Advance is an Australian non-profit public-private partnership with communities spanning 90 countries and outposts in New York, San Francisco, Hong Kong and London. Founded by Ken Allen, Advance fosters a worldwide community of Australians, taps into knowledge far and wide and facilitates global career opportunities, innovation and entrepreneurship.
This year, as part of its Advance Innovation program, 25 lucky (let’s not forget hard-working) Australian start-ups will be given the opportunity to develop their entrepreneurial skill set, make invaluable connections, be mentored by successful Australians in the US and network with top tier incubators, accelerators and investors in Silicon Valley.
The program includes a number of workshops, mentorship, a trip to the Valley, networking opportunities and opportunities to pitch to angels and VCs at home and abroad.
Program hopefuls presented their case at ‘pitchfests’ across the east coast, which culminated with a pitchfest at Melbourne’s York Butter Factory co-working space last Friday.
I was fortunate enough to be at the Melbourne pitchfest, where the founders of ten different start-ups pitched to a panel of four local investors and VC representatives. Here’s a summary of the few that really resonated with me.
MCommsTV.com – Grant Simonds
MComms have two key products, Transcode and Monitor. The former offers live transcoding of video from one format into multiple formats for streaming purposes whilst the latter, in a nutshell, monitors live streams and provides alerts for customers where a stream is essentially bad.
They have already signed up big-name clients, including ESPN, Sky and Vodafone.
HealthKit.com – Alison Hardacre
HealthKit is essentially a three-tiered service aimed at making a real difference in the world. First, its patient management and billing software aims to significantly reduce or eliminate entirely the administrative burden faced by healthcare professionals. Second, through the storage of health information online and the use of ‘health informatics’ (big data for health), HealthKit can play a serious role in helping to cure disease. Finally, ordinary people can use HealthKit to keep track of all of their medical information online.
dataGO.co – Peter Cain
DataGo is all about roaming data. We all know that global roaming costs an arm and a leg whilst pre-paid sims often offer little by way of data, if they work at all. For example, dataGo already offers 1GB of roaming data for only $25. I think I spent that in my first couple of days in Europe last year on a sim service that will remain unnamed and up to you to work out.
RiskFlo.com.au –Martin Kelly
This one was really close to home. You see, I don’t always write about start-ups, I spend a fair chunk of my time working in risk management for a big four accounting firm, so I gain regular exposure to the various ways that processes are mapped, risks assessed and effective controls determined. RiskFlo is about taking the input from a risk assessment workshop and feeding it through an algorithm in order to derive an accurate risk rating, free of bias or dominant personalities. This, Martin suggests, would go a long way to avoiding the next BP oil spill.
Slipperfits.com – Michael Scanlon
Finally, an idea that goes right to the core of the human being. The desire for companionship, sex and well, the desire to be desired. Slipperfits aims to ride the Facebook wave and the aforementioned human traits to get off the ground. Essentially, Slipperfits allows you to create a hotlist which includes friends or mutual friends on your Facebook list who you’d like to hook up with. An app request is sent out and the recipient will then be able to select their own hotlist. Should you appear on each other’s a notification will promptly follow. Should the recipient not return the favour, they will forever be oblivious to their initial nomination. No awkwardness. No rejection. The only hurdle for me is the Facebook app request. I can’t remember the last time I accepted one although I’m sure a lot of people out there do given the amount of stupid invites I get. Interesting.
In closing, strong presentations supported by helpful and effective props, confident and calm (but not cocky) delivery, the ability to think on one’s feet when answering questions and a generally personable nature set some apart from others. As is said time and time again, investors invest in people first and ideas second. In addition, many of the startups presenting were able to demonstrate traction by way of existing customers, help to solve a problem or do something better and are backed by a well-credentialed team of directors and/or advisors. This stuff is almost critical to being taken seriously when going for funding.
Other startups presenting in Melbourne included Veridocx, AdvisoryLabs, CaptureUs, OneTouch and Marketing for Restaurants. All deserve to be commended for doing what most people won’t – giving the path least travelled, heeding their passion and trying to take control of their own destinies.
Well done to all concerned at Advance for fostering our greatest natural resource, entrepeneurs.