Founder Institute makes Cellr selection


// Anti-counterfeit wine platform Cellr has been chosen to join an elite group of Founder Institute alums, which should help its current fund-raising efforts…

While some WA startups have been able to fund their growth from paying clients – probably the best way to do so – others need cash to build the product before being able to test it, and/or need more resources to scale.

Local startup Cellr, having graduated top of its 2017 Founder Institute class, has extended its business from an RFID wine bottle tagging service to assist high end restaurants in stock control to an anti-counterfeit wine platform, using the blockchain.

The company is currently seeking $500K investment in order to build out and trial the new service, and the founders have been busy talking with potential angels and VCs. Recently, they presented at a South West Angels event.

As many Startup News readers appreciate from first hand experience, this can be a tough road to hoe.

So it’s pleasing to report that the company has been selected as one of the top 2% global graduates from the Founder Institute program, having been invited to join ‘FI Select’.

The Cellr Pitch

“The South West Angels pitch event was great…but I’m unsure how we’ll go with the money side of things,” Cellr co-founder Chris Braine told Startup News. “I got great feedback (via the online system), but no commitments as yet.

“We are entering due diligence with the group, so it will be great to see how connected to the startup space they are during that process.

“Raising tech money in WA is extremely tough,” said Chris, “There is a level of global startup language missing from a lot of the conversations locally however.

“The international conversations (we are having) are so much more productive, unfortunately.”

Chris Braine, Cellr

South West Angels, the second official angel group in WA, is a welcome addition to the local funding scene, and aims to grow the local innovation system and connect investors with innovators.

Cellr included in the Select Fund

After taking out the Founder Institute Perth top prize Chris won a trip to FounderX European conference in mid-2018 (see main photo).

With mentoring support from FI, Chris has made a significant progress with Cellr in 2019. He’s hired an Electrical Design Engineer and is working on a new production line.

“We’re the only company from Australia to be included (in FI Select), so we’re pretty stoked,” Chris told Startup News. “The list of International FI Directors and Mentors at our disposal is pretty epic”.

Time will tell whether this latest feather in the cap will be enough to allow Chris to close his funding round.

“We’re addressing a huge market,” said Chris. “Approximately 20% of all wine produced is counterfeit, and this is a massive problem for the wine producers. The counterfeit market is growing at 7% a year.”

How do you know the wine you’re drinking is not counterfeit? Photo: Helena Lopes, Pexels

“It’s not just the small volume, high price premium producers that are being affected. Large volumes are being discovered in the mid to premium bracket, and often whole vintages are being sold off as though they are from more premium locations.”

Building off the initial service to restaurants and sommeliers, Cellr uses tech-enabled tamper proof bottle lids with unique numbers that are stamped into a blockchain during bottling.

This allows each bottle to be tracked all the way through the supply chain, so authenticity verification can occur at any point.

The Cellr platform also covers track and trace, direct to consumer marketing, customer engagement as well as authenticity, all whilst being cost effective, says Chris.

“In Australia alone, more than 300M bottles alone would qualify for our product,” said Chris, “and we are in discussions with four main brands that account for about half this market.”


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Main Image: Chris at the FounderX European conference, 2018. Selfie supplied.

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Lorraine Chan was born and raised in Hong Kong. She has developed a passion for food as medicine and non-diet approaches to help people optimise health and well being. Once she completed her high school, she came to Australia to chase her dream - to be a dietitian. The last four years have been an amazing journey for Lorraine. She never imagined she could receive an offer from University of Wollongong of Bachelor of Nutrition Science. At the time she completed her degree, she received a postgraduate offer of Master of Dietetics from Curtin University. Therefore, she moved from Sydney to Perth in 2018. Now, she is a student dietitian, also, a student researcher. As researching in the field of public health nutrition, she realises the popularity of nutrition in the media and the essential of evidence-based nutrition writing. She believes it is important to maintain the quality of health and nutrition journalism as journalistic expertise and experience are playing a major role in public health communication and healthcare. She is definitely addicted to being busy but productive. She loves feeling she is making progress and always in motion. She loves planning her day and prioritising her tasks, hence, she can have the control over her productivity. She is currently volunteering at local hospital regarding data entry and recipe assessment. She is also assisting with a local enthusiastic dietitian and exploring how the life of a private dietitian would be. One interesting fact she would like to share is, she actually came to Australia without knowing much English four and a half years ago. She even found that it was challenging to write a 300-word paragraph. She never thinks that she could be a student journalist and undertake her own research project. When she looks back every time, she just feels like it is just a dream. She always tells herself, "Never give up, keep working on it, and dream comes true."