Optus dishes out first start-up funding round

Optus has announced its first investment funding for Australian start-ups, with 121cast and Venuemob the first two to secure funding from the SingTel company.
Written by Josh Taylor, Contributor

Five months after announcing its new seed program, Optus and SingTel-sister company Innov8 have announced the first two of eight start-ups to receive funding..

Optus is offering eight start-ups up to AU$250,000 in funding, as well as co-working locations in Sydney and Melbourne, mentorships, and access to communications and hosting facilities as part of the program.

The company today announced that 121cast, a Melbourne start-up, secured AU$250,000 in a fundraising effort led by SingTel Innov8 and Adventure Capital, and Venuemob picked up AU$450,000 in a similar fundraising effort.

121cast developed SoundGecko, a service on iOS and Windows Phone that translates web page text into audio. It has a similar subscription model to Spotify, with a basic free service including a limited number of RSS feeds, articles, and words read per day. The company is planning on launching an Android version of the app soon.

Venuemob is a booking and information website for bars in Melbourne. The company has currently profiled more than 300 bars on its website, and plans to expand to other cities across Australia.

The start-up is co-founded by David Wei and Ying Wang, who founded group-buying website crowdmass.com.au. This start-up was ultimately bought in 2011, a year after its creation, by US group-buying giant Groupon.

Wang said that the investment will allow Venuemob to go through with its plan to grow into other cities.

"It also opens the door to strategic partnership opportunities with Optus and SingTel Group. The support from the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program certainly reflects the fast-growing nature of the Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem."

Optus said that its seed program will re-open for applications in January 2013.

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