Aussie startup: Topikality


Every week we’ll profile an Australian startup from the technology, telecommunications or video gaming sector. Drop us a line if you would like to have your company profiled. Up this week is Topikality, which is currently in public beta.

What problem does the startup aim to solve, or what product or service does it aim to produce?

The problem: We live in the information age. We are expected to be knowledgeable and up-to-date with the things that affect our daily lives. In the workplace we need to keep up-to-date with the market, competitors and trends. In social settings we need to be up-to-date with the latest stories and what’s happening with our favourite sports team. All this takes a lot of time. As we have to wade through a huge volume of information to find what’s relevant.

There has to be a better way!

The solution we are aiming for:

  • A place where ‘anyone can be knowledgeable on anything’
  • A tool that does the hard work for you. So you’ll be up-to-date with the topics that are important to you
  • A system that learns what articles you like, continually researches the internet for you, eliminates the clutter and sends you a daily email with the articles you need to read

Who are the founders, and what are their backgrounds?

Co-founder and technical director, Richard Heycock, has an honours degree in Electronic Systems & Control Engineering, 5 years of applied research for the British Government, then a decade or so in document imaging & workflow, publishing, telco support systems, mining and a high-volume ad-serving company.

I’m Philip Scott, Topikality’s co-founder and managing director. I completed a Bachelor of Business, and went on to become a product manager at 3M, then co-founder and CEO of an enterprise software company, where we developed, marketed and installed customer relationship management (CRM) systems for 150 financial institutions globally. After that, I founded Quantum Advantage — business mentoring and executive coaching to pay the bills while developing Topikality.

What is the story behind how the company was created?

Richard and I met in 2007 at the tail end of a VC-funded project. He threw the idea for Topikality at me, and we decided to make it happen. We’ve spent from December 2007 to now developing, and here we are! Richard originally came up with the idea after a discussion with his partner, a leading blogger and nutritionist, on better ways to continuously research a topic and stay ahead of the game.

I was inspired by the possibility of keeping up to date on the things that really interested me. I thought traditional media was too general; industry publications that relied on advertising provided a single view of the world, online systems driven by popularity didn’t reflect my interests and daily trawling of the internet was too time-consuming.

So the concept of Topikality was quite appealing. A system that knew what I liked and continually researched the internet for me. It would save me time by emailing a digest of relevant articles each day. We set out to try to make this a reality. Even if nobody else liked Topikality then at least it would be useful for us.

Has the product launched? If not, when does the company plan to launch it?

Yes. It is in public beta. Anyone can register and use the system for free. The full launch will happen later this year.

What’s the revenue model?

There are a number of options. We are considering a corporate license with additional functionality to keep the whole organization up-to-date and ahead of their competitors. We also have the option of licensing our technology — the Relevance Learning Engine that drives Topikality.

How is the company funded?

Currently we are self funded. This may change. As we now have a working system, the global user base is growing strongly and we are getting some very good international media coverage. We are considering taking on a first round of investors to help accelerate the development process.

Where is it based?


How many staff does it have?

Two. Richard and myself.

Who are the main competitors?

The main competitor is people doing nothing. They stick with the status quo and don’t do anything different. There are a few other solutions out there that take a different approach to Topikality. They don’t learn what the user likes to read and automatically eliminate the clutter like we do. You read about them in this article.

What will be the next immediate steps for the company?

Keep doing what we are doing … continue developing a great system, getting the word out there and growing the user base. Then implement the business model.

Image credit: Topikality