Aussie Start-up & Venture Capital Summary | 22nd July 2023
Fresh funds for 8 companies + Aussie Quantum goes boonta
G'day and welcome to Overnight Success!
Psst….! 🤫 We’ve been working very hard behind the scenes on a much-requested platform. Pencil in your diaries for an announcement in next week’s newsletter!
🤖 🤑 So apparently, this AI thing is a big deal…?
The Tech Council of Australia has released a report estimating that up to 5% of Australia’s GDP could be attributed to Generative AI tech by 2030 due to productivity gains and increased innovation. The key industries in for a shake-up include healthcare, manufacturing, retail, and professional & financial services.
If you’re interested in a slightly more nuanced perspective on the potential of AI to improve economic output, The Economist has written several intriguing pieces so far this year. (Our faves here, here, here and here).
😭 Two (very different) start-ups enter voluntary administration
Paylab, a pay-in-advance Fintech competing against the likes of BeforePay, is currently in limbo as it eyes off a potential sale or recapitalisation. The company earns revenue from service fees charged on wages paid out in advance and affiliate fees from brand partners promoting special offers to employees on the platform. Originally billed as an employee retention tool, the changing labour market could be partly to blame for Paylab’s change of fortune (literally). (Smart Company)
Sans Drinks, a non-alcoholic beverages store founded in 2020 by Irene Falcone (who previously founded & sold successful online beauty retailer Nourished Life) revealed the business has been struggling amidst difficult economic conditions (i.e. decreasing discretionary spending) and increasing competition. It’s a surprising turn of events given the seemingly hot investment market for non-alcoholic beverage brands, as evidenced by the likes of recent raises from Lyre’s ($34.5M) and Naked Life ($3M). (Smart Company)
🏠 Farquar backs in WFH (Smart Company)
The Atlassian co-founder has this week doubled down on his support of remote work/WFH arrangements at this week’s National Tech Summit in Brisbane. (Meanwhile, we can’t help but wonder if Scott sometimes indulges in working in his pyjamas sometimes, too… 🤔.)
📀 The NSW Quantum Computing Commercialisation Fund announced 3 grant recipients of the $7M.
Full summary down below!
PropTech / IoT
Sensor Global raises $2.65M Seed to bring IoT tech to ressie homes
Sensor Global, a NSW-based PropTech specialising in IoT solutions for residential properties, has raised $2.65M. The Seed round funding came from a mix of angels, including Shane Oswin, David Lynas, and David Welsh, with institutions like Causeway Equities LLC and Second Century Ventures closing out the round. The round closed quickly with devices already pre-sold to community housing and property manager clients. The current product is an IoT smoke alarm that can alert property managers in case of tampering, power loss or the need for cleaning. Product (and revenue) expansion will come from other intelligent products like water leak detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and water shut-off valves.
Behind the technology is a cloud software platform that can integrate into the property manager's current CRMs and management systems. An essential cost saving for many is the automation of unit testing - bringing relief to renters and property managers across the globe. Rumour is that Sensor Global is already in talks with investors for another $2.4M for expansion into the US.
Due Diligence: SmartCompany
Verve locks away $3M to focus on female investors
The women-focused financial services platform, Verve, has raised an oversubscribed $3M pre-Series A to build an ethical investing platform designed around women. The investment was led by the impact-focused family office, Alberts. Verve has already built a 25,000 large community of investors and established Verve Super as the primary business. The raise comes with the launch of Verve Money, self-described as "not your old man's investment fund". Verve Money has three curated portfolios with varying risk levels, returns, and time frames. A significant driver for the platform is the investment gap between men and women investors. Verve Money ethically screens all investments and includes impact-focused assets that may not be listed publicly. Importantly, for all investors, is the sense of diversification and the linked decreased risk. Verve now has 9,000 users across its financial platforms, and this capital will be used to build out Verve Super & Verve Money further, as well as the compliance function of the team.
Wrapd raises $1.8M to expand retail rewards platform into the male market
Wrapd, the deals and discovery app formally known as 'Her Black Book', has closed a $1.8M round of funding. The capital comes as Wrapd, originally a smartphone app, has launched its web version. The platform connects brands with highly engaged, 'ready-to-shop' audiences. The round includes several previous investors, who've chipped in $4M of funding and included Touch Ventures and Andrew Hagger amongst others.
The platform has attracted over 800 retail partners, including Gucci, Nike, Aje and Lululemon. Interestingly, the co-founder's previous venture, Stylerunner, which unfortunately ended in VA, is also listed on the platform.
The consumer gets curation of promotions, flash sales, rewards and cash back from a mix of emerging and well-established retailers. The brands get to be in the spotlight of the Wrapd community.
The fresh capital will be invested in the tech, including using artificial intelligence to offer new functionality to consumers and merchants, scaling brand partnerships, and marketing to drive customer base growth. The gender-neutral name, Wrapd, will also allow the platform to expand its brand and product categories.
Equipment Rental / Events
Gecko gets $350K pre-Seed to create an event rental platform
Sydney-based Gecko has raised $350,000 in pre-Seed funding, led by accelerator Techstars with participation from Goodwater Capital and Launch House. Gecko began as a peer-to-peer marketplace for event equipment but has since transformed into a platform helping event rental businesses reach customers. The platform simplifies and centralises the rental process, eliminates delays, and offers cross-selling, referrals, and rebooking features. The cocktail of elements has increased some businesses' revenue potential by 50%. Gecko is currently in the Techstars Tech Central Sydney 2023 Accelerator, which is supported by the NSW Government. The fresh capital will help expand the platform offering, which currently hosts 120 rental businesses.
Due Diligence: Ben Kennedy, Co-Founders, LinkedIn Post
Lumi lands $15M to lend to SMEs, fast
Alternative small business lender Lumi has secured $15M in fresh funding. The capital comes from Israel's largest insurance group, Harel Insurance and Finance Group, which is joining as a new investor. Existing investors participated, including Perennial's private investment arm, Josh Liberman Investment Group, Arbel, and Stellan Capital. This investment follows a $20M raise in 2020 and a $31.5M Series A in 2018.
Lumi offers businesses loans and lines of credit between $5,000 and $500,000 with repayment terms of three months to four years and lending decisions made within two hours. The platform offers business loans, lines of credit and "Lumi Lux". Lumi Lux is for good matches with revenue of $2M, a business older than three years and up to date records with the ATO. Eligible clients get a reduction in interest rates over time.
The capital will be used to develop its proprietary platform further. In particular, Lumi is looking to build out its broker distribution model.
If you're a founder or investor who has just closed a round, please reach out to us at [email protected]
🖥️ Q-CTRL hits 100 employees, and founder Prof Michael Biercuk reflects.
🛰 Fleet Space Technologies has used it’s fresh cash ($50M) to continue its global expansion with the acquisition of rights to new long-term frequency filings in Europe. (Satellite frequency filings explained) (Tech Business News)
⚽️ Matildas won (1-0) against the Republic of Ireland to currently sit top of Group B.
KaaS (Knowledge as a Service)
I love this article from long-time OS reader & supporter Georgina because it’s not a topic I’ve seen covered much before, and this provides some great insight from the perspective of someone who has actually worked in the space! If you’re a founder considering different potential avenues for investment, this one is for you.
Will’s Pick 💁♂️ Stanford Graduate School of Business Graduation Remarks by Phil Knight, MBA '62 (YouTube, 24 minutes)
A great speech that serves as the ~20min summary of the book, Shoe Dog, told by the founder of Nike himself.
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‘Til next time,
👋 Will & Gem