• Enjoy the freedom to innovate and grow your business

    [ad] With Microsoft Azure you have hybrid cloud flexibility, allowing your platform to span your cloud and on premise data centre. Learn more at microsoftcloud.com.

  • IT Admin: No Time to Save Time?

    [ad] Do you spend too much time patching machines or cleaning up after virus attacks? With automation controlled from a central IT management console accessible anytime, anywhere – you can save time for bigger tasks. Try simple IT management from GFI Cloud and start saving time today!

  • Free Forrester analysis of CRM solutions

    [ad] In this 25 page report, independent analyst house Forrester evaluates 18 significant products in the customer relationship management space from a broad range of vendors, detailing its findings on how CRM suites measure up and plotting where they stand in relation to each other. Download it for free now.

  • Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites

  • Reader giveaway: Google Nexus 5

    We’re big fans of Google’s Nexus line-up in general at Delimiter towers. Nexus 4, Nexus 7, Nexus 10 … we love pretty much anything Nexus. Because of this we've kicked off a new competition to give away one of Google’s new Nexus 5 smartphones to a lucky reader. Click here to enter.

  • News, Startups - Written by on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 11:22 - 0 Comments

    Optus makes first startup investments

    news National telecommunications player Optus has made its first investments in several Australian technology startups, courtesy of its Innov8 seed fund set up in collaboration with parent SingTel, with local groups 121cast and Venuemob getting the nod for initial capital investment.

    Both startups are alumni of the Melbourne Accelerator Program, an initiative of the Melbourne School of Engineering at the University of Melbourne which seeks to back startups being build by students, staff and alumni of the school.

    121cast, which raised a funding round of $250,000, led by Innov8 and including the startup’s seed investor, fellow Melbourne-based investment house Adventure Capital, is a company focused on converting information into spoken words, with the intention of providing information and context to users when they need it. The company’s first product is SoundGecko, a free service which allows users to listen to any news article or web page through mobile platforms, and which already has 35,500 users and 2,500 listens a day. However, the company is aiming at a wider target – developing what it describes as a ‘personal radio’ product.

    When fully developed, such a platform would allow users to receive a personalised radio feed made up of news, weather, social network updates, podcasts and more, all delivered through a mobile platform. The intention is that this kind of platform could replace existing radio stations during daily commutes, for example.

    121cast was founded by well-known Microsoft-focused blogger Long Zheng (who runs the istartedsomething blog and is also involved in the development of Windows Twitter client MetroTwit), as well as Andrew Armstrong and Edward Hooper. 121cast is a resident of the York Butter Factory co-working space in Melbourne, and recently returned from Silicon Valley after exhibiting at TechCrunch’s Disrupt conference.

    Long Zheng, Co-founder, 121cast said, “The Optus-Innov8 Seed Program is a significant new opportunity for early- stage Australian startups and we’re very excited to have both SingTel Innov8 as the investment partner and Optus as a strategic partner. With their technology expertise and business network, we believe the support from SingTel Innov8 and Optus will strengthen our product and business development.”

    Andrew Armstrong co-founder and lead developer said: “It has been a very exciting journey since we founded the startup in February and launching SoundGecko in July. Now with the strategic investment and support of Optus and SingTel, we aim to accelerate our development roadmap and reach across Asia Pacific.”

    For its own part, Venumob is a startup which allows users to book any type of venue online, and raised $450,000 in its own round, led by Innov8. The group has so far focused on providing access to booking spaces in Melbourne, where it currently has more than 300 venues listed, ranging from award-winning bars and restaurants like the Golden Monkey and The Botanical to hospitality groups such as the Publican Group and JBS Hospitality. The group is also looking to spread its wings across Australia and incorporate venues from around the country. Besides giving locals a way to discover and book venues, Venuemob’s service also delivers a chanel channel for owners to market their businesses and generate additional bookings.

    The Venuemob founders well-known in Australia’s startup scene. David Wei and Ying Wang previously teamed up to start a group-buying business, Crowdmass, which was sold to Groupon in 2011 in a move primarily viewed as a talent acquisition by the global group buying powerhouse.

    David Wei, Co-founder, Venuemob said, “The investment will allow us to catalyse our expansion strategy into other cities, so that we can offer function venues in Sydney and other major cities across Australia. It also opens the door to strategic partnership opportunities with Optus and SingTel Group. The support from the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program certainly reflects the fast-growing nature of the Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

    In a separate statement, Innov8 said the pitch round for the funding saw entries come in from all around Australia.

    Austin R. Bryan, Vice-President of Digital Communities and Ecosystems, SingTel Group Digital L!fe said, “The first round of the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program received a number of impressive entries that showcased remarkable ideas and concepts. This really validates our view that the startup community in Australia is bursting with talent and we are proud to offer them the opportunity to take their concepts to the next level.”

    Edgar Hardless, CEO, SingTel Innov8 said, “SingTel Innov8 complements the Group’s digital strategy by investing in new technologies and entrepreneurial talent worldwide. We are excited to kick off our first investments as part of the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program in 121cast and Venuemob, and look forward to seeing more exciting ideas coming out of Australia.” Further information about the investments is also available in an Innov8 blog post.

    I recently had the chance to have dinner with the guys from 121cast and Venuemob, and I have to say that I was impressed with both the technical expertise and commercial acumen that the startups’ leaders demonstrated. Both sides have been involved in startups previously and are highly focused on what they’re doing with their new initiatives. I’m not really surprised to see them pick up nicely sized capital investments like this, and I look forward to seeing what both can do in future. In wider sense, both companies have been supported by several local startup accelerator programs, such as MAP, the York Butter Factory and Innov8, and I think this demonstrates the rapid maturing of Australia’s IT startup ecosystem.

    To my mind, I view both startups as primarily acquisition targets in terms of their exit strategies from their businesses. 121cast seems to me to be primarily building a feature, not a new product entirely, and I would be that companies who make mobile operating systems or several different types of mobile apps – or even, potentially, media companies – would be interested in 121cast’s technology if it gets smart enough and popular enough.

    It’s a similar situation for Venuemob. The company shares a great deal of similarity with sites such as Groupon, Wotif.com and Realestate.com.au, which rely on a strong physical sales team on the ground to get small merchants across the line to list their offerings online. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a strong player in one of these existing categories eventually expand into venue booking via an acquisition of Venuemob.

    Image credit: Fernando Mengoni, royalty free

    submit to reddit
    Comments are closed.

    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:

  • Most Popular Content

  • Six smart secrets for nurturing customer relationships
    [ad] Today, we are experiencing a world where behind every app, every device, and every connection, is a customer. Your customers will demand you to be where they and managing customer relationship is the key to your business’s growth. The question is where do you start? Click here to download six free whitepapers to help you connect with your customers in a whole new way.
  • Enterprise IT stories

    • NetSuite in whole of business TurboSmart deal turbosmart

      Business-focused software as a service giant NetSuite has unveiled yet another win with a mid-sized Australian company, revealing a deal with automotive performance products manufacturer Turbosmart that has seen the company deploy a comprehensive suite of NetSuite products across its business.

    • WA Health told: Hire a goddamn CIO already doctor

      A state parliamentary committee has told Western Australia’s Department of Health to end four years of acting appointments and hire a permanent CIO, in the wake of news that the lack of such an executive role in the department contributed directly to the fiasco at the state’s new Fiona Stanley Hospital, much of which has revolved around poorly delivered IT systems.

    • Former whole of Qld Govt CIO Grant resigns petergrant

      High-flying IT executive Peter Grant has left his senior position in the Queensland State Government, a year after the state demoted him from the whole of government chief information officer role he had held for the second time.

    • Hills dumped $18m ERP/CRM rollout for Salesforce.com hills

      According to a blog post published by Salesforce.com today, one of Ted Pretty’s first moves upon taking up managing director role at iconic Australian brand Hills in 2012 was to halt an expensive traditional business software project and call Salesforce.com instead.

    • Dropbox opens Sydney office koalabox

      Cloud computing storage player Dropbox has announced it is opening an office in Sydney, as competition in the local enterprise cloud storage market accelerates.

    • Heartbleed, internal outages: CBA’s horror 24 hours commbankatm

      The Commonwealth Bank’s IT division has suffered something of a nightmare 24 hours, with a catastrophic internal IT outage taking down multiple systems and resulting in physical branches being offline, and the bank separately suffering public opprobrium stemming from contradictory statements it made with respect to potential vulnerabilities stemming from the Heartbleed OpenSSL bug.

    • Android in the enterprise: Three Aussie examples from Samsung androidapple

      Forget iOS and Windows. Today we present three decently sized deployments of Android in the Australian market on Samsung’s hardware, which the Korean vendor has dug up from its archives over the past several years for us after a little prompting :)

    • Businesslink cancelled Office 365 rollout cancelled

      Microsoft has been on a bit of a tear recently in Australia with its cloud-based Office 365 platform, signing up major customers such as the Queensland Government, Qantas, V8 Supercars and rental chain Mr Rental. And it’s not hard to see why, with the platform’s hybrid cloud/traditional deployment model giving customers substantial options. However, as iTNews reported last week, it hasn’t been all plain sailing for Redmond in this arena.

    • Qld Govt inks $26.5m deal for Office 365 walker

      The Queensland State Government yesterday announced it had signed a $26.5 million deal with Microsoft which will gain the state access to Microsoft’s Office 365 software and services platform. However, with the deal not covering operating system licences and not being mandatory for departments and agencies, it remains unclear what its impact will be.

    • Hospital IT booking system ‘putting lives at risk’ doctor

      A new IT booking platform at the Austin Hospital and Olivia Newton-John Cancer and Wellness Centre in Melbourne is reportedly placing the welfare of patients with serious conditions at risk.

  • Enterprise IT, News - Apr 17, 2014 16:39 - 0 Comments

    NetSuite in whole of business TurboSmart deal

    More In Enterprise IT

    News, Telecommunications - Apr 17, 2014 11:01 - 140 Comments

    Turnbull lies on NBN to Triple J listeners

    More In Telecommunications

    Featured, Industry, News - Apr 17, 2014 9:28 - 1 Comment

    Campaign Monitor takes US$250m from US VC

    More In Industry

    Digital Rights, News - Apr 17, 2014 12:41 - 14 Comments

    Anti-piracy lobbyist enjoys cozy email chats with AGD Secretary

    More In Digital Rights