Muru-D startups secure initial round funding

Three Australian startups participating in Telstra’s inaugural muru-D accelerator program have secured initial funding by startup investing company, SYD Ventures.

Three of the nine startups participating in Telstra's inaugural muru-D accelerator program have received an initial round of funding by SYD Ventures.

SYD Ventures, a self proclaimed "startup company that just happens to invest in other startups", has offered AU$50,000 to each of the startups, bringing the company's total initial investment to AU$150,000, with the possibility of further investment.

The three startups granted the initial funding round include real-time agricultural monitoring platform Farmbot, online retail image facilitator Pixc, and online education platform Open Learning.

Telstra's muru-D accelerator program kicked off its inaugural intake of ten local startup teams in February, offering them up to AU$40,000 of seed funding, along with coaching, mentoring, support, and access into the Telstra network.

SYD Ventures founder Andrey Shirban, who is also one of the lead mentors in the muru-D program, said that he was attracted by the sound business strategies of the three startups in which the company has invested.

Shirban said that muru-D's six-month development span was much longer than most accelerator programs, and allowed the startups to focus effectively on their core business models — not just pitching skills.

"Muru-D is a six-month program, most of the other programs are 12 weeks," Shirban told ZDNet. "In 12 weeks, most companies just learn how to pitch, they're not focusing on the business side, but with the six months, the most important thing as an investment company is if there’s a solid business and a solid team."

Muru-D co-founder Ann Parker said that the new investment from SYD Ventures would assist the startups to scale their businesses, with the prospect of ultimately becoming self-sustaining while supporting local talent in Australia.

The startup teams will be showcasing their proposed businesses at the muru-D program's final demo night in Sydney on 14 August.

Telstra is only one telco in Australia working to support local startups — particularly in the tech sector — with Optus' parent company, SingTel, launching a project in April designed to help startups in Australia and the greater Asia Pacific region to break out of their home markets and find commercialisation across international borders.

The technology startup accelerator initiative, dubbed Innov8 Sparks, is part of the telco giant's Singapore $200 million (AU$171m) Innov8 corporate venture capital fund.