Impressive startups! Report from PushStart Australian accelerator Demo Day


Incubators and accelerators are blossoming all over the world, with in Australia the seed accelerator space represented most prominently by StartMate, PushStart, and Melbourne-based AngelCube. I wrote about the Australian accelerator scene when PushStart was launched.

Yeseterday afternoon I went to PushStart’s demo day for their first intake. I was very impressed by the calibre of the startups presenting. I took notes through the presentations of the 8 startups, as below, which hopefully offer a fair representation of the companies and what they said. I expect to see more from this impressive crop of incubators.

AdBay: Cost Per Person Advertising for Digital Billboards
Digital billboards are used extensively in retail spaces such as cafes and shopping centers. However advertisers do not know who is seeing in front of the billboard, so there are no data-based metrics for the value of advertising. AdBay puts a camera on top of advertising signs, capturing demographic data and how long they spend in front of the billboard. On top of that data AdBay have created a marketplace giving CPP (Cost Per Person) that allows advertisers to pay only when an individual of the selected demographic is in front of the billboard.

The industry is $200 million in Australia, $10 bllion globally, however AdBay believes that it can significantly grow that market given the data and accountability it can bring. AdBay did reference the well-known New York-based Immersive Labs as a competitor.

They have made a sale in South Africa, and will be trialling the technology in Sydney CBD later this month. 

The team includes Jimmy McGilchrist, Chris Muir, and Luke Nuttall. They are seeking $800K to move initially into cafes and retail shops.

Bleeply: Twitter for business without the bloggers
The team has come from a background of building digital democracy programs.  They say that social media is not designed for business, it is designed for individuals, so . Bleeply is a simple cross-platform collaboration platform, creating a workflow where tweets from a business account are vetted by others in the team, avoiding gaffes that go straight to the company’s tweet stream.

80% of US businesses use social media, many of them with $10 billion spent, mainly on people. Social media marketing yields 30% conversion of visitors to their landing page. They also sell to digital agencies, both for their use, and for collaborating with their clients on social media activity. 

It is based on a freemium model with metered charging for additional services. They also are looking to create an ecosystem in which other developers can build add-on products. The pitch is that their very simple approach is superior to the competitors that are trying to build a complete and comprehensive solution.

From 150 beta users currently they are aiming to move to a public beta launch in 3 months, and are seeking $350K now for further development and building the sales team.

GimmeQuotes: Local Services Done Right
They are looking to create the common poor customer service experienced by customers of local tradespeople. It is a two-sided marketplace – customers and businesses – but they have focused on getting businesses on board.

They named their prominent competitors ServiceCentral, ServiceSeeking and Quotify. They believe that what needs to be done differently is a better customer experience, and reducing the cost of acquisition. They have built the site to optimize searches for suburb and service e.g. ‘Sydney Locksmith’, and have 80 targeted domains that bring traffic to these word combinations.

The revenue model is pay for success, where businesses pay only if they win a project. This means that the site is focused on lead conversion as well as lead generation, helping businesses to follow up. They are collecting recommendation data at the bidding point, including on non-successful bidders, and are looking to add reviews after services are performed, and use Facebook Connect to identify recommendations from customers’ friends.

The team is brothers Luke and Dallin Howes, bringing in particular SEO skills. They are seeking $500K to grow the business.

MateWire: for Activities
There is a problem in that people want to learn about possible activities, and businesses who have spare capacity on activities that they are running. MateWire is an app allowing users to indicate their interests, which means they are alerted when relevant activities are posted. The initial target is international travellers, of which 300 million have smartphones.

Businesses pay a monthly fee to list events, and can pay more to be featured.
For marketing they use street teams,  international student societies, travel companies, and paying businesses who want to grow the user base. Every visitor to Ozzie Studycare is promoting the app to Australian international students.

They are looking for $450K for coding and additional marketing activiies.

Surfed.At: a Home for Surfers, Online

As an avid surfer and technologist, Adam Haeger has been astounded by how poorly served the surf market is by online services. In Surfed.At, surfers can search through 5,000 surf sites globally, see full-screen maps of the sites, mark where they have searched, and accumulate scores in a gamification feature.

People are spending 7 minutes on the site, with 15% conversion to sign ups, and 30% return.

For monetization they are looking at advertising, premium features, photo and video hosting, and a second-hand surfboard market. The total surfing market is $13 billion. They believe they can shift to snowboarding, skiing and skating if the surf platform works well.

They are not raising money until they have progressed more.

TinyBeans: Simple, Beautiful Baby Journals for Busy Parent
Co-founder Stephen started by creating a simple app 365Shutters which allows people to upload one photo per day of their child. It received good feedback so the team has built a next-generation product.

TinyBeans is a web/ mobile app that allows people to easily create a record of their children’s lives. in the 7 weeks since their soft launch, they have 1300 users and 13000 photos uploaded. They will add the capture of milestones and measurements of children. They know age, gender, location, measurements, and development, which enables fine-grained targeting. They have a reach of extended families, to which they can recommend products relevant to the children. Premium features can include additional storage for videos, and they can also sell customised products.

They are looking for $500K for product development and marketing. 

Tonight: The social network for what goes on after dark
They suggest that social networks have shifted from sharing the past to sharing the present, and will move to sharing the future, where people are going.

By answering the question ‘What are you doing tonight?’, it enables people to plan their social engagement during the evening. Apple has featured the app. They have had 7,000 downloads in Australia and New Zealand since it was launched 7 weeks ago.

The business model rests on hyper local advertising, influencing the influencers that have been identified, loyalty and rewards, curated ecommerce, and sponsorships.

User acquisition is based on guerilla marketing, experiential advertising, public relations, and independent communities.

WerdSmith: Instagram for Writers

The major social networks for creators are Instagram for photographers, SoundCloud for musicians, and Vimeo for video artists. Werdsmith aims to take that space for writers.

Onthe app writers can write ideas and drafts, share them with friends and get comments, and set word goals, providing a social platform for book and article creation.

The app has over 88,000 downloads. They have grown to 4% premium users (currently single payment of $2.99), who eventually will pay for and get features such as version control, syncing, collaboration and desktop. Publisher Pan Macmillan is trialling the platform, enabling them to find writers, and writers to become more visible to publishers. They also believe that they can become a leading  platform for digital publishing, by being where books are written.