It's Silicon Valley for Startmate start-ups

Summary:The inaugural group of graduates has emerged from the seed accelerator program Startmate, with two participants deciding to relocate to Silicon Valley.

The inaugural group of graduates has emerged from the seed accelerator program Startmate, with two participants deciding to relocate to Silicon Valley.

The three-month start-up program, which included a whirlwind two-week crash course in American entrepreneurship where the five participants spent a fortnight soaking up the sights, sounds and energy of the Valley, recently wound up.

The experience inspired Grabble (a receipt documentation app) and Chorus (online consumer sentiment tracking) to shift operations there permanently.

Along with Bugherd (bug tracking software), three Startmate businesses secured seed funding from angel investors in Australia and America; Bugherd secured funding from Valley mover-and-shaker Dave McClure, founder of seed accelerator 500 start-ups.

Of the remaining Startmate participants, IRL Gaming released its zombie gaming app to the iTunes store over the weekend, and Noosbox (email sharing) is in private beta, and is attracting significant interest.

The Startmate program commenced earlier this year, after five businesses won a competition to receive $25,000 seed funding and intense mentoring from accomplished Australian entrepreneurs.

Five new businesses will be inducted into the program at the end of the year, with the program now to have a greater focus on US-Australian collaboration.

This may include extending the amount of time spent in Silicon Valley and boosting the involvement of Australian mentors based in America, according to Startmate mentor Niki Scevak.

"It will grow organically, but we want to see more US-based mentors involved in the program; the demo day will be larger in terms of the number of people involved, the US connections."

The biggest surprise in the program that's just finished has been the amount of interest shown by American investors, he said.

And there seems to be a stark difference between how Americans and Australians decide to invest their money.

When it comes to selecting companies, Australians are more risk averse and conservative compared with Americans, who are looking for the 1 in 100 bet that will be the next Google or Facebook, according to Noosbox founder Andrew Jessup.

"In Australia, investors will ask sensible, boring questions about market size and growth.

"In the Valley, nobody wastes time with this, because it's usually obvious. It's assumed that you're capable enough to have already figured out and/or will rigorously test, all of that detail.

"It's all about big ballsy visions. What folks want to hear is a plan on you're going to conquer the world. If it's a novel business idea that might one day change the way everyone, say, drives their car — then this will get interest. It's OK that you haven't proven how to do it yet."

Topics: Start-Ups


Mahesh Sharma earned his pen licence in his homeland, where he covered the technology industry for ZDNet, SMH, Sky Business News, and The Australian--first as an FTE, and later as a freelancer. The latter fueled his passion for startups and empowered a unique perspective on entrepreneurs' passion to solve problems using technology. Armed... Full Bio

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