40 Top Melbourne Startups To Watch

Written by Stephanie O'Brien

November 13, 2017

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Australia’s startup culture has been growing exponentially year on year. Given Sydney tends to a big chunk of the mentions when talking about Aussie startups, we wanted to explore what’s happening with the Melbourne startups shaking up our tech space.

We looked at launch, funding, size, product and of course the founders. Here is our hot list of 40 Melbourne startups to watch.

Plattar

Plattar is an Augmented Reality app builder & content management system. Founder Rupert Deans and his team have been working on the SaaS platform for 2 years before officially launching February 2017. Seeing that AR was difficult and costly to create and considering this was the case in website development before the likes of WordPress, Rupert knew there was an opportunity to create the world’s first Augmented Reality enablement platform for businesses and individuals to create, manage and deploy Augmented reality and mixed reality experiences. Plattar has already raised $1.1 million capital from News Corp to continue their plans for world domination in this space.

TRIBE

Launched in 2015, TRIBE is a marketplace that connects social media content creators with leading brands to transform word of mouth recommendations. Founder, Jules Lund, well known TV & radio host designed the platform as a personal workflow solution to assist with his own time management of brands offering him payment to post on his social accounts. Today TRIBE has 13,000 influencers in the app and 2600 brand campaigns through the platform and has secured $5.35 million in Series A funding to support their global expansion.

Afterpay

Afterpay is the new way for Australians to pay. Their easy-to-use payment process allows shoppers to buy their product today and pay it off in 4 equal fortnightly instalments. Afterpay believes in evolving the retail status quo to provide customers a better way to shop.  Through Australian innovation, Afterpay has evolved layby enabling shoppers to buy more of what they love, more often. Launched in 2014 by Nick Molnar, Afterpay floated on the Australian Stock Exchange in May 2016 and partners with hundreds of Australia’s leading retailers such as Cue, Marcs, General Pants, Glue, Topshop and Hype DC. Their process is now available both online and in-store. Afterpay was awarded “FinTech Innovator in Payments” at the inaugural FinTech Awards 2016 and “FinTech Organisation of the Year” at The Finnies, May 2017.

PurePonics

Growing pure food by aquaponics in urban farming. More taste, less waste and grown close to where you live and eat. Founded by entrepreneurs Steve Gleeson and Paul Hopper, PurePonics is an innovative AgTech startup combining Aquaculture and Hydroponics to produce fresh, safe and sustainable food, with no use of chemicals. Since the company’s inception in 2016, they have sourced specialist researcher Yoni Sharon from Israel, built facilities in Geelong, begun to generate their first revenue stream through production and will soon be looking for more investment to accelerate their expansion across Australia and beyond.  

Uptick

Uptick offers a suite of cloud-based solutions for organisations that manage, maintain and audit buildings. Their facility management product Uptick FM allows easy ticketing and tendering for works reported by tenants, while their Uptick FS product is used by fire protection, airconditioning and electrical contractors allowing for scheduling, asset management, defect reporting and invoicing of works. Upticks’ platform allows each of these ‘property stakeholders’ to manage their respective workflows via Uptick and access and engage with the building’s data via the “bSecure” platform. The team have secured their second round of funding, a $1.6 million investment from venture capital firms Tempus Partners and Equity Venture Partners.

Unlockd

Unlockd is an enterprise mobile platform that rewards consumers when they unlock their mobile phone. The revolutionary ad and content funded mobile platform provides consumers a value exchange whether it be discounts off their mobile phone bill, free data or premium entertainment content, in exchange for viewing ads, content or offers upon unlocking their smartphone. Unlockd was founded in 2014 by Matthew Berriman in Melbourne, they have since grown to New York and London. They have major content and advertising partners include Twitter, Yahoo, MoPub, McDonalds, British Airways, Doritos and Uber.

ResponSight

Every user has a behavioural fingerprint; a unique, nuanced way they use their own computer. Behavioural fingerprints can be monitored to detect malware and attackers, who don’t behave the same way as a typical end user. Investing in detecting security breaches as early as possible allows organisations to take control. ResponSight’s behavioural analytics monitors usage and detects non-users sooner, where others still fail. Founded by Jeff Paine  the idea for ResponSight was first pitched at BlueChilli’s Disrupt@Scale startup program and they were announced the winners in February 2015. In 2016 they raised $1.15 million in a seed funding led by Carthona Capital, with follow on investment from Black Sheep Capital.

Timelio

Timelio is a high growth FinTech company with an online marketplace for invoice finance and supply chain finance. Timelio brings together growing businesses directly with a network of investors who fund their invoices. Wife and Husband Founders, Charlotte and Andrew Petris, noticed how tough it was for Australian SMEs trying to grow a business without access to adequate finance. It was very clear to them that the industry had not kept pace with changes in technology. Timelio was created to bring together SMEs directly with investors. Timelio has raised $5.5 million in capital and aspire to be the first Australian fintech to fund $1 billion to Australian SMEs.

Nura Headphones

Nuraphones are personalised to you, understanding how you hear the moment you put them on and filling the gaps in your hearing. We all hear differently and this is the secret to sound clarity that is perfect for you. Nuraphones was founded in April 2015 in Melbourne by Kyle Slater, Luke Campbell and Dragan Petrovik. A team of music lovers, they combined their expertise in engineering, acoustics, biology, and hearing science to create the nuraphone. Now all music listeners can find their perfect sound, automatically. nuraphones attracted US$1.8 million on Kickstarter, making it the most-funded Australian campaign ever. nura announced it had raised $6 million in seed capital, bringing its total funding to more than $8.5 million.

The Lumery

The Lumery is a unique collective of MarTech & AdTech experts providing brands with Advisory, Strategy and Execution services on the applications they have today, and will have in the future. Tired of the ‘buzz word approach’ around MarTech, Founders, Rajan Kumar, Ben Fettes and Simon O’Day believe that brands have traditionally had limited options to call upon when seeking agencies who have real experience in helping leading organisation’s not just leverage the technology available to them – but actually deliver business results. In less than 6 months the team has set up shop in Cremorne and have a talented team servicing clients including Australia Post and Jetstar.

Littlepay  

Littlepay is an Australian fintech start-up focused on developing micro payment processing services.  littlepay helps transport authorities, operators, and service providers to accept open payments quickly, simply and safely through cloud-based bank-grade infrastructure. Their loosely coupled solution is PCI DSS Level 1 certified and supports true multi-trip / multi-operator account-based payments. Founded in 2015 by Michael Walters, littlepay are backed by a global investment company with a long track record of investing in and developing payments technologies, littlepay are backed by a global investment company with a long track record of investing in and developing payments technologies.

Speedlancer

Speedlancer is a marketplace of 450 curated freelancers available on-demand. They deliver tasks in as little as 4 Hours or in Bundles for full-stack campaigns. Founded by 22-year-old entrepreneur, Adam Stone. Adam launched his first business at the age of 12. He scaled it across 120,000 customers worldwide and outsourcing the entire process down to a 10-minute-work week (while studying full time). Through this experience, Adam discovered the weakness in other outsourcing platforms and decided to create his own. Today Speedlancer offers writers, designers, researchers, lead-generators and developers. Their team includes Jon Westenberg in Sydney as well as a globally distributed team of 6 employees (in additional to their 450 highly curated freelancers) in the US and Brazil.

RefLIVE

On a mission to digitise the match day experience, RefLIVE is the first smartwatch app to be used in a FIFA International match and currently has users in over 45 countries. RefLIVE was the result of Founder Simon Murphy’s combined passion for sport, technology and entrepreneurship. RefLIVE allows officials to track time and record match information digitally rather than with a stopwatch, notepad and pen. Already cementing their position as the world leader in smartwatch technology for sports officials. RefLIVE plan to continue to revolutionise sports administration worldwide through a range of products in different sports.

Passel

The world’s first crowd sourced online delivery option. With 20 years’ freight and logistics experience, Founder Marshall Hughes had a prediction. He told me he believed “The time will come when you are wandering around the shopping centre and you’ll get a message on your phone saying “Hey Stephanie, Mrs Jones, who lives around the corner from you, has just bought a shirt from Myer. If you deliver it on your way home, we’ll give you a $10 voucher” advised Marshall. A few years later, when this had still not happened, Marshall quit his job to turn his prediction into reality. Passel has secured angel investment and are embarking on a seed funding round. Passel will launch in Melbourne in September with a number of retail clients including Motto Fashion. They have already had positive feedback from Silicon Valley; which they plan to tackle after delivering 300,000 items in Australia next year.

MoneyPlace

MoneyPlace is an online marketplace that connects investors with credit-worthy borrowers. MoneyPlace is a peer-to-peer lending platform that connects borrowers with investors offering personal loans. Users have to apply online in order to get a credit estimate after which they will be matched with suitable investors. Afterwards, borrowers will get this money electronically transferred to their respective accounts. MoneyPlace was launched by ex-NAB employee Stuart Stoyan in 2014 when he saw that banks were no longer doing their part to support customers. Stuart observed the peer to peer trend globally and took the opportunity to bring this concept to Australia.

PHORIA

PHORIA is an immersive media startup on a mission to empower anyone with the ability to experience a physical place in a digital space. PHORIA was originally born from the pain of looking for a new home, this helped drive early adoption of VR in the property sector. This was achieved through the power of emerging innovative tools like virtual, augmented and mixed reality. PHORIA helped launch 3D media and interactive VR tours into the Australian mainstream through VR on the BLOCK. With wide possibilities for application PHORIA quickly evolved into new sectors and verticals, leveraging VR as a means to reduce pain and anxiety. With some exciting new research taking place at the Royal Children’s Hospital. Taken further, they are developing machine learning and cognitive computing capabilities into their software. As the market opens up, they look forward to a world where holograms, AI and augmented senses have gone mainstream.

ActivePipe

ActivePipe launches the real estate industry into the digital and increasingly consumer focussed 21st century market. Founded by Ashley Farrugia ActivePipe use automated email-marketing campaigns that operate on a real estate agent’s behalf, with communication that is powerful, consistent and personalised.  Smart data analytics and advanced reporting features eliminate the guesswork, telling agents who is ready to transact so they can close more deals. ActivePipe are used by over 700 offices in Australia including Ray White, LJ Hooker and Barry Plan and they intend to expand to the UK and US.

Liven

Liven is a restaurant discovery and rewards platform that actually pays users to do what they already love to do – eat out. Founders, David Ballerini, William Wong and Grace Wong saw the emerging potential of mobile payments. They added a charity component to the app to allow people to share their rewards with those in need, giving charities an entirely new way to fundraise that was built on the ethos of asking people to give at the right time – after they just enjoyed a great meal, as opposed to stopping someone on a street corner. Restaurants benefit by attracting new customers that they can retain through the loyalty mechanism of the app and by associating their brands with the good work of charities. Liven has recently raised $10 million in venture capital, and are now eyeing expansion into a third Australian city followed by the US and UK markets by years end.

CarCloud

CarCloud provides car rental companies with a sales and marketing  platform that maximises their revenue and works with their existing car rental software. The Carcloud Web platform is optimised for SEO and conversion – and can be fully customised for any brand. Their Renter Messaging platform automates smart renter communications to improve renter experience and reduce operating cost. Founded by Chris Seymour and Daniel Jarrett to change the way people rent cars. Their customers include independent, franchise and multi-national rental car providers.

Elevio

Elevio helps businesses increase user engagement and loyalty, while dropping support costs. Being embedded within their customers products, elevio has the unique advantage of being able to bring context to content. Making it easy to show the right help, to the right people, at the right time. After a number of years working together agency side, founders, Chris Duell & Matt Trimarchi saw the way that support content was being delivered to users was fundamentally broken, and took it on themselves to rethink support content creation and delivery. elevio has grown to be a success story of growing from a bootstrapped side project to being a venture backed company with investments from the likes of Blackbird and AirTree, with a growing team of 10, hundreds of customers globally from Fortune 500 to bootstrapped startups serving their self service software on over 100M pages a month.

Agersens

Agersens is developing an innovative solution to enable automated movement and control of livestock.  This device connects animals to the internet and benefits farmers by increasing productivity and reducing operational costs, improving the health and welfare of livestock, and improving our environment by helping farmers prevent cattle polluting our waterways. Founded by Ian Reilly Agersens has negotiated a worldwide exclusive licence to CSIRO intellectual property that trains an animal to stay or move within a virtual fence boundary. A farmer can create any number of moveable virtual fences using their smartphone or tablet. The system will enable farmers to automate the movement and control of their livestock – improving farm productivity through automated moving grazing fronts, improved health and welfare of livestock, and cutting labour cost. A farmer sipping a latte in NYC could move their cattle from one paddock to another in Australia with a touch of their iPhone. To date Agersens have raised $2.36 million in funding rounds.

Milanote

The notes app for creative work. Milanote is a place to put it all together. See your ideas, notes and research side by side. Used by designers, writers, marketers and other creative professionals from companies like Facebook, Apple, Uber, Google, Philips and Nike. Designed by founders Michael Trounce, Marc Clancy and Brett Warren and Ollie Campbell as an internal tool for their other business Navy Design before realising the tool was something that could be applied to any creative process. Deciding to spin it out, they launched Milanote in February, garnering over 40,000 sign ups in just the first couple of months.

Honee

Search, compare and book wellness, beauty and fitness services on Honee. Founder Matthew Jones wanted to make it easy to find wellness, beauty and fitness venues in Melbourne. They help Melburnians look and feel amazing by providing the most accurate and up-to-date information on their favourite venues, as well as helping businesses promote their brands and find new clients. They cater to services including beauty, nails, hairdressers, spas, massage, acupuncture, yoga, pilates and fitness. Founded in 2014, the team have raised $512k in August 2016 to continue their expansion.

Memobottle

Memobottle™ – the balance between environmental sustainability and convenience. Not a tech company but certainly all about innovation. In an effort to reduce the amount of single use plastic bottles being manufactured everyday, Flank Pty Ltd have designed the memobottle; a durable, long life reusable bottle constructed from a recyclable BPA-free plastic. Resembling the shape of a piece of paper, the memobottle is a slimline, premium bottle designed to slide into your carry bag alongside your computer, books and personal items. Flank Pty Ltd was founded in Melbourne, Australia in 2014 by Product Design Engineer Jesse Leeworthy, and Financial Consultant Jonathan Byrt.  Flank Pty Ltd now operates out of Melbourne, and San Diego, California, and is committed to the design and creation of products at the intersection of lifestyle convenience and environmental aid.

Culture Amp

Optimize your employee survey experience through simple, intuitive UX and intelligence analytics. Culture Amp makes it easy for companies to collect, understand and act on employee feedback. Culture Amp was founded by Didier Elzinga with the vision to build a truly culture first company at scale that in turn helped other companies also put culture first. Together with his Co-Founders, Rod Hamilton, Jon Williams, and Doug English, Elzinga launched Culture Amp with the global mission of making the power of people analytics accessible to all. Since that time, they have raised over $20 million in VC funding and have grown to over 100 people in 4 offices around the globe (Melbourne, San Francisco, New York & London). They work with thousands of clients globally from Airbnb & Adobe to Pixar & Pinterest and locally work with all but 4 of the AFL clubs and many of Australia’s most culture focussed organisations.

Curo

Curo provides families with the reassurance that their loved one is remaining independent and can continue to care for themselves. Using non-intrusive sensors in the home Curo provides insights via a smartphone application which aims to change the way the world looks at ageing-in-place and the relationship between family and their loved ones. Curo shifts the focus away from emergency call-outs to better understanding the wellbeing, care and ultimately the independence of the elderly. Founded by Tim McDougall and Matt McDougall, Curo has received $1 million seed investment and expanded their operation to the US as of October 2016.

Lithodomos VR

Lithodomos VR produces and distributes archaeologically accurate reconstructions of the ancient world in virtual reality for tourism, education, and entertainment. Lithodomos VR currently has four VR reconstructions of ancient sites available. Founded in June 2016 by Simon Young, Tony Simmons and Dr. M. Hamdi Kan, by December 2016 the company had released its first app, Ancient Jerusalem in VR. This was quickly followed by the release of their flagship, free app, Ancient World in VR, which features archaeologically accurate reconstructions of not one but three ancient sites. By the end of January 2017, the company had closed an initial seed funding round of $900,000 AUD in private investment and has since been rapidly expanding across Europe. The company’s products are available now on the App Store, Google Play, and Oculus.

Yume Food

Yume Food is a brand new marketplace that helps connect businesses that have premium surplus or excess produce with other businesses that can use it. Yume was founded in 2014 by food rescue veteran, Katy Barfield, after witnessing the amount of food that’s wasted in the commercial food sector. The existing food supply framework in Australia means that 9.5 million tonnes of food is discarded each year; 3.9 million tonnes of which is from the commercial food sector. It’s estimated that between 400,000 and 600,000 tonnes of that food is accessible, edible, quality food and could not just be rescued, but used, eaten and enjoyed. For Buyers, the platform acts as an opportunity to purchase quality surplus food at heavily discounted rates. For Suppliers, the platform gives access to a large network of Buyers outside of their normal sales networks. In February this year, Yume raised $2.6 million investment to continue their mission to create a world without waste by facilitating the sale and donation of surplus food that may have otherwise been discarded.

Liminal VR

Liminal VR combines neuroscience and design principles in virtual reality to induce a range of cognitive and emotional states in people. Starting with calm and energy. Their mission is to safely empower people to choose how they want to feel throughout the course of the day. CEO Damian Moratti is an entrepreneur with almost a decade of experience starting and running I.T. support and eMarketing businesses. His love of existing and emerging technologies combined with a fascination and lifelong interest in all forms of psychology led him to co-found Liminal with Nick Busietta a major projects IT lawyer, psychology graduate obsessed with the idea that combining human psychology with the power of virtual reality is a natural progression for the human mind. Liminal are in talks with various educational institutions hoping to introduce Liminal’s research into their curriculum.

Blockfreight

Blockfreight provides innovative solutions for freight and shipping. Within their active R&D they engineer novel systems and standards to solve inherent issues and eliminate cost centres, which arise during the standard shipping process. Their platform is bringing efficiency to customer’s operations as they monitor thousands of daily movements in loading and unloading of shipping containers during both the import & export cycles. One aspect of their business is developing near real-time solutions, which affords all shipping related parties access and tracking with active alerting and notifications from a unified cloud-based dashboard environment. Blockfrieght was designed to bring enhanced levels of operational efficiency and eliminate costs which can arise in freight. Blockfreight™ was founded in 2015 with initial capital being provided by the founders, Julian Smith, Melbourne Bitcoin Technology Center Incubator and private placement of funds from active members of the MBTC community.

Creator Global

Based on the projected growth of Internet of Things (IoT) and their experience in designing over in-market 10m devices, they saw that many large corporates were going about it the wrong way…spending significant budgets on IoT projects, starting with the technology without understanding the problem they were solving, and often failing. Founders Slade Sherman, Doug Buckle and Travis Crothers designed a product development process for brands and enterprise companies that help them use emerging technology to solve their biggest challenges. Creator Global provide consulting services to help clients with Internet of Things strategy and development of connected devices. In North America, they are working with leading beverage brands like Coca-cola and Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer. Locally in Australia, the team work with clients such as Telstra, the RACV and Bacardi.

Finch

Finch is a fintech startup with a vision to reimagine the consumer finance experience. In December 2016, Finch beat over 100 fintech startups from around the world for one of eight spots in Silicon Valley’s top fintech incubator – Envestnet | Yodlee. Founded by Toby Gardner and Shahirah Gardner, the two realised that traditional banks and institutions are struggling to understand the millennial generation and their financial habits. The app is social spending app for Australian millennials that allows them to pay friends, stay friends, and achieve financial wellness together. In February 2017, Finch won “Best Product Demo” at Yodlee Bootcamp #2. The much-awaited launch is forecast for this year.

Fillr

Fillr’s ‘autofill as a service’ seamlessly integrates into clients apps, enabling customers to transact faster, boosting conversions and revenue. Their powerful mapping engine, algorithms and machine learning technology utilise advanced proprietary textual heuristics to read forms as close to human representation as possible. This enables Fillr to be the most intelligent and accurate autofill in the world. After the success of their first business, 1Form.com, which was sold to to publicly listed REA/Newscorp, founders, Chris Koch and Chad Stephens saw the opportunity for autofill technology beyond the property sector. Fillr now has offices in Melbourne and San Francisco and is backed by SoftBank China Capital (Alibaba’s largest investor), Southern Cross Venture Partners, Reinventure and Constant Innovation. Fillr have had over 3.5 million transactions with the majority from the USA and UK, and across over 250,000 different businesses.

Airwallex

Businesses are evolving at the speed of light but payments lag behind. In this increasingly globalised world, having the right infrastructure for cross-border payments is crucial. Airwallex helps businesses make better international payments at scale. Airwallex was founded in 2015 by a team of entrepreneurs, Jacob Dai, Jack ZhangLucy Yueting LiuKi-Lok Wong and Max Li who knew international payments could, and should, be better. So they developed a technology that uses machine learning to determine the most cost-effective way of settling every payment that comes through the platform. Airwallex is backed by a phenomenal team of high profile investors including Tencent, Sequoia Capital China, MasterCard and Gobi Partners, who share their drive for a more accessible currency market. As of May 2017, Airwallex raised US $16 million.

ParentPaperwork

ParentPaperwork is easy to use online forms system for schools, students and parents, replacing paper forms in schools. ParentPaperwork digitises form processing between school and parents, school and staff and school and students. The benefits to a school of using ParentPaperwork are immediate cost savings, improved compliance and data handling, better parent engagement and a much-reduced impact on the environment. After winning the 2014 Startup Victoria Pitch competition, ParentPaperwork officially launched and have gone from strength to strength signed Brisbane Catholic Education Office schools (140 schools), KIPP Public Schools Houston (32 schools), a range of marque private schools including Scots College (Sydney), Canberra Girls Grammar and Hume Anglican Grammar. They are partnering with GroupCall in the UK, have secured a couple rounds of seed funding and are also exploring integrations with other Edtech products. ParentPaperwork  operates in schools across Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Singapore, UK, US, Czech Republic and Portugal.

Doshii

Connect your ordering app, payment device, loyalty and reservations platforms to POS. Doshii is the smart new API platform that coordinates all your apps and payment systems. Founded by Sean O’Meara, Doshii was created to fix the growing need for integration between apps. Doshii is the only Australian ‘middleware’ API for the hospitality industry. So far Doshii have signed several of the largest POS in Australia, including Impos, H&L & SwiftPOS. They have a global agreement with Omnivore, who is the Doshii of the US. This means Doshii can provide Aussie Apps access to the US market and vice versa. The team have also signed Menulog, the largest online ordering platform in Australia. Looking ahead they plan to continue signing the premier POS in Australia, onboarding more of the leading apps in Australia and then expanding into Asia.

CliniCloud

CliniCloud believe in the power of technology and design to help deliver a better healthcare experience. CliniCloud is a revolutionary connected medical kit designed for home use. Founders Dr. Hon Weng Chong and Dr. Andrew Lin prototyped the first CliniCloud stethoscope in 2012 winning the Microsoft Imagine Cup. In 2014 CliniCloud was launched and they received $5 million in seed investment in 2015. They have now have two products available to bring health care into the home, a non-contact thermometer and stethoscope. Their products, technology and services are now used by thousands of people and by some of the world’s leading health care providers.

Travelport Locomote

Travelport Locomote is a corporate travel platform that reduces travel spend by simplifying the approval, booking & expense process while keeping your travellers safe. Locomote provides seamless online products designed to make booking your travel easier and more efficient from anywhere in the world. Founded by Ross and David Fastuca, Locomote is powered by app based workflows, giving clients a central space where they can manage their full travel, end to end from one platform, integrated with partners they work with every day. Growing from just 3 to 70 staff in 5 years and recently being acquired by NYSE listed company, Travelport Locomote are well on their way to fulfilling their ambition to becoming the world’s best travel platform.

CrowdSpot

CrowdSpot is a map-based community engagement and data collection platform. The platform helps customers build online interactive project maps to crowdsource community feedback, generate spatial insights and ultimately make better decisions. Many customers use this service to crowdsource transport issues or safety concerns directly from the public.

Founder Anthony Aisenberg had the idea come to him from previous work in bicycle advocacy. After noticing poor decision-making with regard to future infrastructure improvements, Anthony thought it would be useful if all those who rode a bicycle in Melbourne could share their issues directly on a map. They have conducted close to 50 projects across Australia and in California. They have also been recognised with awards in association with the Planning Institute of Australia, a Quill media awards and Melbourne Accelerator Program. CrowdSpot recently won a pitch competition which will take them to Italy to compete in the European Innovation Academy where they will get to road-test future plans to scale the platform.

Written by Stephanie O'Brien

November 13, 2017