Search Results

Share Article:

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Mail

Tag: innovation

Startups with purpose: meet the muru-D SYD5 cohort


Posted on February 16, 2018

4 min read

The future of airborne human mobility, VR being used to rehabilitate stroke victims, and autonomous tree-planting robots are among the technologies being developed by the 10 startups accepted into muru-D’s SYD5 program, making up a cohort of companies focused on solving challenging global problems.

This cohort is our most diverse and ambitious yet.

It was important to us to select teams that have a social purpose element, using technology in innovative ways to solve real problems and create solutions for societies today and into the future.

We are focused on working with exceptional founders who are solving high impact, global problems. As part of the six-month program, they gain access to a purpose built co-working space, a global network of mentors, alumni, investors and partners, an international trip to a startup hub, and many more perks.

I’m proud that muru-D continues to grow stronger each year and to have many of our alumni companies still actively involved in the program mentoring the next generation. With over 100 companies now in our portfolio, and 15 of these having raised $1 million or more in funding, we’re committed to continuing our support of the startup ecosystem throughout Australasia.

The SYD5 program commenced on 29 January, with each of the ten successful startups receiving $75,000 in seed capital investment.

The 10 successful companies accepted into SYD5 are:

  • AMSL Aero are developing an autonomous two seat aircraft that can take off and land vertically and fly horizontally at 300km/h, an innovation paving the way for the future of human mobility. It is safer, faster, quieter and less expensive than helicopters.
  • Catalyser’s software and services provide customised business solutions for employers of all sizes to manage and grow their employee giving. In the two years since launching, Catalyser has facilitated over $2 million in donations for charities and has over 15,000 employee users in Australia, Asia, and the UK.
  • Cookitoo is a platform for cafes, restaurants and caterers to rent out their unused commercial kitchen space. From commercial cafes in Collingwood to revolutionary restaurants in Redfern, Cookitoo is changing the way food is made and consumed.
  • iCRM is a flexible cloud software platform that integrates with existing health and medical devices to deliver tailor-made care and support plans. iCRM has a mission to improve quality in-home care to the elderly and is already used in over one hundred aged care organisations in Australia.
  • Kiddsbay is the world’s first kid friendly platform that provides every child the opportunity to achieve their dreams by unleashing their entrepreneurial spirit. Kiddsbay provides the platform for kids to launch their on-line business in a safe, fun, educational, global environment that connects communities and allows kids to take charge of their financial wellbeing.
  • Life Skills Group educate and empower children, teachers, schools and families to build a more compassionate, kinder and connected world. They are building a scalable and easily-distributed digital model to deliver wellbeing programs for primary and secondary students, as well as professional development programs for teachers and staff.
  • Neuromersiv are using Virtual Reality to make neuro rehab therapy fun and improve the quality of life for their users. Having a stroke or brain trauma can be life changing for victims and their families. Neuromersiv offers a genuinely innovative solution to get people back on their feet as quickly as possible and lead normal, fulfilling lives again.
  • Share with Oscar is an on-demand platform for sharing private parking spaces. Founded by two female entrepreneurs passionate about finding a sustainable solution to the scarcity issues in our growing urban cities, Share with Oscar’s mobile platform allows the community to better utilise existing assets such as parking spaces through sharing.
  • SkyGrow are combatting the world’s deforestation problem by developing autonomous tree-planting robots (Growbots) that can rapidly plant billions of trees every year on behalf of communities, governments and industry. SkyGrow’s tree planting system is ten times faster and 15% cheaper than current methods.
  • vetchat is an online platform connecting pet owners with vets to help their pets in times of need. They deliver easy access to affordable, expert vet advice via one-on-one video consultations and on-demand chat. They have already helped thousands of Aussie pets and their parents.

I’m really excited to see how each and every one of these exciting new companies pushes themselves to grow and excel in their chosen field.

For more information head to muru-D.

Small business tips: get online and use technology

Telstra Business Awards

Posted on February 13, 2018

3 min read

Last week at the launch of the 2018 Telstra Business Awards, past winners shared their stories about the positive impact the recognition had for their businesses – and innovative use of technology was a recurring theme.

In the 26-year history of the Telstra Business Awards, we have uncovered some incredible success stories. We’ve recognised hundreds of businesses across diverse categories for their courage, grit and determination, and given them a platform to propel themselves to even greater heights.

Once again, we’re encouraging small and medium businesses to enter the Telstra Business Awards in 2018 to receive the recognition they deserve – and to make this year ‘that’ year they hit it big.

“A big tick of approval”

A recurring theme from the panellists was the credibility the Awards have brought to their businesses. Co-founder of 2017 Australian Business of the Year GenWise Health, Dr Sebastian Rees, said the program provided an opportunity to share the GenWise mission with many more people, gaining invaluable exposure within the healthcare industry, and allowing them to grow as a business.

Alecia Hancock, of Hancock Creative, said the Awards were a big tick of approval that has opened doors.

Similarly, Jen Geale of Mountain Bikes Direct said “this has had a huge impact for us in terms of trust and credibility for new customers.”

Critical factors of business success

To coincide with the launch, we also released the 2018 Telstra Small Business Intelligence Report. The report examines the discrepancies between small businesses and consumer expectations.

The report revealed that businesses underestimate the importance of being online and struggle to provide the e-commerce experience most customers expect. For example, only 50 per cent of small businesses have a website, but 62 per cent of consumers won’t consider a business if they can’t find it online. In addition, only 57 per cent of small business e-commerce websites are mobile-friendly, while 48 per cent of customers shop at least once a week on a mobile device.

Ms Geale offered some helpful advice to businesses who want to meet the technological needs of their customers.

“Don’t feel like you have to do it all but stay open to new opportunities that crop up,” she said.

The message is clear for Australia’s small businesses: to remain relevant, you must ensure your adoption of technology reflects the wants and needs of your customers.

If you feel your business is performing and responding well to customer’s expectations, you should nominate yourself for a Telstra Business Award.

A refreshed program

At the event, we announced some changes to the Awards program, to provide even more value to the business community and ensure the program remains a prestigious sign of business excellence:

  1. Entry form – A streamlined entry form makes the process simpler, with the first phase taking only around 90 minutes to complete.
  2. Business Benchmark Report – Each entrant receives a comprehensive report, including an in-depth review of their business with insights and guidance.
  3. Judging criteria – Our judging criteria has been updated, with innovation and technology remaining a key consideration. The six judging criteria are: strategy and vision, customers and marketing, operations, people and culture, social responsibility and financial acumen.
  4. Award categories – There are six refreshed categories to recognise Australia’s most innovative and entrepreneurial businesses:
    • Emerging and Energised
    • Small and Succeeding
    • Medium and Making Waves
    • Social Change Maker
    • Alumni Achievement
    • People’s Choice Award

Make this year ‘that year’ for your business – nominate before the 28th of March. Anyone can nominate, so if you know a business that deserves recognition, nominate them today.

Download the latest consumer and SMB insights at Smarter Business.

Getting into good books and going places: why global collaboration is good for business

Business and Enterprise

Posted on February 8, 2018

2 min read

In the digital age, organisations must embrace collaboration strategies that facilitate the seamless flow of ideas across geographies and time zones.

Today, companies and their employees are looking to go places. Businesses are on the lookout for expansion opportunities in new markets; employees want to work flexibly and have their voices heard – literally.

With the global business environment evolving rapidly, employees are in need of channels that allow them to respond to and resolve business challenges quickly and efficiently. This therefore raises the question – how can a business penetrate or sustain its presence in new markets if it has little or no ability to properly engage employees on the ground, respond to user issues, and ensure consistent service quality?

Cloud technologies empower today’s new way of working. They amplify the voice and value of employees, allowing people to work anywhere and stay connected to their data, colleagues and customers around the clock. For this reason, Springer, the world’s largest academic book publisher, turned to a best-of-breed unified communication platform and world-class network connectivity to get 13,000 employees in 22 countries on the same page.

The solution was designed by Telstra to meet Springer’s specific business requirements and provides six data links serving 10,000 end-points across three regions, enhancing redundancy and connectivity.

The technology is delivering point-to-point video and audio conferencing, multi-party video-conferencing, instant messaging and shared desktop experiences. It is also helping to connect disparate and legacy phone and IT systems that were hindering collaboration across offices.

What’s the digital health of your city?

Business and Enterprise

Posted on November 20, 2017

4 min read

San Francisco, Berlin, Singapore and Seoul are known for their vibrant technology ecosystems. However, new research by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) highlights business confidence in these cities doesn’t necessarily match their reputation for innovation.

As part of a new ‘Connecting Commerce’ report commissioned by Telstra, the EIU has released the first ever Digital Cities Barometer, a ranking of 45 cities around the world across five key categories relevant to business performance: innovation and entrepreneurship; the financial environment; people and skills; development of new technologies; and ICT infrastructure.

The rankings show mixed results not only for traditionally strong innovation hubs, but also the five Australian cities surveyed – Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. This is despite government support at the national level in the form of the National Innovation and Science Agenda and the state level, such as Innovation SA. Instead, confidence is high in emerging Asian cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Jakarta.

So what are some of the top performing cities doing that has led to high business confidence in the city’s digital environment, and what value can Australian cities derive from replicating some of this activity?

Grassroots activism and an entrepreneurial spirit

A vibrant digital ecosystem cannot be directed by government alone. A relatively intangible factor that needs to be considered is a city’s entrepreneurial spirit, which leads to activity being initiated at a grassroots level. Take for example the fact that 80 per cent of business executives in Bangalore and 74 per cent in Jakarta say their city’s ICT infrastructure is ineffective at meeting their companies’ digital transformation needs, as do more than 60 per cent of respondents in San Francisco. Yet all three cities are ranked in the top 10 for overall confidence. Raw entrepreneurial spirit is at the heart of many of the world’s cities with soaring digital confidence. For Australian cities, it highlights the importance of having a passionate appetite for digital transformation.

Tapping into digital ecosystems for support

More than 40 per cent of respondents in Shanghai (ranked 7th), Guangzhou (ranked 13th) and Singapore (ranked 14th) say innovation labs are helpful in addressing their digital challenges. All three US cities surveyed (New York, Chicago and San Francisco) also boast a plethora of formal and informal networks, communities and other support structures that can provide assistance. The Bay area, in San Francisco, is home to some of the oldest and largest accelerator networks, while in Shanghai the number of co-working spaces reportedly doubled in 2016 to nearly 500. Interestingly, survey respondents in four of the five Australian cities surveyed – the exception being Adelaide which cited innovation labs – point to more traditional structures, such as business associations, as the most helpful external sources of support for their digital initiatives. This suggests Australian cities might benefit by following the lead of confident cities and tapping into less traditional external resources, such as innovation labs.

Effective use of open government data

More than eight in 10 of the survey respondents (83%) say their firm makes at least occasional use of open government data provided by city agencies. The primary value of this data lies in leveraging it to provide new or improved services to customers, or identify new business opportunities. Start-ups in San Francisco, for example, have based their entire business models on the use of this data. One such example is BuildZoom, an online platform that matches homeowners looking to renovate their homes with local contractors. The platform catalogues licensing and building permit data made available by city governments across the US. Interestingly, 57 per cent of Australian executives surveyed said their city governments make poor use of the data collected.

Find out how business leaders rate the digital health of your city:

About the Economist Intelligence Unit Connecting Commerce report

The Connecting Commerce report includes the Digital Cities Barometer which is based on a survey of 2,620 executives in 45 cities conducted in June and July 2017. The list of cities includes 23 in Asia-Pacific, 19 in EMEA and three in North America. Eleven industries are represented, with the greatest numbers of respondents coming from professional services, financial services, manufacturing, retail and education. C-level respondents account for 42% of the survey sample, with the balance being other senior executives. 

Helping the data-less: Meet the Singaporean startup rebuilding trust assessments in the digital age

Business and Enterprise

Posted on November 16, 2017

3 min read

The booming Asia startup ecosystem has presented a lot of opportunities for technology startups in the region. With our startup accelerator muru-D in Singapore and venture capital arm, Telstra Ventures, Telstra has been fuelling this ecosystem and supporting these companies in building the blocks and expanding their reach. In the coming six weeks, you will hear from startups under the muru-D program and from our Ventures portfolio about their stories and how Telstra is helping them win the game.

My father used to run his own business. As a kid, I watched how he established mutual trust and longstanding relationships with customers and suppliers. I aspired to emulate his success, but I found myself starting my entrepreneurial journey in a different world, in a different time.

In any given day, as part of his business operations, my father would exchange credit amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. He wasn’t the only one. This is largely how business has been conducted throughout South East Asia, where both formal and informal lending relies heavily on trust built over time, validation from your social circle and gut feeling.

Today, there are untapped opportunities for people in South East Asia’s emerging digital economies. However, it can be challenging for organisations to trust those they’ve never met with valuable assets, especially if these individuals don’t have bank accounts, credit histories or any form of data to validate against potential defaults.

I’m passionate about helping to establish trust relationships, by building a solution that accommodates how locals have been accessing credit for decades.

In 2014, Uber was launched in Malaysia. The company experienced strong rider demand and wanted to incentivise and attract more drivers through credit advances on car leases. I worked with Uber to create a manual process for data collection that was anchored by psychometrics. This lent credibility to thousands of unbanked individuals and allowed them to lease cars from Uber and improve their livelihoods.

In January 2016, I founded Hafta – a company that collects psychometric data and creates a basis for trust, by improving risk assessments for companies and individuals. We then joined muru-D Singapore, which gave us the tools and high-growth mindset to evolve our manual process into a software-based solution.

Serial TED Talk speaker and trust expert Rachel Botsman said this: “… now we have millions of people staying on Airbnb every night – trusting each other with their homes, their whole lives, really. And it’s only in 0.01 per cent of bookings where something goes badly wrong. I think that’s a very optimistic story.”

Trust lies intimately between the perceptions two parties have of each other. Our goal is to inform these perceptions for companies – big and small – and create opportunities for individuals across the world. I believe psychometrics can be a great trust equaliser, especially in today’s digital and sharing economy.


Hafta is an alumnus from muru-D’s second cohort in Singapore. The program, currently into its third cohort, is supporting 11 Singapore-based startups.