The 10 Hottest Startups In Australia Right Now

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Australia is bustling with hot startups.

“There are a bunch of companies now that are choosing to stay (in Australia),” Rebekah Campbell, founder and CEO of Australia-based Posse, tells Business Insider. “Whereas just a few years ago, everyone thought that you just have to move over (to the U.S.) straight away.”

Some of that is in part thanks to a software company called Atlassian, which has proved that it’s possible to start a hugely successful, global brand in Australia. 

Still, Campbell says there’s a funding problem in Australia. There’s a pretty good angel investing scene in Australia, and also some VCs who will fund post-revenue, growing companies, Campbell says.

“But there is a huge gap in the middle where you’re post-seed, you’ve done well and you have a little bit of traction, but you’re not profitable,” Campbell says. “There’s not really any funding for those companies in Australia.”

On the flip side, Australia is great for finding talented engineers because there’s less competition as compared to the U.S., Campbell says. 

That’s likely why we see a fair amount of Australian startups with additional offices located in the U.S. After scouring websites like Startup Smart, and speaking with VCs and Australia-based entrepreneurs, we came up with a list of some of the hottest startups in Australia.

Pocketbook is tackling the personal finance space

Startup: PocketBook

Founded: October 2012

Location: Sydney, Australia

Founders: Bosco Tan and Alvin Singh

Concept: Personal finance management for bills, bank accounts, transactions, and savings goals.

Why you should care: Since Mint currently only supports U.S. and Canadian financial institutions, Pocketbook has launched with Australia in mind. It simplifies the tax process, makes handling multiple bank accounts a breeze, and helps you manage your budget and understand your spending habits.

It will eventually bring in data like rewards information, investments, bills, and invoices.

Funding: Unknown

Virtual Gaming Worlds lets you build virtual casinos and make real money

Startup: Virtual Gaming Worlds

Founded: November 2010

Location: Perth, Australia

Founder: Laurence Escalante

Concept: A virtual casino world that combines social gaming with gambling. You can build your own casino, populate it with games, and earn money from the traffic that comes through the casino.

Why you should care: Google Developer Advocate Don Dodge called Virtual Gaming Worlds a 'sure bet' to make money at the LAUNCH Festival in 2012. He went on to say that it's a multi-billion dollar opportunity.

In places where online gambling is illegal, VGW users will only be able to use the virtual currency.

Funding: Recently closed a $2.5 million Series A round led by Triple C Consulting.

Ninja Blocks allows you to connect the world to the web

Startup: Ninja Blocks

Founded: 2012

Location: Sydney, Australia and San Francisco, Calif.

Founders: Marcus Schappi and Pete Moore

Concept: Digital blocks that connect physical objects to the Internet. Each Wi-Fi-enabled block is packed with a custom Arduino board, an accelerometer and thermometer. With additional sensors, Ninja Blocks can detect humidity, motion, sound, light, and even capture video.

Why you should care: You don't need to know how to program in order to get the full value of Ninja Blocks. You can tell Ninja Blocks to perform tasks like sending a text message to your phone when someone arrives at the front door, or to turn on a lamp if your baby starts crying.

The Ninja Blocks platform supports services like Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook, Google Docs, and Xbox Live.

Funding: $1.1 million from Kickstarter and a slew of angel investors including Guitar Hero founder Kai Huang, and Atlassian founders Mike Cannon-Brookers and Scott Farquhar

Kinderloop helps parents stay in touch with their child's preschool teachers and daycare providers

Startup: Kinderloop

Founded: 2013

Location: Sydney, Australia and San Francisco, Calif.

Founder: Dan Day and Dan Walker

Concept: Web and mobile platform for childcare providers to keep parents up-to-date with information about their children.

Why you should care: Parents can't help but worry about their children, even when they're in the hands of a trained professional. Childcare providers and pre-school teachers can upload photos and news about the child throughout the day. Meanwhile, parents will receive notifications and updates in real time.

Funding: Undisclosed amount from Blackbird Ventures.

biNu brings cloud-based smartphone apps to feature phones

Startup: biNu

Founded: 2008

Location: Sydney, Australia and Harare, Zimbabwe

Founders: Gour Lentell, Dave Turner

Concept: A cloud-based mobile app platform that makes it possible for feature phones to function like smartphones. biNu gives feature phone users access to cloud-based apps and services like Facebook, Twitter, and web browsers. It also recently introduced a new cloud storage tool for its users.

Why you should care: biNu is bringing sophisticated services to the 62% of mobile phone users worldwide who don't use smartphones. It recently hit 5 million monthly users, and is backed by none other than Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Funding: $7.62 million from Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt's Tomorrow Ventures, 500 Startups, and PanAfrican Investment Co.

Posse is a local discovery platform

Startup: Posse

Founded: 2008. Relaunched this year as a local social discovery service.

Location: Founded in Sydney, Australia, but moving out to New York.

Founder: Rebekah Campbell

Concept: A social network for real places. Posse users create lists of their favourite places, like 'best brunch spot' or 'best place for a manicure,' and share them with friends. Instead of gamification through check-ins, Posse offers the ability for its users to earn points and other rewards. When you comment on a friend's favourite location, you can earn points to use toward adding a new street.

Why you should care: Posse has ambitious plans to beat out Yelp and Foursquare as the ultimate source of recommendations for restaurants, bars, and shops.

It's also backed by prominent VCs including Bill Tai, Simon Rothman, Dave Sibley. Its board members include Lars Rasmussen, the creator of Google Maps and an engineer at Facebook.

Funding: $3.5 million+ from Bill Lee, Elevation Capital, Simon Rothman, Lars Rasmussen, Bill Tai, and Dave Sibley.

99dresses is aiming to give women the ultimate closet

Startup: 99dresses

Founded: 2010

Location: Sydney, Australia. But the company plans to relocate to the U.S. in a couple of months.

Founder: Nikki Durkin

Concept: Online marketplace for trading clothing. 99Dresses lets women set prices for their clothing using a virtual currency called buttons. If you see something you want to buy, you can spend your hard-earned 'buttons' on anything else in the infinite closet.

Why you should care: In its test run, users uploaded 4,500 dresses and 3,500 of them actually sold. 99dresses also went through one of Silicon Valley's most prominent startup accelerators Y Combinator.

Funding: Unknown

Shoes of Prey lets you design every aspect of your own shoes

Startup: Shoes of Prey

Founded: 2009

Location: Sydney, Australia

Founders: Jodie Fox, Michael Fox, Mike Knapp

Concept: Shoes of Prey's 3D designer enables anyone to create their own shoes. First, you pick the shape of your shoe: ballet flat, stiletto, sandals, oxford, wedge, etc. From there, you can customise the colour, fabric, and even heel height. It ships your custom-made shoes in about five weeks, no matter where you are in the world.

Why you should care: It's always frustrating to buy a new pair of shoes just to realise the next day that everybody and their mum already has them. Also, shopping for the perfect shoes can be frustrating. The colour and shape of the shoe might be perfect, but the heel might be too high, or even too low.

Shoes of Prey is also in a hot market. In a recent Nielsen report, 'Apparel, Accessories, Shoes, and Jewelry' was the second highest category of items that people are most likely to buy online this year.

Funding: $3 million from Crunchfund, Bill Tai, and Atlassian founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.

99Designs helps businesses crowdsource their designs

Startup: 99designs

Founded: 2008

Location: Collingwood, Victoria and San Francisco, Calif.

Founders: Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz

Concept: Crowdsourced design for logos, websites, t-shirts, and more. Businesses write a design brief detailing what they would like their website, for example, to look like. Interested designers then submit their work in the hopes of winning the contest and walking away with some cash.

Why you should care: Businesses don't always have design experts in-house, but it doesn't mean they don't need someone with an eye for design. 99designs makes it dead-simple to find talented designers. For designers, they can browse through numerous different opportunities for work.

Though, it's worth mentioning that 99designs has seen its fare share of controversy. Some designers have raised the point that they're putting in all this hard work but may not even see any monetary returns. Some have even argued that 99designs doesn't value their work, and essentially harms the design industry.

Funding: $35 million from Accel Partners, Michael Dearing, Stewart Butterfield, Dave Goldberg, and Anthony Casalena.

Genero.tv gives filmmakers the chance to create videos for the hottest brands and artists today

Startup: Genero.tv

Founded: 2008

Location: Melbourne, Australia and New York, N.Y.

Founder: Mick Entwisle, Andrew Lane

Concept: Crowdsourced online video platform that connects artists and brands with filmmakers. Yoplait, for example, is challenging the Genero community to come up with a creative video to show what's 'so good' about the summer. The winner gets a nice $10,000 in cash.

Why you should care: Genero provides a platform for up-and-coming filmmakers to showcase their work, gain credibility, and jumpstart their careers. By connecting filmmakers with world-renowned artists and brands, they have the opportunity to work on relevant projects while reaching an enormous audience. Some of the winning videos have been shown at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, the Cannes International Film Festival, and London's British Film Institute.

Funding: Unknown

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