NZ startup eyes global goal after IBM SmartCamp win

New Zealand cloud-based software startup 9 Spokes is eyeing off growth opportunities in the international market after winning IBM’s SmartCamp 2014 event in Sydney this week.

Global growth is on the agenda for New Zealand cloud-based enterprise software startup, 9 Spokes, after garnering recognition from IBM this week with its win of Big Blue's SmartCamp Sydney 2014 event on Wednesday.

9 Spokes chief marketing officer Brendan Roberts, who accepted the award from IBM at the event, said that his company would be focusing on globally scaling its business once it was done with its launch in Australia and New Zealand.

"The intensity and depth of knowledge available at IBM SmartCamp has really shown us what to focus on in the next few years," said Roberts. "Our objective is to launch in Australia and New Zealand, but then quickly extend scale to global markets, and having IBM's deep industry expertise and technology at our backs offers us an incredible chance to make this happen."

Brendan Roberts 2
9 Spokes CMO Brendan Roberts pitches to the IBM SmartCamp Sydney 2014 judging panel. Image: Leon Spencer

The 9 Spokes platform, which integrates data from popular software-as-a-service tools and online business software, and displays it in real-time on a single dashboard, is aimed at enabling small and medium sized enterprises to leverage the potential of cloud-based applications.

The cloud-based offering is designed to provide insights to help startups and smaller businesses manage and scale their models more intuitively and efficiently.

The startup's win marks the culmination of the third SmartCamp event to be held in Australia and New Zealand as part of IBM's Global Entrepreneur Program.

It is one of a series of worldwide events in which expert advisors — including venture capitalists, serial entrepreneurs, and technical specialists — mentor participating teams, which subsequently pitch ideas to the IBM SmartCamp's judging panel.

9 Spokes beat out three other startups for the top prize. The competition included energy audit data acquisition automation technology provider Ecocentric Energy, and TapIt, a near-field communication tag platform for consumers and marketers.

According to IBM, the SmartCamp Sydney judges recognised 9 Spokes as having a mature go-to-market strategy and a "clearly articulated unique selling proposition".

As IBM SmartCamp Sydney 2014 winners, 9 Spokes will receive three months of mentoring and access to IBM technology. The startup will also compete in the regional finals, to be held in India in November 2014.

IBM Australia's ecosystem development ANZ regional executive and IBM Innovation Centre manager Prasad Mucherla said that the company is keen to engage with young innovative companies such as 9 Spokes in a bid to build upon the agility of such businesses.

"The IT market is changing, moving from backroom to the front room, and moving from systems of record to systems of engagement," said Mucherla at the event. "You need solutions that are a lot more agile and that can respond to changing conditions."

Together with all previous IBM SmartCamp participants globally — more than 1600 startups in areas ranging from green energy to smart health care — have received more than US$160million in venture capital and angel funding.