4 more #startup hopefuls pitch at Startup Victoria

Is it just me, or are we seeing more and more B2B startups and 2-sided market makers, rather than consumer/retail opportunities? Based on the latest pitch night hosted by Startup Victoria it feels like B2C and “pure” app plays are in the minority. (Enterprise solutions are gaining traction, especially among portfolio companies.) Of the four latest hopefuls that pitched at inspire9, half were straight B2B, the other half were aiming at 2-sided markets.

Screen Shot 2016-04-11 at 11.16.52 AMFirst, I should declare that I know one of the teams who pitched, and I also know one of the advisors working with the other startups. But I have not let that influence my comments.

Second, the comments are taken from my contemporaneous notes, and appear in the order in which the teams pitched. That way, I hope to convey more accurately how the night evolved from the spectator’s point of view.

Third, the format was as follows: pitch, followed by comments and questions from the panel of judges, plus if time permitted, some audience Q&A – all ably compered by Monsieur French.

Pundit Connect

The goal is to streamline the recruitment of professional consultants. Currently at the pre-commercialisation stage. Building a 2-sided digital market place – a platform for posting project briefs and allowing consultants to bid on them.

Part of the current challenge is the lack of transparency/visibility on new projects – but there is also a lack of trust online.

Platform components include:

  • Member Connect – P2P, nested, trusted networks, with a particular focus on local government and local procurement (they see a growing need among regional economies)
  • Pundit Score – ranking tool built with help from Deakin University
  • Professional Services market place
  • Revenue model – subscriptions, fee for service, commission, data sales
  • LinkedIn integration – including individual consultant accounts

When asked about building critical mass, the team pointed to the fact that they are seeing 3 or more quotes for some projects posted in the market.

There was a suggestion that the platform could be reverse engineered, to enable clients to target niche talent, plus an option to work with professional associations.

When asked about Expert360, they felt it’s not really a competitor.

Angel Auctions

To paraphrase, this is like “Gumtree with a social conscience“. People can sell unwanted items online, the proceeds are donated to a charity of their choice, and the seller can claim a tax deduction against their donation. Meanwhile the site deducts a commission before distributing the proceeds to the charities.

The so-called “parallel economy” (charities and NFP) is considerable – 55,000 entities with DGR status, and 600,000 registered NFPs: 9 new charities are registered each day in Australia.

The “alternative” options for fund-raising are spam, telemarketing or street sign-ups.

Angel Auctions provides a private branded application for each charity. However, despite some active charity partners who have already signed up, the platform needs both traction and critical mass to develop multiple single-sided markets.

Meanwhile, there is some controlled leakage to aggregate auction sites.

The judges were somewhat critical of the relatively high commission rate – what value does this represent? They also asked about the integration with social media, and were probably a bit concerned by the team strength – it was clear this is something of a personal pet project.

When asked about the seller’s eligibility for a tax deduction, apparently there is an ATO ruling that the sale proceeds are treated as cash when donated by the seller. There was also a related question about transaction verification which I’m not sure was fully addressed.

Product Lighthouse

This is a content management and distribution platform for product information. It’s designed to make product info more accessible – content which is the lifeblood of consumer electronics retailing between manufacturers and retailers.

Currently, content is managed and posted manually, leading to data inconsistencies, errors, and inefficient distribution. According to the team, their “unified approach works for all”. They plan to further monetize the business (“pay to publish” model?) and add value through a standardised CMS and distribution platform. In particular, they are reducing the  time to load individual SKUs onto the system.

One of the key universal benefits to equipment manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers and retail clients is the accuracy and integrity of the data input loaded by manufacturers, a process which will increasingly be automated and backed by a data dictionary.

So far, The Good Guys are using the platform as a channel to market, and Samsung is starting to load inventory.

Currently seeking capital of $300k.

The judges wanted to know more about the customer discovery process, and felt that the pitch perhaps contained too much information. In response, the team said their focus was  based on actual industry experience and the known need.

MyMic

This is an app/software solution that turns smart phones into live communication devices at events, such as conferences and seminars.

Born out of necessity, the team has addressed the “dilemma of the last mile of delivery”. Anyone with the app loaded onto their smart phone and a connection to the event’s PA system running the installation can submit content via their device. (Apparently, audio-visual can represent up to 40% of event costs.)

The app can be used to broadcast live voice, capture text and comments, as well as audience polling. The system is platform agnostic, and the IP is being registered.

Asked about monetizing the technology, the team are proposing a mix of per event, per month and per user licensing models. At this stage, the product is still in beta, but the team were alert to the opportunities in Asia. (Sadly, due to the Pitch Night’s “No demo” rule, we were unable to see the system in action. Pity!)

Finally, there were some technical questions on latency and live operation. It can run on a WiFi network, and can be controlled by a moderator. Other connectivity options may be available, including Bluetooth and wireless.

Later, as part of an open Q&A with the audience and the teams, the judges gave some general feedback to the teams:

  • focus on a single purpose or proposition;
  • don’t forget to introduce yourselves properly;
  • get appropriate tech skills on the team; and
  • be positive (as well as authentic)

On the night, Pundit Connect came first based on audience votes.

Next week: “I’m reframing, the situation….”

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