Michelle Jenneke is not the only hottest thing from Down Under taking the world by storm. In the geekier tech scene, things are heating up. And it is not hip-popping warm up moves that is catching the eyes of investors worldwide.
A month ago, telco giant Optus and SingTel Innov8 came together and launched a joint seed funding program called the Optus Innov8 Seed Program. Very much like how 500 Startups, to be eligible, you have to be referred by someone in the programme’s partner network. Since the announcement of the program, the Optus-Innov8 team has been travelling across Australia to meet with startups to review all the applications, drilling down to the final 10 teams which will be given a chance to pitch for the seed funding.
So here we are, the final 10 teams whom have been invited to pitch at a Winter Pitch Event held on 31st July:
1. Lexim , a learning management system for all teachers
2. GoCatch, a smartphone application that connects taxi drivers directly with passengers
3. Wooboard, which makes positive recognition easy using a game all staff can play
4. Happy Inspector, an iPad app for property inspections
5. Tapit Media, a mobile campaign service provider
6. VenueMob, which helps you find the best venues for your event
7. FlikGift, which helps you send free gift cards to your friends
8. Young Republic, an interactive marketplace for fashion, jewellery, homewares, art & lifestyle products
9. 121cast, which aims to redefine the radio with personalised information and entertainment
10. Tinybeans, an app which helps archive photo albums for your children
Other than the seed funding program, which will last from three to six months, there has been an increase in funding activity in Australia. Earlier this week, Script Rock, a business software firm based in Australia, has raised a total of A$1.2million in a seed funding round led by Facebook board member, PayPal co-founder and technology startup investor Peter Thiel, with other backers including 500 Startups, Starfish Ventures, Startmate, as well as other angel investors.
A month ago, we also saw Bubble Gum Interactive raise a total A$2.5 million in funding to drive growth of its product Space Heroes Universe, with the round including Sydney Angels Sidecar Fund, Melbourne based Starfish Ventures and Tokyo based IT-Farm Corporation. Sizhao Yang, co-creator of Farmville and respected Silicon Valley investor Bill Tai also invested in Bubble Gum’s adventures.
Earlier in June, Posse raised a A$1.2 million round from a total of 11 investors led by Silicon Valley angel investor Bill Tai. Other investors include Bill Lee, CEO and co-founder of Remarq, eBay Motors founder Simon Rothman and Australian fund Elevation Capital. Posse focuses on the retail industry with an exciting and engaging online customer recommendation and referral platform where friends share their favourite places with each other.
Online DVD rental company Quickflix and online hotel distribution company Siteminder, also managed to raise A$25 million and A$5 million respectively this year. Both companies are based in Australia.
If you look at the funding landscape closely, you might be able to spot some interests from Silicon Valley, as well as the Japanese, towards the Australia ecosystem. Names like Peter Thiel and Bill Tai backing up companies from Australia will certainly inject a strong confidence into the Australian startup ecosystem. For now, all the eyeballs are set towards the Optus Innov8 program, which sees the various major players in Australia such as AngelCube, Pollenizer, PushStart, Startmate, Sydney Angels, York Butter Factory and many more coming together for the first time, making Australia, the next upcoming tech startup hotspot to watch.