The Optus-Innov8 Seed Program today announced its inaugural investments in the Australian startup scene, with 121cast and Venuemob being the first Australian startups to receive funding.
These investments kick off the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program’s support of local early-stage startups in taking their business to the next level by providing funding, mentoring, networking and dedicated co-working spaces.
121cast and Venuemob have been recognised for their ingenuity, standing out in the pitch round that saw entries come in from all around the country.
Austin R. Bryan, Vice-President of Digital Communities and Ecosystems, SingTel Group Digital L!fe said, “The first round of the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program received a number of impressive entries that showcased remarkable ideas and concepts. This really validates our view that the startup community in Australia is bursting with talent and we are proud to offer them the opportunity to take their concepts to the next level.”
Both launched in 2012, 121cast and Venuemob look to provide inventive solutions in two different areas. Venuemob has re-imagined the venue booking industry by providing users with a simple-to-use database of party and function locations in Melbourne. 121castoffers added convenience through a free and personalised digital audio feed to inform and entertain on-the-go.
121cast raised a total of A$250k led by SingTel Innov8 and co-invested by Adventure Capital, while Venuemob raised a total of A$450k, also led by SingTel Innov8.
Edgar Hardless, CEO, SingTel Innov8 said, “SingTel Innov8 complements the Group’s digital strategy by investing in new technologies and entrepreneurial talent worldwide. We are excited to kick off our first investments as part of the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program in 121cast and Venuemob, and look forward to seeing more exciting ideas coming out of Australia.”
The Optus-Innov8 Seed Program will be re-opening the application process in January 2013, where startups across the country can submit their innovation for the summer intake. More details and information can be found at http://optusinnov8seed.com.au.
About 121cast (www.121cast.com)
121cast is the Melbourne based startup behind SoundGecko, a free service that converts text into spoken words, allowing users to listen to any news article or web page on the go.
121cast’s next-generation personal radio product, designed to help people sidestep the barrage of digital information available, formed the foundation of the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program’s interest. It aims to change the way broadcast content is delivered to mobiles by offering a free and personalised radio feed made up of your news, weather, social network updates, podcasts and more to inform and entertain on-the-go.
A resident at co-working space York Butter Factory and a graduate from the Melbourne University Accelerator Program, the team behind 121cast consists of Long Zheng, Andrew Armstrong and Edward Hooper. The team recently returned from Silicon Valley after exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt.
Long Zheng, Co-founder, 121cast said, “The Optus-Innov8 Seed Program is a significant new opportunity for earlystage Australian startups and we’re very excited to have both SingTel Innov8 as the investment partner and Optus as a strategic partner. With their technology expertise and business network, we believe the support from SingTel Innov8 and Optus will strengthen our product and business development.”
About Venuemob (venuemob.com.au)
Venuemob provides information and booking access to a hand-picked selection of Melbourne’s best bars, restaurants, reception centres and function rooms.
With over 300-plus event spaces across Melbourne, ranging from award-winning bars and restaurants like the Golden Monkey and The Botanical to hospitality groups such as the Publican Group and JBS Hospitality, Venuemob has provided the local social scene with the ultimate party planning guide. The team is also looking to spread its wings across Australia and incorporate venues from around the country.
Besides giving locals an easy way to discover and book the hottest venues, Venuemob’s service also delivers another effective channel for owners to market their businesses and generate additional bookings.
The Venuemob founders are no strangers to the startup scene. David Wei and Ying Wang previously teamed up to start a group-buying business, which was sold to Groupon in 2011. Along with James Giang, the trio have successfully launched a website that delivers benefits for both Australian consumers and businesses.
David Wei, Co-founder, Venuemob said, “The investment will allow us to catalyse our expansion strategy into other cities, so that we can offer function venues in Sydney and other major cities across Australia. 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 Corporate Affairs
02 8082 7850