talent such as Justin Kan, (Justin.tv, Twitch, Partner at Y Combinator) Tracy Chou (Pinterest) Steve Huffman (Reddit, Hipmunk) Tikhon Bernstam (Scribd, Parse) as well as many key startup folk from Australia that includes Jodie Fox (Shoes of Prey) Niki Scevak (Startmate, Blackbird VC) Cameron Adams (Canva) and Bevan Clark (RetailMeNot). Tickets are on sale now, and look like they are selling very fast. You can purchase yours here.   ]]>
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VC fund conducts unusual experiment to identify future startup founders http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/vc-fund-conducts-unusual-experiment-identify-future-startup-founders/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/vc-fund-conducts-unusual-experiment-identify-future-startup-founders/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 02:57:08 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=35061 heads

Bloomberg BETA, a recently-launched $75 million venture capital fund backed by US media group Bloomberg, conducted a study in a rather unusual manner to determine what kind of people are likely to become successful startup entrepreneurs. And as it turns out, you don't have to be young like Facebook's founder and our generation's poster child of success Mark Zuckerberg to do it. Where before, people often dismissed young people as too naive to survive the demands present in the startup world, the success of many young entrepreneurs is demonstrating that they are in fact equipped with many qualities required to run a successful startup – namely, energy, charisma, capacity to absorb new knowledge and the ability to bring fresh ideas into the world. According to Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y-Combinator, young founders have plenty of strengths like stamina, poverty, rootlessness and ignorance. These may seem like disadvantages, but they're apparently not - after all, startup life is very much about persisting with a consistent level of focus and energy even when there's little certainty and money. Perhaps, you almost need to be ignorant to do it in the first place - because starting up is like walking into a tornado. If you knew the amount of work is takes to succeed, would you really want to do it? It's no wonder that young folks who quit university to pursue their startup dreams are considered rebels - the admirable kind. Given how many young faces we're seeing in the media as well as the increasing number of initiatives emerging in the entrepreneur landscape that encourage young people to start businesses, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that the best age to become a startup founder is your 20s. Well, Bloomberg BETA's study revealed otherwise. The VC fund hired analytics firm Mattermark to analyse a wide array of data and find people who had a greater chance of launching and building a successful startup. Interestingly, this is before those people knew it themselves. Danielle Morrill, Mattermark’s co-founder, told the BBC that they took a sample set of founders and examined where they worked, what kind of job they had, their age and other factors prior to starting up. "It is the largest study that has ever been done on patterns of business founders," she told the BBC. This is where things get interesting. Mattermark went ahead and mined publicly available data on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to find information on 1.5 million professionals who were in some way connected to technology startups. They whittled the list down to 350 people who most resembled the profile of the business founders in their initial study. There are three key characteristics of successful founders, according to the study: 1) most successful startup founders were in their late 30s, while almost one in four were over 40. 2) those who had stayed in a job for a long time were more likely to go off on their own to launch a startup; and 3) two-thirds of business founders had not held a senior level position before starting their own company. The 350 potential entrepreneurs were then sent cold emails explaining why Bloomberg BETA was contacting them and inviting them to a "meet-up" dinner. According to the BBC, the email started off as, "You've been chosen… as one of the most likely people in the technology industry to create a company". Understandably, many of the recipients thought the email was some kind of scam. Yet for others, the email not only provoked an interest but also self-examination. And that was the purpose. Many of the potential entrepreneurs actually showed up at the dinner, along with venture capitalists. The potential founders networked, and some are genuinely entertaining the idea of pursuing their own startups. According to the BBC, this will be an ongoing project, where future founders come together every few months and meet others who could contribute to their ventures.
Roy Bahat of Bloomberg BETA, told the BBC that the whole purpose of the project is to encourage founders with particular characteristics to take the leap and start their own businesses. Though it's not clearly articulated, I suspect that VCs are looking for 'the next big thing' to invest in. "Our role was to get to know them and, if they wanted to, we would be useful to them and help them," Bahat told the BCC. "We recognised we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but the difference with taking this approach is that all the hay is made of gold." This is perhaps one of the most interesting paths a VC fund has taken to source potential investments.
]]>
heads

Bloomberg BETA, a recently-launched $75 million venture capital fund backed by US media group Bloomberg, conducted a study in a rather unusual manner to determine what kind of people are likely to become successful startup entrepreneurs. And as it turns out, you don't have to be young like Facebook's founder and our generation's poster child of success Mark Zuckerberg to do it. Where before, people often dismissed young people as too naive to survive the demands present in the startup world, the success of many young entrepreneurs is demonstrating that they are in fact equipped with many qualities required to run a successful startup – namely, energy, charisma, capacity to absorb new knowledge and the ability to bring fresh ideas into the world. According to Paul Graham, Co-Founder of Y-Combinator, young founders have plenty of strengths like stamina, poverty, rootlessness and ignorance. These may seem like disadvantages, but they're apparently not - after all, startup life is very much about persisting with a consistent level of focus and energy even when there's little certainty and money. Perhaps, you almost need to be ignorant to do it in the first place - because starting up is like walking into a tornado. If you knew the amount of work is takes to succeed, would you really want to do it? It's no wonder that young folks who quit university to pursue their startup dreams are considered rebels - the admirable kind. Given how many young faces we're seeing in the media as well as the increasing number of initiatives emerging in the entrepreneur landscape that encourage young people to start businesses, it's not hard to come to the conclusion that the best age to become a startup founder is your 20s. Well, Bloomberg BETA's study revealed otherwise. The VC fund hired analytics firm Mattermark to analyse a wide array of data and find people who had a greater chance of launching and building a successful startup. Interestingly, this is before those people knew it themselves. Danielle Morrill, Mattermark’s co-founder, told the BBC that they took a sample set of founders and examined where they worked, what kind of job they had, their age and other factors prior to starting up. "It is the largest study that has ever been done on patterns of business founders," she told the BBC. This is where things get interesting. Mattermark went ahead and mined publicly available data on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to find information on 1.5 million professionals who were in some way connected to technology startups. They whittled the list down to 350 people who most resembled the profile of the business founders in their initial study. There are three key characteristics of successful founders, according to the study: 1) most successful startup founders were in their late 30s, while almost one in four were over 40. 2) those who had stayed in a job for a long time were more likely to go off on their own to launch a startup; and 3) two-thirds of business founders had not held a senior level position before starting their own company. The 350 potential entrepreneurs were then sent cold emails explaining why Bloomberg BETA was contacting them and inviting them to a "meet-up" dinner. According to the BBC, the email started off as, "You've been chosen… as one of the most likely people in the technology industry to create a company". Understandably, many of the recipients thought the email was some kind of scam. Yet for others, the email not only provoked an interest but also self-examination. And that was the purpose. Many of the potential entrepreneurs actually showed up at the dinner, along with venture capitalists. The potential founders networked, and some are genuinely entertaining the idea of pursuing their own startups. According to the BBC, this will be an ongoing project, where future founders come together every few months and meet others who could contribute to their ventures.
Roy Bahat of Bloomberg BETA, told the BBC that the whole purpose of the project is to encourage founders with particular characteristics to take the leap and start their own businesses. Though it's not clearly articulated, I suspect that VCs are looking for 'the next big thing' to invest in. "Our role was to get to know them and, if they wanted to, we would be useful to them and help them," Bahat told the BCC. "We recognised we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but the difference with taking this approach is that all the hay is made of gold." This is perhaps one of the most interesting paths a VC fund has taken to source potential investments.
]]>
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Dallas Buyers Club LLC wants iiNet to hand over customers that downloaded movie of the same name http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/dallas-buyers-club-llc-want-iinet-hand-customers-downloaded-movie-name/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/dallas-buyers-club-llc-want-iinet-hand-customers-downloaded-movie-name/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:41:50 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=35054 Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.20.38 am

The owners of Dallas Buyers Club LLC, who own the rights to the movie of the same name, has applied to the Federal Court for iiNet and other internet service providers to reveal the details of people it suspects may have committed copyright infringement by illegally downloading the film. The Chief Regulatory Officer at iiNet, Steve Dalby, has in the same way he has with other issues around copyright and piracy, come out and publicly announced iiNet's unwillingness to hand over customer details. In a blog post yesterday he stated that iiNet had serious concerns about what Dallas Buyers Club LLC would do with the information if iiNet was forced to hand them over.
Known as ‘preliminary discovery’, this practice is used in a wide range of cases where the identity of the person or company you may want to take legal action against is unknown. iiNet has decided to oppose this discovery application. We don’t support or condone copyright infringement. In fact, our contract terms require that our customers must not use our service to commit an offence or infringe another person’s rights – this includes copyright infringement. We also have a policy that applies to people who infringe the law. It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case. In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called “speculative invoicing”.
Basically what that means is, instead of being taken to court or given a warning, these users would receive an invoice from Dallas Buyers Club LLC. These invoices, often accompanied with heavy handed letters of demand, have allegedly asked for as much as US$7,000. The scary thing about this is if Dallas Buyers Club LLC IS successful in forcing ISPs like iiNet to hand over these details, the implications for other movie studios to follow suit could be disastrous. Australia, one of the worst countries for movie and television show piracy could become a cesspool of litigation - I mean, rights holders already have a 'friend' in Attorney-General, George Brandis who recently released a discussion paper around his views on the matter. The movie studio Voltage, who is one of the main shareholders in Dallas Buyers Club LLC, is no stranger to these types of pursuits either. In the United States they have championed mass-BitTorrent lawsuits and been successful, generating a lot of inbound revenue from the process. In regards to Dallas Buyers Club, they currently have two lawsuits in motion targeting 107 people that are accused of downloading the movie in their homes. Considering Dallas Buyers Club is the winner of two Academy Awards this year, the number of illegal downloads is reported to be in the hundreds of thousands. If precedent is set and Dallas Buyers Club LLC is successful in winning this particular request against iiNet and other ISPs - the US Based company could be set to make more off suing people than from the actual box office takings. Now that is a scary thought. ]]>
Screen Shot 2014-10-23 at 1.20.38 am

The owners of Dallas Buyers Club LLC, who own the rights to the movie of the same name, has applied to the Federal Court for iiNet and other internet service providers to reveal the details of people it suspects may have committed copyright infringement by illegally downloading the film. The Chief Regulatory Officer at iiNet, Steve Dalby, has in the same way he has with other issues around copyright and piracy, come out and publicly announced iiNet's unwillingness to hand over customer details. In a blog post yesterday he stated that iiNet had serious concerns about what Dallas Buyers Club LLC would do with the information if iiNet was forced to hand them over.
Known as ‘preliminary discovery’, this practice is used in a wide range of cases where the identity of the person or company you may want to take legal action against is unknown. iiNet has decided to oppose this discovery application. We don’t support or condone copyright infringement. In fact, our contract terms require that our customers must not use our service to commit an offence or infringe another person’s rights – this includes copyright infringement. We also have a policy that applies to people who infringe the law. It might seem reasonable for a movie studio to ask us for the identity of those they suspect are infringing their copyright. Yet, this would only make sense if the movie studio intended to use this information fairly, including to allow the alleged infringer their day in court, in order to argue their case. In this case, we have serious concerns about Dallas Buyers Club’s intentions. We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using a practice called “speculative invoicing”.
Basically what that means is, instead of being taken to court or given a warning, these users would receive an invoice from Dallas Buyers Club LLC. These invoices, often accompanied with heavy handed letters of demand, have allegedly asked for as much as US$7,000. The scary thing about this is if Dallas Buyers Club LLC IS successful in forcing ISPs like iiNet to hand over these details, the implications for other movie studios to follow suit could be disastrous. Australia, one of the worst countries for movie and television show piracy could become a cesspool of litigation - I mean, rights holders already have a 'friend' in Attorney-General, George Brandis who recently released a discussion paper around his views on the matter. The movie studio Voltage, who is one of the main shareholders in Dallas Buyers Club LLC, is no stranger to these types of pursuits either. In the United States they have championed mass-BitTorrent lawsuits and been successful, generating a lot of inbound revenue from the process. In regards to Dallas Buyers Club, they currently have two lawsuits in motion targeting 107 people that are accused of downloading the movie in their homes. Considering Dallas Buyers Club is the winner of two Academy Awards this year, the number of illegal downloads is reported to be in the hundreds of thousands. If precedent is set and Dallas Buyers Club LLC is successful in winning this particular request against iiNet and other ISPs - the US Based company could be set to make more off suing people than from the actual box office takings. Now that is a scary thought. ]]>
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Mothers Groupie is the social network for newfound mums; will it experience the same success as TinyBeans? http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/mothers-groupie-social-network-newfound-mums-will-experience-success-tinybeans/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/mothers-groupie-social-network-newfound-mums-will-experience-success-tinybeans/#comments Thu, 23 Oct 2014 00:35:25 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=35059 cropped image for print (1)

Lifestyle changes associated with having a baby are challenges for all new parents. For mothers in particular, isolation can lead to post-natal depression. As such, belonging to a tightly-knit group during this period of transformation can make all the difference. Unfortunately, hospitals and community centres don't focus their efforts on connecting mothers to appropriate groups - often directing them to groups based on the baby’s date of birth and general location. For various reasons, many mothers end up in unsuitable groups which can in turn exacerbate the anxiety that comes with such a significant life change as childbirth.

There are many niche social networks coming into the fray, which begs the question, why would Queensland couple Leanne and Richard Sexton create another one? At first glance, Mothers Groupie seems like ‘just another social network’ dedicated to newfound mums - but on further reflection, it's potential becomes apparent as long as the business model is executed well.

At a time where mothers have a baby in one hand and a smartphone in the other, a platform like Mothers Groupie makes good sense. Put simply, the purpose of the startup is to help groups run more smoothly. Mothers Groupie was launched as an minimum viable product (MVP) at the start of this year, and allowed members to communicate via a website at any time of day and with greater ease, which Richard believes is “impossible to do well using just email addresses or phone numbers”.

“Our apps are where we are seeing the most traction – mums are time poor and appreciate being able to use their phones. There are obviously mothers groups on Facebook but many mums have concerns about privacy and appreciate a dedicated social network where it’s all about mothers and babies,” he said.

On Mothers Groupie, members can join or create groups in their local area, schedule face-to-face meet-ups, chat with other members one-on-one, and share photos, videos and parenting advice in a private setting. In many ways, Mothers Groupie is similar in principle to Tiny Beans which strives to provide a private platform for parents to share content related to their children without it ending up in unwanted places - like in the hands of cybercriminals. The Sextons will soon introduce a new feature that will allow mothers to chat amongst the wider Mothers Groupie community without signing up to any groups.

Richard says that Mothers Groupie is very much focused on supporting mothers: “[Mothers] these days are quite often isolated. In the old days, people had lots of family close by but the modern world can be very isolating, at least physically. We hope our members make lots of supportive new friends that will help them get through the inevitable highs and lows of motherhood.”

“Post-natal depression is a big issue these days, so if we have helped mitigate this risk then its a very satisfying feeling. There are other sites doing “online mothers groups”, but our focus on local groups where meetups can be easily organised means we are creating genuine bonds – something that sets us apart.”

As part of its commercial strategy, and to further support mothers, Mothers Groupie introduced a feature called ‘Mothers Help’. The feature functions as a directory for mothers - whether they need a nanny, babysitter, au pair (domestic assistant), cleaner, lactation consultant, child sleep consultant or fitness expert. Members are required to pay a small fee to view a helper’s contact details. Richard believes ratings and testimonials will see the value of the directory increase over time.

Other revenue generation opportunities include placing advertisements in group activity feeds, though the Sextons are focusing most of their efforts on user growth.

The development of Mothers Groupie was outsourced to foreign developers. Richard praises the developers who brought their concept to life, adding that “there is no way we could have afforded to get this far by using Australian developers”. The brains behind most of the design was Leanne herself.

The startup has been bootstrapped to date, though the co-founders are actively seeking to raise $500,000 to $1,000,000 in seed capital through angel investors; and have approached a small number of local VC firms. Richard explains that the capital will allow them to hire more staff who can assist them in making Mothers Groupie “the number one destination for mothers to hang out”. It is also clear that there is a long-term game plan.

“When our membership is high enough, we are very confident we will see interest from media companies – most of the major mother-baby sites in Australia are owned by the likes of Fairfax and News Limited. This is who our investors should be looking to sell to in 5 years’ time,” he says.

“We have a strong social conscience and would like to partner with investors who think the same way.”

Mothers Groupie currently houses close to 2,000 members and well over 300 groups across Australia, with a few groups popping up in other countries like the US.

“Our growth has come from very little marketing budget and our engagement analytics are fantastic. Our apps are seeing hundreds of users return day after day, spending on average about 4 minutes for each session. On the website, the average session time is 5 minutes,” says Richard.

The social network was built to be global from the get-go, though the Sextons are using their limited marketing budget to generate traction in Australia.

“[We] are looking forward to expanding properly into that market as soon as possible. China is another market we would like to crack, but again this needs significant funds to do it properly,” says Richard.

While the Sextons certainly take pride in the growth of Mother Groupie, it’s the constructive feedback from users that have satisfied them the most. Richard says when users notice bugs in the system, they send emails right away informing the co-founders. “This is a sign that we have something mothers are addicted to,” Richard explains.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge for the Sextons has been balancing startup life with parenthood. “Being parents of two children - three including Mothers Groupie - we are very stretched [for time and money]” says Richard.

That said, there is at least one advantage of being a husband-wife team - that is, informal meetings can be held at any time of day, though the Sextons make sure to ban discussions after 7.30pm so they can wind down and prepare for a good night’s rest.

At the moment, it seems like blue skies ahead for Mothers Groupie. It would be interesting to see whether Mothers Groupie and TinyBeans are able recognise synergies and form a partnership.

]]>
cropped image for print (1)

Lifestyle changes associated with having a baby are challenges for all new parents. For mothers in particular, isolation can lead to post-natal depression. As such, belonging to a tightly-knit group during this period of transformation can make all the difference. Unfortunately, hospitals and community centres don't focus their efforts on connecting mothers to appropriate groups - often directing them to groups based on the baby’s date of birth and general location. For various reasons, many mothers end up in unsuitable groups which can in turn exacerbate the anxiety that comes with such a significant life change as childbirth.

There are many niche social networks coming into the fray, which begs the question, why would Queensland couple Leanne and Richard Sexton create another one? At first glance, Mothers Groupie seems like ‘just another social network’ dedicated to newfound mums - but on further reflection, it's potential becomes apparent as long as the business model is executed well.

At a time where mothers have a baby in one hand and a smartphone in the other, a platform like Mothers Groupie makes good sense. Put simply, the purpose of the startup is to help groups run more smoothly. Mothers Groupie was launched as an minimum viable product (MVP) at the start of this year, and allowed members to communicate via a website at any time of day and with greater ease, which Richard believes is “impossible to do well using just email addresses or phone numbers”.

“Our apps are where we are seeing the most traction – mums are time poor and appreciate being able to use their phones. There are obviously mothers groups on Facebook but many mums have concerns about privacy and appreciate a dedicated social network where it’s all about mothers and babies,” he said.

On Mothers Groupie, members can join or create groups in their local area, schedule face-to-face meet-ups, chat with other members one-on-one, and share photos, videos and parenting advice in a private setting. In many ways, Mothers Groupie is similar in principle to Tiny Beans which strives to provide a private platform for parents to share content related to their children without it ending up in unwanted places - like in the hands of cybercriminals. The Sextons will soon introduce a new feature that will allow mothers to chat amongst the wider Mothers Groupie community without signing up to any groups.

Richard says that Mothers Groupie is very much focused on supporting mothers: “[Mothers] these days are quite often isolated. In the old days, people had lots of family close by but the modern world can be very isolating, at least physically. We hope our members make lots of supportive new friends that will help them get through the inevitable highs and lows of motherhood.”

“Post-natal depression is a big issue these days, so if we have helped mitigate this risk then its a very satisfying feeling. There are other sites doing “online mothers groups”, but our focus on local groups where meetups can be easily organised means we are creating genuine bonds – something that sets us apart.”

As part of its commercial strategy, and to further support mothers, Mothers Groupie introduced a feature called ‘Mothers Help’. The feature functions as a directory for mothers - whether they need a nanny, babysitter, au pair (domestic assistant), cleaner, lactation consultant, child sleep consultant or fitness expert. Members are required to pay a small fee to view a helper’s contact details. Richard believes ratings and testimonials will see the value of the directory increase over time.

Other revenue generation opportunities include placing advertisements in group activity feeds, though the Sextons are focusing most of their efforts on user growth.

The development of Mothers Groupie was outsourced to foreign developers. Richard praises the developers who brought their concept to life, adding that “there is no way we could have afforded to get this far by using Australian developers”. The brains behind most of the design was Leanne herself.

The startup has been bootstrapped to date, though the co-founders are actively seeking to raise $500,000 to $1,000,000 in seed capital through angel investors; and have approached a small number of local VC firms. Richard explains that the capital will allow them to hire more staff who can assist them in making Mothers Groupie “the number one destination for mothers to hang out”. It is also clear that there is a long-term game plan.

“When our membership is high enough, we are very confident we will see interest from media companies – most of the major mother-baby sites in Australia are owned by the likes of Fairfax and News Limited. This is who our investors should be looking to sell to in 5 years’ time,” he says.

“We have a strong social conscience and would like to partner with investors who think the same way.”

Mothers Groupie currently houses close to 2,000 members and well over 300 groups across Australia, with a few groups popping up in other countries like the US.

“Our growth has come from very little marketing budget and our engagement analytics are fantastic. Our apps are seeing hundreds of users return day after day, spending on average about 4 minutes for each session. On the website, the average session time is 5 minutes,” says Richard.

The social network was built to be global from the get-go, though the Sextons are using their limited marketing budget to generate traction in Australia.

“[We] are looking forward to expanding properly into that market as soon as possible. China is another market we would like to crack, but again this needs significant funds to do it properly,” says Richard.

While the Sextons certainly take pride in the growth of Mother Groupie, it’s the constructive feedback from users that have satisfied them the most. Richard says when users notice bugs in the system, they send emails right away informing the co-founders. “This is a sign that we have something mothers are addicted to,” Richard explains.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest challenge for the Sextons has been balancing startup life with parenthood. “Being parents of two children - three including Mothers Groupie - we are very stretched [for time and money]” says Richard.

That said, there is at least one advantage of being a husband-wife team - that is, informal meetings can be held at any time of day, though the Sextons make sure to ban discussions after 7.30pm so they can wind down and prepare for a good night’s rest.

At the moment, it seems like blue skies ahead for Mothers Groupie. It would be interesting to see whether Mothers Groupie and TinyBeans are able recognise synergies and form a partnership.

]]>
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Startup Moula vs. PayPal Working Capital: Both want to provide SMBs critical short-term capital, but which is better? http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-moula-vs-paypal-working-capital-want-provide-smbs-critical-short-term-capital-better/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-moula-vs-paypal-working-capital-want-provide-smbs-critical-short-term-capital-better/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 02:28:12 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=35016 11fd89b4-1b93-11e4-83fc-3d459f00e514_854177096--646x363

With combined experience in investment banking, risk management and credit modelling, Melbourne-based entrepreneurs Aris Allegos and Andrew Watt decided embark on a startup-style intervention to bridge what they felt was funding gap for Australian SMEs. These lads are the brains behind an infant startup Moula, which functions as an online funding platform for small businesses to access critical short-term capital.

What's interesting about Moula is the way it approves applications. The startup is able approve loans of up to $20,000 "within minutes" by processing the applicant's ecommerce data. From sources like eBay and PayPal, Moula's technology has the ability to analyse real-time sales data and performance history, and determine whether the applicant can repay the loan. There is no need for providing any paperwork of waiting for long periods of time for an outcome that could still be 'no'.

According to an RFI Intelligence Survey (2011), almost 50 percent of SMEs that apply for traditional credit are rejected. The issue is more prominent with online merchants, where a lack of physical presence and limited track record are the two main reasons preventing them from obtaining funds.

Ecommerce is a temporary sole focus for the startup; it intends to service all SMEs in Australia that may need instant access to capital that is otherwise unavailable or will take a significant amount time to secure via traditional means.

 ”We want the process of getting critical short term funding to be easy, automated and accessible to every small business in Australia,” said Allegos, who is also the Managing Director of MP Capital Partners and Non-Executive Director at Tiger Pistol. “To grow and build their businesses, owners need a fast and simple alternative to traditional lending, whether to buy inventory, invest in new equipment or spend on marketing. The challenge is getting access to that capital in a timely manner, which can often drive them to credit cards and other high cost alternatives.” According to co-founder Watt, Moula aims to be completely transparent; he says there are no hidden fees or penalties for early repayment, just an interest rate applied against the borrower's outstanding balance. On the 'Pricing' section of the site, an interested applicant can select the amount of money they want to borrow and instantly find out how much interest they would have to pay in total, depending on which fortnightly repayment option they choose. For instance, if an applicant borrows $4,000, they would be paying a total interest of just under $286. If they borrow the full $20,000, their total interest comes to just under $1,428. Moula has been lending to eBay merchants since May this year, across Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Interestingly, PayPal launched Working Capital in Australia today, which is very similar in principle to Moula. Like Moula, PayPal Working Capital is a small business loan product allowing SMBs fast access to funds via their PayPal account. Working Capital uses a business’ transaction history and performance to determine lending eligibility before allowing applicable SMBs to choose the right capital solution to meet their needs. Through Working Capital, SMB owners can borrow up to 8 percent of their yearly PayPal transactions. Repayment amounts are decided by the SMB owner, and when they make a sale, their selected repayments are automatically debited from every transaction their business receives. Businesses are charged a once-off fee, determined upfront, and based on the amount borrowed. Kareem Al-Bassam, PayPal Director of Customer Experience and Solutions, said PayPal chose Australia as one of the first markets after the US to launch Working Capital due to SMB demand for a wider choice of financing options. He added that PayPal’s technology platform and its merchant relationships generate rich data that can be analysed in real time to grant loan applications. What Moula's technology is able to do is retrieve that data from PayPal and analyse it accordingly. Both companies have echoed the same sentiments in their marketing initiatives. “Working Capital is ideal for small-to-medium-sized business owners who need fast, simple and flexible solutions to fund activities, like staffing up ahead of seasonal demand or buying additional inventory to meet orders," said Al-Bassam. The application and approval process of PayPal's Working Capital also takes "minutes". PayPal merchants who have had an account for at least 12 months can quickly determine if they are eligible for a loan, and the merchant chooses how much they wish to borrow – up to 8 percent of their annual PayPal sales – and what percentage of each PayPal-facilitated transaction will be allocated to repay the loan. The loan amount is then deposited into the merchant’s PayPal account. PayPal Working Capital claims to have no hidden charges or penalties for late payment or early settlement of the full loan. The borrowed amount is repaid automatically by PayPal debiting the selected repayment percentage from PayPal transactions. Based on the wording both companies have used to market the product, it's hard to differentiate which is a better option. Aside from the fact that PayPal Working Capital is solely for PayPal users, the difference is essentially in the loan amount. With Moula, businesses can borrow up to AUD$20,000, and with PayPal, it's up to 8 percent of their annual revenue as determined by their PayPal transactions. This percentage can mean less than $20,000 or significantly more than $20,000 depending on the many circumstances (like growth rate) of the business. It is unclear how the once-off fee is determined. But based on the introductory promotion video, an $8,000 loan has fixed fee of $445 (5.56 percent interest). And according to what Al-Bassam said, the repayments are automatic and only start when the business makes money. With Moula, repayments don't necessarily depend on whether the business is making money or is at a standstill, though there are flexible options. So what a business chooses essentially comes down to convenience and loan amount (relative to revenue). Until the end of the year, PayPal Working Capital will only be available to a limited number of PayPal merchant partners. A broader roll out is expected in 2015. --- Image: Aris Allegos. Photo Credit: Patrick Scala/Fairfax Media via Getty Images. ]]>
11fd89b4-1b93-11e4-83fc-3d459f00e514_854177096--646x363

With combined experience in investment banking, risk management and credit modelling, Melbourne-based entrepreneurs Aris Allegos and Andrew Watt decided embark on a startup-style intervention to bridge what they felt was funding gap for Australian SMEs. These lads are the brains behind an infant startup Moula, which functions as an online funding platform for small businesses to access critical short-term capital.

What's interesting about Moula is the way it approves applications. The startup is able approve loans of up to $20,000 "within minutes" by processing the applicant's ecommerce data. From sources like eBay and PayPal, Moula's technology has the ability to analyse real-time sales data and performance history, and determine whether the applicant can repay the loan. There is no need for providing any paperwork of waiting for long periods of time for an outcome that could still be 'no'.

According to an RFI Intelligence Survey (2011), almost 50 percent of SMEs that apply for traditional credit are rejected. The issue is more prominent with online merchants, where a lack of physical presence and limited track record are the two main reasons preventing them from obtaining funds.

Ecommerce is a temporary sole focus for the startup; it intends to service all SMEs in Australia that may need instant access to capital that is otherwise unavailable or will take a significant amount time to secure via traditional means.

 ”We want the process of getting critical short term funding to be easy, automated and accessible to every small business in Australia,” said Allegos, who is also the Managing Director of MP Capital Partners and Non-Executive Director at Tiger Pistol. “To grow and build their businesses, owners need a fast and simple alternative to traditional lending, whether to buy inventory, invest in new equipment or spend on marketing. The challenge is getting access to that capital in a timely manner, which can often drive them to credit cards and other high cost alternatives.” According to co-founder Watt, Moula aims to be completely transparent; he says there are no hidden fees or penalties for early repayment, just an interest rate applied against the borrower's outstanding balance. On the 'Pricing' section of the site, an interested applicant can select the amount of money they want to borrow and instantly find out how much interest they would have to pay in total, depending on which fortnightly repayment option they choose. For instance, if an applicant borrows $4,000, they would be paying a total interest of just under $286. If they borrow the full $20,000, their total interest comes to just under $1,428. Moula has been lending to eBay merchants since May this year, across Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Interestingly, PayPal launched Working Capital in Australia today, which is very similar in principle to Moula. Like Moula, PayPal Working Capital is a small business loan product allowing SMBs fast access to funds via their PayPal account. Working Capital uses a business’ transaction history and performance to determine lending eligibility before allowing applicable SMBs to choose the right capital solution to meet their needs. Through Working Capital, SMB owners can borrow up to 8 percent of their yearly PayPal transactions. Repayment amounts are decided by the SMB owner, and when they make a sale, their selected repayments are automatically debited from every transaction their business receives. Businesses are charged a once-off fee, determined upfront, and based on the amount borrowed. Kareem Al-Bassam, PayPal Director of Customer Experience and Solutions, said PayPal chose Australia as one of the first markets after the US to launch Working Capital due to SMB demand for a wider choice of financing options. He added that PayPal’s technology platform and its merchant relationships generate rich data that can be analysed in real time to grant loan applications. What Moula's technology is able to do is retrieve that data from PayPal and analyse it accordingly. Both companies have echoed the same sentiments in their marketing initiatives. “Working Capital is ideal for small-to-medium-sized business owners who need fast, simple and flexible solutions to fund activities, like staffing up ahead of seasonal demand or buying additional inventory to meet orders," said Al-Bassam. The application and approval process of PayPal's Working Capital also takes "minutes". PayPal merchants who have had an account for at least 12 months can quickly determine if they are eligible for a loan, and the merchant chooses how much they wish to borrow – up to 8 percent of their annual PayPal sales – and what percentage of each PayPal-facilitated transaction will be allocated to repay the loan. The loan amount is then deposited into the merchant’s PayPal account. PayPal Working Capital claims to have no hidden charges or penalties for late payment or early settlement of the full loan. The borrowed amount is repaid automatically by PayPal debiting the selected repayment percentage from PayPal transactions. Based on the wording both companies have used to market the product, it's hard to differentiate which is a better option. Aside from the fact that PayPal Working Capital is solely for PayPal users, the difference is essentially in the loan amount. With Moula, businesses can borrow up to AUD$20,000, and with PayPal, it's up to 8 percent of their annual revenue as determined by their PayPal transactions. This percentage can mean less than $20,000 or significantly more than $20,000 depending on the many circumstances (like growth rate) of the business. It is unclear how the once-off fee is determined. But based on the introductory promotion video, an $8,000 loan has fixed fee of $445 (5.56 percent interest). And according to what Al-Bassam said, the repayments are automatic and only start when the business makes money. With Moula, repayments don't necessarily depend on whether the business is making money or is at a standstill, though there are flexible options. So what a business chooses essentially comes down to convenience and loan amount (relative to revenue). Until the end of the year, PayPal Working Capital will only be available to a limited number of PayPal merchant partners. A broader roll out is expected in 2015. --- Image: Aris Allegos. Photo Credit: Patrick Scala/Fairfax Media via Getty Images. ]]>
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Indonesia has blocked foreign investment in ecommerce startups, and it doesn’t make sense http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/indonesia-blocked-foreign-investment-e-commerce-startups-doesnt-make-sense/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/indonesia-blocked-foreign-investment-e-commerce-startups-doesnt-make-sense/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 01:18:49 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34991 Startup Funds Indo

In August this year, rumours spread across the Asia Pacific that the Indonesian Government was planning on adding ecommerce stores onto the country's 'Negative Investment List'. The list, well known by Indonesian and foreign investors, specifies particular industries in which Indonesian businesses within those sectors can not look beyond their own borders for capital to grow. Currently on the list are industries such as advertising and pharmaceuticals. In an article published on TechinAsia last week, it was stated that there was both good and bad ramifications with ecommerce being added to the list:
One could argue that this is a good thing, as the ecommerce names that do rise up and become successful in Indonesia will be homegrown. Others could say that the regulation hinders the local market, as foreign investors may be more willing than their local counterparts to experiment in Indonesia, and provide funding to companies that would otherwise not get it.
Whilst these are valid points on both sides of the equation, the bigger question is, why would the Government want to do such a thing when the Indonesian ecommerce space, still in its infancy would benefit from the cash of foreign investors - at least, at this point of time when early stage competition for these types of businesses within the Asia Pacific region is fierce? Perhaps there is a protectionist culture emerging, which would likely have been driven by the acquisitions of key Indonesian ecommerce players over the last few years. The first wave of these acquisitions included Yahoo! snapping up Koprol, Living Social buying Dealkeren.com and Groupon purchasing Disdus. The most prominent foreign investment to date though is from German-owned Rocket Internet - also a key investor in Australian ecommerce players such as The Iconic, Helpling and Ridesurfing. Rocket Internet has launched six different ventures across Indonesia so far. Its model of hiring ex Management Consultants or MBA level Executives and hiring large teams, is something that is hard to compete with for a local cash strapped startup - so, whilst on the one hand no foreign investment stifles growth, it is only fair to say that such a law does indeed protect local interests and give those Indonesian founded businesses a fighting chance at obtaining a decent marketshare. The other big movers in Indonesia are Japanese venture capital firms. Over the last couple of years Indonesia is seeing more and more Japanese VCs setting up local offices in Jakarta and investing heavily in local ecommerce startups. Indonesia is classified as an 'emerging' market and right now is extremely attractive to investors. In fact, in the Asia Pacific region, Indonesia is right up there with Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia in that it is starting to build some truly globally competitive companies. Historically, from my point of view, there has actually been very little movement by local investors in Indonesia to really back the ecommerce space with a significant amount of cash. That is why foreign investment is so prominent. Whilst these new laws may protect startups competing for a slice in the domestic market, which is still significant in size based on the population, the big challenge these laws are going to cause is when these startup founders decide they want to look at international expansion. They will lack the skin in the game from foreign money that will help them accelerate this process, and ultimately see success outside of Indonesia. ]]>
Startup Funds Indo

In August this year, rumours spread across the Asia Pacific that the Indonesian Government was planning on adding ecommerce stores onto the country's 'Negative Investment List'. The list, well known by Indonesian and foreign investors, specifies particular industries in which Indonesian businesses within those sectors can not look beyond their own borders for capital to grow. Currently on the list are industries such as advertising and pharmaceuticals. In an article published on TechinAsia last week, it was stated that there was both good and bad ramifications with ecommerce being added to the list:
One could argue that this is a good thing, as the ecommerce names that do rise up and become successful in Indonesia will be homegrown. Others could say that the regulation hinders the local market, as foreign investors may be more willing than their local counterparts to experiment in Indonesia, and provide funding to companies that would otherwise not get it.
Whilst these are valid points on both sides of the equation, the bigger question is, why would the Government want to do such a thing when the Indonesian ecommerce space, still in its infancy would benefit from the cash of foreign investors - at least, at this point of time when early stage competition for these types of businesses within the Asia Pacific region is fierce? Perhaps there is a protectionist culture emerging, which would likely have been driven by the acquisitions of key Indonesian ecommerce players over the last few years. The first wave of these acquisitions included Yahoo! snapping up Koprol, Living Social buying Dealkeren.com and Groupon purchasing Disdus. The most prominent foreign investment to date though is from German-owned Rocket Internet - also a key investor in Australian ecommerce players such as The Iconic, Helpling and Ridesurfing. Rocket Internet has launched six different ventures across Indonesia so far. Its model of hiring ex Management Consultants or MBA level Executives and hiring large teams, is something that is hard to compete with for a local cash strapped startup - so, whilst on the one hand no foreign investment stifles growth, it is only fair to say that such a law does indeed protect local interests and give those Indonesian founded businesses a fighting chance at obtaining a decent marketshare. The other big movers in Indonesia are Japanese venture capital firms. Over the last couple of years Indonesia is seeing more and more Japanese VCs setting up local offices in Jakarta and investing heavily in local ecommerce startups. Indonesia is classified as an 'emerging' market and right now is extremely attractive to investors. In fact, in the Asia Pacific region, Indonesia is right up there with Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia in that it is starting to build some truly globally competitive companies. Historically, from my point of view, there has actually been very little movement by local investors in Indonesia to really back the ecommerce space with a significant amount of cash. That is why foreign investment is so prominent. Whilst these new laws may protect startups competing for a slice in the domestic market, which is still significant in size based on the population, the big challenge these laws are going to cause is when these startup founders decide they want to look at international expansion. They will lack the skin in the game from foreign money that will help them accelerate this process, and ultimately see success outside of Indonesia. ]]>
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Bigcommerce partners with Alibaba to streamline sourcing and selling products http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/bigcommerce-partners-alibaba-streamline-sourcing-selling-products/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/bigcommerce-partners-alibaba-streamline-sourcing-selling-products/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 00:59:17 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34994 bigcommercealibaba

Australian software company Bigcommerce has today announced its partnership with Alibaba, a global wholesale trade platform that recently had the largest IPO in history with a market capitalisation of more than USD$220 billion. As a result of this partnership, Alibaba will integrate its buyer and supplier network with Bigcommerce, allowing Bigcommerce's 55,000+ merchants to source over 1.5 million products directly from manufacturers based in China, India, the US and Thailand, among other countries. According to industry research, 84 percent of online merchants (Gogo Dropship, 2014) find establishing a drop ship supplier or wholesaler relationship to be the foremost roadblock to starting an online business. Removing this barrier is one basis of the Bigcommerce-Alibaba partnership. Of course, there are other synergistic, mutually-beneficial value exchanges that become apparent. By removing a major barrier to entry, Bigcommerce becomes a more holistic solution for ecommerce entrepreneurs and Alibaba gets to tap into Bigcommerce's merchant network. In a media release, Eddie Machaalani, co-founder and CEO of Bigcommerce said Alibaba provides access to the world's largest network of suppliers and manufacturers of goods, which will help Bigcommerce's merchants "build their online presence and expand into new revenue opportunities.” In the same release, Michael Lee, Director of Global Marketing and Business Development at Alibaba, stated that the two companies are "building an integrated ecommerce ecosystem.” The following is a summary of the benefits Bigcommerce merchants will receive as part of this new partnership:
  • Shortened sourcing cycle: Bigcommerce merchants can source products directly from manufacturers around the world — including the ability to find suppliers and receive quotes within 48 hours with the AliSourcePro service.
  • Convenient access to new and hard-to-find inventory: Finding new and niche products is made easier for Bigcommerce merchants with the integration of Wholesale Checkout, Alibaba.com’s wholesale marketplace with products at low prices and low minimum order quantities.
  • Simplified buying process and streamlined checkout: Bigcommerce merchants will have single-click access from the Bigcommerce platform to Alibaba.com where they can find products, register and complete purchases.
  • Safe and secure way to connect with trusted suppliers from around the world: Bigcommerce merchants can purchase goods directly from a large network of independently verified manufacturers. Merchants also receive access to Alibaba.com buyer services such as Escrow, a payment protection program, and third-party inspectors for quality control.
]]>
bigcommercealibaba

Australian software company Bigcommerce has today announced its partnership with Alibaba, a global wholesale trade platform that recently had the largest IPO in history with a market capitalisation of more than USD$220 billion. As a result of this partnership, Alibaba will integrate its buyer and supplier network with Bigcommerce, allowing Bigcommerce's 55,000+ merchants to source over 1.5 million products directly from manufacturers based in China, India, the US and Thailand, among other countries. According to industry research, 84 percent of online merchants (Gogo Dropship, 2014) find establishing a drop ship supplier or wholesaler relationship to be the foremost roadblock to starting an online business. Removing this barrier is one basis of the Bigcommerce-Alibaba partnership. Of course, there are other synergistic, mutually-beneficial value exchanges that become apparent. By removing a major barrier to entry, Bigcommerce becomes a more holistic solution for ecommerce entrepreneurs and Alibaba gets to tap into Bigcommerce's merchant network. In a media release, Eddie Machaalani, co-founder and CEO of Bigcommerce said Alibaba provides access to the world's largest network of suppliers and manufacturers of goods, which will help Bigcommerce's merchants "build their online presence and expand into new revenue opportunities.” In the same release, Michael Lee, Director of Global Marketing and Business Development at Alibaba, stated that the two companies are "building an integrated ecommerce ecosystem.” The following is a summary of the benefits Bigcommerce merchants will receive as part of this new partnership:
  • Shortened sourcing cycle: Bigcommerce merchants can source products directly from manufacturers around the world — including the ability to find suppliers and receive quotes within 48 hours with the AliSourcePro service.
  • Convenient access to new and hard-to-find inventory: Finding new and niche products is made easier for Bigcommerce merchants with the integration of Wholesale Checkout, Alibaba.com’s wholesale marketplace with products at low prices and low minimum order quantities.
  • Simplified buying process and streamlined checkout: Bigcommerce merchants will have single-click access from the Bigcommerce platform to Alibaba.com where they can find products, register and complete purchases.
  • Safe and secure way to connect with trusted suppliers from around the world: Bigcommerce merchants can purchase goods directly from a large network of independently verified manufacturers. Merchants also receive access to Alibaba.com buyer services such as Escrow, a payment protection program, and third-party inspectors for quality control.
]]>
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This startup lets you to validate your idea in 35 seconds http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-lets-validate-idea-35-seconds/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-lets-validate-idea-35-seconds/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 23:36:44 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34996 Melvin

All startups have meagre beginnings, despite the lofty histories they relay to the public. On GoPitch, the next big thing could start with a 35-second audio pitch. At the same time, it's a forum that could stop a bad idea in its tracks before an entrepreneur burns a hole in their hip pocket. After all, it could be a ‘make or break’ moment for any entrepreneur - standing before a critical audience, armed with a vision, taking a deep breath before launching into reasons why their idea is the next big thing. Unfortunately, in the startup world, a great idea is simply not enough, and many entrepreneurs end up facing rejection from investors and potential partners due to an inadequate pitch. And the reality is, at some point, startup founders will have to vocally sell their ideas, and cannot rely solely on an eloquently-written proposal. Launched in September, GoPitch is an online, community-driven tool to help entrepreneurs and creative minds pitch their ideas in 35 seconds or less to get constructive feedback and advice not only on their ideas, but also on the delivery of their pitches. Added to that, GoPitch wants entrepreneurs to make valuable connections with potential partners, investors or employees; and gain exposure for their ventures. Behind GoPitch are three comrades from different continents - Rahul Goel and George Wong are both based in Toronto, Canada, while Melvin Chee is based in Melbourne, Australia. The trio also have a diverse range of expertise, with Goel being a graduate of aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto, with experience working in research labs in the fields of astrophysics and aerospace engineering. In addition to GoPitch, Goel is running PheedLoop, a startup that digitises and improves the feedback process for live presentations, meetings, and conferences. In many respects, the Australian equivalent to PheedLoop would be Feedback Fast (formerly Intercourse) founded by Murray Hurps, who runs multiple tech companies and is also General Manager of Sydney coworking community Fishburners. Wong is a graduate from the Ivey Business School in Canada and has previously worked for small web startups as a growth hacker. Chee is currently studying economics and finance in RMIT University and runs Eubi Pty Ltd, a company that distributes portable universal mobile chargers and accessories across Australia. Goel is the one who came up with the GoPitch concept and starting working on it as part of a weekend project. But given his expertise lies in development, he decided to rope in co-founders Wong and Chee to help with community management and marketing. Chee told Startup Daily that he is very pleased with GoPitch's online traffic - to date, GoPitch has drawn in more than 10,000 visitors. Given how young the startup is, this is an impressive number, although the co-founders have yet to solidify funding and monetisation. Chee admits that they've been approached by investors in London, Canada and the US who have communicated interest in financing the startup. But given GoPitch is still in its infancy, the co-founders are holding off on raising funds for a little while - instead, focusing their efforts on user acquisition and product refinement. Monetisation is not a priority at the moment, according to Chee, though he believes there are opportunities to come such as advertising and pitch promotion. Similar to sites like Realestate.com.au, entrepreneurs will have the option to pay to 'promote' their pitch, so it garners more eyeballs. Chee also mentioned 'exclusive access to pitches' like rapid fire pitch podcasts for venture capitalists who are looking for ideas to fund. You may wonder, why is 35 seconds the magic number? Well, if founders can't communicate their ideas in a couple of sentences, then it's unlikely that they will be capture the recipient's attention for long enough to secure a good business deal, investment or a customer sign-up. Chee, however, explains it differently, saying that 35 seconds is a long enough to sell an idea, and short enough that listeners will be able to commit to the entire pitch. "Listeners can commit to 35 seconds rather than committing to 5 minutes. We want people to go directly to the point. We've also noticed that, on our website, because the pitches are 35 seconds, users are listening to many pitches. In 5 minutes, you can listen to a lot of ideas and not take up too much of your time," he says. Chee also told Startup Daily that there are some exciting features in the making. One is the 'Request a Pitch' feature that will allow users to request a pitch from prominent entrepreneurs "like the founders of Airbnb and Uber". GoPitch will also be hosting competitions where users compete for the title of Best Pitch. But what will they win other than a title? Chee says that GoPitch plans on forming strategic partnerships with big companies like GoDaddy, that will provide discounts to winners. When confronted with the question of what he's proud of achieving with GoPitch, Chee says he loves the level of engagement he's noticed on the site: "There are just random people coming and commenting on ideas ... I really love watching the whole community just bouncing ideas off each other. Someone in US is sharing an idea that someone in London finds really interesting. It's great to see people all over the world connecting on GoPitch." ]]>
Melvin

All startups have meagre beginnings, despite the lofty histories they relay to the public. On GoPitch, the next big thing could start with a 35-second audio pitch. At the same time, it's a forum that could stop a bad idea in its tracks before an entrepreneur burns a hole in their hip pocket. After all, it could be a ‘make or break’ moment for any entrepreneur - standing before a critical audience, armed with a vision, taking a deep breath before launching into reasons why their idea is the next big thing. Unfortunately, in the startup world, a great idea is simply not enough, and many entrepreneurs end up facing rejection from investors and potential partners due to an inadequate pitch. And the reality is, at some point, startup founders will have to vocally sell their ideas, and cannot rely solely on an eloquently-written proposal. Launched in September, GoPitch is an online, community-driven tool to help entrepreneurs and creative minds pitch their ideas in 35 seconds or less to get constructive feedback and advice not only on their ideas, but also on the delivery of their pitches. Added to that, GoPitch wants entrepreneurs to make valuable connections with potential partners, investors or employees; and gain exposure for their ventures. Behind GoPitch are three comrades from different continents - Rahul Goel and George Wong are both based in Toronto, Canada, while Melvin Chee is based in Melbourne, Australia. The trio also have a diverse range of expertise, with Goel being a graduate of aerospace engineering from the University of Toronto, with experience working in research labs in the fields of astrophysics and aerospace engineering. In addition to GoPitch, Goel is running PheedLoop, a startup that digitises and improves the feedback process for live presentations, meetings, and conferences. In many respects, the Australian equivalent to PheedLoop would be Feedback Fast (formerly Intercourse) founded by Murray Hurps, who runs multiple tech companies and is also General Manager of Sydney coworking community Fishburners. Wong is a graduate from the Ivey Business School in Canada and has previously worked for small web startups as a growth hacker. Chee is currently studying economics and finance in RMIT University and runs Eubi Pty Ltd, a company that distributes portable universal mobile chargers and accessories across Australia. Goel is the one who came up with the GoPitch concept and starting working on it as part of a weekend project. But given his expertise lies in development, he decided to rope in co-founders Wong and Chee to help with community management and marketing. Chee told Startup Daily that he is very pleased with GoPitch's online traffic - to date, GoPitch has drawn in more than 10,000 visitors. Given how young the startup is, this is an impressive number, although the co-founders have yet to solidify funding and monetisation. Chee admits that they've been approached by investors in London, Canada and the US who have communicated interest in financing the startup. But given GoPitch is still in its infancy, the co-founders are holding off on raising funds for a little while - instead, focusing their efforts on user acquisition and product refinement. Monetisation is not a priority at the moment, according to Chee, though he believes there are opportunities to come such as advertising and pitch promotion. Similar to sites like Realestate.com.au, entrepreneurs will have the option to pay to 'promote' their pitch, so it garners more eyeballs. Chee also mentioned 'exclusive access to pitches' like rapid fire pitch podcasts for venture capitalists who are looking for ideas to fund. You may wonder, why is 35 seconds the magic number? Well, if founders can't communicate their ideas in a couple of sentences, then it's unlikely that they will be capture the recipient's attention for long enough to secure a good business deal, investment or a customer sign-up. Chee, however, explains it differently, saying that 35 seconds is a long enough to sell an idea, and short enough that listeners will be able to commit to the entire pitch. "Listeners can commit to 35 seconds rather than committing to 5 minutes. We want people to go directly to the point. We've also noticed that, on our website, because the pitches are 35 seconds, users are listening to many pitches. In 5 minutes, you can listen to a lot of ideas and not take up too much of your time," he says. Chee also told Startup Daily that there are some exciting features in the making. One is the 'Request a Pitch' feature that will allow users to request a pitch from prominent entrepreneurs "like the founders of Airbnb and Uber". GoPitch will also be hosting competitions where users compete for the title of Best Pitch. But what will they win other than a title? Chee says that GoPitch plans on forming strategic partnerships with big companies like GoDaddy, that will provide discounts to winners. When confronted with the question of what he's proud of achieving with GoPitch, Chee says he loves the level of engagement he's noticed on the site: "There are just random people coming and commenting on ideas ... I really love watching the whole community just bouncing ideas off each other. Someone in US is sharing an idea that someone in London finds really interesting. It's great to see people all over the world connecting on GoPitch." ]]>
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Pop! Co-Founder will be the first human to shit out a computer http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/pop-co-founder-will-first-human-shit-computer/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/pop-co-founder-will-first-human-shit-computer/#comments Tue, 21 Oct 2014 01:35:36 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34963 Chris-swallow1

Co-Founder and CEO of Pop! Chris Koch is the first human to shit out a computer (assuming no-one else has considered such an idea). Last week, Koch and his co-founder Chad Stephens unveiled their new mobile app Pop! ten months after selling their former business1Form to REA Group for $15 million. Their new app allows users to store, manage and control the personal details they give to companies online using Android and iOS smartphones. As part of a quirky marketing initiative to kickstart their launch, Koch decided to play human guinea pig in the Pop! The Boss competition. Using the app, participants 'popped' their entries into a small computer built in the shape of a pill which Koch swallowed yesterday at noon. Every time someone entered the competition, their details were sent to the computer chip inside Koch via Bluetooth. Because of the battery life required to keep the computer running for 24 hours, the pill itself was quite large - about 3.5cm by 2cm - bigger than your average vitamin tablet. But Koch, to his surprise, swallowed the pill with ease, even against doctor's orders. Doctors advised Koch that the pill (a foreign object to the body) could get stuck in his trachea, oesophagus and intestines, which would require immediate surgery. So what Koch has done was in fact life-threatening. But he did it for his 'baby' (translation: startup). [caption id="attachment_34966" align="alignnone" width="1456"]Pop the Boss - Xray X-Ray scan of the computer pill inside Chris Koch.[/caption] So what really was the purpose of the competition? Apart from being an interest-gauging marketing stunt and a way to generate mass user sign-ups, Koch said that the startup wanted to "demonstrate to people that with Pop!, you can send your data to absolutely any location - even inside my digestive system - and keep track of it." “It’s admittedly a pretty dangerous thing to do. My mum is terrified. But this company is really like my baby and I’ll do just about anything to effectively show the world what we can do for them. We hope Pop! can radically change the way consumers both shop and exchange their data online, and control their personal information. This stunt is something that I believe in because it can really demonstrate to people what our technology is capable of.” Those who might have assumed that what Koch swallowed was a pill cam - the ones that doctors get patients to swallow to identify abnormalities inside someone's body - it's not. People who expected to see organs in the live stream may have faced disappointment (or relief). Either way, Koch's guts were not for public view. Now let's address the elephant in the room. What happens post-digestion? Will Koch have to retrieve the pill from his bowel movement? Will it become a souvenir? Thankfully no. The device is encased in a high grade polyutherane plastic, and all entries are being sent back to a hard drive via bluetooth. And that's pretty much the end of that. I think. The competition has now ended. The winner of the major $10,000 cash prize will be announced on Friday 3pm. Many entrants today won prizes like the iPad Air (32G), GoPro Hero 3, $2,500 Cracka Wines Voucher and a Ferrari track day for being the first to answer quiz questions on Twitter.
]]>
Chris-swallow1

Co-Founder and CEO of Pop! Chris Koch is the first human to shit out a computer (assuming no-one else has considered such an idea). Last week, Koch and his co-founder Chad Stephens unveiled their new mobile app Pop! ten months after selling their former business1Form to REA Group for $15 million. Their new app allows users to store, manage and control the personal details they give to companies online using Android and iOS smartphones. As part of a quirky marketing initiative to kickstart their launch, Koch decided to play human guinea pig in the Pop! The Boss competition. Using the app, participants 'popped' their entries into a small computer built in the shape of a pill which Koch swallowed yesterday at noon. Every time someone entered the competition, their details were sent to the computer chip inside Koch via Bluetooth. Because of the battery life required to keep the computer running for 24 hours, the pill itself was quite large - about 3.5cm by 2cm - bigger than your average vitamin tablet. But Koch, to his surprise, swallowed the pill with ease, even against doctor's orders. Doctors advised Koch that the pill (a foreign object to the body) could get stuck in his trachea, oesophagus and intestines, which would require immediate surgery. So what Koch has done was in fact life-threatening. But he did it for his 'baby' (translation: startup). [caption id="attachment_34966" align="alignnone" width="1456"]Pop the Boss - Xray X-Ray scan of the computer pill inside Chris Koch.[/caption] So what really was the purpose of the competition? Apart from being an interest-gauging marketing stunt and a way to generate mass user sign-ups, Koch said that the startup wanted to "demonstrate to people that with Pop!, you can send your data to absolutely any location - even inside my digestive system - and keep track of it." “It’s admittedly a pretty dangerous thing to do. My mum is terrified. But this company is really like my baby and I’ll do just about anything to effectively show the world what we can do for them. We hope Pop! can radically change the way consumers both shop and exchange their data online, and control their personal information. This stunt is something that I believe in because it can really demonstrate to people what our technology is capable of.” Those who might have assumed that what Koch swallowed was a pill cam - the ones that doctors get patients to swallow to identify abnormalities inside someone's body - it's not. People who expected to see organs in the live stream may have faced disappointment (or relief). Either way, Koch's guts were not for public view. Now let's address the elephant in the room. What happens post-digestion? Will Koch have to retrieve the pill from his bowel movement? Will it become a souvenir? Thankfully no. The device is encased in a high grade polyutherane plastic, and all entries are being sent back to a hard drive via bluetooth. And that's pretty much the end of that. I think. The competition has now ended. The winner of the major $10,000 cash prize will be announced on Friday 3pm. Many entrants today won prizes like the iPad Air (32G), GoPro Hero 3, $2,500 Cracka Wines Voucher and a Ferrari track day for being the first to answer quiz questions on Twitter.
]]>
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Arresting Uber vs. The $17 Billion Giant. It really is a transport war now. http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/arresting-uber-vs-17-billion-giant-really-transport-war-now/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/arresting-uber-vs-17-billion-giant-really-transport-war-now/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 23:07:24 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34819 uberface

The list of Uber's enemies is a long one. It includes everyone from politicians to taxi lobbyists and the general public to its own drivers. I have been saying on quite a regular basis in the last couple of months that a war is brewing in the transport market. What I thought I meant by that was below the belt corporate tactics, pushing the boundaries of the legal system and aggressive public relations activities - a dick measuring contest of sorts from a bunch of men that want to show how much money they have at their disposal and how wide and far their personal networks reach. I never thought that things would get physical, until Friday. Whilst Uber have labelled the 'citizens arrest' actions of 'Arresting Uber' frontman Russell Howarth upon one of its drivers last week as "a stunt", my fear is that all actions have consequences. And when a group of people start taking the law into their own hands, shit starts to spiral out of control pretty fast. ARRESTING UBER The leader of the 'Arresting Uber' movement is Howarth, a registered Uber driver. That's what makes this situation so intense. This isn't a case of an external body protesting against innovation - it's the company's own early adopters rising up against a new product recently introduced in UberX. Howarth, the mouth piece for this 'movement' describes himself as an 'industry advocate' that has been standing up for the taxi and hire car industry for the past 10 years. Howarth says he is an ex London riot-policing squad officer, who also has experience in counter terrorism as well as working with MI6. He now spends his time looking after high profile clients with his hire car services, which is also registered on the Uber platform. Ironically, Howarth was recently invited by Uber to be an ambassador for the service via email last month.
uber partner
Source: Provided
Howarth told Startup Daily that in a nutshell, Arresting Uber's goal is to promote safe lawful application of the technology Uber provides. Howarth also clarified that the technology is in no way against the law - instead he takes issue with the manner in which Uber is applying it. So who exactly are the key stakeholders in this new movement? Howarth told Startup Daily that support for the movement came from Uber Partners themselves. That is Hire Car drivers on Uber Black and Uber LUX. Howarth claims that many of these drivers are afraid to speak out against Uber for fear of 'reprisal'. It should be noted though that Howarth has said he has experienced no such thing to date from Uber. What started out as a movement for NSW based Hire Car (Limousine) industry operators, has quickly started to grow. To date over 3,000 people have signed a petition that 'Arresting Uber' is circulating. Howarth told Startup Daily that the movement now has support from other states such as Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria; and now Uber drivers in other cities internationally are getting on board. Howarth claims that France, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States are represented. "Consumers are also backing the campaign, and becoming concerned once they realise what the issues actually are. Backing has come from professionals in Legal, Banking, Medical and many of the upper-end clientele who are not really UberX customers but would be more likely to utilise UberLUX or UberBlack," he said. "Many didn’t know that safety checks were not being done, many even thought the service was actually legal. Some companies have told us they will no longer pay for their employees to use UberX. It is true that most of our support comes from clients who would probably not be a major user, if at all, of UberX." This argument in the grand scheme of things is a rather mute point. Companies listen to credit card transactions and cash flow; the opinion of a non-customer would be of no concern to Uber at all. A $17 BILLION GIANT Every movement in history started when a group of people began to feel marginalised. It is understandable that hire car drivers that have been active supporters in the formative days of Uber would be pissed at the possibility that they could be replaced by a cheaper alternative - much in the same way that tele-operators in the past have been by outsourcing overseas as well as new telephony technologies. The problem with the relentless pursuit of profit is that sometimes, people at the top of the food chain become arseholes. At the top of Uber's foodchain is Founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, widely considered to be one of the best entrepreneurs of our age - and as Sarah Lacy, founder and CEO of Pando Media suggested in a recent feature for Pando Quarterly, one of the biggest arseholes in tech:
It’s a company that prides itself on playing rough and aiming to break laws. It has a self-described “war room” inside its new hard-edged headquarters. It’s played fast and loose with background checks on drivers and with the truth. A Pando investigation earlier this year showed that a driver accused of assault whom the company blindly defended had a criminal record that should have been caught in Uber’s background checks. More recently, it’s hired a campaign manager to shape the company’s narrative. This is an area CEO Travis Kalanick already knows plenty about, if we understand ‘shaping the company’s narrative’ to mean slinging mud and misleading the public in an image war between Uber and taxi companies. Not only has Uber vilified riders accusing their drivers of rape, assault or general bad behavior, they’ve also betrayed all their drivers; Kalanick has said he can’t wait to replace them all with self-driving cars. Time and again, he’s shown he is loyal to little more than his growing bank account and to the all-mighty free market. The Verge recently exposed a campaign called SLOG, publishing internal documents that detail a plan for agents to pose as passengers to recruit drivers from competitor Lyft and vie to tie up their cars so they couldn’t pick up passengers.
To be fair, when a business scales as fast as Uber has, there are always going to be 'problem people' that slip through the cracks. I am 100% certain that Uber is not the first company to let someone in the door with a criminal history, and it definitely won't be the last. When I reached out to David Rohrsheim, General Manager of Uber's Australian operations for comment on the activities and allegations coming from the 'Arresting Uber' camp, Startup Daily was told that Uber would be making no comment on the 'stunt' (the 'citizens arrests'). However, on our questions around safety procedures, we were pointed to an April post by Uber Sydney on its standards when it came to 'ridesharing' in Australia:

It’s important to us that every ridesharing partner on the Uber system meets, and continues to meet, our rigorous safety standards.

All ridesharing partners must be at least 21 years of age, and drive a registered, 2005 or later model four-door vehicle under a full driver’s licence. All ridesharing partners must also pass a rigorous criminal history police check, as well as undergoing a driving history check provided by the State transport authorities – The Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales, VicRoads in Victoria, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland.

As a minimum, all ridesharing partners are also required to have a current policy of compulsory third party (CTP) and third party property insurance.

But we don’t stop there – we want to ensure that riders, as well as members of the community, are as protected as possible. That’s why all ridesharing partners in Australia are also covered by up to US $5,000,000 contingent coverage for bodily injury and property damage to third parties by a large global insurer rated A+ by A.M. Best.

This means that if, in the event of an accident, a ridesharing partner’s own personal CTP or third party property insurance is exhausted or does not apply for any reason, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and the community at large can rest assured knowing that ridesharing partners remain covered by a robust first-class policy.

Whilst the safety narrative from Uber has all its bases covered, the story around working within the realms of legislation has begun to unravel across the states. In May this year, Startup Daily reported that Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, on radio with Ben Fordham, practically sat on the fence when it came to the very new concept of the Uber X ridesharing services.

In a 2GB radio interview on Thursday night, Berejiklian said there was no problem unless Uber called itself a ‘taxi service’: ”You don’t want to limit people’s choice because, at the end of the day, it does come down to choice.”

However, just last week on the 16th of October, in another 2GB interview with Ben Fordham, Berejiklian confirmed that the government's and indeed the office of Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) position on the Uber X services had changed, when presented with a question by a listener, who also happened to be a taxi driver.

Caller: What efforts are being made by yourself and the government, in relation to our competitor Uber, who have come out with full force, that are taking our work, putting unauthorised drivers on the road, that's allowing them to compete [as if they're] cab drivers, without any registration, without any endorsement and without any approval by the government. What are you going to do about it?

Berejiklian: Michael, thankyou very much for the question, and can I say, what we've done [to date] is that drivers doing that we are recognising as illegal drivers, so we've actually fined a lot of them already, so drivers ...

Fordham: How many have you fined roughly?

Berejiklian: Oh, I can get you the stats after I hang up

Fordham: That's alright

Berejiklian: But RMS does that, but we've been determined to ensure that anyone driving illegally, and in those circumstances you are, gets pinged for it

Whilst this seems quite finite, I am still bewildered at the way the commentary around this has changed in the past few months - when the laws have in fact, not changed. Section 37 of the NSW Passenger Transport Act 1990 is quite clear on the expectations for private hire car drivers. The big question is whether Uber X is in fact a hire car service, or a ride sharing service - obviously at this point the 'Arresting Uber" movement and the government don't see it as the latter.

When it comes to this fight, Uber has three very strong, almost indestructible assets going for it. The first is demand. People want Uber's services - all of them, including Uber X. Just like with any business, there will be a plethora of haters and they will more than likely start using Ridesurfing - the Australian answer to Lyft - Uber's major competitor in the United States.

The second is deep pockets. Uber has the cash to defend themselves if they feel they need to. Being aware of campaigns against your company and choosing which campaigns to squash is a strategy and a smart one. If the time comes, Uber can go head to head and out-cash their opponent.

The third is that Uber is a master at polarisation. And nothing attracts more people to join your cause than a loud hater, people that love Uber, will continue to love Uber. If and when the day comes that Uber do something so morally reprehensible then they should be worried, for the moment, even though many drivers have been accused of what can only be described as gross atrocities - the community still recognises a difference between company and individual workers - as they should.

YOU'RE UNDER ARREST

This week, following on from his first (and only thus far) citizens arrest, Howarth has committed to arresting a minimum of 10 Uber X drivers.

"Next week I am committing to apprehending and bringing before a person authorised to deal with the matter (the police or the courts) at least 10 [Uber X] drivers. I may do many more. I have worked out that I can easily detect 10 offences a day," Howarth told Startup Daily. "Interestingly, Uber is banning any account I use to make a booking. [Some] of these are legitimate customers of Uber who use Uber but support the cause that Uber X should be legalised. I intend to use more legitimate customers to book my rides that detect the offences and subsequently arrest those drivers." Frankly, trying to kill a giant from the bottom up is a stupid tactic - one that is full of risk and danger to all involved. I don't know about you, but if some bloke came up to me and told me they were placing me under a citizen's arrest, I wouldn't be cooperating. In an age where tensions are already high in the world for so many different reasons, the likelihood of some serious shit going down once someone chooses to challenge Howarth's tactics is where things go from 'movement' to assault charges. Howarth told Startup Daily that he will use no more force than necessary when executing a 'citizen's arrest' - something that is covered in our own laws.
Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 No 103231 Use of force in making an arrest A police officer or other person who exercises a power to arrest another person may use such force as is reasonably necessary to make the arrest or to prevent the escape of the person after arrest.
In regards to the mechanics of the 'citizen's arrests' to take place, Howarth told Startup Daily that, "Once a decision has been made to arrest an individual for an offence and I'm satisfied that the evidence is there and I am acting lawfully I accept there is a possibility the person may not be happy about that. The law is quite clear".
Howarth continues, "If the arrest is lawful then it should be affected. No more force should be used than is necessary and I expect that most drivers, albeit driving illegally, will not want to make their own situation worse. I expect that most drivers or Uber staff (as I will be looking at arresting them soon too once I identify the offences and have the required proof) will not resist arrest. That is unlawful behaviour in itself. The arrest will be 100% lawful. I shall act responsibly and I shall immediately take the person, and any property found on the person, before an authorised officer to be dealt with according to law". "Were a person aggrieved by me arresting them, instead of resisting arrest unlawfully, they ought make a complaint to police alleging deprivation of liberty, which is a very serious offence, at which time the police would investigate whether or not the arrest was indeed lawful. I am confident that I am absolutely operating within the law and I will continue to do so. I will not engage in unlawful tactics. I am aware and it has been widely reported on that Uber has used immoral and unlawful (making thousands of fake booking of competitors for instance and wasting thousands of drivers time) tactics in their meteoric rise but I do not wish to engage in the same." Whilst Howarth, clearly someone who knows what he is doing in regards to 'arresting' another in a responsible manner, may pull off all these 'arrests' without incident, the more pressing issue at the table is the tone that sets for the 'Arresting Uber' campaign. Whilst the stories on the 'Arresting Uber' website pertaining to incidents such as an Uber X driver running over a 6 year old girl, another driver abducting and assaulting a woman, an Uber X driver bashing a person with a hammer and many other quite widely reported stories are true, a little digging would find that the same could be said for many large global companies and industries across the world, and these stories ARE spread far and wide across different cities. To single out the Uber X service as being a powder keg of rapes, bashings and murders is classic 'movement' propaganda and does nothing to serve the core issue that seems to be at the heart of the cause - fairness. In fact, such propaganda only serves to heighten the level of passion stakeholders feel for the cause, and passion clouds the logical mind. Before you know it, once the leader of the campaign has notched up a few successful 'citizen arrests' others begin to follow suit. The variables from individual to individual begin to change and before you know it a 'citizen's arrest' turns into one party being carted away in a body bag. We need to remember, Uber X drivers are just trying to make ends meet too. Why should they have to go to work each day fearing a passenger placing them under arrest? WHAT ABOUT RIDESURFING? So where does Ridesurfing fit into all this? Do the different payment structures between Uber X and Ridesurfing get them off the hook, because they are a driven by a 'donation' based economy? Howarth told Startup Daily at this point he had no plans to target Ridesurfing drivers: "Ridesurfing actually are not committing the offence as Uber X is. They are more P2P based. Let’s be honest - calling [Uber X] 'Ride-Sharing' is a nonsense…" he said. "Traditionally, ride-sharing was about person A was going form A to B and hooked up with someone in the community heading close to B for an environmental benefit and it just made sense - a small contribution towards fuel and wear and tear made and every wins. Great concept! Uber X and Ridesurfing are an entirely different proposition". I couldn't disagree more with that outlook, and I feel that perhaps 'Arresting Uber' grossly underestimates the Ridesurfing team, and who they have as a financial backer - namely, Rocket Internet. I have stated before that Ridesurfing are the anti-Uber; and whilst co-founder Manutea Dupont disagreed with those remarks instead telling Startup Daily he was focused on building a strong community - I maintain my position. The difference between Ridesurfing and Uber X is not the fact that the former is a donation-based system; it's selling the perception that Ridesurfing is a tight knit community and UBER is not. While Ridesurfing may only be clocking up hundreds of rides a day at the moment in comparison to Uber's thousands, they are growing fast and building a strong loyal community and should not be dismissed as 'just' a P2P service quite so easily. BACK TO THE LAW As I stated before, the government has in fact changed their mind on the absent laws around 'Ridesharing' since the beginning of the year. Earlier in the year they were on the fence as to what actually classified 'Ridesharing'. That is where all the confusion started, and tensions began to escalate. There may be some good news to come for both Uber X and Ridesurfing, along with (hopefully) some much needed clarification around what exactly constitutes 'Ridesurfing'. Last month, a panel working on the government's Competition and Policy Review delivered their draft report. Among the recommendations included a specific mention about transportation applications. The draft report recommends the government sides with innovation and customer demand:
Mobile technologies are emerging that compete with traditional taxi booking services and support the emergence of innovative passenger transport services. Any regulation of such services should be consumer-focused and not inhibit innovation or protect existing business models.
It should also be mentioned that this draft report is the first in over 20 years around Competition and Policy. The draft report continued, singling out Uber:
The emergence of Uber has been particularly controversial as regulatory agencies have been questioning its legality and fining drivers, notwithstanding considerable public demand for its services. This indicates existing regulation is more concerned with protecting a particular business model than being flexible enough to allow innovative transport services to emerge. National Seniors Australia notes that new technologies are having the effect of empowering consumers: [T]he digital revolution — including the growing use of mobile telephone applications in combination with satellite navigation technologies — is giving rise to opportunities for new entrants to breakdown existing taxi network monopolies, enabling consumers to exercise greater choice and receive prompter service. It will be important to ensure that these innovations are not stifled by further anti-competitive regulation aimed at protecting incumbents . . .
Whether or not these recommendations remain in the final report remains to be seen. From there, they still need to be implemented, and clarification around the way legislation defines 'Ridesharing' needs to become finite. Until that happens, the war wages on.

Featured image: Arrestinguber.com

]]>
uberface

The list of Uber's enemies is a long one. It includes everyone from politicians to taxi lobbyists and the general public to its own drivers. I have been saying on quite a regular basis in the last couple of months that a war is brewing in the transport market. What I thought I meant by that was below the belt corporate tactics, pushing the boundaries of the legal system and aggressive public relations activities - a dick measuring contest of sorts from a bunch of men that want to show how much money they have at their disposal and how wide and far their personal networks reach. I never thought that things would get physical, until Friday. Whilst Uber have labelled the 'citizens arrest' actions of 'Arresting Uber' frontman Russell Howarth upon one of its drivers last week as "a stunt", my fear is that all actions have consequences. And when a group of people start taking the law into their own hands, shit starts to spiral out of control pretty fast. ARRESTING UBER The leader of the 'Arresting Uber' movement is Howarth, a registered Uber driver. That's what makes this situation so intense. This isn't a case of an external body protesting against innovation - it's the company's own early adopters rising up against a new product recently introduced in UberX. Howarth, the mouth piece for this 'movement' describes himself as an 'industry advocate' that has been standing up for the taxi and hire car industry for the past 10 years. Howarth says he is an ex London riot-policing squad officer, who also has experience in counter terrorism as well as working with MI6. He now spends his time looking after high profile clients with his hire car services, which is also registered on the Uber platform. Ironically, Howarth was recently invited by Uber to be an ambassador for the service via email last month.
uber partner
Source: Provided
Howarth told Startup Daily that in a nutshell, Arresting Uber's goal is to promote safe lawful application of the technology Uber provides. Howarth also clarified that the technology is in no way against the law - instead he takes issue with the manner in which Uber is applying it. So who exactly are the key stakeholders in this new movement? Howarth told Startup Daily that support for the movement came from Uber Partners themselves. That is Hire Car drivers on Uber Black and Uber LUX. Howarth claims that many of these drivers are afraid to speak out against Uber for fear of 'reprisal'. It should be noted though that Howarth has said he has experienced no such thing to date from Uber. What started out as a movement for NSW based Hire Car (Limousine) industry operators, has quickly started to grow. To date over 3,000 people have signed a petition that 'Arresting Uber' is circulating. Howarth told Startup Daily that the movement now has support from other states such as Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria; and now Uber drivers in other cities internationally are getting on board. Howarth claims that France, Spain, United Kingdom and the United States are represented. "Consumers are also backing the campaign, and becoming concerned once they realise what the issues actually are. Backing has come from professionals in Legal, Banking, Medical and many of the upper-end clientele who are not really UberX customers but would be more likely to utilise UberLUX or UberBlack," he said. "Many didn’t know that safety checks were not being done, many even thought the service was actually legal. Some companies have told us they will no longer pay for their employees to use UberX. It is true that most of our support comes from clients who would probably not be a major user, if at all, of UberX." This argument in the grand scheme of things is a rather mute point. Companies listen to credit card transactions and cash flow; the opinion of a non-customer would be of no concern to Uber at all. A $17 BILLION GIANT Every movement in history started when a group of people began to feel marginalised. It is understandable that hire car drivers that have been active supporters in the formative days of Uber would be pissed at the possibility that they could be replaced by a cheaper alternative - much in the same way that tele-operators in the past have been by outsourcing overseas as well as new telephony technologies. The problem with the relentless pursuit of profit is that sometimes, people at the top of the food chain become arseholes. At the top of Uber's foodchain is Founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, widely considered to be one of the best entrepreneurs of our age - and as Sarah Lacy, founder and CEO of Pando Media suggested in a recent feature for Pando Quarterly, one of the biggest arseholes in tech:
It’s a company that prides itself on playing rough and aiming to break laws. It has a self-described “war room” inside its new hard-edged headquarters. It’s played fast and loose with background checks on drivers and with the truth. A Pando investigation earlier this year showed that a driver accused of assault whom the company blindly defended had a criminal record that should have been caught in Uber’s background checks. More recently, it’s hired a campaign manager to shape the company’s narrative. This is an area CEO Travis Kalanick already knows plenty about, if we understand ‘shaping the company’s narrative’ to mean slinging mud and misleading the public in an image war between Uber and taxi companies. Not only has Uber vilified riders accusing their drivers of rape, assault or general bad behavior, they’ve also betrayed all their drivers; Kalanick has said he can’t wait to replace them all with self-driving cars. Time and again, he’s shown he is loyal to little more than his growing bank account and to the all-mighty free market. The Verge recently exposed a campaign called SLOG, publishing internal documents that detail a plan for agents to pose as passengers to recruit drivers from competitor Lyft and vie to tie up their cars so they couldn’t pick up passengers.
To be fair, when a business scales as fast as Uber has, there are always going to be 'problem people' that slip through the cracks. I am 100% certain that Uber is not the first company to let someone in the door with a criminal history, and it definitely won't be the last. When I reached out to David Rohrsheim, General Manager of Uber's Australian operations for comment on the activities and allegations coming from the 'Arresting Uber' camp, Startup Daily was told that Uber would be making no comment on the 'stunt' (the 'citizens arrests'). However, on our questions around safety procedures, we were pointed to an April post by Uber Sydney on its standards when it came to 'ridesharing' in Australia:

It’s important to us that every ridesharing partner on the Uber system meets, and continues to meet, our rigorous safety standards.

All ridesharing partners must be at least 21 years of age, and drive a registered, 2005 or later model four-door vehicle under a full driver’s licence. All ridesharing partners must also pass a rigorous criminal history police check, as well as undergoing a driving history check provided by the State transport authorities – The Roads and Maritime Services in New South Wales, VicRoads in Victoria, and the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland.

As a minimum, all ridesharing partners are also required to have a current policy of compulsory third party (CTP) and third party property insurance.

But we don’t stop there – we want to ensure that riders, as well as members of the community, are as protected as possible. That’s why all ridesharing partners in Australia are also covered by up to US $5,000,000 contingent coverage for bodily injury and property damage to third parties by a large global insurer rated A+ by A.M. Best.

This means that if, in the event of an accident, a ridesharing partner’s own personal CTP or third party property insurance is exhausted or does not apply for any reason, passengers, pedestrians, other drivers, and the community at large can rest assured knowing that ridesharing partners remain covered by a robust first-class policy.

Whilst the safety narrative from Uber has all its bases covered, the story around working within the realms of legislation has begun to unravel across the states. In May this year, Startup Daily reported that Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian, on radio with Ben Fordham, practically sat on the fence when it came to the very new concept of the Uber X ridesharing services.

In a 2GB radio interview on Thursday night, Berejiklian said there was no problem unless Uber called itself a ‘taxi service’: ”You don’t want to limit people’s choice because, at the end of the day, it does come down to choice.”

However, just last week on the 16th of October, in another 2GB interview with Ben Fordham, Berejiklian confirmed that the government's and indeed the office of Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) position on the Uber X services had changed, when presented with a question by a listener, who also happened to be a taxi driver.

Caller: What efforts are being made by yourself and the government, in relation to our competitor Uber, who have come out with full force, that are taking our work, putting unauthorised drivers on the road, that's allowing them to compete [as if they're] cab drivers, without any registration, without any endorsement and without any approval by the government. What are you going to do about it?

Berejiklian: Michael, thankyou very much for the question, and can I say, what we've done [to date] is that drivers doing that we are recognising as illegal drivers, so we've actually fined a lot of them already, so drivers ...

Fordham: How many have you fined roughly?

Berejiklian: Oh, I can get you the stats after I hang up

Fordham: That's alright

Berejiklian: But RMS does that, but we've been determined to ensure that anyone driving illegally, and in those circumstances you are, gets pinged for it

Whilst this seems quite finite, I am still bewildered at the way the commentary around this has changed in the past few months - when the laws have in fact, not changed. Section 37 of the NSW Passenger Transport Act 1990 is quite clear on the expectations for private hire car drivers. The big question is whether Uber X is in fact a hire car service, or a ride sharing service - obviously at this point the 'Arresting Uber" movement and the government don't see it as the latter.

When it comes to this fight, Uber has three very strong, almost indestructible assets going for it. The first is demand. People want Uber's services - all of them, including Uber X. Just like with any business, there will be a plethora of haters and they will more than likely start using Ridesurfing - the Australian answer to Lyft - Uber's major competitor in the United States.

The second is deep pockets. Uber has the cash to defend themselves if they feel they need to. Being aware of campaigns against your company and choosing which campaigns to squash is a strategy and a smart one. If the time comes, Uber can go head to head and out-cash their opponent.

The third is that Uber is a master at polarisation. And nothing attracts more people to join your cause than a loud hater, people that love Uber, will continue to love Uber. If and when the day comes that Uber do something so morally reprehensible then they should be worried, for the moment, even though many drivers have been accused of what can only be described as gross atrocities - the community still recognises a difference between company and individual workers - as they should.

YOU'RE UNDER ARREST

This week, following on from his first (and only thus far) citizens arrest, Howarth has committed to arresting a minimum of 10 Uber X drivers.

"Next week I am committing to apprehending and bringing before a person authorised to deal with the matter (the police or the courts) at least 10 [Uber X] drivers. I may do many more. I have worked out that I can easily detect 10 offences a day," Howarth told Startup Daily. "Interestingly, Uber is banning any account I use to make a booking. [Some] of these are legitimate customers of Uber who use Uber but support the cause that Uber X should be legalised. I intend to use more legitimate customers to book my rides that detect the offences and subsequently arrest those drivers." Frankly, trying to kill a giant from the bottom up is a stupid tactic - one that is full of risk and danger to all involved. I don't know about you, but if some bloke came up to me and told me they were placing me under a citizen's arrest, I wouldn't be cooperating. In an age where tensions are already high in the world for so many different reasons, the likelihood of some serious shit going down once someone chooses to challenge Howarth's tactics is where things go from 'movement' to assault charges. Howarth told Startup Daily that he will use no more force than necessary when executing a 'citizen's arrest' - something that is covered in our own laws.
Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act 2002 No 103231 Use of force in making an arrest A police officer or other person who exercises a power to arrest another person may use such force as is reasonably necessary to make the arrest or to prevent the escape of the person after arrest.
In regards to the mechanics of the 'citizen's arrests' to take place, Howarth told Startup Daily that, "Once a decision has been made to arrest an individual for an offence and I'm satisfied that the evidence is there and I am acting lawfully I accept there is a possibility the person may not be happy about that. The law is quite clear".
Howarth continues, "If the arrest is lawful then it should be affected. No more force should be used than is necessary and I expect that most drivers, albeit driving illegally, will not want to make their own situation worse. I expect that most drivers or Uber staff (as I will be looking at arresting them soon too once I identify the offences and have the required proof) will not resist arrest. That is unlawful behaviour in itself. The arrest will be 100% lawful. I shall act responsibly and I shall immediately take the person, and any property found on the person, before an authorised officer to be dealt with according to law". "Were a person aggrieved by me arresting them, instead of resisting arrest unlawfully, they ought make a complaint to police alleging deprivation of liberty, which is a very serious offence, at which time the police would investigate whether or not the arrest was indeed lawful. I am confident that I am absolutely operating within the law and I will continue to do so. I will not engage in unlawful tactics. I am aware and it has been widely reported on that Uber has used immoral and unlawful (making thousands of fake booking of competitors for instance and wasting thousands of drivers time) tactics in their meteoric rise but I do not wish to engage in the same." Whilst Howarth, clearly someone who knows what he is doing in regards to 'arresting' another in a responsible manner, may pull off all these 'arrests' without incident, the more pressing issue at the table is the tone that sets for the 'Arresting Uber' campaign. Whilst the stories on the 'Arresting Uber' website pertaining to incidents such as an Uber X driver running over a 6 year old girl, another driver abducting and assaulting a woman, an Uber X driver bashing a person with a hammer and many other quite widely reported stories are true, a little digging would find that the same could be said for many large global companies and industries across the world, and these stories ARE spread far and wide across different cities. To single out the Uber X service as being a powder keg of rapes, bashings and murders is classic 'movement' propaganda and does nothing to serve the core issue that seems to be at the heart of the cause - fairness. In fact, such propaganda only serves to heighten the level of passion stakeholders feel for the cause, and passion clouds the logical mind. Before you know it, once the leader of the campaign has notched up a few successful 'citizen arrests' others begin to follow suit. The variables from individual to individual begin to change and before you know it a 'citizen's arrest' turns into one party being carted away in a body bag. We need to remember, Uber X drivers are just trying to make ends meet too. Why should they have to go to work each day fearing a passenger placing them under arrest? WHAT ABOUT RIDESURFING? So where does Ridesurfing fit into all this? Do the different payment structures between Uber X and Ridesurfing get them off the hook, because they are a driven by a 'donation' based economy? Howarth told Startup Daily at this point he had no plans to target Ridesurfing drivers: "Ridesurfing actually are not committing the offence as Uber X is. They are more P2P based. Let’s be honest - calling [Uber X] 'Ride-Sharing' is a nonsense…" he said. "Traditionally, ride-sharing was about person A was going form A to B and hooked up with someone in the community heading close to B for an environmental benefit and it just made sense - a small contribution towards fuel and wear and tear made and every wins. Great concept! Uber X and Ridesurfing are an entirely different proposition". I couldn't disagree more with that outlook, and I feel that perhaps 'Arresting Uber' grossly underestimates the Ridesurfing team, and who they have as a financial backer - namely, Rocket Internet. I have stated before that Ridesurfing are the anti-Uber; and whilst co-founder Manutea Dupont disagreed with those remarks instead telling Startup Daily he was focused on building a strong community - I maintain my position. The difference between Ridesurfing and Uber X is not the fact that the former is a donation-based system; it's selling the perception that Ridesurfing is a tight knit community and UBER is not. While Ridesurfing may only be clocking up hundreds of rides a day at the moment in comparison to Uber's thousands, they are growing fast and building a strong loyal community and should not be dismissed as 'just' a P2P service quite so easily. BACK TO THE LAW As I stated before, the government has in fact changed their mind on the absent laws around 'Ridesharing' since the beginning of the year. Earlier in the year they were on the fence as to what actually classified 'Ridesharing'. That is where all the confusion started, and tensions began to escalate. There may be some good news to come for both Uber X and Ridesurfing, along with (hopefully) some much needed clarification around what exactly constitutes 'Ridesurfing'. Last month, a panel working on the government's Competition and Policy Review delivered their draft report. Among the recommendations included a specific mention about transportation applications. The draft report recommends the government sides with innovation and customer demand:
Mobile technologies are emerging that compete with traditional taxi booking services and support the emergence of innovative passenger transport services. Any regulation of such services should be consumer-focused and not inhibit innovation or protect existing business models.
It should also be mentioned that this draft report is the first in over 20 years around Competition and Policy. The draft report continued, singling out Uber:
The emergence of Uber has been particularly controversial as regulatory agencies have been questioning its legality and fining drivers, notwithstanding considerable public demand for its services. This indicates existing regulation is more concerned with protecting a particular business model than being flexible enough to allow innovative transport services to emerge. National Seniors Australia notes that new technologies are having the effect of empowering consumers: [T]he digital revolution — including the growing use of mobile telephone applications in combination with satellite navigation technologies — is giving rise to opportunities for new entrants to breakdown existing taxi network monopolies, enabling consumers to exercise greater choice and receive prompter service. It will be important to ensure that these innovations are not stifled by further anti-competitive regulation aimed at protecting incumbents . . .
Whether or not these recommendations remain in the final report remains to be seen. From there, they still need to be implemented, and clarification around the way legislation defines 'Ridesharing' needs to become finite. Until that happens, the war wages on.

Featured image: Arrestinguber.com

]]>
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A $4.5 million capital raise and significant overhaul in management structure. The new goCatch? http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/4-5-million-capital-raise-significant-overhaul-management-structure-new-gocatch/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/4-5-million-capital-raise-significant-overhaul-management-structure-new-gocatch/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:55:34 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34947 000346-cover-inner-city-taxi-go-catch

In July Startup Daily reported that goCatch, the mobile taxi booking application company, was rumoured to be in the middle of raising funds. Yesterday, the news was confirmed and broke by Fairfax. goCatch had indeed closed a $4.5 million round of funding, although a press release distributed last night said the capital raise was sitting at $5 million. Back in July, I reported that Taxis Combined Services (TCS) was courting the goCatch team in regards to the round just closed. However, it appears TCS was not part of this current investment. There were however some very heavy hitters including Square Peg Capital, billionaire family the Kahlbetzers, David Paradice, Alex Turnbull and Seek Co-Founder Paul Bassat. According to reporter Adele Ferguson, who broke the funding news, goCatch is worth $19 million. This number, when standing next to the $600 million valuation of Cabcharge (goCatch's main competitor) and a $17 billion valued Uber seems tiny. But in less than three years, goCatch has managed to gain some very significant traction with over 30,000 cabs around Australia using the service and more than 280,000 users making bookings via the platform. But goCatch wakes up today a little different than it was prior to this funding round. Co-founders Andrew Campbell and Ned Moorefield also used to be co-CEOs, an arrangement not that out of place in modern Australian startup culture - Atlassian and Scriptrock are classic examples. However, part of the agreement, as reported by Ferguson was that funding was contingent on some "radical" changes to the business structures and management. One of these changes has included the departure of Campbell from the board and company management. It is not clear what discussions have taken place, nor has it been explored by anyone in the media publicly, to lead to the decision around Campbell's departure. It is also unclear the role, if any other than shareholder, he will play in the company moving forward. A new addition to the board was made - namely Airtasker co-founder and investor, Tim Fung. By all accounts, the restructure seems to be a 'financials first' play minimising top end staff spend freeing up cash so that the company can execute on its goal to disrupt Cabcharge. The funding news also comes just days after the ACCC ruled against a Taxi Company in Townsville (Townsville Taxis) blocking drivers from being able to use the goCatch app. On the matter, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. "[It is] extremely important that new technological services, such as third party booking applications, are not unlawfully restricted in their ability to compete with established taxi booking services". It should be noted that in all the hype over the last 24 hours about this recent funding round, and the internal Uber war happening that I also wrote about today, there are two key challenges the goCatch faces when it comes to disrupting Cabcharge, and it has nothing to do with money or its current monopoly on the market. The first is ingogowho presents a very real threat to goCatch, and technically could be labelled, a more pure disruptor in the market. Unlike goCatch who is tied into a relationship with GM Cabs, ingogo have no affiliation with any of the major players in the Taxi Industry. In fact, founder Hamish Petrie is pretty vocal about the point. He told Startup Daily earlier this year that he would refuse any offers made to him by anyone with a stake in the old ways of the industry:
Unlike goCatch, Petrie has said that he has and will refuse any offer to get in bed with another Taxi company (goCatch are currently tied into a deal with GM Cabs) – he would even reject any offers of acquisition from a company like Cabcharge if they came his way. When he first began the journey that is ingogo, Petrie received a $250,000 Commonwealth Government grant specifically to build a competitor to Cabcharge. I suppose you could say disruption of the status quo is the true mission he is on, not an easy build and flip situation.
Petrie is preparing to IPO the company in the not too distant future, having closed over $16.2 million in funding to date, at a valuation of $45 million -  tough competitor for goCatch to go head to head with. The second is the lack of loyalty amongst cab drivers. In fact, we are seeing in Australia exactly what has been happening in the United States, whereby drivers are signed up and are active customers of a number of services, switching from one to the next based on an array of different variables. This is great for the cab drivers in terms of a collection of platforms they can make money with, but terrible for the platforms themselves - it may destroy the monopoly Cabcharge currently has within the space - but marketshare between platforms will be a constant tale of up and down based only on whether or not cab drivers are happier with one service more than the other. ]]>
000346-cover-inner-city-taxi-go-catch

In July Startup Daily reported that goCatch, the mobile taxi booking application company, was rumoured to be in the middle of raising funds. Yesterday, the news was confirmed and broke by Fairfax. goCatch had indeed closed a $4.5 million round of funding, although a press release distributed last night said the capital raise was sitting at $5 million. Back in July, I reported that Taxis Combined Services (TCS) was courting the goCatch team in regards to the round just closed. However, it appears TCS was not part of this current investment. There were however some very heavy hitters including Square Peg Capital, billionaire family the Kahlbetzers, David Paradice, Alex Turnbull and Seek Co-Founder Paul Bassat. According to reporter Adele Ferguson, who broke the funding news, goCatch is worth $19 million. This number, when standing next to the $600 million valuation of Cabcharge (goCatch's main competitor) and a $17 billion valued Uber seems tiny. But in less than three years, goCatch has managed to gain some very significant traction with over 30,000 cabs around Australia using the service and more than 280,000 users making bookings via the platform. But goCatch wakes up today a little different than it was prior to this funding round. Co-founders Andrew Campbell and Ned Moorefield also used to be co-CEOs, an arrangement not that out of place in modern Australian startup culture - Atlassian and Scriptrock are classic examples. However, part of the agreement, as reported by Ferguson was that funding was contingent on some "radical" changes to the business structures and management. One of these changes has included the departure of Campbell from the board and company management. It is not clear what discussions have taken place, nor has it been explored by anyone in the media publicly, to lead to the decision around Campbell's departure. It is also unclear the role, if any other than shareholder, he will play in the company moving forward. A new addition to the board was made - namely Airtasker co-founder and investor, Tim Fung. By all accounts, the restructure seems to be a 'financials first' play minimising top end staff spend freeing up cash so that the company can execute on its goal to disrupt Cabcharge. The funding news also comes just days after the ACCC ruled against a Taxi Company in Townsville (Townsville Taxis) blocking drivers from being able to use the goCatch app. On the matter, ACCC chairman Rod Sims said. "[It is] extremely important that new technological services, such as third party booking applications, are not unlawfully restricted in their ability to compete with established taxi booking services". It should be noted that in all the hype over the last 24 hours about this recent funding round, and the internal Uber war happening that I also wrote about today, there are two key challenges the goCatch faces when it comes to disrupting Cabcharge, and it has nothing to do with money or its current monopoly on the market. The first is ingogowho presents a very real threat to goCatch, and technically could be labelled, a more pure disruptor in the market. Unlike goCatch who is tied into a relationship with GM Cabs, ingogo have no affiliation with any of the major players in the Taxi Industry. In fact, founder Hamish Petrie is pretty vocal about the point. He told Startup Daily earlier this year that he would refuse any offers made to him by anyone with a stake in the old ways of the industry:
Unlike goCatch, Petrie has said that he has and will refuse any offer to get in bed with another Taxi company (goCatch are currently tied into a deal with GM Cabs) – he would even reject any offers of acquisition from a company like Cabcharge if they came his way. When he first began the journey that is ingogo, Petrie received a $250,000 Commonwealth Government grant specifically to build a competitor to Cabcharge. I suppose you could say disruption of the status quo is the true mission he is on, not an easy build and flip situation.
Petrie is preparing to IPO the company in the not too distant future, having closed over $16.2 million in funding to date, at a valuation of $45 million -  tough competitor for goCatch to go head to head with. The second is the lack of loyalty amongst cab drivers. In fact, we are seeing in Australia exactly what has been happening in the United States, whereby drivers are signed up and are active customers of a number of services, switching from one to the next based on an array of different variables. This is great for the cab drivers in terms of a collection of platforms they can make money with, but terrible for the platforms themselves - it may destroy the monopoly Cabcharge currently has within the space - but marketshare between platforms will be a constant tale of up and down based only on whether or not cab drivers are happier with one service more than the other. ]]>
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Spring.me prepares to list on the ASX and raise a further $5M http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/spring-prepares-list-asx-raise-5m/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/spring-prepares-list-asx-raise-5m/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:43:23 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34957 Colin (2)

Following hot on the tails of Australia’s latest startup trend, Question-and-Answer based social network Spring.me has today announced its plans to list on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), and raise a further $3 million to $5 million in the upcoming weeks through institutional investors. This follows Spring.me’s $1.8 million capital raise via listed diversified financials firm GRP Corporation Limited (GRP) and the reverse takeover of Spring.me’s parent company Helpa Inc. by the firm. The new fundraising round is being managed by DJ Carmichael and BBY. Prior to the reverse takeover by GRP, Spring.me had raised $3.5 million from investors including Right Click Capital, Tankstream Ventures and Nextec Strategic Ventures, together with a series of high net worth wealth angel investors and some boutique funds. Spring.me was launched in beta in July 2013 and founded by executive chairman Colin Fabig, who has built and sold several internet companies including the daily deals site JumpOnIt to LivingSocial in 2012; and managing director Ari Klinger, who sold OMG to Fairfax in 2011. A year later, Spring.me is considered one of Australia’s fastest growing social networks, drawing in more than 5 million visitors a month, predominantly the ‘always online’ Gen Y market. Spring.me’s prospectus has not yet been lodged with the ASIC, but is expected to be very soon with the new listed entity to be renamed as Spring Networks Limited (ASX:SNS). The company anticipates the listing to be completed by December. Spring.me’s COO Keith O’Brien said the company hopes to reach 100 million users via new product launches including native mobile apps, online games and matchmaking technology that can connect like-minded people from all over the world. “Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are mainly used for sharing with current friends and family, but we believe there is room for another social networking force focused on making new friends through Q&A,” O’Brien said in a media release. Fabig said he was encouraged by the recent increase in ASX listings of technology companies which proved that public markets, not just venture capital, could fill the funding gap that has traditionally caused many Australian tech founders to head overseas when attempting to compete in the global stage of innovation. He added that, unlike Twitter, Ask and Facebook, Spring.me strives to be “the friendlier social network” where you don’t see any “nonsense and trolling”. This is achieved by what Fabig calls “crowd moderation”. “With the help of nearly 1,000 Spring.me “ambassadors” from all over the world, some content filtering and a lot Smiley emoji’s - we not only filter most of the unpleasant content you may encounter elsewhere, but our ambassadors also welcome newcomers to the site and help them become part of the friendly community,” Fabig said in a media release. “Just like travel sites are now the place to book holidays and dating sites the first place to start a new romance – we expect in the future, people will see Spring Networks as the first place to go to make friends from all over the world.” --- Image (L to R): Colin Fabig and Ari Klinger, Co-Founders of Spring.me. Source: Provided.  ]]>
Colin (2)

Following hot on the tails of Australia’s latest startup trend, Question-and-Answer based social network Spring.me has today announced its plans to list on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), and raise a further $3 million to $5 million in the upcoming weeks through institutional investors. This follows Spring.me’s $1.8 million capital raise via listed diversified financials firm GRP Corporation Limited (GRP) and the reverse takeover of Spring.me’s parent company Helpa Inc. by the firm. The new fundraising round is being managed by DJ Carmichael and BBY. Prior to the reverse takeover by GRP, Spring.me had raised $3.5 million from investors including Right Click Capital, Tankstream Ventures and Nextec Strategic Ventures, together with a series of high net worth wealth angel investors and some boutique funds. Spring.me was launched in beta in July 2013 and founded by executive chairman Colin Fabig, who has built and sold several internet companies including the daily deals site JumpOnIt to LivingSocial in 2012; and managing director Ari Klinger, who sold OMG to Fairfax in 2011. A year later, Spring.me is considered one of Australia’s fastest growing social networks, drawing in more than 5 million visitors a month, predominantly the ‘always online’ Gen Y market. Spring.me’s prospectus has not yet been lodged with the ASIC, but is expected to be very soon with the new listed entity to be renamed as Spring Networks Limited (ASX:SNS). The company anticipates the listing to be completed by December. Spring.me’s COO Keith O’Brien said the company hopes to reach 100 million users via new product launches including native mobile apps, online games and matchmaking technology that can connect like-minded people from all over the world. “Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are mainly used for sharing with current friends and family, but we believe there is room for another social networking force focused on making new friends through Q&A,” O’Brien said in a media release. Fabig said he was encouraged by the recent increase in ASX listings of technology companies which proved that public markets, not just venture capital, could fill the funding gap that has traditionally caused many Australian tech founders to head overseas when attempting to compete in the global stage of innovation. He added that, unlike Twitter, Ask and Facebook, Spring.me strives to be “the friendlier social network” where you don’t see any “nonsense and trolling”. This is achieved by what Fabig calls “crowd moderation”. “With the help of nearly 1,000 Spring.me “ambassadors” from all over the world, some content filtering and a lot Smiley emoji’s - we not only filter most of the unpleasant content you may encounter elsewhere, but our ambassadors also welcome newcomers to the site and help them become part of the friendly community,” Fabig said in a media release. “Just like travel sites are now the place to book holidays and dating sites the first place to start a new romance – we expect in the future, people will see Spring Networks as the first place to go to make friends from all over the world.” --- Image (L to R): Colin Fabig and Ari Klinger, Co-Founders of Spring.me. Source: Provided.  ]]>
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Muru-D announces its second intake for 2014 / 2015 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/muru-d-announces-second-intake-2014-2015/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/muru-d-announces-second-intake-2014-2015/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 05:48:25 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34879 murud28229copy

With a successful class now under its belt the Telstra backed startup accelerator muru-D is getting ready for another round, this time with 11 promising startups selected for the program. Powered by Telstra, muru-D provides $40,000 seed capital investment in return for six per cent equity in the business. The accelerator is a unique opportunity for start-ups to access six months of business support, a collaborative workspace, mentoring and coaching to help them grow, develop and expand. Ann Parker, muru-D Co-founder, said, “Yet again, we’ve been able to uncover world class entrepreneurial talent and are delighted with the quality of applicants coming into the academy. We’ve seen just how significant this experience has been for our first round graduates and we can’t wait to get class #2 underway. Out of the 11 teams, two startups applied for the last intake and were rejected - taking on the feedback received at that point in time, the founders returned for a second crack and were successful. Diversity is also a promising theme in this intake including three female CEOs, two female CTOs and more than eight nationalities represented with founders from Iran, China, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe, the US & UK and of course Australia. The one aspect that muru-D was known for during intake one was the variety in of industries the startups covered. This new class is no different with businesses from the sport, education, travel, hospitality, sustainability and technology sectors. Let's meet the muru-D class two startups: Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 3.56.59 pm FanFuel A platform that allows athletes to be sponsored by their fans. Through crowd funding, users can secure any funds for their sporting careers. According to the website, Fanfuel is the brainchild of Daniel Paranetto, an aspiring race driver who lived through the pains of seeking sponsorship. During his career, Dan saw the best talent in the sport struggling to progress due to financial pressures and lack of sponsors, while people with the right contacts and big pockets moved up the ranks.   FreightExchange (site not live yet) FreightExchange is a digital marketplace where long distance transport operators can sell unused capacity to businesses that need to ship goods. It provides an holistic view of available capacity via simple online and mobile interfaces, and is capable of integrating with existing IT systems to provide instant freight transport quotes and bookings. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.00.28 pm   WattBlock Wattblock is an independent website which is designed to assist other unit blocks and strata schemes reduce their energy consumption. Wattblock uses details about your "block" [read city block etc] to make calculations about your common area energy consumption. Some basic information and your block's last energy bill or financial statement is all you need to create your profile. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.05.13 pm   Disrupt Surfing Disrupt Surfing helps users custom make their own surfboards. Using technology to Disrupt. Customers tell the startup all the dimensions & Disrupt Surfing uses 3D printing design technology to make a digital set up of their board and then shape, glass and spray it by precision computer. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.09.43 pm   You Chews At You Chews, the vision is to create a world where inspiring, delicious food can be found at every meeting and event. Cofounder Liz Kaelin is a dietitian, and is driven by providing a platform where small, local, bespoke food businesses can share and celebrate their amazing food with the community. Kaelin says You Chews is on a mission to make ordering amazing catering online simple and fun. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.13.58 pm   TripALocal Tripalocal is an online platform that connects travelers with local hosts for authentic local experiences. Travelers can step into the shoes of locals and discover a city from their perspective. Locals have the opportunity to become true entrepreneurs by sharing their passion with travelers and set their own reward. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.17.34 pm   Peep Digital Peep Digital, we have developed an intelligent platform that simplifies the international phonetic system and makes English pronunciation easier and faster to master. It offers a practical, fun and effective way to practise with all the sounds of the English language. VClass (website not live yet) The first ever hybrid education platform that combines the power of Internet, VoIP and traditional pen and paper to create an online teaching experience like face to face. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.25.26 pm   Instrument Works Is bringing the Internet of Things and Big Data to the users of scientific and industrial instrumentation so they are not left behind in the 21st century. Starting with pH and temperature sensors it aims to offer its customers a complete range of fully portable and un-wired sensors, all controlled by smartphones and other touch-screen and cloud-connected enabled devices. Instrument Works is developing a whole ecosystem of devices using its simple-to-use DataWorks software app. [caption id="attachment_34903" align="aligncenter" width="952"]crowd (1) Founders Ben Liau and Desmond Hang[/caption]   CrowdSourceHire

The online service which targets startups and small and medium enterprises gives clients access to the right people by assisting them with their pre-hire evaluation in the web development industry. Founded by Ben Liau and Desmond Hang, the idea was conceived when they both ran their own startups and encountered bad experiences with failed hires. This particular experience showed the duo first hand how hiring the wrong people could lead to delays in pushing the product into the market whilst costing the business time and money.

Soccer Brain (website not live yet)

A startup that makes it easy for anyone to coach a team, providing tailored, interactive training sessions week-by-week for coaches and players. On the announcement, Charlotte Yarkoni, Executive Director, Telstra Software Group and muru-D Co-founder said, “Nurturing innovation within Australia is critical to ensure we’re continuing to fuel our economy with exciting and disruptive technology companies. If we don’t innovate, we risk becoming irrelevant. It’s a priority for Telstra and we’re starting to see it become a priority for more and more organisations, which is very exciting for everyone involved in the business".
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murud28229copy

With a successful class now under its belt the Telstra backed startup accelerator muru-D is getting ready for another round, this time with 11 promising startups selected for the program. Powered by Telstra, muru-D provides $40,000 seed capital investment in return for six per cent equity in the business. The accelerator is a unique opportunity for start-ups to access six months of business support, a collaborative workspace, mentoring and coaching to help them grow, develop and expand. Ann Parker, muru-D Co-founder, said, “Yet again, we’ve been able to uncover world class entrepreneurial talent and are delighted with the quality of applicants coming into the academy. We’ve seen just how significant this experience has been for our first round graduates and we can’t wait to get class #2 underway. Out of the 11 teams, two startups applied for the last intake and were rejected - taking on the feedback received at that point in time, the founders returned for a second crack and were successful. Diversity is also a promising theme in this intake including three female CEOs, two female CTOs and more than eight nationalities represented with founders from Iran, China, Argentina, Brazil, Zimbabwe, the US & UK and of course Australia. The one aspect that muru-D was known for during intake one was the variety in of industries the startups covered. This new class is no different with businesses from the sport, education, travel, hospitality, sustainability and technology sectors. Let's meet the muru-D class two startups: Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 3.56.59 pm FanFuel A platform that allows athletes to be sponsored by their fans. Through crowd funding, users can secure any funds for their sporting careers. According to the website, Fanfuel is the brainchild of Daniel Paranetto, an aspiring race driver who lived through the pains of seeking sponsorship. During his career, Dan saw the best talent in the sport struggling to progress due to financial pressures and lack of sponsors, while people with the right contacts and big pockets moved up the ranks.   FreightExchange (site not live yet) FreightExchange is a digital marketplace where long distance transport operators can sell unused capacity to businesses that need to ship goods. It provides an holistic view of available capacity via simple online and mobile interfaces, and is capable of integrating with existing IT systems to provide instant freight transport quotes and bookings. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.00.28 pm   WattBlock Wattblock is an independent website which is designed to assist other unit blocks and strata schemes reduce their energy consumption. Wattblock uses details about your "block" [read city block etc] to make calculations about your common area energy consumption. Some basic information and your block's last energy bill or financial statement is all you need to create your profile. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.05.13 pm   Disrupt Surfing Disrupt Surfing helps users custom make their own surfboards. Using technology to Disrupt. Customers tell the startup all the dimensions & Disrupt Surfing uses 3D printing design technology to make a digital set up of their board and then shape, glass and spray it by precision computer. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.09.43 pm   You Chews At You Chews, the vision is to create a world where inspiring, delicious food can be found at every meeting and event. Cofounder Liz Kaelin is a dietitian, and is driven by providing a platform where small, local, bespoke food businesses can share and celebrate their amazing food with the community. Kaelin says You Chews is on a mission to make ordering amazing catering online simple and fun. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.13.58 pm   TripALocal Tripalocal is an online platform that connects travelers with local hosts for authentic local experiences. Travelers can step into the shoes of locals and discover a city from their perspective. Locals have the opportunity to become true entrepreneurs by sharing their passion with travelers and set their own reward. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.17.34 pm   Peep Digital Peep Digital, we have developed an intelligent platform that simplifies the international phonetic system and makes English pronunciation easier and faster to master. It offers a practical, fun and effective way to practise with all the sounds of the English language. VClass (website not live yet) The first ever hybrid education platform that combines the power of Internet, VoIP and traditional pen and paper to create an online teaching experience like face to face. Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 4.25.26 pm   Instrument Works Is bringing the Internet of Things and Big Data to the users of scientific and industrial instrumentation so they are not left behind in the 21st century. Starting with pH and temperature sensors it aims to offer its customers a complete range of fully portable and un-wired sensors, all controlled by smartphones and other touch-screen and cloud-connected enabled devices. Instrument Works is developing a whole ecosystem of devices using its simple-to-use DataWorks software app. [caption id="attachment_34903" align="aligncenter" width="952"]crowd (1) Founders Ben Liau and Desmond Hang[/caption]   CrowdSourceHire

The online service which targets startups and small and medium enterprises gives clients access to the right people by assisting them with their pre-hire evaluation in the web development industry. Founded by Ben Liau and Desmond Hang, the idea was conceived when they both ran their own startups and encountered bad experiences with failed hires. This particular experience showed the duo first hand how hiring the wrong people could lead to delays in pushing the product into the market whilst costing the business time and money.

Soccer Brain (website not live yet)

A startup that makes it easy for anyone to coach a team, providing tailored, interactive training sessions week-by-week for coaches and players. On the announcement, Charlotte Yarkoni, Executive Director, Telstra Software Group and muru-D Co-founder said, “Nurturing innovation within Australia is critical to ensure we’re continuing to fuel our economy with exciting and disruptive technology companies. If we don’t innovate, we risk becoming irrelevant. It’s a priority for Telstra and we’re starting to see it become a priority for more and more organisations, which is very exciting for everyone involved in the business".
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Startups and Scalability: Things to consider before launching your new venture http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startups-scalability-things-consider-launching-new-venture/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startups-scalability-things-consider-launching-new-venture/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 03:25:35 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34874 Elance-oDesk

The “digital nomad” is such a popular concept these days,. And it’s no wonder — who, after all, doesn’t dream of working anywhere from sandy beaches to the side of a volcano before sneaking out for cocktails just because you feel like it? It’s a concept that the millennial generation has wholeheartedly embraced, with predictions that as much as 50% of the workforce will be freelance by 2020. Employers, too, seem eager to distribute work in this way, rather than paying benefits and overhead for employees for whom they don’t have a sustained need. Having given the location independent business lifestyle a try myself, I can indeed attest that there’s much to love. However, it needs to be said that positive stereotypes of the independent professional lifestyle are a little Pollyannaish. You are, after all, starting your own business, and you’re doing it without a home base and likely in a competitive field. Making it work takes a lot of foresight and even more hard work, especially as the frustrations mount. Based on my experiences, I’ve narrowed my advice down to a few key things you should know before beginning the startup journey. Fit Your Career to the Lifestyle First things first: you’ve got to pick a career that actually can be done from anywhere. That may seem obvious for things like a contracting business or a hair salon, but even some careers that seem like they could be done anywhere may be more location dependent than you think if they rely on in-person meetings. So, what careers are good candidates for a traveling lifestyle? Basically, anything that can be done using digital communication tools, like email, GDocs and Skype. Writers, graphic designers, travel agents, salespeople (the ones that can do all of their work over the phone), bookkeepers, accountants, virtual assistants, consultants and web entrepreneurs are all great candidates, though you can certainly get creative in carving out a new style of working within your industry. Grow a Freedom Fund Just like any new business, a location independent career can take a while before it’s profitable, so having some financial cushioning can remove a lot of stress. It can also prevent financial woes from getting in the way of you fully embracing the experience; there’s no point, after all, in working from Fiji if all you can think about is whether or not you’ll be able to eat tonight. Getting yourself out of debt before you go can have a similar effect. Along similar lines, it goes without saying that no matter how successful you become, a location independent professional should never open up an office in a set location or take on any big debts like a mortgage. All of these things will seriously limit what you can do and where you can go. While a 12-month freedom fund is ideal, even a 6-month cushion can help tremendously, especially if you’re willing to work locally to tide things over. And if your projects take off sooner than this, great! Use those extra funds for more flights. banner-300x250 Line up your Online Workers Sure, you may be a programmer, but being in business for yourself means being an accountant, a bookkeeper, a designer, a marketer, an administrative assistant and a salesperson as well. This is where sites like oDesk.com come in handy. Think of it this way: when you’ve got the right people with the right skills to keep the backend of your business running smoothly and with as much automation as possible, you can feel free to gallivant to random locations without worry about the boring nitty gritty details of the day to day. The same goes with sales and marketing skills, which, when mastered, will give you confidence that you know how to drum up business in a pinch and are well set up with clients for many months to come. There will probably be some tasks you will want to immediately use an online worker for for, even if you’ve only got a small budget, as this will allow you to focus on your core competencies. A virtual assistant, for instance, can be essential in taking care of administrative details like scheduling or research, and they only charge for the time they work. Self-Motivation is Key In a recent Forbes interview with location independent entrepreneurs, one character trait was mentioned again and again: self-motivation. You just can’t go for the independent lifestyle if you don’t have it. Be honest with yourself about this. Some people really do need the social pressures of an office to stay on task, or they just generally go crazy when they don’t have consistent friends to hang out with. On the road, there’s never a guarantee you’ll have someone to pal around with, and there will never be a boss hanging over your shoulder to whip you into shape. If you can set your own deadlines and keep them, effectively manage your time, and don’t often procrastinate, then keep reading. You Can and Should Set Your Own Schedule It sounds silly, but one of the weirdest things to adjust to after having worked in a traditional job for some time is that you don’t actually have to work 8 to 10 hours a day (and you don’t have to feel guilty for that fact). In the Forbes article, one entrepreneur describes doing her hardest work right when she wakes up because that’s when she’s got the most energy and motivation. She then does a few lighter tasks while she eats lunch, and then takes the afternoon to do something fun and physical, like kayaking, before heading back in the evening to do a few conference calls when her US clients are back in the office. In this way, she builds her entire day around her energy levels and fully embraces the idea that she’s more than her work. If this only takes her 5 hours, so what? She embodies every bit of what the location independent lifestyle is supposed to be. Begin Branding Early As mentioned earlier, making money from your new business can take a fair amount of time. That’s partially due to branding, as you need time to establish a clear voice and presence on your social media profiles and your website. This is of course important for all businesses but it’s do or die for the location independent professional, as you want your entire online presence optimised for clients to first find you and then become convinced of your amazingness. Even if it’s just starting a blog, the earlier you get going on this, the easier a time you’ll have once you leave home. Start Networking Before You Go In one of the earlier sections of Elizabeth Gilbert’s iconic Eat, Pray, Love, she describes sitting on the sidewalk with her laptop, only to have a neighbour offer her a high paying gig she could do from just about anywhere. While I loved that book and I love Elizabeth Gilbert, when I read that section I boiled with jealousy, and I wondered how anyone could ever be so lucky. Now I realise that sweet gigs like that are entirely possible with just a good dose of networking under your belt. Your current job, for example, might be amenable to letting you go remote, if only you let them know about your plans. Industry-specific Meetups, networking groups and professional groups are also a great place to begin. With just a few good gigs to get you going before you leave, you’ll have the benefit of establishing yourself within your home community, with all of the associated referral possibilities, while you’re working from abroad. That said, don’t pass up networking on the road, either. Online networking through social media profiles, online interest groups and even Google Hangouts can be particularly effective. And if you’re settling down in one place for even just a few days, why not attend the equivalent local MeetUp groups there? It’s a great way to meet locals, make friends and pass out business cards, all at once. Be Prepared for Hardship The biggest thing I can say about being a location independent professional is that you’ve really, really got to work for it, especially if you’re operating in a flooded field. It’s not as simple as throwing up a blog, packing your bag and typing out a few posts about your adventures. Be prepared to work it hard, as well as for some instability and some uniquely remote problems, like not being able to find an internet connection anywhere within a tiny island village when you’ve got a pitch meeting in 10 minutes. The Takeaway Location independent businesses are the future. With a good mix of hard work, entrepreneurial enthusiasm, organisational skills and passion, you’ll be typing up emails from Tahiti in no time. --- Offer. Redeem your credit here: www.odesk.com/coupon Elance-ODesk are offering our readers a $50 voucher code to kick things off on odesk.com. The code is: AUStartups2014 Here are the conditions on the code:
  • $50
  • Expires 12/31/2014
  • New clients only
  • One credit per company
  • Client must post a job in order for the credit to be redeemed
  • Redeemed credit expires within 90 days of the redemption period
]]>
Elance-oDesk

The “digital nomad” is such a popular concept these days,. And it’s no wonder — who, after all, doesn’t dream of working anywhere from sandy beaches to the side of a volcano before sneaking out for cocktails just because you feel like it? It’s a concept that the millennial generation has wholeheartedly embraced, with predictions that as much as 50% of the workforce will be freelance by 2020. Employers, too, seem eager to distribute work in this way, rather than paying benefits and overhead for employees for whom they don’t have a sustained need. Having given the location independent business lifestyle a try myself, I can indeed attest that there’s much to love. However, it needs to be said that positive stereotypes of the independent professional lifestyle are a little Pollyannaish. You are, after all, starting your own business, and you’re doing it without a home base and likely in a competitive field. Making it work takes a lot of foresight and even more hard work, especially as the frustrations mount. Based on my experiences, I’ve narrowed my advice down to a few key things you should know before beginning the startup journey. Fit Your Career to the Lifestyle First things first: you’ve got to pick a career that actually can be done from anywhere. That may seem obvious for things like a contracting business or a hair salon, but even some careers that seem like they could be done anywhere may be more location dependent than you think if they rely on in-person meetings. So, what careers are good candidates for a traveling lifestyle? Basically, anything that can be done using digital communication tools, like email, GDocs and Skype. Writers, graphic designers, travel agents, salespeople (the ones that can do all of their work over the phone), bookkeepers, accountants, virtual assistants, consultants and web entrepreneurs are all great candidates, though you can certainly get creative in carving out a new style of working within your industry. Grow a Freedom Fund Just like any new business, a location independent career can take a while before it’s profitable, so having some financial cushioning can remove a lot of stress. It can also prevent financial woes from getting in the way of you fully embracing the experience; there’s no point, after all, in working from Fiji if all you can think about is whether or not you’ll be able to eat tonight. Getting yourself out of debt before you go can have a similar effect. Along similar lines, it goes without saying that no matter how successful you become, a location independent professional should never open up an office in a set location or take on any big debts like a mortgage. All of these things will seriously limit what you can do and where you can go. While a 12-month freedom fund is ideal, even a 6-month cushion can help tremendously, especially if you’re willing to work locally to tide things over. And if your projects take off sooner than this, great! Use those extra funds for more flights. banner-300x250 Line up your Online Workers Sure, you may be a programmer, but being in business for yourself means being an accountant, a bookkeeper, a designer, a marketer, an administrative assistant and a salesperson as well. This is where sites like oDesk.com come in handy. Think of it this way: when you’ve got the right people with the right skills to keep the backend of your business running smoothly and with as much automation as possible, you can feel free to gallivant to random locations without worry about the boring nitty gritty details of the day to day. The same goes with sales and marketing skills, which, when mastered, will give you confidence that you know how to drum up business in a pinch and are well set up with clients for many months to come. There will probably be some tasks you will want to immediately use an online worker for for, even if you’ve only got a small budget, as this will allow you to focus on your core competencies. A virtual assistant, for instance, can be essential in taking care of administrative details like scheduling or research, and they only charge for the time they work. Self-Motivation is Key In a recent Forbes interview with location independent entrepreneurs, one character trait was mentioned again and again: self-motivation. You just can’t go for the independent lifestyle if you don’t have it. Be honest with yourself about this. Some people really do need the social pressures of an office to stay on task, or they just generally go crazy when they don’t have consistent friends to hang out with. On the road, there’s never a guarantee you’ll have someone to pal around with, and there will never be a boss hanging over your shoulder to whip you into shape. If you can set your own deadlines and keep them, effectively manage your time, and don’t often procrastinate, then keep reading. You Can and Should Set Your Own Schedule It sounds silly, but one of the weirdest things to adjust to after having worked in a traditional job for some time is that you don’t actually have to work 8 to 10 hours a day (and you don’t have to feel guilty for that fact). In the Forbes article, one entrepreneur describes doing her hardest work right when she wakes up because that’s when she’s got the most energy and motivation. She then does a few lighter tasks while she eats lunch, and then takes the afternoon to do something fun and physical, like kayaking, before heading back in the evening to do a few conference calls when her US clients are back in the office. In this way, she builds her entire day around her energy levels and fully embraces the idea that she’s more than her work. If this only takes her 5 hours, so what? She embodies every bit of what the location independent lifestyle is supposed to be. Begin Branding Early As mentioned earlier, making money from your new business can take a fair amount of time. That’s partially due to branding, as you need time to establish a clear voice and presence on your social media profiles and your website. This is of course important for all businesses but it’s do or die for the location independent professional, as you want your entire online presence optimised for clients to first find you and then become convinced of your amazingness. Even if it’s just starting a blog, the earlier you get going on this, the easier a time you’ll have once you leave home. Start Networking Before You Go In one of the earlier sections of Elizabeth Gilbert’s iconic Eat, Pray, Love, she describes sitting on the sidewalk with her laptop, only to have a neighbour offer her a high paying gig she could do from just about anywhere. While I loved that book and I love Elizabeth Gilbert, when I read that section I boiled with jealousy, and I wondered how anyone could ever be so lucky. Now I realise that sweet gigs like that are entirely possible with just a good dose of networking under your belt. Your current job, for example, might be amenable to letting you go remote, if only you let them know about your plans. Industry-specific Meetups, networking groups and professional groups are also a great place to begin. With just a few good gigs to get you going before you leave, you’ll have the benefit of establishing yourself within your home community, with all of the associated referral possibilities, while you’re working from abroad. That said, don’t pass up networking on the road, either. Online networking through social media profiles, online interest groups and even Google Hangouts can be particularly effective. And if you’re settling down in one place for even just a few days, why not attend the equivalent local MeetUp groups there? It’s a great way to meet locals, make friends and pass out business cards, all at once. Be Prepared for Hardship The biggest thing I can say about being a location independent professional is that you’ve really, really got to work for it, especially if you’re operating in a flooded field. It’s not as simple as throwing up a blog, packing your bag and typing out a few posts about your adventures. Be prepared to work it hard, as well as for some instability and some uniquely remote problems, like not being able to find an internet connection anywhere within a tiny island village when you’ve got a pitch meeting in 10 minutes. The Takeaway Location independent businesses are the future. With a good mix of hard work, entrepreneurial enthusiasm, organisational skills and passion, you’ll be typing up emails from Tahiti in no time. --- Offer. Redeem your credit here: www.odesk.com/coupon Elance-ODesk are offering our readers a $50 voucher code to kick things off on odesk.com. The code is: AUStartups2014 Here are the conditions on the code:
  • $50
  • Expires 12/31/2014
  • New clients only
  • One credit per company
  • Client must post a job in order for the credit to be redeemed
  • Redeemed credit expires within 90 days of the redemption period
]]>
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STARTUP CAST | The future of Hacking – with Bugcrowd co-founder Casey Ellis http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-cast-future-hacking-bugcrowd-cofounder-casey-ellis/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startup-cast-future-hacking-bugcrowd-cofounder-casey-ellis/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 03:03:18 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34866 casey-ellis

This morning I sat down with Bugcrowd co-founder and CEO Casey Ellis. We spoke about a number of things including where the business is heading, the importance of IT education and looked at the future of hacking, and how the education of the next generation on good hacking vs bad hacking is an important issue that Bugcrowd has become actively involved with in the United States. Bugcrowd launched in 2012 technically but officially launched its services when it got into the Startmate program in 2013. In the back half of 2013 they raised $2 million in seed funding, (It was reported as $1.6 million at the time) and the company currently has 17 employees. Bugcrowd relocated to San Francisco and the bulk of their customer base are in the US.

featured image: Venturebeat.com

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casey-ellis

This morning I sat down with Bugcrowd co-founder and CEO Casey Ellis. We spoke about a number of things including where the business is heading, the importance of IT education and looked at the future of hacking, and how the education of the next generation on good hacking vs bad hacking is an important issue that Bugcrowd has become actively involved with in the United States. Bugcrowd launched in 2012 technically but officially launched its services when it got into the Startmate program in 2013. In the back half of 2013 they raised $2 million in seed funding, (It was reported as $1.6 million at the time) and the company currently has 17 employees. Bugcrowd relocated to San Francisco and the bulk of their customer base are in the US.

featured image: Venturebeat.com

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Journalist wants to raise $1M on Indiegogo to take over Mamamia and fire Mia Freedman http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/journalist-wants-raise-1m-indiegogo-take-mamamia-fire-mia-freedman/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/journalist-wants-raise-1m-indiegogo-take-mamamia-fire-mia-freedman/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 01:51:25 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34812 mamamia

Operation Take Over Mamamia and Fire Mia Freedman. Kate Iselin, Founder and Editor of online magazine Vanity Project, has just embarked on this self-proclaimed 'hostile' mission that is bound to generate polarised reactions. But how exactly will she take over one of Australia's most popular (albeit questionable) publications for women? Well, last Friday Iselin had launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with the goal of raising AUD$1 million to buy out Mamamia.com.au, fire Mia Freedman, and relaunch the brand as MamaKate - unless someone generously donates $1 million, in which case it will be Mama[insert name of donor]. Apparently, the new version of Mamamia will be "a far more inclusive, educated, intelligent take on women's issues." There's no doubt many Australian women would welcome that with open arms. Over the past few years, Freedman has developed quite a reputation - increasingly for communicating viewpoints that offend (whether intentionally or not) many of Australia's sects, most recently the gay community. She made headlines again, this time by making a comparison between homosexuals and paedophiles on live national television. “We accept that gay people can’t change who they love and they’re sexually attracted to,” Freedman said on The Project last week, “so why do we think that people who are sexually attracted to children can be rehabilitated?" She has since apologised for her words to mitigate the backlash. But this is only one example. For someone who masquerades as a feminist, she has too often been caught making comments that offend, marginalise and demean various subgroups of women:
  • Sex workers: "no little girl grows up wanting to be a sex worker, thank heavens", ABC QandA 
  • Asian women: "magazine covers of Asian or dark-skinned women don't sell ... you have to give readers what they want", Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood
  • Transpeople: "the model was rather masculine looking and we shaped her jaw to make her look less like a transvestite", Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood
A quick Google search will direct you to plenty of articles, forum submissions, threads and social media posts that communicate hatred towards the woman. And Freedman is fully cognisant of such negative opinions, having responded to 'haters' in many editorial columns of her own. Although Freedman has garnered quite a few glares of disapproval, one thing is clear - she knows how to run a media company. Call it 'click bait' or 'troll bait', her publications get eyeballs. And that's exactly what advertisers want when they invest in media. Unfortunately, there is no publicly available information on how much Mamamia is worth, but given it draws in 635,000 unique readers per month (Ray Morgan) and ranks in the top 200 websites in Australia (Alexa), it wouldn't be too far-fetched to to bet it's worth well over $1 million. A crowdfunding campaign to buy out Mamamia for $1 million is then, a tad unrealistic. It assumes that Freedman would accept the deal. Perhaps the campaign is a joke. But what does this say about the crowdfunding model?  Crowdfunding has predominantly been used to validate ideas and fund the production of goods - be it an indie film or a new gadget. But increasingly, we're seeing individuals stretch its utility - even using crowdfunding platforms to fund potato salads, ban Nickelback's presence in London, and overhaul an existing media company. Indiegogo has been scrutinised by many US media like Pando.com for not doing quality control, to which Liz Wald, Indiegogo's VP of International had a cogent response. In an interview with Startup Daily, she stated:
"Being a totally open platform, you open yourselves up to people questioning what is on your platform … The most important thing you can have is a crowd. Generally speaking, the crowd votes with its dollars – they either like something or they don’t like something. They bring up issues, they question (the campaign owner) – the crowd is tremendous. It works for AirBnB, UBER, eBay, Etsy – the crowd is really the dictator."
It's true, people vote with their wallets. If they don’t like something, then they have no obligation to help fund it. If Indiegogo started making judgements on what ideas are worth being featured on the platform, it would undermine the concept of democracy it reiterates across its marketing initiatives. There wouldn't be an equitable balance between the interests of the company and 'the people'. It is then the crowd's responsibility to discuss a campaign's worthiness. In the case of taking over Mamamia, the goal of the campaign is likely unattainable (even if many agree with the cause). If Iselin is able to raise $1 million, it would strongly suggest that Australians are willing to pay for change. In an ideal world, it might even motivate Freedman to rethink her strategies and viewpoints. But then where will the $1 million worth of funds go? What we can do, is simply avoid reading shit we don't like. Maybe it's the 'haters' that are keeping Mamamia alive and thriving in our media landscape? All they need is pageviews. ]]>
mamamia

Operation Take Over Mamamia and Fire Mia Freedman. Kate Iselin, Founder and Editor of online magazine Vanity Project, has just embarked on this self-proclaimed 'hostile' mission that is bound to generate polarised reactions. But how exactly will she take over one of Australia's most popular (albeit questionable) publications for women? Well, last Friday Iselin had launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo with the goal of raising AUD$1 million to buy out Mamamia.com.au, fire Mia Freedman, and relaunch the brand as MamaKate - unless someone generously donates $1 million, in which case it will be Mama[insert name of donor]. Apparently, the new version of Mamamia will be "a far more inclusive, educated, intelligent take on women's issues." There's no doubt many Australian women would welcome that with open arms. Over the past few years, Freedman has developed quite a reputation - increasingly for communicating viewpoints that offend (whether intentionally or not) many of Australia's sects, most recently the gay community. She made headlines again, this time by making a comparison between homosexuals and paedophiles on live national television. “We accept that gay people can’t change who they love and they’re sexually attracted to,” Freedman said on The Project last week, “so why do we think that people who are sexually attracted to children can be rehabilitated?" She has since apologised for her words to mitigate the backlash. But this is only one example. For someone who masquerades as a feminist, she has too often been caught making comments that offend, marginalise and demean various subgroups of women:
  • Sex workers: "no little girl grows up wanting to be a sex worker, thank heavens", ABC QandA 
  • Asian women: "magazine covers of Asian or dark-skinned women don't sell ... you have to give readers what they want", Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood
  • Transpeople: "the model was rather masculine looking and we shaped her jaw to make her look less like a transvestite", Mama Mia: A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines and Motherhood
A quick Google search will direct you to plenty of articles, forum submissions, threads and social media posts that communicate hatred towards the woman. And Freedman is fully cognisant of such negative opinions, having responded to 'haters' in many editorial columns of her own. Although Freedman has garnered quite a few glares of disapproval, one thing is clear - she knows how to run a media company. Call it 'click bait' or 'troll bait', her publications get eyeballs. And that's exactly what advertisers want when they invest in media. Unfortunately, there is no publicly available information on how much Mamamia is worth, but given it draws in 635,000 unique readers per month (Ray Morgan) and ranks in the top 200 websites in Australia (Alexa), it wouldn't be too far-fetched to to bet it's worth well over $1 million. A crowdfunding campaign to buy out Mamamia for $1 million is then, a tad unrealistic. It assumes that Freedman would accept the deal. Perhaps the campaign is a joke. But what does this say about the crowdfunding model?  Crowdfunding has predominantly been used to validate ideas and fund the production of goods - be it an indie film or a new gadget. But increasingly, we're seeing individuals stretch its utility - even using crowdfunding platforms to fund potato salads, ban Nickelback's presence in London, and overhaul an existing media company. Indiegogo has been scrutinised by many US media like Pando.com for not doing quality control, to which Liz Wald, Indiegogo's VP of International had a cogent response. In an interview with Startup Daily, she stated:
"Being a totally open platform, you open yourselves up to people questioning what is on your platform … The most important thing you can have is a crowd. Generally speaking, the crowd votes with its dollars – they either like something or they don’t like something. They bring up issues, they question (the campaign owner) – the crowd is tremendous. It works for AirBnB, UBER, eBay, Etsy – the crowd is really the dictator."
It's true, people vote with their wallets. If they don’t like something, then they have no obligation to help fund it. If Indiegogo started making judgements on what ideas are worth being featured on the platform, it would undermine the concept of democracy it reiterates across its marketing initiatives. There wouldn't be an equitable balance between the interests of the company and 'the people'. It is then the crowd's responsibility to discuss a campaign's worthiness. In the case of taking over Mamamia, the goal of the campaign is likely unattainable (even if many agree with the cause). If Iselin is able to raise $1 million, it would strongly suggest that Australians are willing to pay for change. In an ideal world, it might even motivate Freedman to rethink her strategies and viewpoints. But then where will the $1 million worth of funds go? What we can do, is simply avoid reading shit we don't like. Maybe it's the 'haters' that are keeping Mamamia alive and thriving in our media landscape? All they need is pageviews. ]]>
http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/journalist-wants-raise-1m-indiegogo-take-mamamia-fire-mia-freedman/feed/ 0
5 things startups must consider prior to choosing a technology outsourcing partner http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/5-things-startups-must-consider-prior-choosing-technology-outsourcing-partner/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/5-things-startups-must-consider-prior-choosing-technology-outsourcing-partner/#comments Sun, 19 Oct 2014 22:14:34 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34831 shutterstock_141086071

All those in the IT industry who have given any thought about optimising their current software development processes and arrangements, inevitably wind up thinking about some sort of outsourcing.

Alas, many IT businesses that could potentially profit financially from a viable outsourcing arrangement, and could, in many instances, even improve the quality of their products, prefer to keep on funnelling the corporate moolah into the costly, if outright failing, arrangements and, often, mediocre resources they are saddled with in-house.

One could point out several reasons for why this is happening. We will dwell on just one being the breaking point for many a brilliant cost optimisation undertaking – the fear of choosing the wrong outsourcing partner.

We’ll also try to look at the issue at hand from an altogether different angle – through the eyes of a seasoned outsourcing provider which we are.

So, how would we go about selecting an outsourcing partner for ourselves were we in the shoes of a technology business that doesn’t have too much money to burn, but is poised for action for the fear of getting into a dodgy arrangement with an out-of-the-country outfit, unable to deliver as expected?

Relevant Industry Expertise and How it Should be Verified

First and foremost, in addition to a good portfolio, excellent development skills, a favourable geography and time zone, and cultural proximity, it may be mission-critical to opt for a provider that has sufficient industry expertise, and has previously catered to reputable businesses in your particular industry.

While this is clearly understood by most companies looking to outsource, many of them omit to find out what is in actuality behind your partner’s-to-be claims of having the industry-specific knowledge you are looking for.

Due to the customer turnover that inevitably takes place at any company, it may well happen so that none of the employees who have implemented their reference projects in your business domain are actually available to tackle your project. It must be firmly stipulated by you from the outset that at least one of the employees on your project team, preferably, the Project Manager, must be one who has taken part in projects similar to yours.

It is also imperative that you pick a company with a well-established corresponding industry practice, and probe whether there are any more similar ongoing projects: the presence of one or more ongoing similar projects always helps the provider ensure continuity in their industry practices, and may come in handy in the future, should you need to scale up your development effort. To beef up our own project teams, we also practice appointing regular consultants from among those knowledge holders, who are allocated to other projects.

While checking your potential partner’s industry expertise, also think about it from the point of view of the added value they can generate. See who the clients are, and what exactly the service provider’s employees have done for them. After all, this is one of the less touted, but tangible advantages of outsourcing (provided you find the right partner) – expertise-wise, those folks don’t stew in their own juice, and have, often, taken part in developing several standard-setting solutions for different clients.

This means that although the details of one’s previous industry-related development experience may be NDA-ed, the knowledge and skills remain, and your solution is much more likely to end up at the forefront of your industry than when handled by people who are brand new to the field.

To cap it all off, a business domain-savvy team will always implement the project considerably faster, thus saving you oodles of dough and the need to be providing feedback iteratively during several months. There have been several instances when we had a chance to truly realise how important business domain knowledge is to both the service provider and their client.

For instance, we’ve had two similar projects associated with building payment systems for two different European clients. With the first project, it did take us a short while to figure out the industry specifics and get a grasp of the terminology, but we managed to do it quickly and that wasn’t really the pits.

The real hassle kicked off when we started integrating our system with external payment gateways: the churn was excruciating. That’s when we realised, that had we known the industry workings before, the team’s downtime (not to mention the client’s bankroll) could have been somewhat smaller – a little of timely planning was all that was required.

We never got slowed down by similar hurdles while implementing our second payment system project.

From our personal observations, depending on the specific business domain (in our case, it was FX trading), it may take a project team up to half a year to fully learn the ropes of a particular industry. The shorter this process is, the more wholesome it is to your project.

Finally, it is also important that you find out how your outsourcing partner-to-be is prepared to guarantee that the intellectual property rights to your product will belong to you when your project is completed. This is something that must be taken care of before you sign with them, and start spending time on negotiating other issues and holding interviews with their employees.

Your Partner’s HR and Recruitment Processes & Potential for Growth

Never get overly enthused if you’ve managed to find an outfit that has done it before – this is only part of the puzzle. Another major aspect that needs to be researched by you prior to the take-off of your project is how stable your outsourcing arrangement with this selected service provider can be, given their existing HR infrastructure, and the current potential of their IT labor market.

What Needs to Be Taken Into Account

Western businesses looking to outsource make the hackneyed mistake of overestimating the weight contractual relations between employers and employees carry in setting up a steady and efficient offshore development team. Surprisingly, some believe that contractually harnessing a bunch of developers for what they reckon to be a sufficient time period is the answer.

Nah, it doesn’t work that way.

And we’ve known this for certain ever since the early 2000s, when sweatshops, disguised as IT multinationals’ local branches, were, briefly though, part of Ukraine’s IT landscape. To our memory, the sweatshop approach had never worked out to result in any more or less well-implemented projects: all you can do is make some people (who’ve probably been beating the bushes for a job for a while) go through the motions for the period you mention in the contract. Just like with mercenaries in combat, your platoon will fink out on you one by one in search of greener pastures at the very first opportunity.

Although the importance of contractual relationships should not be altogether disregarded, what matters a lot more for long-term engagements is, in our reckoning, whether your partner’s workforce is motivated enough to stay with them long enough, and whether they are in a position to increase your team quickly and with the same quality.

To find this out, pose and try to find answers to the following questions:

  • How happy the employees with the service provider?

  • How long are employees contractually obliged to stay with the service provider for, should they want to terminate their contract?

  • What is the employee turn over in the company?

  • How well does the company rank on the local IT labor market?

  • Is the service provider’s Recruitment team on par with their IT market’s realities?

Your Provider’s IT Labor Market

Whenever you are looking for something other than just harnessing a brace of developers to do a two-month gig for you, the local IT labor market’s peculiarities and characteristics must be factored in.

Once you go with a service provider, it may not always be easy to furl your development effort, and launch it elsewhere. That is why, if you are looking to hire, for example, a Java development team over the long haul, it would be essential for you to also know the ability of your service provider’s IT labor market to provide a larger number of qualified professionals within an acceptable time period. In order to gauge this ability, you can contact several companies in the area, or just look up the corresponding statistics on the Web.

In this sense, it would be more prudent to go with a service provider that is based in a well-known software development hub with a large pool of qualified resources available. For example, due to our location in such a hub, finding a senior Java Software Development Engineer takes us the average of 3 months, which is roughly twice less than is required for finding one in the US. However, this may not always be possible for other providers located in some other places in Ukraine.

The existence in the area of other software development vendors engaged in developing similar products would be a significant plus.

Your Provider’s HR & Retention Policy

Besides the ability of the local IT labor market to bolster your possible expansion plans, what really matters a lot is the whether your partner’s Recruitment Team is qualified enough to use this ability to the company’s and your own boon (from our experience, by far not all recruiters should even be there).

See your partner’s recruiters’ profiles, take a glance at the employment initiatives the company has launched, or taken place in (university job fairs, educational student programs and internships, and others), and make a conclusion about how well-established they are on the labor market. Here, special attention should also be paid to the service provider’s retention practices that can be roughly evaluated by the number of various corporate events, seminars, trainings, and business trips abroad.

Most companies also list their employment benefits in the corresponding sections of their websites, and this info should also be taken into account by you. Note, that often software development companies also list their employment benefits in their websites’ corresponding sections, and have separate websites specifically intended for employment purposes.

From our company’s experience, how active a firm is as an employer is one of the more meaningful indicators when you need to evaluate their position on the IT labor market.

As a company that is Java-driven technologically, we organise different events for the local Java community, and run a student IT Incubator for talented beginner programmers. To broaden our exposure to the IT community, we are also currently planning to host a well-known intellectual game with teams of the locally based software development firms competing. For us it is a time-proven truth that such initiatives have a tangible positive influence on one’s recruitment process, and help ensure a steady inflow of qualified candidates.

Finally, as a client, you too have a lot of sway over what, seemingly, lies solely within the realm of a service provider’s HR policy and practices. For one, if you have a large-scale and long-term project, do make this known to all candidates you are going to interview. Do mention the project’s scale, duration, applicable hierarchy, and related career opportunities.

Your Service Provider’s Account Management Practices

Although, this is one of the key points to affect the well-being of a project, it is invariably overlooked by 90% of those looking to outsource, and even seasoned professionals often get down to ironing out the relationship bugs when the negative impact can already be sensed.

So, why not ask the right questions during the negotiations stage, and keep the trouble away from day one?

To be able to do so, one must understand the role of Account Manager well, and be aware of the different variations it assumes in practice, including undesirable ones.

Generally, an Account Manager monitors what is being done by a team of technologists and how that corresponds to the client’s business realities and plans, thus ensuring a business-driven approach vs. an engineering-driven approach.

In other words, in terms of the functionality that your application will provide, you will receive what your business actually needs, and not what your programmers may reckon to be neat to implement technologically.

Oftentimes, it doesn’t really matter all that much which of your service providers employees will double in brass as your Account Manager. This can be their CEO, CIO, Delivery Manager, Senior Project Manager, or an employee whose title with the company is Account Manager.

Regardless of his or her position or title, this person must play the role of an auditor, and regard the project and his or her responsibilities as one. In addition to being able to supervise the project schedule and scope, a good Account Manager must also be familiar with the project’s history, and be in the know about the customer’s plans, problems, and opportunities. And, certainly, ideally, an Account Manager must be an expert in your business domain to act as a consultant.

Note that sometimes major outsourcing companies offer outstaffing arrangements, whereby the role of Account Manager is reduced to the minimum, and, in essence, their responsibility is just to hire personnel to be managed by senior IT staff of your company. Do you employ anyone who would meet the description? Are they qualified enough to do the job? Are you really prepared to bankroll their shuttling to and fro, which, to boot, is not so likely to translate into something of value?

Always make sure to ask your service provider who your Account Manager will be, and what will be his or her responsibilities. Ask them for the guy’s CV, and, finally, request a personal interview with the candidate.

Go for a Full-Stack Provider

Projects vary in size and complexity, but if you have a full-scale project to be implemented, especially one to be implemented from scratch, the service provider of your choice must necessarily be able to support the full-cycle of software development. This means that they must be experienced in gathering requirements and designing the solution architecture from the ground up. To check this, you can request a list of specification documents the company can provide, and look into which part of the relevant referenced projects they have actually implemented.

Ideally, the business analysts and solution architects who have worked on the referenced projects must be involved in implementing your project too.

If your company is a technology start-up, and you want to focus on your business goals, rather than get involved in the project’s technical implementation, the ability of your service provider to support a full cycle of software development is mission-critical, and becomes the determining factor in the selection process.

Moreover, nowadays, most businesses are on the lookout for comprehensive business solutions, as they seek to avoid the need to procure different parts of their solutions from different providers. Incidentally, their motivation is clear: they do not want to spend more time on unnecessary interactions and fiddling with some awkward inter-company arrangements only to hit snags while trying to stitch it all together. In this regard, we believe that you should seek a provider that meets the following requirements:

  1. If your system is to have a GUI, make sure the service provider can handle front-end development.

  2. The service provider must be able to develop a mobile client.

  3. To ensure scalability, the service provider must be experienced in creating clustering solutions.

  4. Your outsourcing partner must be able to test the solution in its entirety.

Hold Personal Interviews with the Members of Your Future Team

And this is a crucial part of the selection process where making an error may cause the whole or part of your outsourcing arrangement to turn belly up when you least expect it and are halfway through your project’s implementation.

What we would do to mitigate risks, is hold two rounds of personal interviews with each member of the team being recruited: a general personal interview, and a technical interview, conducted by one of our lead technical experts.

During the general interview, it is obligatory that you find out about how long each employee has been with the company, and try to sense whether they are happy enough to stay on. Ask them about their career expectations, and see how that fits into your plans.

At the technical interview, among other things, we normally ask our candidates about their technical and academic interests, as well as the areas in which they would be interested in developing professionally. This may help forge better bonds between the members of your team and your project, and prevent unwanted changes during the project’s implementation.

As soon as you have your team ready, the service provider’s Recruitment team can completely take over from you, and handle any forthcoming hires on their own.

Selecting an outsourcing partner for any mid-term or long-term project is a demanding and multi-faceted process that should best be handled while relying on a skilled advisor.

But the most important question you should have a clear answer to before making a decision to outsource, is whether you really need it, and how suitable your project is for outsourcing.

]]>
shutterstock_141086071

All those in the IT industry who have given any thought about optimising their current software development processes and arrangements, inevitably wind up thinking about some sort of outsourcing.

Alas, many IT businesses that could potentially profit financially from a viable outsourcing arrangement, and could, in many instances, even improve the quality of their products, prefer to keep on funnelling the corporate moolah into the costly, if outright failing, arrangements and, often, mediocre resources they are saddled with in-house.

One could point out several reasons for why this is happening. We will dwell on just one being the breaking point for many a brilliant cost optimisation undertaking – the fear of choosing the wrong outsourcing partner.

We’ll also try to look at the issue at hand from an altogether different angle – through the eyes of a seasoned outsourcing provider which we are.

So, how would we go about selecting an outsourcing partner for ourselves were we in the shoes of a technology business that doesn’t have too much money to burn, but is poised for action for the fear of getting into a dodgy arrangement with an out-of-the-country outfit, unable to deliver as expected?

Relevant Industry Expertise and How it Should be Verified

First and foremost, in addition to a good portfolio, excellent development skills, a favourable geography and time zone, and cultural proximity, it may be mission-critical to opt for a provider that has sufficient industry expertise, and has previously catered to reputable businesses in your particular industry.

While this is clearly understood by most companies looking to outsource, many of them omit to find out what is in actuality behind your partner’s-to-be claims of having the industry-specific knowledge you are looking for.

Due to the customer turnover that inevitably takes place at any company, it may well happen so that none of the employees who have implemented their reference projects in your business domain are actually available to tackle your project. It must be firmly stipulated by you from the outset that at least one of the employees on your project team, preferably, the Project Manager, must be one who has taken part in projects similar to yours.

It is also imperative that you pick a company with a well-established corresponding industry practice, and probe whether there are any more similar ongoing projects: the presence of one or more ongoing similar projects always helps the provider ensure continuity in their industry practices, and may come in handy in the future, should you need to scale up your development effort. To beef up our own project teams, we also practice appointing regular consultants from among those knowledge holders, who are allocated to other projects.

While checking your potential partner’s industry expertise, also think about it from the point of view of the added value they can generate. See who the clients are, and what exactly the service provider’s employees have done for them. After all, this is one of the less touted, but tangible advantages of outsourcing (provided you find the right partner) – expertise-wise, those folks don’t stew in their own juice, and have, often, taken part in developing several standard-setting solutions for different clients.

This means that although the details of one’s previous industry-related development experience may be NDA-ed, the knowledge and skills remain, and your solution is much more likely to end up at the forefront of your industry than when handled by people who are brand new to the field.

To cap it all off, a business domain-savvy team will always implement the project considerably faster, thus saving you oodles of dough and the need to be providing feedback iteratively during several months. There have been several instances when we had a chance to truly realise how important business domain knowledge is to both the service provider and their client.

For instance, we’ve had two similar projects associated with building payment systems for two different European clients. With the first project, it did take us a short while to figure out the industry specifics and get a grasp of the terminology, but we managed to do it quickly and that wasn’t really the pits.

The real hassle kicked off when we started integrating our system with external payment gateways: the churn was excruciating. That’s when we realised, that had we known the industry workings before, the team’s downtime (not to mention the client’s bankroll) could have been somewhat smaller – a little of timely planning was all that was required.

We never got slowed down by similar hurdles while implementing our second payment system project.

From our personal observations, depending on the specific business domain (in our case, it was FX trading), it may take a project team up to half a year to fully learn the ropes of a particular industry. The shorter this process is, the more wholesome it is to your project.

Finally, it is also important that you find out how your outsourcing partner-to-be is prepared to guarantee that the intellectual property rights to your product will belong to you when your project is completed. This is something that must be taken care of before you sign with them, and start spending time on negotiating other issues and holding interviews with their employees.

Your Partner’s HR and Recruitment Processes & Potential for Growth

Never get overly enthused if you’ve managed to find an outfit that has done it before – this is only part of the puzzle. Another major aspect that needs to be researched by you prior to the take-off of your project is how stable your outsourcing arrangement with this selected service provider can be, given their existing HR infrastructure, and the current potential of their IT labor market.

What Needs to Be Taken Into Account

Western businesses looking to outsource make the hackneyed mistake of overestimating the weight contractual relations between employers and employees carry in setting up a steady and efficient offshore development team. Surprisingly, some believe that contractually harnessing a bunch of developers for what they reckon to be a sufficient time period is the answer.

Nah, it doesn’t work that way.

And we’ve known this for certain ever since the early 2000s, when sweatshops, disguised as IT multinationals’ local branches, were, briefly though, part of Ukraine’s IT landscape. To our memory, the sweatshop approach had never worked out to result in any more or less well-implemented projects: all you can do is make some people (who’ve probably been beating the bushes for a job for a while) go through the motions for the period you mention in the contract. Just like with mercenaries in combat, your platoon will fink out on you one by one in search of greener pastures at the very first opportunity.

Although the importance of contractual relationships should not be altogether disregarded, what matters a lot more for long-term engagements is, in our reckoning, whether your partner’s workforce is motivated enough to stay with them long enough, and whether they are in a position to increase your team quickly and with the same quality.

To find this out, pose and try to find answers to the following questions:

  • How happy the employees with the service provider?

  • How long are employees contractually obliged to stay with the service provider for, should they want to terminate their contract?

  • What is the employee turn over in the company?

  • How well does the company rank on the local IT labor market?

  • Is the service provider’s Recruitment team on par with their IT market’s realities?

Your Provider’s IT Labor Market

Whenever you are looking for something other than just harnessing a brace of developers to do a two-month gig for you, the local IT labor market’s peculiarities and characteristics must be factored in.

Once you go with a service provider, it may not always be easy to furl your development effort, and launch it elsewhere. That is why, if you are looking to hire, for example, a Java development team over the long haul, it would be essential for you to also know the ability of your service provider’s IT labor market to provide a larger number of qualified professionals within an acceptable time period. In order to gauge this ability, you can contact several companies in the area, or just look up the corresponding statistics on the Web.

In this sense, it would be more prudent to go with a service provider that is based in a well-known software development hub with a large pool of qualified resources available. For example, due to our location in such a hub, finding a senior Java Software Development Engineer takes us the average of 3 months, which is roughly twice less than is required for finding one in the US. However, this may not always be possible for other providers located in some other places in Ukraine.

The existence in the area of other software development vendors engaged in developing similar products would be a significant plus.

Your Provider’s HR & Retention Policy

Besides the ability of the local IT labor market to bolster your possible expansion plans, what really matters a lot is the whether your partner’s Recruitment Team is qualified enough to use this ability to the company’s and your own boon (from our experience, by far not all recruiters should even be there).

See your partner’s recruiters’ profiles, take a glance at the employment initiatives the company has launched, or taken place in (university job fairs, educational student programs and internships, and others), and make a conclusion about how well-established they are on the labor market. Here, special attention should also be paid to the service provider’s retention practices that can be roughly evaluated by the number of various corporate events, seminars, trainings, and business trips abroad.

Most companies also list their employment benefits in the corresponding sections of their websites, and this info should also be taken into account by you. Note, that often software development companies also list their employment benefits in their websites’ corresponding sections, and have separate websites specifically intended for employment purposes.

From our company’s experience, how active a firm is as an employer is one of the more meaningful indicators when you need to evaluate their position on the IT labor market.

As a company that is Java-driven technologically, we organise different events for the local Java community, and run a student IT Incubator for talented beginner programmers. To broaden our exposure to the IT community, we are also currently planning to host a well-known intellectual game with teams of the locally based software development firms competing. For us it is a time-proven truth that such initiatives have a tangible positive influence on one’s recruitment process, and help ensure a steady inflow of qualified candidates.

Finally, as a client, you too have a lot of sway over what, seemingly, lies solely within the realm of a service provider’s HR policy and practices. For one, if you have a large-scale and long-term project, do make this known to all candidates you are going to interview. Do mention the project’s scale, duration, applicable hierarchy, and related career opportunities.

Your Service Provider’s Account Management Practices

Although, this is one of the key points to affect the well-being of a project, it is invariably overlooked by 90% of those looking to outsource, and even seasoned professionals often get down to ironing out the relationship bugs when the negative impact can already be sensed.

So, why not ask the right questions during the negotiations stage, and keep the trouble away from day one?

To be able to do so, one must understand the role of Account Manager well, and be aware of the different variations it assumes in practice, including undesirable ones.

Generally, an Account Manager monitors what is being done by a team of technologists and how that corresponds to the client’s business realities and plans, thus ensuring a business-driven approach vs. an engineering-driven approach.

In other words, in terms of the functionality that your application will provide, you will receive what your business actually needs, and not what your programmers may reckon to be neat to implement technologically.

Oftentimes, it doesn’t really matter all that much which of your service providers employees will double in brass as your Account Manager. This can be their CEO, CIO, Delivery Manager, Senior Project Manager, or an employee whose title with the company is Account Manager.

Regardless of his or her position or title, this person must play the role of an auditor, and regard the project and his or her responsibilities as one. In addition to being able to supervise the project schedule and scope, a good Account Manager must also be familiar with the project’s history, and be in the know about the customer’s plans, problems, and opportunities. And, certainly, ideally, an Account Manager must be an expert in your business domain to act as a consultant.

Note that sometimes major outsourcing companies offer outstaffing arrangements, whereby the role of Account Manager is reduced to the minimum, and, in essence, their responsibility is just to hire personnel to be managed by senior IT staff of your company. Do you employ anyone who would meet the description? Are they qualified enough to do the job? Are you really prepared to bankroll their shuttling to and fro, which, to boot, is not so likely to translate into something of value?

Always make sure to ask your service provider who your Account Manager will be, and what will be his or her responsibilities. Ask them for the guy’s CV, and, finally, request a personal interview with the candidate.

Go for a Full-Stack Provider

Projects vary in size and complexity, but if you have a full-scale project to be implemented, especially one to be implemented from scratch, the service provider of your choice must necessarily be able to support the full-cycle of software development. This means that they must be experienced in gathering requirements and designing the solution architecture from the ground up. To check this, you can request a list of specification documents the company can provide, and look into which part of the relevant referenced projects they have actually implemented.

Ideally, the business analysts and solution architects who have worked on the referenced projects must be involved in implementing your project too.

If your company is a technology start-up, and you want to focus on your business goals, rather than get involved in the project’s technical implementation, the ability of your service provider to support a full cycle of software development is mission-critical, and becomes the determining factor in the selection process.

Moreover, nowadays, most businesses are on the lookout for comprehensive business solutions, as they seek to avoid the need to procure different parts of their solutions from different providers. Incidentally, their motivation is clear: they do not want to spend more time on unnecessary interactions and fiddling with some awkward inter-company arrangements only to hit snags while trying to stitch it all together. In this regard, we believe that you should seek a provider that meets the following requirements:

  1. If your system is to have a GUI, make sure the service provider can handle front-end development.

  2. The service provider must be able to develop a mobile client.

  3. To ensure scalability, the service provider must be experienced in creating clustering solutions.

  4. Your outsourcing partner must be able to test the solution in its entirety.

Hold Personal Interviews with the Members of Your Future Team

And this is a crucial part of the selection process where making an error may cause the whole or part of your outsourcing arrangement to turn belly up when you least expect it and are halfway through your project’s implementation.

What we would do to mitigate risks, is hold two rounds of personal interviews with each member of the team being recruited: a general personal interview, and a technical interview, conducted by one of our lead technical experts.

During the general interview, it is obligatory that you find out about how long each employee has been with the company, and try to sense whether they are happy enough to stay on. Ask them about their career expectations, and see how that fits into your plans.

At the technical interview, among other things, we normally ask our candidates about their technical and academic interests, as well as the areas in which they would be interested in developing professionally. This may help forge better bonds between the members of your team and your project, and prevent unwanted changes during the project’s implementation.

As soon as you have your team ready, the service provider’s Recruitment team can completely take over from you, and handle any forthcoming hires on their own.

Selecting an outsourcing partner for any mid-term or long-term project is a demanding and multi-faceted process that should best be handled while relying on a skilled advisor.

But the most important question you should have a clear answer to before making a decision to outsource, is whether you really need it, and how suitable your project is for outsourcing.

]]>
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Qanda’s acquisition of DriveMyCarRentals was just the beginning of its plan to dominate Collaborative Consumption http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/qanda-technologys-acquisition-drivemycarrentals-just-beginning-plan-dominate-collaborative-consumption-space/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/qanda-technologys-acquisition-drivemycarrentals-just-beginning-plan-dominate-collaborative-consumption-space/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:55:47 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34717 DMCR Team 2

DriveMyCarRentals.com.au, a service that offers users a private car rental marketplace may have officially been acquired by ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) listed Qanda Technology Limited in February this year, but things have been kept under wraps in terms of what that means for Qanda Technology and its long term goals. Since going public and acquiring DriveMyCarRentals, Qanda has made a further two acquisitions, adding Rentoid.com to its portfolio of products in May, as well as Caramavan.com just this month. Based in North Sydney, Qanda Technology first got into the game of online marketplaces by buying 43.3 percent of its first portfolio company Marketboomer - which provides an online trading platform that allows hotels to view offers from multiple suppliers in real-time. Recently Marketboomer completed an additional funding round of AUD$250,000. Learning from their experiences with Marketboomer, the Qanda team began to gain a deeper understanding of buyers and sellers, owners and renters. Now they are aiming to be the leading company on the ASX in the collaborative consumption space. The initial acquisition involving DriveMyCarRentals came about when the directors, founders and major shareholders of the business were looking at a number of options to grow the company. Some of these options included raising capital privately, a sale of the business and a public listing. "Given the business still had (and still has) significant growth opportunities, a number of shareholders wanted to continue to maintain an interest in the business. We saw the opportunity to merge DriveMyCar Rentals with Qanda Technology in exchange for shares in Qanda. Qanda was a great fit as [we understand] online marketplaces and transaction models," says CEO of Qanda Technology, Chris Noone. "Being listed has a number of advantages so [DriveMyCarRentals] pursued that option versus staying private. The deal was negotiated over several months and all DriveMyCarRentals shareholders received shares in Qanda." The acquisition was for 100 percent of the DriveMyCarRentals business and the consideration was paid all in shares, according to Noone. He said 75 percent of shares were issued upfront and 25 percent were deferred to be issued upon achieving agreed performance milestones. DriveMyCarRentals shareholders hold a bit under 50 percent of the total capital of the merged group following the acquisition. There was an additional capital raising following the transaction. Some DriveMyCarRentals shareholders participated in that rights issue and some didn’t. Though Qanda never revealed to Startup Daily the amount that was raised, documents filed with ASIC in 2013 state that the company had secured an underwriting commitment of AUD$250,000 and were seeking to raise AUD$750,000. Noone told Startup Daily that the acquisition was anything but traditional: "It wasn't really a sale in the normal sense as all shareholders received shares in Qanda. All DriveMyCarRentals shareholders agreed to be escrowed for 12 months so are all still very much invested in the business." "The ongoing involvement and sale into the listed group was driven by the strong benefits the directors and shareholders saw from being part of the listed group. These include the improved access to capital, increased credibility in the market due to the compliance and governance required as a listed company, easier ability to use shares for acquisition and an increased ability to make strategic hires for the business when it requires it," he added. There are a number of advantages for startups being publicly listed, including building relationships with other publicly listed companies. In some cases, larger potential clients that see a startup being part of an ASX listed company gives them the confidence that the company has already passed significant validation and compliance hurdles. And whilst Noone told Startup Daily that DriveMyCarRentals can now close deals at the big end of town that would have been very difficult previously, the notion that seeking an ASX listing is something that all local startups, especially early stage ventures should be actively seeking, is implausible. Although we are starting to see some great examples, like the recent Tagroom.com acquisition by ASX listed Moko Social and the successful ASX listing and subsequent AUD$4 million oversubscribed raise by Rewardle, for every success story, there are ten unsuccessful ones that we never hear about, so due diligence before exploring this path is imperative. For Qanda Technology however, the focus is firmly on becoming the leading publicly listed company in the area of collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer marketplace opportunities. DriveMyCarRentals along with the acquisition of Rentoid and Caramavan mean that Qanda now operates what it claims will be the future leaders in the peer-to-peer marketplaces for cars, caravans as well as household & commercial items. "We’re now focused on driving the performance of our peer to peer marketplaces and delivering functionality that builds trust and long term engagement within the marketplaces including online ID checks and persistent reputation profiles," says Noone. In a recent market update to shareholders Qanda said the following regarding the recent performance of DriveMyCarRentals and the synergies between the companies as well as Qanda's new acquisition of Caramavan;
Qanda is pleased to confirm that initial trading for the Drive My Car Rentals online marketplace has commenced the financial year with a very strong performance. Transaction days via the marketplace continue to grow and for the July-August 2014 period, the performance was above budget and more than 100% ahead of the same period in the prior year. This revenue growth was delivered with only a minor increase in costs for the business. Drive My Car continues to work on a number of vehicle supply initiatives to satisfy the demand for vehicles that is not currently able to be satisfied. Qanda Non-Executive Director, Adrian Bunter said “The acquisition of Caramavan continues to build on Qanda’s marketplace strategy tapping into the high growth collaborative consumption sector. There are strong operational synergies between the businesses and Qanda’s knowledge and experience will greatly add to the development of the Caramavan business. The high growth being delivered by Chris Noone and the team in the Drive My Car Rentals business further demonstrates the growth potential of the sector.”
It also seems that the purchase of Caramavan was very similar in structure to that of DriveMyCarRentals. Given there is yet to be an Australian startup that solely operates in the collaborative consumption / peer-to-peer marketplace, one that emerges from the pack as a significant market leader in terms of both traction and revenue, perhaps there is merit to Qanda Technology's strategy in owning a little bit of every vertical to see what takes off. ]]>
DMCR Team 2

DriveMyCarRentals.com.au, a service that offers users a private car rental marketplace may have officially been acquired by ASX (Australian Stock Exchange) listed Qanda Technology Limited in February this year, but things have been kept under wraps in terms of what that means for Qanda Technology and its long term goals. Since going public and acquiring DriveMyCarRentals, Qanda has made a further two acquisitions, adding Rentoid.com to its portfolio of products in May, as well as Caramavan.com just this month. Based in North Sydney, Qanda Technology first got into the game of online marketplaces by buying 43.3 percent of its first portfolio company Marketboomer - which provides an online trading platform that allows hotels to view offers from multiple suppliers in real-time. Recently Marketboomer completed an additional funding round of AUD$250,000. Learning from their experiences with Marketboomer, the Qanda team began to gain a deeper understanding of buyers and sellers, owners and renters. Now they are aiming to be the leading company on the ASX in the collaborative consumption space. The initial acquisition involving DriveMyCarRentals came about when the directors, founders and major shareholders of the business were looking at a number of options to grow the company. Some of these options included raising capital privately, a sale of the business and a public listing. "Given the business still had (and still has) significant growth opportunities, a number of shareholders wanted to continue to maintain an interest in the business. We saw the opportunity to merge DriveMyCar Rentals with Qanda Technology in exchange for shares in Qanda. Qanda was a great fit as [we understand] online marketplaces and transaction models," says CEO of Qanda Technology, Chris Noone. "Being listed has a number of advantages so [DriveMyCarRentals] pursued that option versus staying private. The deal was negotiated over several months and all DriveMyCarRentals shareholders received shares in Qanda." The acquisition was for 100 percent of the DriveMyCarRentals business and the consideration was paid all in shares, according to Noone. He said 75 percent of shares were issued upfront and 25 percent were deferred to be issued upon achieving agreed performance milestones. DriveMyCarRentals shareholders hold a bit under 50 percent of the total capital of the merged group following the acquisition. There was an additional capital raising following the transaction. Some DriveMyCarRentals shareholders participated in that rights issue and some didn’t. Though Qanda never revealed to Startup Daily the amount that was raised, documents filed with ASIC in 2013 state that the company had secured an underwriting commitment of AUD$250,000 and were seeking to raise AUD$750,000. Noone told Startup Daily that the acquisition was anything but traditional: "It wasn't really a sale in the normal sense as all shareholders received shares in Qanda. All DriveMyCarRentals shareholders agreed to be escrowed for 12 months so are all still very much invested in the business." "The ongoing involvement and sale into the listed group was driven by the strong benefits the directors and shareholders saw from being part of the listed group. These include the improved access to capital, increased credibility in the market due to the compliance and governance required as a listed company, easier ability to use shares for acquisition and an increased ability to make strategic hires for the business when it requires it," he added. There are a number of advantages for startups being publicly listed, including building relationships with other publicly listed companies. In some cases, larger potential clients that see a startup being part of an ASX listed company gives them the confidence that the company has already passed significant validation and compliance hurdles. And whilst Noone told Startup Daily that DriveMyCarRentals can now close deals at the big end of town that would have been very difficult previously, the notion that seeking an ASX listing is something that all local startups, especially early stage ventures should be actively seeking, is implausible. Although we are starting to see some great examples, like the recent Tagroom.com acquisition by ASX listed Moko Social and the successful ASX listing and subsequent AUD$4 million oversubscribed raise by Rewardle, for every success story, there are ten unsuccessful ones that we never hear about, so due diligence before exploring this path is imperative. For Qanda Technology however, the focus is firmly on becoming the leading publicly listed company in the area of collaborative consumption and peer-to-peer marketplace opportunities. DriveMyCarRentals along with the acquisition of Rentoid and Caramavan mean that Qanda now operates what it claims will be the future leaders in the peer-to-peer marketplaces for cars, caravans as well as household & commercial items. "We’re now focused on driving the performance of our peer to peer marketplaces and delivering functionality that builds trust and long term engagement within the marketplaces including online ID checks and persistent reputation profiles," says Noone. In a recent market update to shareholders Qanda said the following regarding the recent performance of DriveMyCarRentals and the synergies between the companies as well as Qanda's new acquisition of Caramavan;
Qanda is pleased to confirm that initial trading for the Drive My Car Rentals online marketplace has commenced the financial year with a very strong performance. Transaction days via the marketplace continue to grow and for the July-August 2014 period, the performance was above budget and more than 100% ahead of the same period in the prior year. This revenue growth was delivered with only a minor increase in costs for the business. Drive My Car continues to work on a number of vehicle supply initiatives to satisfy the demand for vehicles that is not currently able to be satisfied. Qanda Non-Executive Director, Adrian Bunter said “The acquisition of Caramavan continues to build on Qanda’s marketplace strategy tapping into the high growth collaborative consumption sector. There are strong operational synergies between the businesses and Qanda’s knowledge and experience will greatly add to the development of the Caramavan business. The high growth being delivered by Chris Noone and the team in the Drive My Car Rentals business further demonstrates the growth potential of the sector.”
It also seems that the purchase of Caramavan was very similar in structure to that of DriveMyCarRentals. Given there is yet to be an Australian startup that solely operates in the collaborative consumption / peer-to-peer marketplace, one that emerges from the pack as a significant market leader in terms of both traction and revenue, perhaps there is merit to Qanda Technology's strategy in owning a little bit of every vertical to see what takes off. ]]>
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6 handy Chrome extensions for startups http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/6-handy-chrome-extensions-startups/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/6-handy-chrome-extensions-startups/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:55:03 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34668 Google-Chrome-wallpaper

OneTab

Life on a web browser can be overwhelming, especially when you have about a squillion tabs open. Eventually, you don’t even know which tab is which, so you have to click on each individual tab, the equivalent of rummaging through a clutter of paperwork, to find the one you need.

Last week, we discovered OneTab, a Chrome extension that may just save the day when you’re facing such a dilemma.

Whenever you find yourself with too many open tabs, you just simply click the OneTab icon on the top right corner of your Chrome browser, and it will convert all of your tabs into a list - so what you end up with is one tab that lists all the links you had open, and you can restore the one you need individually, or all at once.

When you have too many open tabs, it also slows down your browser. With OneTab, you can save up to 95 percent of memory, according to its product description on the Chrome web store.

Before OneTab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.31.31 am

After OneTab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.31.54 am

Streak for Gmail

Mat Beeche, Founder of Shoe String Media, is a huge fan of Streak, which essentially turns your Gmail into a CRM system. You can group all emails from a customer or deal into colour coded boxes (Lead to Closed, see image below), and overall manage your sales pipeline. You can also create custom templates for repetitive emails that need to be sent, and even schedule emails to be sent at particular times.

LEAD > CONTACTED > PITCHED > DEMO > NEGOTIATING > CLOSED - LOST

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.53.14 am

Make a New Pipeline

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.53.05 am

Perhaps the most interesting functionality of Streak is that it alerts you as soon as a recipient has opened your email. If you're awaiting a response to an urgent email you sent, and the recipient denies having received that email, you'll know they're lying. The Email Tracking feature will become more sophisticated, according to Streak's product description on the Chrome Web Store.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.52.48 am

Page Eraser

Sites that rely heavily on advertising revenue may not be thrilled about this Chrome extension. But minimalists who hate advertising clutter or just messy websites may fall in love with Page Eraser. Any section of a website that's distracting or annoying (like horribly animated ads) can be erased.

You click on the Page Eraser icon on the top right corner of Chrome and hover the eraser over parts of a website that you want to erase. When you hover over those parts, it will be highlighted in red, and once you click the button it will be gone. It's amazing how beautiful a website can be when it has less crap on it.

StayFocusd

You promise to be productive. You have every intention on completing your work tasks. But all of a sudden 3 hours have gone by. And you've done many thing over those hours, EXCEPT work. 

To be fair, it's way too easy to get distracted online when you're exhausted, overwhelmed by the workload or simply bored. With StayFocusd you can only procrastinate for so long. The Chrome extension aims to increase your productivity by limiting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites - whether it be Gawker or Facebook. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have 'blocked' (marked as a time-waster) will be inaccessible for the rest of the day. StayFocusd is configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages and even specific in-page content - like videos, images, games, etc.

StayFocusd Tab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.41.59 am

Settings

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.42.11 am  

Dualless

Dualless has been self-proclaimed as the "poor man's dual monitor solution". Although you can manually drag two windows to sit beside each other vertically or horizontally, this Chrome extension lets you do it in two clicks. With Dualless, you can select between six different ratios (3:7, 4:6, 5:5, 6:4, 7:3).

Dualless Tab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.01.35 am

  Split Screen

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.01.03 am

Dream Afar

Dream Afar is not necessarily useful. It's just nice. Although some entrepreneurs claim to work at the beach or other scenic locations (because they're #livingthedream), most are confined to a desk. Founders who dream of travelling the world once they can actually afford it or those who are consumed in the chaos of startup life, might find Dream Afar to be a nice little reminder of how beautiful the world is beyond their startup. Instead of being faced with the usual lack-lustre Chrome homepage, Dream Afar presents photos of a new pretty place everyday. Today, it's all about New Zealand.

Chrome before Dream Afar

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.16.37 am

After Dream Afar

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.25.30 am ]]>
Google-Chrome-wallpaper

OneTab

Life on a web browser can be overwhelming, especially when you have about a squillion tabs open. Eventually, you don’t even know which tab is which, so you have to click on each individual tab, the equivalent of rummaging through a clutter of paperwork, to find the one you need.

Last week, we discovered OneTab, a Chrome extension that may just save the day when you’re facing such a dilemma.

Whenever you find yourself with too many open tabs, you just simply click the OneTab icon on the top right corner of your Chrome browser, and it will convert all of your tabs into a list - so what you end up with is one tab that lists all the links you had open, and you can restore the one you need individually, or all at once.

When you have too many open tabs, it also slows down your browser. With OneTab, you can save up to 95 percent of memory, according to its product description on the Chrome web store.

Before OneTab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.31.31 am

After OneTab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.31.54 am

Streak for Gmail

Mat Beeche, Founder of Shoe String Media, is a huge fan of Streak, which essentially turns your Gmail into a CRM system. You can group all emails from a customer or deal into colour coded boxes (Lead to Closed, see image below), and overall manage your sales pipeline. You can also create custom templates for repetitive emails that need to be sent, and even schedule emails to be sent at particular times.

LEAD > CONTACTED > PITCHED > DEMO > NEGOTIATING > CLOSED - LOST

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.53.14 am

Make a New Pipeline

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.53.05 am

Perhaps the most interesting functionality of Streak is that it alerts you as soon as a recipient has opened your email. If you're awaiting a response to an urgent email you sent, and the recipient denies having received that email, you'll know they're lying. The Email Tracking feature will become more sophisticated, according to Streak's product description on the Chrome Web Store.

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 9.52.48 am

Page Eraser

Sites that rely heavily on advertising revenue may not be thrilled about this Chrome extension. But minimalists who hate advertising clutter or just messy websites may fall in love with Page Eraser. Any section of a website that's distracting or annoying (like horribly animated ads) can be erased.

You click on the Page Eraser icon on the top right corner of Chrome and hover the eraser over parts of a website that you want to erase. When you hover over those parts, it will be highlighted in red, and once you click the button it will be gone. It's amazing how beautiful a website can be when it has less crap on it.

StayFocusd

You promise to be productive. You have every intention on completing your work tasks. But all of a sudden 3 hours have gone by. And you've done many thing over those hours, EXCEPT work. 

To be fair, it's way too easy to get distracted online when you're exhausted, overwhelmed by the workload or simply bored. With StayFocusd you can only procrastinate for so long. The Chrome extension aims to increase your productivity by limiting the amount of time you can spend on time-wasting websites - whether it be Gawker or Facebook. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have 'blocked' (marked as a time-waster) will be inaccessible for the rest of the day. StayFocusd is configurable, allowing you to block or allow entire sites, specific subdomains, specific paths, specific pages and even specific in-page content - like videos, images, games, etc.

StayFocusd Tab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.41.59 am

Settings

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 10.42.11 am  

Dualless

Dualless has been self-proclaimed as the "poor man's dual monitor solution". Although you can manually drag two windows to sit beside each other vertically or horizontally, this Chrome extension lets you do it in two clicks. With Dualless, you can select between six different ratios (3:7, 4:6, 5:5, 6:4, 7:3).

Dualless Tab

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.01.35 am

  Split Screen

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.01.03 am

Dream Afar

Dream Afar is not necessarily useful. It's just nice. Although some entrepreneurs claim to work at the beach or other scenic locations (because they're #livingthedream), most are confined to a desk. Founders who dream of travelling the world once they can actually afford it or those who are consumed in the chaos of startup life, might find Dream Afar to be a nice little reminder of how beautiful the world is beyond their startup. Instead of being faced with the usual lack-lustre Chrome homepage, Dream Afar presents photos of a new pretty place everyday. Today, it's all about New Zealand.

Chrome before Dream Afar

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.16.37 am

After Dream Afar

Screen Shot 2014-10-17 at 11.25.30 am ]]>
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Tech ain’t a priority yet http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/tech-aint-priority-yet/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/tech-aint-priority-yet/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:54:07 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34721 techpriority

A thriving tech industry needs to be a national imperative in Australia. The Government’s announcement this week of its Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda gives me little comfort that a thriving tech / startup scene in Australia is a genuine national imperative. This is deeply concerning because Australia is missing out on a prime opportunity to diversify its economy from mining and primary industry to a more knowledge based economy rooted in tech. While the recently announced changes to ESP rules and 457 visa assessment are undoubtedly a step in the right direction, there is so much more required. Countries like the UK, Singapore, Israel have clear national tech agendas – but Australia is still asleep at the wheel. I moved to the London six months ago to start a new business My Mate Your Date and from the outset it was clear that tech IS a national priority in the UK. In 2010 David Cameron announced the Government’s ambition for London to become a “world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley.” In the past 6 months I’ve personally heard (paraphrased massively) the Mayor of London Boris Johnson declare that “we will not stop until our ecosystem is creating billion dollar IPOs – we’ve failed in generating these to date but are focussed on doing what we need to support this level of success.” The guys at the top absolutely understand the scale of the opportunity and want to be a part of it. There are a suite of government initiatives to support tech companies, startups and innovation. The below three have most impressed me to date: The community is concentrated London’s ‘Tech City’ is intensely focussed in and around Shoreditch, which is now reputed as the home of creativity, great minds and thriving businesses. There are innumerate shared workspaces such as TechHub and Central Working, macbook toting entrepreneurs in every cafe, quality events – even a map! The big brands are here also, with Google sponsoring the 6 story Campus engineering hub, Amazon relocating into the heart of Shoreditch shortly, and even KPMG positioning a ‘High Growth Technology Group’ in Shoreditch. Everyone wants to be involved and the government supports and invests in the Tech City community. Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)  In short, if you invest in a startup you can claim 50% of the investment as a tax break immediately (ie invest £50k get £25k reduction in tax bill that year), plus there is no capital gains tax payable on exit. (Read details here). The direct consequence is that city folk on the top tax bracket now see investing in start ups as a ‘worthwhile punt’ and a good way to reduce their tax bill, resulting in substantially more seed / angel funding flowing into the startup ecosystem. Crowdfunding Sites such as CrowdCube and Seedrs are flourishing in the UK, with CrowdCube alone having raised >£40m for 150 businesses since they started in 2011. Crowd funding allows investors to very easily invest whatever amount they like (generally £100-£20,000) into startups and quickly build a portfolio of ventures, which surely seems like a more risk appropriate approach to seed investing. Plus there is the simplicity involved with investing in a couple of clicks. For the startup, capital raises can often be completed in 1-2 weeks and you get a base of 100-300 investors who are also brand ambassadors. Of course ‘the crowd’ don’t replace angel investors who can add skill and expertise in addition to capital, but crowd funding opens up a significant channel of funding / access for startups. While I’m sure these three initiatives would be well received in Australia, the first thing required is an understanding from the top that tech is an opportunity that we want to prioritise and support.

This article originally appeared on Dan's personal blog.

]]>
techpriority

A thriving tech industry needs to be a national imperative in Australia. The Government’s announcement this week of its Industry Innovation and Competitiveness Agenda gives me little comfort that a thriving tech / startup scene in Australia is a genuine national imperative. This is deeply concerning because Australia is missing out on a prime opportunity to diversify its economy from mining and primary industry to a more knowledge based economy rooted in tech. While the recently announced changes to ESP rules and 457 visa assessment are undoubtedly a step in the right direction, there is so much more required. Countries like the UK, Singapore, Israel have clear national tech agendas – but Australia is still asleep at the wheel. I moved to the London six months ago to start a new business My Mate Your Date and from the outset it was clear that tech IS a national priority in the UK. In 2010 David Cameron announced the Government’s ambition for London to become a “world-leading technology city to rival Silicon Valley.” In the past 6 months I’ve personally heard (paraphrased massively) the Mayor of London Boris Johnson declare that “we will not stop until our ecosystem is creating billion dollar IPOs – we’ve failed in generating these to date but are focussed on doing what we need to support this level of success.” The guys at the top absolutely understand the scale of the opportunity and want to be a part of it. There are a suite of government initiatives to support tech companies, startups and innovation. The below three have most impressed me to date: The community is concentrated London’s ‘Tech City’ is intensely focussed in and around Shoreditch, which is now reputed as the home of creativity, great minds and thriving businesses. There are innumerate shared workspaces such as TechHub and Central Working, macbook toting entrepreneurs in every cafe, quality events – even a map! The big brands are here also, with Google sponsoring the 6 story Campus engineering hub, Amazon relocating into the heart of Shoreditch shortly, and even KPMG positioning a ‘High Growth Technology Group’ in Shoreditch. Everyone wants to be involved and the government supports and invests in the Tech City community. Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS)  In short, if you invest in a startup you can claim 50% of the investment as a tax break immediately (ie invest £50k get £25k reduction in tax bill that year), plus there is no capital gains tax payable on exit. (Read details here). The direct consequence is that city folk on the top tax bracket now see investing in start ups as a ‘worthwhile punt’ and a good way to reduce their tax bill, resulting in substantially more seed / angel funding flowing into the startup ecosystem. Crowdfunding Sites such as CrowdCube and Seedrs are flourishing in the UK, with CrowdCube alone having raised >£40m for 150 businesses since they started in 2011. Crowd funding allows investors to very easily invest whatever amount they like (generally £100-£20,000) into startups and quickly build a portfolio of ventures, which surely seems like a more risk appropriate approach to seed investing. Plus there is the simplicity involved with investing in a couple of clicks. For the startup, capital raises can often be completed in 1-2 weeks and you get a base of 100-300 investors who are also brand ambassadors. Of course ‘the crowd’ don’t replace angel investors who can add skill and expertise in addition to capital, but crowd funding opens up a significant channel of funding / access for startups. While I’m sure these three initiatives would be well received in Australia, the first thing required is an understanding from the top that tech is an opportunity that we want to prioritise and support.

This article originally appeared on Dan's personal blog.

]]>
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Stylerunner celebrates its second birthday, continues to grow rapidly http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/stylerunner-celebrate-second-birthday-continues-rapid-growth/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/stylerunner-celebrate-second-birthday-continues-rapid-growth/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 18:35:30 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34744 10455152_10205236815225764_4977432929917767610_n

Sydney-based startup Stylerunner has taken the ecommerce space by storm by carving out a niche in the high-end and highly fashionable market of sportswear – a growing industry worth billions. The company launched at a time when sports fashion was beginning to become a popular industry globally, with brands such as Nike and Lorna Jane creating highly functional designs that were being worn by shoppers as much in the supermarket isle or local coffee shop as gyms and fitness classes. The company celebrated its second birthday last night, as it looks to head into its third year. Currently, they are a team of 8 full-timers with a view to hire more heads to keep up with the exponential growth over the next 12 months. Like all good startup stories, Stylerunner started with a computer, internet connection and a kitchen table. The initial set up was a little more than most ecommerce sites, with twins Sali and Julie Stevanja deciding to back their gut instincts from the start paying a premium of approximately $2,000 to secure the domain stylerunner.com. This was a strategic decision that paid off. Within the business, Julie champions the analytical side of things and Sali takes care of the day to day hustle on the ground. Being twins, they admit they have a harmonic ying yang dynamic that’s proven to be one of the biggest assets for their business. Startup Daily recently invited co-founder Julie Stevanja to a panel discussion around setting up an ecommerce business:

image: Caroline Groth

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10455152_10205236815225764_4977432929917767610_n

Sydney-based startup Stylerunner has taken the ecommerce space by storm by carving out a niche in the high-end and highly fashionable market of sportswear – a growing industry worth billions. The company launched at a time when sports fashion was beginning to become a popular industry globally, with brands such as Nike and Lorna Jane creating highly functional designs that were being worn by shoppers as much in the supermarket isle or local coffee shop as gyms and fitness classes. The company celebrated its second birthday last night, as it looks to head into its third year. Currently, they are a team of 8 full-timers with a view to hire more heads to keep up with the exponential growth over the next 12 months. Like all good startup stories, Stylerunner started with a computer, internet connection and a kitchen table. The initial set up was a little more than most ecommerce sites, with twins Sali and Julie Stevanja deciding to back their gut instincts from the start paying a premium of approximately $2,000 to secure the domain stylerunner.com. This was a strategic decision that paid off. Within the business, Julie champions the analytical side of things and Sali takes care of the day to day hustle on the ground. Being twins, they admit they have a harmonic ying yang dynamic that’s proven to be one of the biggest assets for their business. Startup Daily recently invited co-founder Julie Stevanja to a panel discussion around setting up an ecommerce business:

image: Caroline Groth

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How Australia’s FoundrMag engaged online workers and dominated the App Store http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/australias-foundrmag-engaged-online-workers-dominated-app-store/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/australias-foundrmag-engaged-online-workers-dominated-app-store/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 02:54:59 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34710 Untitled design

I have said it before, Melbourne has been harbouring a little secret in the form of young entrepreneur and publisher Nathan Chan. If you head over to the app store on Android or iOS and go to the News Stand, you will find sitting next to the likes of American produced magazines Entrepreneur and Forbes a title called FoundrMag. Foundr Magazine is a monthly digital publication that has around 60 -70 pages holding it together. Chan, the founder of Foundr – has been producing this eMag for 18 issues now. To the novice that may seem like a short amount of time, but as someone who has launched a hardcopy publication in 2011 – let me assure you, between organising photo shoots, interviews and managing a team of people that put everything together, things get pretty hectic. The issues bleed together, there is no stopping or starting. Chan represents the future of business journalism. He uses a team of online workers from Elance.com and oDesk.com to put Foundr together each month. This has allowed him to scale his workforce of writers, graphic designers, copywriters and web designers up and down as he needs them. banner-300x250 Chan says that using freelancers on oDesk allowed him to build the business from scratch with a small AUD$2000 of savings, whilst still working full time at his day job. “Elance-oDesk allowed me to leverage time zones, whilst I was at work during the day, my team of contractors were getting things completed, writing articles, designing covers and completing the tasks that needed to be done” said Chan. Foundr is described as being a magazine for the Rebels, the Dreamers and Hustlers. The target audience is Gen Y. Over the last 18 months since launching, the app has been downloaded from the News Stand a little over 80,000 times and you are able to read an issue for free. After that the magazine is a $2.99 a month subscription. Right now Foundr has over 8,000 (paid) monthly subscribers, Startup Daily estimates that currently revenues for the magazine would be exceeding the $20,000 a month mark or more – this of course is just subscription revenue. Income from partnerships and advertising would significantly increase this number. The biggest feather in Chan’s cap is definitely the quality of interviewees he has been able to attract, especially for his cover stories. Richard Branson (Virgin), Fabio Rosati (Elance) and Neil Patel (Kissmetrics) have all graced the cover – as well as Arianna Huffington (HuffPost). Interestingly or perhaps given the cover stories, most of Chan’s readership is from the United States who seem to have adopted eMags at a much faster rate than Australia. The last 16 months have not been without challenges though. Originally the magazine had a completely different name, and Chan was sued for trademark infringement. Though he says it was a massive lesson to learn, Chan also says that it was a blessing in disguise as it forced him to change the name to Foundr. Due to legal documents Chan signed at the time he was not able to reveal any information as to who it was that sued him. However a quick trawl through the internet revealed to Startup Daily that the name of the magazine prior to being called Foundr was Key to Success Magazine. Foundr has some great stories inside, and the fact that a local media startup is having such a global impact is something that should be highlighted. Nathan Chan is a name that startups and business owners should become acquainted with. --- Offer. Redeem your credit here: www.odesk.com/coupon Elance-ODesk are offering our readers a $50 voucher code to kick things off on odesk.com. The code is: AUStartups2014 Here are the conditions on the code:
  • $50
  • Expires 12/31/2014
  • New clients only
  • One credit per company
  • Client must post a job in order for the credit to be redeemed
  • Redeemed credit expires within 90 days of the redemption period
]]>
Untitled design

I have said it before, Melbourne has been harbouring a little secret in the form of young entrepreneur and publisher Nathan Chan. If you head over to the app store on Android or iOS and go to the News Stand, you will find sitting next to the likes of American produced magazines Entrepreneur and Forbes a title called FoundrMag. Foundr Magazine is a monthly digital publication that has around 60 -70 pages holding it together. Chan, the founder of Foundr – has been producing this eMag for 18 issues now. To the novice that may seem like a short amount of time, but as someone who has launched a hardcopy publication in 2011 – let me assure you, between organising photo shoots, interviews and managing a team of people that put everything together, things get pretty hectic. The issues bleed together, there is no stopping or starting. Chan represents the future of business journalism. He uses a team of online workers from Elance.com and oDesk.com to put Foundr together each month. This has allowed him to scale his workforce of writers, graphic designers, copywriters and web designers up and down as he needs them. banner-300x250 Chan says that using freelancers on oDesk allowed him to build the business from scratch with a small AUD$2000 of savings, whilst still working full time at his day job. “Elance-oDesk allowed me to leverage time zones, whilst I was at work during the day, my team of contractors were getting things completed, writing articles, designing covers and completing the tasks that needed to be done” said Chan. Foundr is described as being a magazine for the Rebels, the Dreamers and Hustlers. The target audience is Gen Y. Over the last 18 months since launching, the app has been downloaded from the News Stand a little over 80,000 times and you are able to read an issue for free. After that the magazine is a $2.99 a month subscription. Right now Foundr has over 8,000 (paid) monthly subscribers, Startup Daily estimates that currently revenues for the magazine would be exceeding the $20,000 a month mark or more – this of course is just subscription revenue. Income from partnerships and advertising would significantly increase this number. The biggest feather in Chan’s cap is definitely the quality of interviewees he has been able to attract, especially for his cover stories. Richard Branson (Virgin), Fabio Rosati (Elance) and Neil Patel (Kissmetrics) have all graced the cover – as well as Arianna Huffington (HuffPost). Interestingly or perhaps given the cover stories, most of Chan’s readership is from the United States who seem to have adopted eMags at a much faster rate than Australia. The last 16 months have not been without challenges though. Originally the magazine had a completely different name, and Chan was sued for trademark infringement. Though he says it was a massive lesson to learn, Chan also says that it was a blessing in disguise as it forced him to change the name to Foundr. Due to legal documents Chan signed at the time he was not able to reveal any information as to who it was that sued him. However a quick trawl through the internet revealed to Startup Daily that the name of the magazine prior to being called Foundr was Key to Success Magazine. Foundr has some great stories inside, and the fact that a local media startup is having such a global impact is something that should be highlighted. Nathan Chan is a name that startups and business owners should become acquainted with. --- Offer. Redeem your credit here: www.odesk.com/coupon Elance-ODesk are offering our readers a $50 voucher code to kick things off on odesk.com. The code is: AUStartups2014 Here are the conditions on the code:
  • $50
  • Expires 12/31/2014
  • New clients only
  • One credit per company
  • Client must post a job in order for the credit to be redeemed
  • Redeemed credit expires within 90 days of the redemption period
]]>
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Startmate graduate Flightfox unfairly accused of “ripping off” Nomad List? http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startmate-graduate-flightfox-unfairly-accused-ripping-nomad-list/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/startmate-graduate-flightfox-unfairly-accused-ripping-nomad-list/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 02:20:38 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34694 Flightfox-team-1024x655

TechinAsia.com recently published an article with the snarky title When does ‘copying’ become ‘ripping off’? Just ask FlightFox. The article boldly claims that Australian founded Startmate alumnus Flightfox 'ripped off' and even plagiarised elements of Nomad List. Although TechinAsia.com is one of the best tech publications in the world (let alone Asia), and a source of inspiration for me as a writer, this article seems questionable and pretty much reiterates what Levels.io (the creator of Nomad List) complained of in a recent blog post. Flightfox, which is essentially a marketplace of travel hackers that compete amongst each other to find tickets that meet a user's criteria, recently introduced a new section to the site which lists the world's "17 Best Cities To Live Cheaply". The list has been criticised by Levels.io and TechinAsia.com for having a similar layout and content to Nomad List. It should be noted that the two are completely different businesses and operate under different business models - one's a marketplace for users to source a travel expert and the other is a essentially search engine or directory that allows you to find locations based on criteria like weather, time-zone, living costs, flight length, etc. Based on the image that TechinAsia.com uses to demonstrate 'plagiarism' (see below), Flightfox's new section has very little resemblance to Nomad List. When you visit the two sites separately, similarities are even less obvious. In both lists presented, the top five cities appear in the same order: 1) Chiang Mai; 2) Prague; 3) Ho Chi Minh City; 4) Budapest; and 5) Bucharest. So what? [caption id="attachment_34701" align="alignnone" width="720"]flightfox-nomadlist Source: TechinAsia.com[/caption] Well, Levels.io, the creator of Nomad List, seems to be somewhat offended by this similarity:
Levels, who is currently in Bangkok, tells Tech in Asia that he while wasn’t “doing anything unique per se” with Nomad List, he was rather upset that FlightFox copied without any attribution made whatsoever. “Blatantly copying without attribution is not a very nice thing to do. If they’d asked, I’d given them instant access to the Nomad List API, like many other apps and startups already have,” he explains.
Levels.io even wrote a blog post on the matter, stating the following:
It’s not just the concept of putting up a list of cities to work from remotely. That’s not unique. Sites before Nomad List have done it, and other startups are working in this space, like Teleport. But it appears as if FlightFox directly scraped my site, merely stripping out a few cities and adding a few others to make it look theirs.
Apparently, Flightfox changed the title from “The 17 Best Cities To Live Cheaply for Nomads” to “The 17 Best Cities To Live Cheaply”. What this means is unclear, though Levels.io feels this is a 'gotcha!' moment. A lot of people have jumped on the Levels.io bandwagon and communicated discontent towards Flightfox via Twitter: [caption id="attachment_34702" align="alignnone" width="797"]Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.21.17 pm Source: Levels.io[/caption] [caption id="attachment_34703" align="alignnone" width="791"]Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.22.04 pm Source: Levels.io[/caption] Attribution is important, and Levels.io/Nomad List has a right to be attributed for the research it conducted to create that list. But it's unclear whether this is a case of deliberate copying. I'm sure there are plenty of Top Female Entrepreneurs lists that feature the same women. We've seen our own entrepreneur lists appearing very similar to those created by bigger media companies at a later date - and frankly, we didn't think much of it. Perhaps, we were unintentionally influenced by lists we've seen in the past. In this age, originality is practically a myth. Everything is based on something - often we don't know it. And if a list is to be truly objective, and based on facts or the same criteria, then all lists on a certain subject ought to be the same. For instance, lists that explore "the top five cheapest smartphones in Sydney" should be the same or very similar if it's based on price. I'm sure there are plenty of variables that come into the picture when creating a list, which is why they differ from one list creator to another. In the case of Nomad List vs. Flightfox, it really seems like an overreaction. One commenter, Fergus Tan, did his due diligence and wrote the following comment below the TechinAsia.com article, explaining the variables in both lists: [caption id="attachment_34704" align="alignnone" width="735"]Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.43.38 pm Source: TechinAsia.com[/caption] Many startups approach investors and the media with words such as “revolutionary”, "truly unique", and “first ever” – failing to recognise there are about 10 other similar products in the market. It’s not a case of dishonesty, but naivety. If there are 7 billion people in the world, odds are there are a few people who've come up with the same idea. Whether or not Flightfox deliberately copied elements of Nomad List, or drew inspiration from it, the more interesting subject to ponder is the attitude towards 'copying'. In October last year, Martin Martinez, Founder of Entrepreneur Card, told Startup Daily that a lot of people say they don’t want to be a ‘copycat entrepreneur’, and to those people he presented the following rhetorical question: “How many coffee shops are there in the city? There are hundreds, if not thousands. They’re all selling the same thing, so they’re all copying each other. So if you want to open a coffee shop tomorrow, aren’t you copying someone else’s idea?” So what happens if people are offended? "It doesn’t matter what they think ... If you can beat them at their own game, then kudos to you." “On the other side, if an idea is that easy to replicate, then you don’t have anything proprietary." Martinez added that, even if copying takes place, competition should be welcomed: "competition is great because it sets the benchmark. It defines the ranking by default. If there are 10 people offering the same thing, somebody is going to be number one, and somebody is going to be number 10.” In the case of Nomad List vs. Flightfox, it's hardly a competition. They're very different businesses. I don't think anyone here has the exclusive right to "own" the list of best cities to live in cheaply for nomads. ]]>
Flightfox-team-1024x655

TechinAsia.com recently published an article with the snarky title When does ‘copying’ become ‘ripping off’? Just ask FlightFox. The article boldly claims that Australian founded Startmate alumnus Flightfox 'ripped off' and even plagiarised elements of Nomad List. Although TechinAsia.com is one of the best tech publications in the world (let alone Asia), and a source of inspiration for me as a writer, this article seems questionable and pretty much reiterates what Levels.io (the creator of Nomad List) complained of in a recent blog post. Flightfox, which is essentially a marketplace of travel hackers that compete amongst each other to find tickets that meet a user's criteria, recently introduced a new section to the site which lists the world's "17 Best Cities To Live Cheaply". The list has been criticised by Levels.io and TechinAsia.com for having a similar layout and content to Nomad List. It should be noted that the two are completely different businesses and operate under different business models - one's a marketplace for users to source a travel expert and the other is a essentially search engine or directory that allows you to find locations based on criteria like weather, time-zone, living costs, flight length, etc. Based on the image that TechinAsia.com uses to demonstrate 'plagiarism' (see below), Flightfox's new section has very little resemblance to Nomad List. When you visit the two sites separately, similarities are even less obvious. In both lists presented, the top five cities appear in the same order: 1) Chiang Mai; 2) Prague; 3) Ho Chi Minh City; 4) Budapest; and 5) Bucharest. So what? [caption id="attachment_34701" align="alignnone" width="720"]flightfox-nomadlist Source: TechinAsia.com[/caption] Well, Levels.io, the creator of Nomad List, seems to be somewhat offended by this similarity:
Levels, who is currently in Bangkok, tells Tech in Asia that he while wasn’t “doing anything unique per se” with Nomad List, he was rather upset that FlightFox copied without any attribution made whatsoever. “Blatantly copying without attribution is not a very nice thing to do. If they’d asked, I’d given them instant access to the Nomad List API, like many other apps and startups already have,” he explains.
Levels.io even wrote a blog post on the matter, stating the following:
It’s not just the concept of putting up a list of cities to work from remotely. That’s not unique. Sites before Nomad List have done it, and other startups are working in this space, like Teleport. But it appears as if FlightFox directly scraped my site, merely stripping out a few cities and adding a few others to make it look theirs.
Apparently, Flightfox changed the title from “The 17 Best Cities To Live Cheaply for Nomads” to “The 17 Best Cities To Live Cheaply”. What this means is unclear, though Levels.io feels this is a 'gotcha!' moment. A lot of people have jumped on the Levels.io bandwagon and communicated discontent towards Flightfox via Twitter: [caption id="attachment_34702" align="alignnone" width="797"]Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.21.17 pm Source: Levels.io[/caption] [caption id="attachment_34703" align="alignnone" width="791"]Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.22.04 pm Source: Levels.io[/caption] Attribution is important, and Levels.io/Nomad List has a right to be attributed for the research it conducted to create that list. But it's unclear whether this is a case of deliberate copying. I'm sure there are plenty of Top Female Entrepreneurs lists that feature the same women. We've seen our own entrepreneur lists appearing very similar to those created by bigger media companies at a later date - and frankly, we didn't think much of it. Perhaps, we were unintentionally influenced by lists we've seen in the past. In this age, originality is practically a myth. Everything is based on something - often we don't know it. And if a list is to be truly objective, and based on facts or the same criteria, then all lists on a certain subject ought to be the same. For instance, lists that explore "the top five cheapest smartphones in Sydney" should be the same or very similar if it's based on price. I'm sure there are plenty of variables that come into the picture when creating a list, which is why they differ from one list creator to another. In the case of Nomad List vs. Flightfox, it really seems like an overreaction. One commenter, Fergus Tan, did his due diligence and wrote the following comment below the TechinAsia.com article, explaining the variables in both lists: [caption id="attachment_34704" align="alignnone" width="735"]Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 12.43.38 pm Source: TechinAsia.com[/caption] Many startups approach investors and the media with words such as “revolutionary”, "truly unique", and “first ever” – failing to recognise there are about 10 other similar products in the market. It’s not a case of dishonesty, but naivety. If there are 7 billion people in the world, odds are there are a few people who've come up with the same idea. Whether or not Flightfox deliberately copied elements of Nomad List, or drew inspiration from it, the more interesting subject to ponder is the attitude towards 'copying'. In October last year, Martin Martinez, Founder of Entrepreneur Card, told Startup Daily that a lot of people say they don’t want to be a ‘copycat entrepreneur’, and to those people he presented the following rhetorical question: “How many coffee shops are there in the city? There are hundreds, if not thousands. They’re all selling the same thing, so they’re all copying each other. So if you want to open a coffee shop tomorrow, aren’t you copying someone else’s idea?” So what happens if people are offended? "It doesn’t matter what they think ... If you can beat them at their own game, then kudos to you." “On the other side, if an idea is that easy to replicate, then you don’t have anything proprietary." Martinez added that, even if copying takes place, competition should be welcomed: "competition is great because it sets the benchmark. It defines the ranking by default. If there are 10 people offering the same thing, somebody is going to be number one, and somebody is going to be number 10.” In the case of Nomad List vs. Flightfox, it's hardly a competition. They're very different businesses. I don't think anyone here has the exclusive right to "own" the list of best cities to live in cheaply for nomads. ]]>
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Canva announces its new iPad app whilst Adobe make a play into web-based platforms http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/canva-announces-new-ipad-app-whilst-adobe-make-play-web-based-platforms/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/canva-announces-new-ipad-app-whilst-adobe-make-play-web-based-platforms/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 00:04:42 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34660 MelanieHeadshot4

Last night, design startup Canva added a new extension to its brand with the launch of their new iPad application. The app, which Canva has had a dedicated team working on for the last 12 months brings together the simple drag-and-drop design interface and library of more than one million photographs, graphics and fonts that the desktop version of the application has become known for. “In the past year since our launch we have been overwhelmed by the many ways people are using Canva every day. Our new app brings everything people love about Canva to the iPad," said co-founder and CEO of Canva Melanie Perkins. "We have seen everything from facebook groups where people share their Canva designs, to people actually making money from teaching courses on how to use Canva". Unlike the desktop version of Canva, a stand out new feature of the iPad app is that you can directly take a photo from your device and upload it straight into Canva. This feature is heavily pushed in the product introduction video. In my opinion this will be a big reason for people to download the application. That as well as being able to download and save a PDF presentation directly to your iPad, which I did this morning for a sales meeting I have later on this afternoon. The Canva app sits in the Productivity category on the App store. The startup is lucky that there is no real competition in its space right now, that offers all the functionality they do basically for free, with only a small fee for premium design features and imagery. However, Adobe and its Creative Cloud services have begun to make a play into their own web solutions. On September 29th, Google announced that Adobe Photoshop would be the first of a number of applications from Creative Cloud that will be integrated into all new Chrome books with a 'streaming version' of the service. In a statement made by Product Manager at Google, Stephen Konig said of the new partnership with Adobe:
This streaming version of Photoshop is designed to run straight from the cloud to your Chromebook. It’s always up-to-date and fully integrated with Google Drive, so there’s no need to download and re-upload files—just save your art directly from Photoshop to the cloud. For IT administrators, it’s easy to manage, with no long client installation and one-click deployment to your team’s Chromebooks.
When Startup Daily asked Perkins if she was worried at all about Adobe's play into web-based solutions, Perkins said, "[We at] Canva are just concentrating on our own goals right now". Goals which they seem to be hitting every month. There are over 870,000 users on the platform now (goal of 1 million by Christmas) and over 6.2 million designs being completed on the platform (1.2 million of those were just last month). It makes sense that the team at Canva would not be focusing on what the largest player in the design space is doing right now. But that does not necessarily mean that Adobe, a well established company, is not caught up in the manic-ness that is startup life, nor that it would not be casting an eye as to what Canva is doing. Canva's all in one integrated solution gets closer and closer to replacing Adobe's entire suite of tools every time a new feature is added to the Canva platform. Startup Daily asked Perkins if Adobe had reached out to Canva to talk about anything from partnerships to interests in acquisition, to which Perkins responded "no comment". Whether Adobe has or not, it would be highly unlikely that Canva would look at an acquisition right now. From the outset, Perkins has always been very clear about wanting to build a strong and sustainable company. In the early days when she was first pitching to investors, it was always about how Canva could be a billion dollar company. Whilst right now Canva does not share statistics around its revenues, the sheer user traction and fact that people are building their own small businesses off the back of Canva's services are certainly indicative that a billion dollar business is not a pipe dream, rather a reality a few years down the track. ]]>
MelanieHeadshot4

Last night, design startup Canva added a new extension to its brand with the launch of their new iPad application. The app, which Canva has had a dedicated team working on for the last 12 months brings together the simple drag-and-drop design interface and library of more than one million photographs, graphics and fonts that the desktop version of the application has become known for. “In the past year since our launch we have been overwhelmed by the many ways people are using Canva every day. Our new app brings everything people love about Canva to the iPad," said co-founder and CEO of Canva Melanie Perkins. "We have seen everything from facebook groups where people share their Canva designs, to people actually making money from teaching courses on how to use Canva". Unlike the desktop version of Canva, a stand out new feature of the iPad app is that you can directly take a photo from your device and upload it straight into Canva. This feature is heavily pushed in the product introduction video. In my opinion this will be a big reason for people to download the application. That as well as being able to download and save a PDF presentation directly to your iPad, which I did this morning for a sales meeting I have later on this afternoon. The Canva app sits in the Productivity category on the App store. The startup is lucky that there is no real competition in its space right now, that offers all the functionality they do basically for free, with only a small fee for premium design features and imagery. However, Adobe and its Creative Cloud services have begun to make a play into their own web solutions. On September 29th, Google announced that Adobe Photoshop would be the first of a number of applications from Creative Cloud that will be integrated into all new Chrome books with a 'streaming version' of the service. In a statement made by Product Manager at Google, Stephen Konig said of the new partnership with Adobe:
This streaming version of Photoshop is designed to run straight from the cloud to your Chromebook. It’s always up-to-date and fully integrated with Google Drive, so there’s no need to download and re-upload files—just save your art directly from Photoshop to the cloud. For IT administrators, it’s easy to manage, with no long client installation and one-click deployment to your team’s Chromebooks.
When Startup Daily asked Perkins if she was worried at all about Adobe's play into web-based solutions, Perkins said, "[We at] Canva are just concentrating on our own goals right now". Goals which they seem to be hitting every month. There are over 870,000 users on the platform now (goal of 1 million by Christmas) and over 6.2 million designs being completed on the platform (1.2 million of those were just last month). It makes sense that the team at Canva would not be focusing on what the largest player in the design space is doing right now. But that does not necessarily mean that Adobe, a well established company, is not caught up in the manic-ness that is startup life, nor that it would not be casting an eye as to what Canva is doing. Canva's all in one integrated solution gets closer and closer to replacing Adobe's entire suite of tools every time a new feature is added to the Canva platform. Startup Daily asked Perkins if Adobe had reached out to Canva to talk about anything from partnerships to interests in acquisition, to which Perkins responded "no comment". Whether Adobe has or not, it would be highly unlikely that Canva would look at an acquisition right now. From the outset, Perkins has always been very clear about wanting to build a strong and sustainable company. In the early days when she was first pitching to investors, it was always about how Canva could be a billion dollar company. Whilst right now Canva does not share statistics around its revenues, the sheer user traction and fact that people are building their own small businesses off the back of Canva's services are certainly indicative that a billion dollar business is not a pipe dream, rather a reality a few years down the track. ]]>
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Is Tappr’s technology a “quantum leap in the mPOS space”? http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/tapprs-technology-quantum-leap-mpos-space/ http://www.startupdaily.com.au/2014/10/tapprs-technology-quantum-leap-mpos-space/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 21:56:38 +0000 http://www.startupdaily.com.au/?p=34189 Untitled design (13)

Finding a way into the niche market of online financial services has high stakes, but the profit potentials make it well worth the risks. The big four banks of Australia is estimated to generate over $29 billion dollars annually. This is something that seems to have been very clearly understood by Brett Hales, the Co-Founder and CEO of Brisbane-based mCommerce and mPOS startup Tappr. Tappr was established by Hales with co-founders Kerry Esson (CTO) , Ben Lawton (COO), Courtney Keim (General Counsel) and Matthew Wick (Corp Sales) in April 2012. Although Hales didn't come from a business background himself, he had a vision of online payment processing that was more user friendly, both in application and technologically. Hales explains where his personal outlook stems from: "I saw first-hand what my parents went through when they started a secondary business. They started a Book Store on the Sunshine Coast and had to purchase a Point of Sale and an EFTPOS terminal. The set up costs (over $1,900) and the time (it took 25 days to get a Credit Card Terminal out to them) were extreme so I went to work researching out businesses could be approved to take payments in real time and start taking payments thereafter." In his initial research, Hales investigated why Octopus Card wasn't used greatly in areas like Australia and Asia. He found that the main obstacle was that PIN keypads were required by Australian regulations for all point of sale transactions. Hales and his team of co-founders decided to find ways to expand the way these systems were utilised, but also make their payment system more integrated and designed to work within existing payment choices. It's clear that Hales has a no-nonsense view of the company; his business methods show strength and direction for the startup. "Tappr is a new way of taking card payments and running your business all from the users smartphone or tablet. Tappr solution combines a proprietary card reader, point-of-sale app and analytics dashboard that has been designed and developed to be simple-to-use, cost effective and requires little staff training," he says. Hales breaks the Tappr business model down into two channels: "We've designed and developed our own Card Reader as well as the POS app and Dashboard Analytics. Therefore, as well as direct a direct channel, we can target enterprise customers like payment gateways or banks themselves looking for their own solution to satisfy the demands of their own users." Although Tappr resembles competitors in the mobile payments market like Square, Hales says Tappr has taken a more holistic approach in its technology and business model: "Many of our competitors brought off the shelf solutions that only accept payments, not the POS, analytics, merchant on-boarding, etc. Not only is our technology a quantum leap in the mPOS space, but our business model is different to our competitors and we go after a more diverse market." Tappr finds importance in leveraging an open API, so that their product integrates with other platforms. This was essential to their business model, because it was inherently useful for users of the platform and created additional brand awareness for Tappr. "Typically real big data wasn't available to businesses. Most businesses knew fairly well what they sold at the end of each day and what their totals are but there is so much more data that is available to them that is currently going to waste. Using the card reader and app, our solution captures a lot more data and presents it to the user in a simple yet effective way," says Hales. "Big business like Coles and Woolworths employ teams of data specialists to filter through vast amounts of information to try and understand their business and customers better. We can show who exactly is your best spending customer, what your average sale amount is, what your most profitable hours of the day are, and is your business attracting new customers or are they predominantly- returning customers?" Tappr hasn't applied itself towards the goal of unnecessary growth or expansion, rather just enough to keep their business model steady. In 2013, Tappr managed to close $2 million dollars of investment rounds, putting the company's value at approximately $11.2 million from both private and public investments. Earlier this year, Tappr launched its pilot program of proprietary software called JUVO. The company website has gained steady interest from the global business communities and soon will be releasing their own Tappr mobile payment processing device. For someone who didn't come into the startup game with the 'right' background in sales, marketing, business consulting or hospitality, Hales certainly makes up for it by knowing how to execute his vision. This is something he knows about himself and the team he has assembled at Tappr. He proudly states that, "I think just getting to where we are today is our greatest achievement. Most people don't understand what it takes to be in a startup, yet one that is producing hardware and software in the fin tech space. We look back from where we started and it's an amazing achievement on ridiculous time frames with a shoestring budget." Hales also has high hopes for the future of Tappr, mostly because of the ground work the company has already done: "Over the last year we've grown up as a company and now have our identity, culture and processes in place. It took a long time and while our company will continue to develop over time, we've set a good foundation for the future." ]]>
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Finding a way into the niche market of online financial services has high stakes, but the profit potentials make it well worth the risks. The big four banks of Australia is estimated to generate over $29 billion dollars annually. This is something that seems to have been very clearly understood by Brett Hales, the Co-Founder and CEO of Brisbane-based mCommerce and mPOS startup Tappr. Tappr was established by Hales with co-founders Kerry Esson (CTO) , Ben Lawton (COO), Courtney Keim (General Counsel) and Matthew Wick (Corp Sales) in April 2012. Although Hales didn't come from a business background himself, he had a vision of online payment processing that was more user friendly, both in application and technologically. Hales explains where his personal outlook stems from: "I saw first-hand what my parents went through when they started a secondary business. They started a Book Store on the Sunshine Coast and had to purchase a Point of Sale and an EFTPOS terminal. The set up costs (over $1,900) and the time (it took 25 days to get a Credit Card Terminal out to them) were extreme so I went to work researching out businesses could be approved to take payments in real time and start taking payments thereafter." In his initial research, Hales investigated why Octopus Card wasn't used greatly in areas like Australia and Asia. He found that the main obstacle was that PIN keypads were required by Australian regulations for all point of sale transactions. Hales and his team of co-founders decided to find ways to expand the way these systems were utilised, but also make their payment system more integrated and designed to work within existing payment choices. It's clear that Hales has a no-nonsense view of the company; his business methods show strength and direction for the startup. "Tappr is a new way of taking card payments and running your business all from the users smartphone or tablet. Tappr solution combines a proprietary card reader, point-of-sale app and analytics dashboard that has been designed and developed to be simple-to-use, cost effective and requires little staff training," he says. Hales breaks the Tappr business model down into two channels: "We've designed and developed our own Card Reader as well as the POS app and Dashboard Analytics. Therefore, as well as direct a direct channel, we can target enterprise customers like payment gateways or banks themselves looking for their own solution to satisfy the demands of their own users." Although Tappr resembles competitors in the mobile payments market like Square, Hales says Tappr has taken a more holistic approach in its technology and business model: "Many of our competitors brought off the shelf solutions that only accept payments, not the POS, analytics, merchant on-boarding, etc. Not only is our technology a quantum leap in the mPOS space, but our business model is different to our competitors and we go after a more diverse market." Tappr finds importance in leveraging an open API, so that their product integrates with other platforms. This was essential to their business model, because it was inherently useful for users of the platform and created additional brand awareness for Tappr. "Typically real big data wasn't available to businesses. Most businesses knew fairly well what they sold at the end of each day and what their totals are but there is so much more data that is available to them that is currently going to waste. Using the card reader and app, our solution captures a lot more data and presents it to the user in a simple yet effective way," says Hales. "Big business like Coles and Woolworths employ teams of data specialists to filter through vast amounts of information to try and understand their business and customers better. We can show who exactly is your best spending customer, what your average sale amount is, what your most profitable hours of the day are, and is your business attracting new customers or are they predominantly- returning customers?" Tappr hasn't applied itself towards the goal of unnecessary growth or expansion, rather just enough to keep their business model steady. In 2013, Tappr managed to close $2 million dollars of investment rounds, putting the company's value at approximately $11.2 million from both private and public investments. Earlier this year, Tappr launched its pilot program of proprietary software called JUVO. The company website has gained steady interest from the global business communities and soon will be releasing their own Tappr mobile payment processing device. For someone who didn't come into the startup game with the 'right' background in sales, marketing, business consulting or hospitality, Hales certainly makes up for it by knowing how to execute his vision. This is something he knows about himself and the team he has assembled at Tappr. He proudly states that, "I think just getting to where we are today is our greatest achievement. Most people don't understand what it takes to be in a startup, yet one that is producing hardware and software in the fin tech space. We look back from where we started and it's an amazing achievement on ridiculous time frames with a shoestring budget." Hales also has high hopes for the future of Tappr, mostly because of the ground work the company has already done: "Over the last year we've grown up as a company and now have our identity, culture and processes in place. It took a long time and while our company will continue to develop over time, we've set a good foundation for the future." ]]>
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