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Startups with purpose: meet the muru-D SYD5 cohort

muru-D

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.

How AI and voice technology are redefining SME-customer interactions

muru-D

Posted on November 29, 2017

4 min read

The booming Asia startup ecosystem has presented a lot of opportunities for technology startups in the region. With its startup accelerator muru-D in Singapore and venture capital arm, Telstra Ventures, Telstra has been fuelling this ecosystem and supporting companies as they establish themselves and expand their reach. In the second of a five-part series, hear from See Chat on how Telstra is helping it win the game.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) mean a lot to governments and policy makers, as well as infrastructure providers and multinational corporations (MNCs). Across nations, SMEs make up more than 30 percent (sometimes up to 60 percent) of the GDP, employ half to two-thirds of the population, and represent about 90 percent of all businesses. These numbers are staggering!

When you think of SMEs, what is the first thing that comes to mind? My team and I conducted a quick census and got some interesting answers – mom-and-pop shops, local cafés, hairstylists, neighbourhood grocery stores, plumbers, etc…

For most parts in our everyday lives, we rely on SMEs for goods and services.

There is, however, a disconnect.

Despite consumers’ willingness to engage through digital channels and devices, our research revealed that cost-consciousness, lack of technological know-how and high employee attrition is making it hard for SMEs to facilitate effective customer interaction and capture business leads.

I am passionate about helping businesses adopt technology that connects them with customers who want their daily needs addressed as soon as possible.

In 2015, I founded See Chat to transform this vision into a reality.

We have built a conversational communication and commerce platform that uses AI to connect SMEs with everyday consumers. This includes a customisable digital portal from which a listed SME can handle all forms of chat. The business can then interact in real-time through automated response and calendaring, as well as voice-assistant interaction and conversational search engine optimisation (SEO).

This makes it easy for businesses to say hello to consumers wherever they come from! Imagine if all your customer queries from directories, search engines, your website and social media pages or voice assistants could be captured on a single platform, with AI responding on your behalf. By 2020, 30 percent of all searches for products and services is expected to happen via voice assistants – this capability is becoming increasingly crucial.

I also strongly believe in knowing that you’re building the right ‘it’, before building ‘it’ right. For this reason, we joined muru-D Singapore.

The muru-D team was a crucial sounding board when we were thinking about our go-to-market strategy, pricing and product-market fit. We also got strong support from Telstra’s Chief Technology Office, which supported our research and development around AI-bots and machine learning modules.

I’m proud to share that See Chat’s solutions have received market validation. With two major enterprise customers – directory provider services – on board, we are connecting 900,000 SMEs with consumers across Asia and the Middle East. We are also expanding to support hotel and retail chains. Today, we power one of the first Smart Hotels in Singapore, enabling seamless in-app communication between hotel guests and staff.

The ‘digital divide’ refers to the gap between those who have access to technology and those who don’t. Globally, there are more than 100 million SMEs that have yet to go digital. They are currently missing out on a US$36 billion consumer engagement and sales opportunity.

See Chat aims to be the digital ‘voice’ for SMEs in the present and future. We are bridging the digital divide, to create value in economies and convenience for people at large.

 

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

Tags: Muru-D, technology,

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.

Meet the IoT startups who have been accepted into Melbourne muru-D

muru-D

Posted on August 31, 2017

2 min read

Technologies that will transform the agriculture, aged care, consumer electronics and food production industries are front and centre of the first muru-D Melbourne cohort.

Kicking off on 7 August 2017, the four successful startups have been offered $75,000 upfront in seed capital investment and will benefit from a highly developed network of mentors and industry professionals.

The first Melbourne cohort represents a diverse range of businesses that are all focused on developing solutions that will have a real impact in their respective industries and on the IoT ecosystem as a whole.

They are strong diverse teams with the skills and potential to build global companies.

As our first Melbourne cohort, I’m excited to help guide these founders to help them get the most out of the program and accelerate their businesses to the next stage.

The four startups accepted into the #MEL1 program are:

  • Smart Paddock is a farm management tool that will modernise the global livestock industry through intelligent data analysis, utilising IoT data straight from the pasture in order to increase production efficiency, and improve animal health and well-being.
  • Alpha Centauri’s mission is to solve problems fundamental to human progress, with the cheap and sustainable production of food for all, chief amongst these.
  • Moduware is the modular technology movement. Moduware creates phone cases and power banks to extend the hardware and software capabilities of your smartphone. As a maker and IoT platform, Moduware allows developers to build their own module and write apps for existing ones.
  • Sofihub is a hardware and AI platform using IoT sensors to learn what is normal in elderly residents’ homes. Once normal is known Sofihub will be able to identify “abnormal” events and trigger an alert automatically. It’s unique because the primary interface is via voice and it doesn’t require the resident to wear or carry a device.

The muru-D funding model is based on a SAFE convertible note, made popular in the USA, which means that Telstra no longer takes a fixed equity stake in any company at the outset, rather this is determined by the company’s market value after the program.

Based at Telstra Labs Melbourne, the #MEL1 cohort will have access to Telstra’s integrated innovation capabilities, including the Open IoT Lab.

Tags: Muru-D,

Inspiring. Electric. Leading. #SYD4 showcase-D

Startups muru-D

Posted on August 11, 2017

2 min read

After landing in Sydney and joining muru-D five months ago, our Head of muru-D Julie Trell reflects on her first demo day experience. Our #SYD4 founders made their pitch to an audience of investors and other industry guests on 2 August. You can watch the livestream recording from the event here.

How was your first demo day?

It was incredible! I knew our founders were amazing, but seeing them up on stage presenting with passion and data on how their companies were going to solve big problems in business, agriculture, data, and imaging from outer space was absolutely inspiring.

What was your favourite moment?

Seeing three of the founders who were very unsure of themselves at the tech rehearsal, show up as three of the strongest, most confident and well-spoken presenters on the night.

What happens now for the startups?

They are still working from the muru-D offices because, well, we love the companies. They are now part of the alumni group and can work with, and learn from, those who have been on the journey a bit longer. Several of the companies have secured offers for funding, are growing their customer bases, and still working on business challenges. We’ll still be around to make sure they are taken care of.

About muru-D

muru-D is the startup accelerator backed by Telstra. We invest in great teams with innovative technology and global ambitions, and have been taking big, digital opportunities to a global market since 2013.

The muru-D team is passionate about attracting and supporting the best tech startups and founders across the Asia Pacific who are on a mission to change the world.

Over the past four years muru-D has accelerated 77 startups and created over 300 jobs.
The program is now operating in five locations – Sydney, Singapore, Melbourne (launched in 2017), and partner programs in Brisbane and Perth.

The final milestone of the program sees the startups pitch to investors at a showcase event attended by the who’s who of the startup ecosystem.