Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Gillman and Abelsosohn LAUNCHES A RECRUITMENT REVOLUTION

LANDING PADS CASE STUDY | MAY 2017

The founders of HR tech startup myInterview want to revolutionise recruitment. With support from the Landing Pads program, they are well on their way.

When the founders of Australian startup myInterview left high school and began university, they didn’t expect to have such a hard time finding a part-time job. With many people applying for each role, Guy Abelsohn and Benjamin Gillman found it impossible to differentiate themselves through a traditional resume.

This sparked the idea for myInterview, which they launched in 2014. myInterview helps employers hire the right people with a customisable one-way video interview solution.

Abelsohn and Gillman’s goal is to transform the recruitment process by bringing candidates’ applications to life and showing the people behind the paper, while making the whole process faster and more efficient.

Employers post ‘interviews’ on myInterview’s secure platform, including a company video, a role description and up to 10 text or video questions. When applying for a role, candidates have 30 seconds to review each question before recording a response. myInterview also delivers a Video Apply Widget that authenticates cover letters by giving candidates the opportunity to pitch themselves for a job in person.

In 2016, Abelsohn and Gillman began planning a research and development centre in Tel Aviv to underpin further technology development and business growth. To support this endeavour, they applied for the Tel Aviv Landing Pad as part of the Landing Pads program.

‘There’s so much tech going on in Tel Aviv, it’s quite mind-blowing,’ says Gillman, who is currently basedin the coastal city. ‘We wanted to tap into both the talent and the investment, as well as the time zone, which makes it easier to do business with Europe and the US. The Landing Pad was a great way to do that.’

As part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda, Austrade has established five Landing Pads in Berlin, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore and Tel Aviv. Landing Pads supports market-ready startups/scaleups to go global.

Participants are given an operational base at a Landing Pad for up to 90 days, where they benefit from Austrade’s extensive global network of contacts and tailored business development assistance.

A world-leading startup ecosystem

In November 2016, the myInterview team arrived in Tel Aviv. Gillman was on the ground full-time for 90 days while Abelsohn visited throughout. They were housed at SOSA (South of Salame), a vibrant four-storey space and community founded by a group of innovation stakeholders, including some of Israel’s most prominent angel and venture capital investors.

Abelsohn and Gillman arrived with a clear plan to access expertise from key advisors, investors, CEOs and CTOs that would allow them to refine their business model and technology. They wanted to take things to the next level and ensure their technology was cutting-edge.

‘SOSA is an amazing resource,’ says Gillman. ‘There’s a huge buzz around it. We had the German Government come through last week and the President [Frank-Walter Steinmeier] was here. It’s really one of the greatest hubs in this country.’

myInterview had access to an extensive range of experts and events, as well as onsite value creation associates who connect startups with valuable contacts. They also received one-on-one support from the Austrade Landing Pad Manager, Omri Wislizki.

‘Omri basically acts as your business development guy,’ says Abelsohn. ‘We call him “the super connector”, because he can open doors into all types of companies. Without that support it probably would have taken us six month to familiarise ourselves with the landscape.’

Forging powerful connections

Through the Landing Pad, myInterview connected with major global tech companies, potential corporate partners and venture capitalists, and raised enough capital to expand its R&D efforts.

‘I had a casual chat with about 20 venture capitalists in the space of two months, which is huge,’ says Gillman. ‘Those meetings usually take months to get, and here I could sit down and speak to them in a matter of minutes.’

The myInterview team has since launched a new line of business, which involves using analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence to rank candidates based on factors including what they say, their tone of voice and their confidence level.

‘We would never have taken this new direction without the influence of the people we met through SOSA and the Landing Pad,’ says Gillman.

They also hired three people, two based in Tel Aviv and one in the Ukraine, taking their team to five.

Going global

In the months after completing the Landing Pads program, myInterview was accepted into the 12-week Slingshot HR Tech accelerator program, supported by recruitment giants Seek and Hudson.

Abelsohn and Gillman are focused on continuing to develop their technology and enhancing its capabilities to integrate with HR management software. This will allow them to access a global customer base.

‘The Landing Pad is an opportunity that enables you to look at the bare bones of your business and be able to see what is needed to go global,’ says Gillman. ‘You get access to people that you couldn’t get access to otherwise. Ultimately we’re in a much stronger position from participating in this program.

‘I’d recommend people take the opportunity because it can really accelerate your business.’

Customer Experience #2 - Cross Channel Marketing

 

In the previous article I uncovered some high-level facts about marketing, but in this article I would like to focus on Cross/Omni/Multi Channel Marketing. I will explain the key features and thought processes digital marketers are innovating in this new digital age to create a seamless customer experience. Before I get into the vast amount of information explaining the importance of Cross Channel Marketing I want to share with you some statistics:

  • 86% of consumers will pay for a better Customer Experience.
  • 1% feel their expectations are actually being met.
  • 89% of consumers switched to a competitor after a poor experience.

When I first saw these stats I was shocked since there are thousands of applications all aimed at improving Customer Experience. So what is happening here? I believe that even though there are numerous amounts of solutions out there, not all of them work together properly and don't provide consistent messaging across all channels.

"78% of customers don't receive consistent experience across channels" - Accenture

The rift between digital and offline interactions

Since the birth of the internet, users who entered websites were only seen as an IP address and nothing more. The real interaction with the customer would have only been via direct marketing, road shows, in store etc. Thus the only information or view of the customer would have been from offline/physical interactions. Now, we are able to combine mobile devices, websites, desktops, events and brick and mortar into one seamless experience. A once fragmented customer view or IP address can now be combined to create a proper customer profile.

I will now run through a quick customer journey which can be accomplished through marketing:

  1. Jane, 28 years old, single, lives in the Eastern Suburbs of NSW, Australia - went on Google and clicked on a website, Peaches (fake company) for a new dress.
  2. The Peaches website shows her all the lovely types of clothes she can purchase, so she creates a cart and fills it with her chosen dresses.
  3. 3. After making her account she decides to actually abandon the cart and go in store to check the clothes to make sure it suits her.
  4. Jane then downloads the Peaches app and links it to her account to keep track of the dresses she liked online.
  5. When Jane reaches the store a sales assistant is prompted about Jane's recent activity online and immediately introduces themselves to Jane, leads her to the dresses she was looking for and voila, a seamless customer experience!

Seems easy enough, right? The process may look easy but in most cases they don't work like the example above. There are many reasons why this doesn't actually work and they could possibly be:

  • Bad use of data
  • Applications are not integrated, or no applications at all
  • Marketing messages are disjointed and offer different view points
  • Customer is not involved and not given freedom to have the same experience on any device
  • Disparity between offline and online channels

For all this to work seamlessly there needs to be a lot of work in the back end to ensure that customer experience is executed properly. The company must now be able to build a customer experience which is easy, simple and gets the job done no matter what channel/device is being used. However, above all, the experience will also need to be personable and tailored to each specific customer segment/profile. All of this does point to one important feature of marketing, cross-channel marketing, but what lies behind that is actually data. Data is a whole entire topic which will be covered in my next article. However, it's important to note that only 11% of marketers have high confidence in the audience they're targeting according to Nielsen reports.

How can companies attract and develop new business through CX?

I believe there are 6 steps to success in building a great B2B/B2C Customer Experience and they are:

  1. Use your intellectual property to build engagement & generate demand.
  2. Start tracking at an individual level what your visitors/prospects/clients are interested in.
  3. Build simple lead nurture journeys to keep your brand top of mind.
  4. Score & prioritise who of your marketing database show intent to purchase.
  5. Automate & manage your offline activities as much as possible.
  6. Measure the success (or failure) of your activities & look to improve.

By achieving one, a few or even all of these will result in better efficiency by automating tasks that would have taken days and weeks into just hours and even minutes.

Marketers, Professionals and Sales Teams can utilise their time more efficiently therefore spending time on understanding ROI from a single source of truth.

Marketers are then able to move from a cost centre, to a revenue generating business function which is easily recognised and quantifiable by:

  • Increasing the amount of leads sent to sales teams
  • Reducing lead conversion times
  • Increase in revenue attributed to marketing
  • Quantify and deduce the actual contribution of marketing to business revenue
  • Improving time efficiency of executing and analysis of marketing initiatives

By addressing marketing's KPI's and innovating a new path of recognisable revenue for a company, the marketer now has more responsibility but has become an essential and important business function with a proven track record. By being able to accomplish these key aspects, the company can keep their brand top of mind with their customers. Not every prospect is ready to buy now, but it's important to keep on top of where the buyer is in their buying stage. Thus, capturing this data is extremely important because every buyer/customer profile will react to certain campaigns differently and expect it to be personally tailored. Data is a whole topic in itself so I will be releasing #3 in my series next week to go through the importance of Data Management.

Let me know what you think about Cross-Channel marketing and how it has effected your role/company.

Written by

Customer Experience #1 - Marketing

 

Within the last couple of years we have seen buzzwords such as 'Digital Disruption', 'Big Data', 'Cloud' and the list goes.

I believe that Customer Experience will be the reigning buzzword covering everything and anything which involves the customer. 

With the increased patronage on the World Wide Web, we are able to connect instantly through any device, anywhere, anytime. There is one thing that is certain now and that's constant change, but it is also how we embrace it and mold it to how our customers are changing that makes all the difference. The internet has made information easier to obtain due to transparency of social media, websites and other channels. Every business function (Sales, Marketing, Consulting, Service etc) must therefore be able to function as a single unit/brand to keep Customer Experience consistent and personal.

Customer Experience can mean many different things, but the way I would define it is any business function or channel that is exposed to the public (Sales, Marketing, Mobile, Social etc). One major component which I would say is at the forefront of the digital age of Customer Experience is Marketing.So how has marketing changed over the years? There are many variables to consider when discussing this, but the single most important catalyst is technology. It is also important to note that marketing budgets are increasing dramatically to incorporate more technology, skills and capabilities to meet higher KPI's in acquisition, retention and expansion of customer relationships (Gartner's CMO Spend Survey 2015-2016). There are a few points which lead me to this conclusion, they are:

  • Data - I wouldn't be surprised to see data being part of financial statements over the next coming years. Data has a price tag within the black market and that is why we see an increasing amount of activity in hacking. By gathering data on consumers we are now able to build a persona and even a unique ID linked towards an IP address. This point becomes increasingly important as analytics tools cover 6.7% of marketing budgets and expected to spend close to 11% over the next three years, according to CMO survey. Companies like Facebook which is built on data are worth a lot more money than traditional companies - Some fruit for thought; Facebook is worth approximately $200 billion USD now and Qantas is worth $15.8 billion AUD but owns planes, airport facilities etc.
  • Marketing Orchestration - Social, Indirect Channels, Direct Channels, Multi-Device are just some of the channels which are used on a daily basis for companies. Marketers sure are finding it tough to orchestrate the same message across all channels and device forms - this is why there are dedicated marketers for each type of customer channel interaction in larger companies (e.g Social Media Marketers, Direct Marketers etc). Thus having the capability to build a consistent Customer Experience across all channels can be tough and at times daunting.
  • Applications - There are thousands of marketing applications available within the market concurrently and cover everything digital from Analytics, Campaign Marketing, Social to Hyperlocal. Choosing the right one can be hard especially since there is a tonne of information available on the internet for everybody to read up on. There are great companies on the list which provide solutions to very targeted marketing functions to solutions that aim to cover the gamut of marketing functions. A company that can accommodate the growth that a client wants to achieve is extremely important since a broad solution could make things easier especially if multiple tools are required.

There are many other points that I could have mentioned, but each of these points can be discussed even further and I will do just that over the coming weeks. I think it's amazing to see such a big change in the way marketing is approached and even other business functions which all relate to Customer Experience. For now, I will be diving deeper into the marketing world and sharing my experiences and knowledge on the subject. We will cover more content like Hyperlocal, SoLoMo (Social, Local, Mobile), Viral Marketing and loads more.

Thanks for taking the time to have a quick read. Leave a comment about what you thought and share with your friends/clients if you found it useful. 

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Most Networked VC in Tech Shares His Best Advice for Founders & Start-Ups


MAY 26, 2017|IN INTERVIEW|BY KUMAR THANGUDU


 

Bio: Tim Draper is the Founder of leading venture capital firms Draper Associates and DFJ, and the Founder of the global Draper Venture Network. 


Venture successes include Skype, Overture, Baidu, Tesla, Parametric Technology, Hotmail, Digidesign, and Twitch.tv. 


An advocate for entrepreneurs and free markets, Tim is regularly featured as a keynote speaker in entrepreneurial conferences throughout the world, has received numerous awards and honors, and has frequent TV, radio, and headline appearances. He was named the 2015 “Entrepreneur for the World” by the World Entrepreneur Forum. He was ranked #52 on the list of the 100 most influential Harvard Alumni, and #7 on the Forbes Midas List. Tim received a BS in electrical engineering from Stanford and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.


Kumar: We’re curious – what technology sectors are you most bullish on, at the moment?


Tim: The technologies that I’m interested in are marketplaces, because we’re seeing almost every service industry being transformed into a marketplace from hotels, to the legal profession, to venture capital – to whatever. They’re all getting transformed by marketplaces – so, we’re really interested in that. I’ve spent a lot of time and effort thinking about new forms of transportation, so we’re very interested in that. And we’re looking for companies that are challenging industries which have gotten a little fat and lazy.

When an industry’s gotten sort of lazy, and is being run by an oligopoly, then we say that there’s great opportunity for a start-up to come in.

A lot of industries have already been transformed by the internet. Finance is in the process of being transformed – equity is clearly one of those. We’re looking for other industries that are [in that process]. It seems that the ones that are the slowest to be transformed have been the ones that have been [historically] highly regulated. So, companies that are trying to transform healthcare or real estate or insurance – or even government itself, those are the companies that are very attractive to me. That’s kind of what we’re looking for.

We like what the blockchain has done – whether it was through Bitcoin, through keeping track of any kind of data for security purposes [sic]… I think that the technology is a breakthrough.

And then there are a couple of others – like the internet of things, combined with 3D printing, so that anything we can envision can be made right there for us. The new logistics companies we’ve been backing look like they’re changing the whole nature of logistics – and that all started because of Uber. [They] have not just transformed the taxi industry – there are many, many industries that are changing, as a result.

Those are the things that we’re kind of looking at right now.


Kumar: You mentioned Bitcoin and blockchain. As a lot of our readers know, you’re very heavily invested in that technology. Was there a certain moment, or a specific trend that got you excited about Bitcoin and the blockchain, early on? Maybe a pivotal moment, or an epiphany?


Tim: Yeah. When I first heard about it, I thought, “Wow, this is great” – because in 2008, there were [a lot of] countries and people [who] were starting to think that their own countries’ fiat currencies were worthless. There was this panic going on, and I thought, “Wow – that’s very interesting.” And I combined that with the thought that people had digital currency inside of games. So, when Bitcoin came out, I got very excited about it.

But [the moment] when I knew that Bitcoin was going to be a big, huge thing? It was kind of ironic. It was when the Mt. Gox theft happened. When that happened, I thought, “Oh, well – this is the end of Bitcoin.”  But, all [that happened] was the price of Bitcoin dropped by about 20%, based on that news [sic], and I thought, “Oh boy, there is a real need for this, and I am going in with both feet.” I realized that out there in the world – whether it’s in countries where the currency is dropping 30% a year, or countries [under the rule of dictators], or even countries like the U.S., where the dollar loses value every year, just through inflation – people [would] rather hold on to this.

[Bitcoin is] so much easier to move from country to country, or [use to] make investments. And the technology gets more and more interesting every day, because the blockchain is like this perfect ledger – it keeps track of all pieces of data, so you can create tokens on the blockchain, and raise money. You can even use the blockchain to do things like claiming first invention through patents. We have a company called Stampery that is, in effect, a notary – a blockchain notary.

Smart Contracts are also coming from [these advances], and Smart Contracts are allowing people to write up contracts that are indisputable. I think that’s going to be really exciting, down the line.


Kumar: You recently went on the news to talk about Tezos cryptocurrency, what most excites you about it?


Tim: I like the founders and their vision. Where governance of Bitcoin is by the miners, and Etherium is by a benevolent dictatorship, Tezos is governed by the token holders. All three will become standards in the cryptocurrency world, and all three will be able to manage your smart contacts. I expect Tezos will be the most flexible token.


Kumar You’ve invested in several unicorns – including Skype, Tesla, Thumbtack, Twitch, Robinhood – as well as others. When they were nascent, what most compelled you to invest?


Tim: Yeah, sure! We’ve backed something like 25 unicorns. I think the first thing everybody should understand, is that there is no “typical” unicorn. It’s some combination of hard work, good positioning, a little luck, and a team that hangs together through thick and thin – [that’s] what really generates unicorns.

When we backed Hotmail, it was just web-based email. And, then I added the viral marketing component – and it spread to 11 millions users in 18 months. It just took off like a rocket! And then became this extraordinary thing.

My experience with Tesla [happened] because a guy named Ian Wright took me for a ride in his Wrightmobile. He made me strap in, and I had no idea what [was happening], because I thought it was an electric car. The only electric cars I’d been in were golf carts, and cars set up for tree-huggers! The thing ended up taking off like a rocket – and then it stopped on a dime – and I thought, “Wow… so, you don’t have to make sacrifices; in fact, you can get better performance out of an electric car.”

So, I took it upon myself to go to a bunch of hobbyists, and different car shows, and stuff – to [learn about] all the different electric cars. They were all mentioning this guy Martin Eberhardt, at Tesla. [I] got very excited about it, and my partners and I made a small investment [in Tesla]. Car companies are pretty capital intensive… and the company did run out of money. That was when Elon Musk stepped up. [His involvement] built all the confidence we needed. Great things started to happen, and Elon pulled off one of the greatest businesses of all time. He got customers to pay in advance, he got a loan from the government. He bought the Numi plant for pennies on the dollar… he made some extraordinary moves, and he built one of the greatest companies of all time.

The Robinhood guys were just terrific. [They were] dynamic, and [offering a] new platform… and now they are the way for individual investors to invest in stocks. Robinhood has become synonymous with investing in public companies. They’ve just made it so much easier to be an investor…they’re opening it up to all these people who might not have been investors, before.

Skype was interesting… I hunted them down, because I saw that they had gotten out of Kazaa, and I wondered what they were doing with that peer-to-peer technology. And they said, “We’re going to do this loan thing…”, and I said I’d back it. And then they came to me, and they said, “Oh, before you write your check – we’re actually going to use peer-to-peer technology to go after the phone companies, instead.” And I said, “Even better. Let’s try it!”, and we invested.


Kumar: Can you share any founder stories our readers might enjoy?


Tim: There was a time when I got a chance to be the first video Skype user. I had to be in two places at once, and Nicholas Zennström set up [a video conference with me]. I didn’t know it was coming out of the Skype labs – he just went ahead and did that, and it worked perfectly. I was all excited – I said, “Oh my gosh, we’ve got a huge win with video!”, and Nicholas said, “Not so fast, Tim – we had to cut off three hundred thousand audio phone calls in order to get the bandwidth to do this video.”

I thought, “Okay, that’s good – back to the lab!” But, boy – that was exciting.


Kumar: Always On called you “the most networked venture capitalist in tech”. Is that true?


Tim: They [LinkedIn] did a network connection thing on the internet, [which revealed] how all these people are interrelated – how they’re connected, who they’re connected to, and all this stuff. And they ran a huge network model on who was the most networked person in the Silicon Valley… and that’s me.


Kumar: How did you get there?


Tim: Just one good meeting at a time… one good friend at a time. And, slowly but surely – we built out a network of venture funds, called the Draper Venture Network. We connected ourselves not just with people in Silicon Valley, but with people all over the world. And I think that was part of the reason that I became number one.

We also had funded a unicorn in each of three continents – and I think that also had an impact. That, combined with being open and willing to talk to entrepreneurs, wherever – [as well as] speaking at conferences, and that kind of thing. I think it just added up.

Kumar: You advise many different companies, through various milestones of development. To those raising their series A – what types of advice do you give on allocating equity to the executive team, or early employees?

Tim: Even before they get to a series A round, there are a couple of things I recommend – and I recommend putting together a plan for equity. So, I get them thinking that, early. Plan ahead as to who you’re going to hire, and when, and how much equity you’re going to give them. I think that can make all the difference, later on – because the more you’ve thought about it in advance, the easier it is for you to give out the equity, and make your business work the way it was meant to work.


Kumar: Do you have any other advice for those in their early stages of growth?


Tim: I generally want the original entrepreneur to continue running the company, because their vision has to be fully fulfilled before the company really hits on all its cylinders. Having that original vision (and that company history) all in one place becomes very valuable as companies grow bigger and bigger…

 

Oh! And, one more piece of advice – make sure you’ve always got way more cash than you need. Raise the money – don’t spend it.


Kumar: That’s strong advice! I know you also have strong views on IPOs. In a previous interview, you stated that companies with a market capitalization of less than $10 billion shouldn’t even consider it. What do you worry about, as an investor – before the IPO, after the IPO…?


Tim: Yeah… I can’t in good conscience recommend an IPO to anybody. It’s basically saying “go do this thing that might get you a little bit of press, but will cost you $5 million”. The equation doesn’t work anymore. So, there is a real reason for people to think about how to create businesses [in a way] that allows private companies to be tradable. Equidate is one of the great visions for that.

When a client is looking for more money, they can generally go to venture capitalists. They start with angels, they go to venture capitalist[s], then they go to later-stage or growth-stage venture capitalist[s]. Then there’s a point where it’s time for the entrepreneur to be able to cash out a little bit, buy a house, build… to have some sort of benefit from all the work they’ve put in. That used to be the IPO.

It used to be that a company would get to $20, $30, $40 million in revenue – maybe a $100 million in market cap – and then they’d go public. [But] you can’t do that if you know that $5 million a year is going to go after regulators, or the lawyers that make you comply with regulation. So, there has to be a new solution – and, I think that Equidate has that solution. Having some sort of platform from which private company shareholders can trade makes all the difference in the world.

People don’t recognize how incredibly valuable liquidity is. Being able to buy and sell easily is so valuable to a society… the only way I can describe it is this: you’re starving, but you have a house, and somebody else has a farm full of food, but they have no shelter. If the two of you don’t get together and cut a deal – you’re both going to die.

If you have less liquidity, society becomes poorer. And, if you have great liquidity, society becomes richer. Bitcoin adds to the liquidity in society, and it makes us all richer. Equidate adds to liquidity in society, and we become richer. Because we can move assets into money, and money into assets, more easily and quickly because of [companies like Equidate], we become wealthier.

When people complain about regulation, what they’re really saying is “Your regulation hurts my liquidity, and makes me poorer.” Without liquidity, the Uber shareholder who has a billion dollars worth of Uber stock [but can’t sell it] can’t buy a cup of coffee. [Lack of liquidity] creates a huge systemic problem in the [global] capital market – [without it] we become very poor – and that is the beginning of the end of society.


Kumar: Speaking of systemic problems… You have an eye for identifying market gaps – is there a company the world needs, which you would fund tomorrow, if someone built it?


Tim: Yeah. I’m looking for a company that uses the blockchain to transform social security, welfare – all of the redistribution that happens in the country – so that it isn’t subject to corruption, [or] run by individuals who have any kind of decision-making authority.

I am very, very interested in any kind of insurance program run on the blockchain. And anyone who wants to transform the healthcare system. I mean, I’ve backed a lot of those – but there’s a lot more work to be done [in that industry].

I’m also interested in blockchain token businesses, and what they can do for society. And, I’m still looking for better means of transportation. Traffic has gotten to be a huge problem everywhere – and since all the government money seems to be going into the pensions of people who used to work for the government, they have no money for building out our infrastructure. So, we have to invent around that – and I’m looking for new forms of transportation.


Kumar: I see. It sounds like a lot of infrastructure is where you’re heart and mind is at.


Tim: I’d like to see some infrastructure built. And, I’m just looking at industries where the markets are high, and the service is low. Insurance, health care, government, real estate. These are places where we pay high prices, and we get bad service.


Kumar: If you could share one final piece of advice for the founders of early-stage unicorns, what would it be?


Tim: Just keep moving forward toward your mission. You’ll have setbacks. People will tell you [that] you’re stupid. You’ll fail. You’ll keep failing. Eventually, you’ll find your mission. You’ll get there – just keep going.

 


Inamo finds Ozzie Investors and Mentors to back it for $1.5m

 

Trevor Folsom and Creel Price's "Investible" invests  $1 million of a total $1.5 million in Australian-based global wearable payments and applications start-up INAMO.


Investors, supported by government incentives are making it attractive for  Australian investors to access and invest in great businesses.”


INAMO invented the  CURL, a waterproof wearable that one can attach to a watch, fitness band or keyring and use to make contactless payments on the go. 


Founder Peter Colbert,Said that it is critical that Australian businesses have opportunities to connect with international investors and consumers, and values highly the support and network of his mentors and support group.


Such a network can secure introductions and opportunities around the world allowing our technology to shine.


Price and Creel together with Investibles director of investments Hugh Bickerstaff, recognise that the key is to back the founder and then the technology - of course with a global business model.


And what are the qualities that they look for in a founder - that Peter clearly has...


Energy, passion and commitment, with an in depth understanding of his target market.


“There’s also significant opportunity for INAMO in the US market, which doesn't yet have contactless payments, and we’re excited to see how the business unfolds" says Bickerstaff


Other investments recently made was  $1.3 million in US-based BUCKiTDREAM late last year and also participated in the US$4.2m Series A capital raising round of Booksy  – a SaaS start-up for appointment-based businesses, based in Poland.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

ZipMoney gets a $200m facility from NAB

National Australia Bank will provide ASX-listed zipMoney with a $200 million funding line, part of a $260 million facility that represents the largest debt market deal to date for an Australian fintech.

ZipMoney shares surged on Wednesday after it announced a two-year asset-backed securitisation warehouse for its consumer receivables would begin operating this week, and reduce its average cost of funding to around 5 per cent if fully drawn. It had previously said its average funding cost was 12 per cent.

ZipMoney founders Peter Gray and Larry Diamond after the ASX float in 2015.
ZipMoney founders Peter Gray and Larry Diamond after the ASX float in 2015.  Photo: Supplied

The company said the deal "will have a material positive impact" on its future profitability and help drive towards its break-even guidance for the 2018 financial year.

ZipMoney is a point-of-sale credit provider that offers customers a "buy now, pay later" proposition with an interest-free period, creating an alternative to using a credit card. Founded in June 2013, it floated in September 2015 at 20¢ a share.

The stock surged 10 per cent to 68¢ on the back of the announcement on Wednesday but shares are still 27 per cent below their post-float high of 94¢ hit last October.

The facility also includes $40 million of mezzanine funding via a two-year bond that has been issued to wholesale investors through FIIG Securities, and $20 million in junior notes and equity.

The deal could be a precursor to a future asset-backed securitisation deal into the capital markets.

ZipMoney said it would immediately refinance $70 million of existing receivables that have been funded by a separate facility with Victory Park Capital that is set to expire. Victory Park Capital remains an equity investor.

The company told a Goldman Sachs conference on April 27 it had a strong March quarter with revenue of $4.6 million on transaction volume of $61 million and its loan book was $114.7 million. It has originated more than $200 million on the platform via 500,000 users who have shopped at more than 3000 retailers.

ZipMoney CEO Larry Diamond said the new facility "provides significant headroom for our rapidly growing origination volumes and an immediate bottom line benefit".

NAB's funding was provided after a detailed due diligence process including the core technology platform and underwriting processes. NAB's executive general manager of capital financing Steve Lambert said the facility "underscores NAB's commitment to fintech innovation in Australia and our belief in zipMoney's business model".

Last year, zipMoney bought the free budget management app targeting millennials, Pocketbook,which has 350,000 users and is set to benefit from reforms announced in the federal budget relating to open data.

In a paper released on Tuesday, the Financial Stability Board found Australia had the fourth-largest fintech credit market in the world, at $US276 million in 2015, across 29 fintech credit platforms.

This was dwarfed by China ($US99 billion), US ($US34 billion) and Britain ($US4 billion), but was larger than Germany, France, Japan and Canada.

Who'se going to own the IOT internet of things?

Written by

A radical development is taking place in the telecom industry. As a sign of the times, Amazon and Google are in the driving seat to capitalize on the new opportunity.... or is it the Telcos?

The race is now on to monetize that humans can finally talk – to things.

A new window is opening in connectivity. In the early stages of electronic telecommunications history, the industry evolved around connecting people – human to human. Later, computers were connected with other computers, and the growth of Internet connectivity followed. In recent years, the focus of attention has been on connecting other things to the Internet as well (IoT). Now, entering yet another phase, machines are learning to understand human speech, enabling humans to connect with things, at a distance.

"The future market size is easily in the billions of dollars." 

Technology giants are spearheading the development. Both Amazon and Google have produced speakers for the home that understand voice commands. This development is triggered by the improved quality of voice technologies – which in turn is driven by the introduction of deep learning in the branch of AI called Natural Language Processing.

In effect, the speakers function like "cell tower" equivalents that can connect other things with people as well. In the home, people will not only communicate with the speakers themselves, but through the speakers also with other objects. This is a platform strategy, connecting many customers with many products. Product manufacturers can either decide to develop their own speakers and AI (less likely), or partner with a service provider like Amazon or Google (more likely).

The opportunity lies within the high number of things that will be connected. In a typical household one may find a series of products that are commonplace today that employ buttons. Amazon is already integrating its speakers with many such products, including: light dimmers, thermostats, TVs, Wi-Fi routers, dishwashers, cooking ovens, garden sprinklers, cars, carports, and more. Arguably, a smart home makes a lot more sense with a voice interface.

The future market size is easily in the billions of dollars. The market size for providers can be estimated with a back-of-the-envelope calculation: Total number of households Average number of connected objects in a household x Average revenue charged per connected object. In the US alone, there are over 130 million households. If every household on average contains 8 things that can be connected, the US total exceeds 1000 million devices. Annual profit per object depends on the pricing model - which can be agreeable, given that each device is used several times a day, most days of a year. Note that other business models may be employed as well – Google may come to prefer an ad-centric model, for example.

Additional billions of revenue are waiting for Amazon and Google. RBC Capital Markets recently estimated that Amazon’s Alexa can increase the company's revenues with $10 billion by 2020. Half of these billions come from sales of the Echo speakers themselves. The additional $5 billion come from increased e-commerce revenue per customer, as customers increasingly shop from Amazon through voice driven sales.

What can telcos do to capture a piece of this growing pie? Entering the growing market requires significant capabilities. AI is a source of sustainable competitive advantage, being both rare and costly to imitate due to the knowledge intensive process of producing it, and the limited pool of experts with the required know-how. Telcos that aren't already moving in this area are already at a disadvantage. However, some telcos have responded to the challenge, including Deutsche Telekom and Orange; the two incumbents have joined forces to create an AI assistant branded “Djingo.

Personally, I am intrigued by the new opportunities. As humans, our primary "API" for communicating with other humans is language. Opening this connection towards things as well opens a realm of new opportunities. Imagine a world without interfaces, where things can intuitively understand us. Not to mention, what are the opportunities (and challenges) when things begin to talk to each other, using language? In the end, moving from buttons to a voice interface may prove to be just as influential as our transition from Morse code to the telephone, back in the 1870s.


Bitcoin - how to make something from nothing!

Bob Pritchard in Bitcoin

In the last couple of days, Bitcoin broke $2000, Ethereum broke $200 and other crypto currencies are also exploding.  Bitcoin is up nearly 65% in the last month, and smashing the symbolic $2,000 mark for the first time ever this week and Ethereum has gone from $8 to $200 in three months.
 
What is behind the latest bull run? TIME suggests there are three factors that are contributing to bitcoin's boom:
 
Worldwide Demand for Digital Currency 
Investors are clamoring for crypto-currency of all sorts. While digital money was once seen as the province of cranks and computers geeks, it's now so mainstream that investors see it as a new asset class and are creating hundred million dollar funds to acquire it.
 
Others see digital currencies as an asset like gold, which can hold its value amid times of government instability. Recent political upheaval in Brazil and the United States, which led to drops in the dollar and the real, likely contributed to the recent uptick in bitcoin buying.
 
Finally, bitcoin may be benefiting indirectly from a recent explosion in the value of other digital currencies like Lumens, Ethereum and Litecoin. While it's possible to buy these currencies with dollars or other traditional currencies, it's often simpler to use bitcoins (which is the easiest digital currency to acquire) to buy them. In other words, more people may be buying bitcoin as a vehicle to invest in more exotic currencies.
 
Japan and China 
At the start of April, regulators in Japan introduced new rules that treated bitcoin more as a part of the banking system. That change led to a burst of trading activity in the country as investors rushed to swap yen for bitcoin. The effect on the bitcoin price has been predicable.
And in China, the country is growing more tolerant. Analysts are pointing to a big drop in the difference in bitcoin prices between U.S. and Chinese exchanges. This suggests bitcoin-related investments in China are seen as less risky.   The discount that $CNY #bitcoin  exchanges trade to $USD exchanges has dropped from 20% to 5% in the period of a week.   In other words, a whole lot of Asian investment is causing bitcoin and other crypto currencies to soar.
 
Hype 
Bitcoin has been prone to spectacular crashes. The crashes followed flurries of media about the value of bitcoin, which created a hype cycle, and in turn drew the attention of mainstream investors who helped inflate the price.
 
Is this deja vu? Social media is buzzing about the incredible surge in the value of crypto-currency assets. And this year's edition of Consensus, a three-day trade show in New York, promises to be the splashiest yet with big names like IBM and Microsoft appearing alongside a long list of venture capital firms.
 
There a lot of good reasons for the hype—not least because digital currency and blockchain technology (an online ledger system that relies on multiple computers) has gone mainstream—but also reasons for caution. As with past hype cycles, there are far more people cheering for bitcoin than against it. This is partly because there are few people who truly understand digital currency, and most of those who do, own a large amount of it, so skeptics are in short supply.
 
 As of this afternoon, the value of a bitcoin  was $2,200 and Ethereum was $184.  Incidentally, if you had spent $1000 on Bitcoin 7 years ago, you would be worth $900 million.
 
Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value   - Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

Sunday, May 21, 2017

The 10 top Accelerators Around The world

Louise Beavers writes for Entrepreneur magazine, and identifies the top 10 accelerators around the world 

GUEST WRITER

Business Strategy Expert


Innovation is everywhere. Silicon Valley is no longer the center of the tech universe: Berlin is a creative hub, Seoul has a vibrant startup ecosystem, Tel Aviv is the leader in security software, London has a growing financial tech center, Shenzhen is ground zero for hardware startups, and Hangzhou is home to Alibaba and its e-commerce offspring.

If you are an Australian startup - Austrade has 5 launch pads around the world to help you get traction. In Telaviv, Berlin, Singapore, Shanghai and Silicon Balley 

In China alone, there are an estimated 5,000 incubators, and the number is growing. But China is not the only one; every major economy is experiencing a startup explosion, much of it fueled by government money.

With all the activity, who are the major accelerators globally? We did our homework and came up with ten names you should be paying attention to.  We judged them on a number of criteria, with the following taking precedence:

  • Quality of startup education and training
  • Connections to global strategic partners
  • Access to local venture capital
  • Worldwide reach and network
  • Reputation and brand

1. Founders Space

Founders Space has gone through a massive global expansion over the past 18 months, adding new offices and partnerships all over the world. Known for the quality of its startup training, instructors fly all over the world educating startups. Founders Space now has over 50 partners in 22 countries and regularly runs programs in China,  Taiwan, Korea, Europe and the Americas.

Founders Space has established its Asian headquarters in Shanghai and is opening up incubators in China’s top cities, which has created a huge amount of press for them, and given them a leadership position in Asia. With China being the largest market in the world at 1.3 billion consumers, this is no small thing.

Founders Space also has one of the strongest investor networks, with top-tier VCs from all across Asia, Europe and America participating. If you’re a startup and want an accelerator with a strong global presence and top-notch education, Founders Space hits the sweet spot.

2. Techstars

Techstars has done an incredible job building their brand, and they now run programs in London, Israel, Germany, Canada, Australia and, of course, America. They started in Boulder, Colorado, but have grown into a global organization. Techstars Ventures has $265M under management, and they are currently investing out of their third fund.

Part of their strategy is to partner with big corporations. They use the term “powered by Techstars” and offer their expertise to specialized programs targeted at sectors focused around the needs of their corporate partners. Comcast NBCUniversal LIFT Labs Accelerator in Philadelphia, Barclays Accelerator in New York, London & Tel Aviv, The Cedars-Sinai Accelerator in Los Angeles, and SAP.iO Foundry in Berlin all count themselves among the partners of Techstars.

Techstars also has Target, SONY Music, Warner Music Group, Amazon, SONOS and METRO as some of their other backers. If a startup is looking for a specialized accelerator with ties to global corporations, this is the right choice.

3. PlugAndPlay

While they aren’t as focused on education and training, they hit homeruns when it comes to connecting startups with corporations. They have dozens of corporate partners from all over the world, including Intuit, Credit Suisse, Honeywell, Bosch, Panasonic, and the list goes on.

PlugAndPlay has expanded to 22 locations around the world, with most of those locations closer to co-working spaces than accelerators. But because of their sheer size, they are able to offer real value. This gives them an edge, especially when working with overseas governments and multinationals. To their credit, they invest in around 100 startups a year and have built a brand recognized around the world.

4. 500 Startups

 While they are huge, they aren’t as focused on opening up overseas accelerators. Instead of training overseas startups, they have transformed themselves into a global venture fund. In fact, 500 Startups has a dizzying variety of funds. They have raised capital from all over the world, including Korea, Taiwan, Turkey and the Middle East. Just take a look at their fund list:

Fund IV – fourth global flagship fund

500 Luchadores II – regional fund focusing on Spanish speaking Latin America

  • 500 Fintech – vertical fund with fintech focus
  • 500 Kimchi – regional fund focusing on Korea
  • 500 Durians II - regional fund focusing on SE Asia
  • 500 Istanbul – regional fund focusing on Turkey
  • 500 Falcons – regional fund focusing on the Middle East and North Africa
  • 500 Startups Vietnam – regional fund focusing on Vietnam
  • 500 Canada - regional fund focusing on Canada

Clearly, they are the #1 accelerator when it comes to funding global startups at an early stage, and this alone has earned them a place on our list.

5. Y Combinator 

(YC) had to be on this list simply because they are the best known of all the accelerators in the world. They are truly a global brand.

While they are #1 in name recognition because of their phenomenal success in Silicon Valley, they don’t offer as much abroad in terms of local training, education and funding. YC’s real strength is in bringing startups from all over the world to the United States and turning them into Silicon Valley companies. They also have a large fund, a sterling reputation, and an active alumni group. If you’re looking for a halo effect, YC has it.

6. Startupbootcamp 

Offering a global family of industry-focused accelerators, Startupbootcamp runs 19 programs around the world, including food tech, Internet of Things, financial tech, smart cities and smart transportation. These are located in cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, Rome, Barcelona, Mumbai, New York, Signapore, Cape Town and Istanbul.

7. Hax 

Arguably the #1 global accelerator for hardware startups, Hax has done an incredible job at building a hardware-centric ecosystem. They are located in Shenzhen, the hardware capital of the world, and provide soup-to-nuts training and guidance for startups. They are also part of the SOSV family of accelerators, which includes INDIEBIO, FOOD-X, URBAN-X, CHINACCELERATOR, MOX and others. The combination of all of these is what puts it on our list of top global accelerators.

8. Highway1 

Right up there with Hax when it comes to building out an ecosystem for hardware startups, Highway1 are located in San Francisco but have their roots in Shenzhen. Backed by PCH International, one of the leaders in bringing electronics from conception to consumer, they offer a range of services. These include everything from design engineering to manufacturing, scaling, and fulfillment. If you’re a hardware startup, this is a good place to start.

9. Techcode

Another world leader, Techcode has established incubators in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Gu'an, Silicon Valley, Seoul, Tel Aviv, and Berlin. Techcode is backed by CFLD (China Fortune Land Development), a giant in the Chinese real estate business. Because they are well-financed and well-connected, they can bring a lot of resources to the table.

10. InnoSpring

Last but not least, InnoSpring have set up in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Germany, Kunshan, Nantong and Shanghai. They were one of the early Chinese accelerators to land in the Valley and make a name for themselves. They are going strong and we expect them to keep expanding.

That sums up our top picks for global accelerators for overseas startups. You can’t go wrong with anyone on this list. They are all excellent, and each offers its blend of unique services and value.