Checking in with the 2016 Vocus Upstart Cohort
Originally posted at Startup News
Wow, has it been two months already? Seems like only recently we announced the start of the Vocus Upstart 2016 program, and we are 2/3 of the way through! In this article, program founder in residence, Sam Mead, takes us through the cohort progress.**
With only one month to go until the Perth demo day, things are hotting up on Level 9 at Spacecubed. All seven startups have been making excellent progress and are really driving each other on to do more work in less hours. Weekends have become a thing of the past, a distant memory, and there’s always a light on in the office well after midnight. Props to Dylan from Veri.vote who doesn’t seem to need food or sleep to survive. Just sweet, sweet Red Bull.
This Vocus Upstart 2016 cohort has been experiencing a very hands on accelerator program over the last couple of months, and it seems to have suited all of the startups well. They’ve been able to cherry pick advice from some of Perth’s best and most experienced mentors (who have all been extremely generous with their time) and make the kind of good decisions that are usually only made with the benefit of hindsight. The rising tide has lifted all boats!
I consider my Founder in Residence style as that of a benevolent dictator; so I thought it only fair to let each team give me a quick soundbite to place alongside my comments. Enjoy!
Filtered definitely take the prize for quickest and best executed pivot. I think it took Nick less than two weeks to disprove the hypothesis that he came into the program with, in favour of building a company that provides a service his customers really want. While it may have seemed like a risk to drop things and start from scratch, the gamble paid off, and Filtered are already generating monthly recurring revenue.
“We’re now advising large companies on emerging technology for acquisition purposes”
— Nick Teulon, Filtered
Yabble is the only company that were resident in Spacecubed before the start of the program, so I’ve had my eye on them for a while. It’s been amazing to see just how far they’ve come in two months when you compare their progress with the six months before the program. Kudos to founder Anna for hustling to make the Yabble dream a reality, and kudos to cofounder Dan, who moved from New Zealand to Perth to iron out all the kinks with Yabble’s technology. The product now works, looks good, and makes money. What more could we want?!
“Yabble has announced a limited launch to early customers in Perth’s Western Suburbs. Parents from Floreat to Fremantle can now visit their website to find and book kids holiday programs for the current holiday period. Holiday program providers can also be featured on the platform to help increase their marketing and fill their classes.”
— Anna Powel, Yabble
Everythere entered the cohort with a product that was more or less ready to go on iOS. Stuart has had absolutely no problem getting customers interested in his app, which gives businesses like museums, galleries, and festivals a platform to create their own tours and guides without needing their own costly, bespoke app. The Android version is coming soon, so expect to hear a lot more from Everythere in the next couple of months. Right now, you can enjoy 11 tours in Perth via the Everythere app, which you can download from the Apple store.
“Travel enriches lives, and we get you on track”
— Stuart Kidd, Everywhere
Veri.vote have probably had the most press coverage of any company in the cohort. They just always seem to be in the right place at the right time, helped in part by how long it took for the result of the Federal election to be known. After lapping it all up, the Veri.vote team explained that there are many more applications for electronic voting than just government elections, which they point out happen too infrequently to be the sole focus of their business. They’ve been hitting the bricks and have been lining up corporate, government, and university clients to trial their electronic voting product before the end of the year.
“Coming into the program we thought that we would be sitting down and developing software all day. The program has been amazing and has pushed us to focus significant efforts towards customer development. This has allowed us to really understand our customer’s pain points, and to focus our sales efforts into our minimal viable customer segment.”
— Adrian Petersen, Veri.vote
Jurimetrics are without a doubt the smartest dressed startup in the cohort. You’ll rarely catch founder Conrad without his suit and tie — which can only be a good thing, as he must be bouncing between client meetings all the time. Jurimetrics are opening up publicly available but currently hard-to-access legal data, and they’ve had a lot of interest from some high profile names in the legal world from all over Australia.
“We’ve generated substantial interest from the professional services sector, and we’re defining the conversation around legal data analytics in Australia”
— Sam Spilsbury, Jurimetrics
PrevYou have been making full use of the mentors and I’ve been really impressed at how they’ve taken the theoretical components of the Lean theory and applied them in real life. They’ve not felt rushed or pressured into following a business model that won’t scale, so they’ve been taking their time on customer development, validating their assumptions and hypotheses, and are now focused on building a platform that educates and upskills students and finds them jobs.
“After feedback from over 100 employers from all over Australia, and with help from the Vocus Upstart mentors, we’ve refined our previous service. Now we quickly and easily connect innovative companies with talented young people in a more meaningful way.”
— Alex Ure, PrevYou
Immersia joined the program looking to build a VR product, but found that making sales would be difficult due to the high cost of hardware associated. For the time being, Immersia are focusing on being an immersive technology powerhouse at the forefront of the VR industry. While they wait for the industry to mature they’ve been producing a ton of awesome 360° video content. Each video is more impressive than the last — check out the Immersia Facebook page to take a look.
“We are revolutionising storytelling and the human experience through the power of immersion. For the next 6-18 months we’ll grow to become a state, national and eventually the Asia-Pacific leader in the provision of VR/AR advisory services and content production.”
— Adam, Immersia
While the companies aren’t all at exactly the same stage, they’ve all helped each other out at some point, which I think epitomises the main benefit of accelerator programs. Sure, it must have been nice to get $40,000 in funding, but the main benefit by far from my perspective is working shoulder to shoulder with other companies at a similar stage in the lifecycle of a startup.
Overall I’ve been impressed with all of the Vocus Upstart 2016 teams so far, and I think we’ll see good things from each of them at the Perth demo day on the 27th October. The demo day is open to the public as well as investors, so keep an eye out for the event invitation via Startup News soon!
Image: Dan & Anna, Yabble