Australian venture accelerator Future Capital Development Fund has invested in Melbourne-based online service provider PaintMyPicture.com for an undisclosed sum, just months after investing in two other online start-ups.
PaintMyPicture.com is a unique service whereby customers supply a photo or picture, which an international network of artists uses to paint the photo by hand using oil on canvas.
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In December last year, FCDF invested in a memorial site for people and pets, and an event registration and ticketing platform.
PaintMyPicture.com joins FCDF’s current stable of companies which include imorial.com, eventarc.com, CheapHotels.com.au, OurWishingWell.com, SMS Central, My Guest List and Domain Folio No. 1.
According to FCDF founder and internet pioneer Domenic Carosa, PaintMyPicture.com has all the ingredients he looks for in an investment.
“Its CEO, Brett Luntz, is an internet entrepreneur who has had great success in founding and growing other hi-tech businesses,” Carosa says.
“Its systems are robust, which will enable the business to grow exponentially without increasing overheads and its internet-based marketing strategy means the concept can be taken international with the click of a button.”
FCDF invests in young, fast-growing internet, mobile and technology companies, investing anything from a few hundred thousand dollars to a million, usually taking a significant minority stake.
As well as providing capital, practical assistance is provided to assist the company’s rapid expansion. FCDF will not invest unless it can be actively involved in providing strategic input, relationships and practical operational support.
Carosa told StartupSmart last year he chooses to invest in businesses that have been operating for at least a year, with existing revenue and customers, because they’re a “less risky proposition” due to their proven track record.
“We look for businesses that are basically disruptive, so businesses that challenge an existing income or marketplace,” he said.
“I also like businesses in which a major component of their revenue is derived from transactions, not just advertising, because these businesses often have a much stronger business case than those that are purely advertised-focused.”
Carosa believes the current level of investment activity, and new sites launching daily, means strongly-backed ventures will ride the wave of the next internet boom.
“We are uncovering, almost daily, strongly performing internet companies with good cashflows that are highly scalable, where revenues can be doubled and tripled quickly with our involvement,” he says.
PaintMyPicture.com could not be reached for comment, but plans to launch in the United States, the United Kingdom and South Africa before the end of 2011.
Carosa says PaintMyPicture.com has a global market appeal, predicting the concept to be particularly popular in the US where family portraits are very much part of the culture.
“We’re definitely keen to talk to other start-ups out there… Even if the company is too early to accept investment, we’re happy to talk to entrepreneurs about their future or help them shape their idea – we put cash in but we also roll up our sleeves to help grow the business,” he says.