What are Startups looking for in 2019?


Startup News asked several founders what they thought 2019 had in store for them, and their New Year’s wishes for the local startup scene…

They say if you put 10 economists in a room, you’d get 11 answers. Or if you put all the economists in the world end to end you’d never reach a conclusion.

What happens if you ask various startup founders a few questions? Well, you see some common threads…

Positive Outlook!

Firstly, as you may expect, everyone we asked was positive about 2019. Positive about their own startup, and positive about the local tech scene. Despite the difficulties, startup founders – bless them – are always looking up…

Yes I am positive about 2019. I think 2018 saw some green shoots of growth and positivity in the second half of the calendar year that I expect to continue and grow in 2019.

Sue Bahn, Tap into Safety

“Hopefully, the uptick in the overall WA economy has a positive rather than negative impact in relation to startup creation and the ability for scaling companies to attract talent rather than getting priced out of the market.”

-Brodie McCulloch, Spacecubed (pictured)

… with some provisos …

[I’m] positive on the global appetite for innovative products but cautious about the effect a protracted global stock-market downturn could have on valuation, funding and M&A.

Andrew Hall, Formalytics

Local Scene – strong and exciting

Most founders agreed – Perth is a great place right now, as evidenced by the recent West Tech Fest, the upgrades to co-working spaces (created by demand and growth) and we’re being recognised…

“The WA Startup system is at an interesting stage of maturity. There are now well established programs to support training and connection of founders including Startup Weekend, Ignition, Unearthed, Curtin Accelerate, Springboard, CSIRO ON, Plus 8, Founders Institute and more.”
Rohan McDougall, Curtin University (pictured)

I would say 2019 is primed to be a very exciting year. I think more than ever Perth is set to be the best home base for pioneering great global tech

Dr Jeremy Nunn, Workmetrics

“2018’s West Tech Fest was really strong, and the growth in training and various accelerator programs is fuelling the increase in capability of WA entrepreneurs, and providing greater confidence and interest to the investment community.” Justin Davies, Emergination (pictured)

According to Brodie, 2019 is already off and running…!

Riff ground floor (the original Spacecubed space) at 45 St Georges Terrace is set to re-open after an extensive upgrade and it looks amazing. Plus Eight Accelerator [already has] some great applications in with applications closing on 28th January. Web Girls is running statewide this year with thousands of women learning to code….

Brodie McCulloch, Spacecubed

Need some exits

It is time, say many, to see some great exits from the more established tech businesses, and perhaps 2019 is the year this starts to happen…

“I hope that 2019 will bring a couple of good exits for early stage Perth investors … startups I am watching most closely for a breakout year include: HUMM, Functionally, VGW, SpacetoCo, OncoRes, Storekat, SoMA, and with plenty of bias involved … Appbot.” Matt Macfarlane, iCetana, Yuuwa Capital (pictured)

We need the likes of Health Engine, Moodle and VGW to exit (i.e. make their investors money). We also need the next tier of startups (Formalytics, Humm and others) to start to make impact on the global stage (partnerships, investment and revenue growth) and achieve valuations in excess of $25M+ (with genuine $100M + potential).

Andrew Hall, Formalytics

This year I am keen to see a few more break out successes, 2018 was big with VGW really moving but there are a number of others this year which I think are going to have huge years.

Brodie McCulloch, Spacecubed

More Collaboration Needed

Echoing a lot of comments, Brodie says:

It feels like there is real momentum across the ecosystem however there is still a lot more room for greater levels of collaboration with corporates, government and universities.

Brodie McCulloch, Spacecubed

State Government – could do better!

Many were frustrated by the seeming lack of action from the state government in the area of early stage tech…

The state government needs to stop talking and start doing.

Cut red tape and help startups more by using their solutions and services. We have talked about this for years and it’s still a ridiculous process to engage governments to use products and services from our sector.

Sue Bahn, Tap into Safety

An increased focus from the state government towards the successful “startup encouraging” policies now in place in other Australian states would be a welcome development.

Matt Macfarlane, iCetana, Yuuwa Capital

Funding – still relatively woeful

As always, there was some frustration with the fact that in Perth if you’re not a mine or a commercial property, it’s hard to raise money, compared to other states and countries…

“From humble beginnings only a few short years ago, I now watch on with a smile as the startup community continues to galvanise in strength and with it I am gaining in confidence that startups, including Urbotanica, will find it easier each year than the previous to get the support from the Perth community that all new ventures need to be successful.” Ray Hart, Urbotanica (pictured).

Access to capital between $500K – $1M for scale ups and businesses over 3 years old that doesn’t expect to receive equity along the lines of half the business. (My experience with some seed and early stage investors who state they understand startups but clearly value businesses along the old P&L models of small business – therefore worse then a bank!).

Sue Bahn, Tap into Safety

I’d like to see the launch of a minimum $20m venture capital fund to support WA startups.

Matt Macfarlane, iCetana, Yuuwa Capital

Advice – think BIG!

There are a number of founders and companies of Perth origin hitting in global markets.

We can take more advantage of these global connections and encourage local founders to think big in terms of problems to solve and markets.

We need to strengthen relationships with successful founders who are a critical part of the system in providing expertise, introductions and capital. From the base we have developed in WA I would like to see us take the message to world that great tech companies can start and operate out of Perth and that we have access to world class expertise to facilitate this

Rohan McDougall, Curtin University

I know several WA startups that will be coming out of their shell this year, I would encourage more to do so too, putting the spotlight on what WA can do and has been working on.

Dr Jeremy Nunn, Workmetrics

What are the founders up to in 2019?

Here’s what some shared:

“We will be raising ~$500,000 to facilitate the proof of concept of our latest AI technology, Ingeniation AI; which is entirely different to how existing narrow forms of AI are produced. It does not require human programmers to generate its intelligent processing logic and is a precursor to producing a generalised artificial intelligence or real intelligence, known as AGI, Artificial General Intelligence which is the Holy Grail.” Brad Smyth, Corporate Equity & Ingeniation AI (pictured)

REX Ortho has secured the rights to an innovative removable expandable orthopaedic surgical screw called the REX Screw, specifically designed to improve performance and reduce the risk of complications, in a wide range of orthopaedic surgical applications. We are working to complete the development plan and commercialise the product portfolio as a platform technology for orthopaedic surgical fixation applications.

Ian Brown, Perth Angels & REX Ortho

Aiming to punch through our first USD $1M in revenue; Expanding our efforts into a second sport – watch this space – big partner announcement soon; Expanding our team – if you are passionate about sport, have 3+ yrs experience as a software developer and want to be help build mobile apps that use machine learning and AI – get in touch!

Andrew Hall, Formalytics

This year we taking the next step and are writing the platform as a SaaS delivery model for global distribution including first time user account creation, multiple languages and extending reporting features including an api to integrate results and predictive data into their other systems, e.g. SAP.

Sue Bahn, Tap into Safety

“For us, [2019’s about] … ensuring we continue to keep up our customer service and customer focused development while looking for opportunities to share our experience and learning in group brainstorming and decision making. We’ve been really pleased to have been working with Deloitte and have recently showcased GroupMap at their Innovation Day in the UK and are looking forward to working with them more, along with our partner in the UK.” Jeremy Yu, GroupMap (pictured).

For us 2019 is about launching new things and scaling existing with a focus on integration and AI tech.

Dr Jeremy Nunn, Workmetrics

Thanks to all the founders that responded to our questions, and all the best to them and all startups for a healthy and profitable 2019.

May your code be cut clean and your SaaS revenues grow apace…