Five Aussie-led start-ups making their mark overseas
Thursday, October 4, 2012/
One of the big advantages of the increasing ubiquity of technology in start-up businesses is that national borders have become less of a barrier for them.
New businesses can start selling instantly to international customers thanks to the internet. Some are going further and decamping from Australia to try their luck overseas.
This trend could be set to accelerate with developments this week such as the push for a new visa for arrivals to the US to start-up and a plan by the European Union to encourage entrepreneurs to raise finance and launch businesses in the 27-nation member bloc.
Several Aussie start-ups are looking to make it big overseas. We’ve picked out five to keep an eye on:
ScriptRock, which offers an automated way for businesses to test their systems, was one of four NSW businesses chosen in April to join Startup House, an entrepreneurial incubator in San Francisco.
This was swiftly followed by the landmark announcement of a $1.2 million investment in the business by Peter Thiel, marking the first time that the PayPal co-founder has backed an Aussie venture.
ScriptRock is now looking to make a serious mark on Silicon Valley, and beyond. And a key ingredient, according to co-founder Michael Baukes, is good old-fashioned Australian honesty.
“Being honest is so underrated. A lot of people have this propensity [to exaggerate]. Seeing an Australian guy pitch and then seeing a US guy pitch, they’re so different,” he says.
“With the Australian guy, you know he’d always tell it like it is. Being honest, having a great product and telling the truth about what you think – being really candid about it – is important.”
2. blu eCigs
Australian-born entrepreneur Jason Healy has been on something of a global business journey, setting up a basketball gear manufacturer in China before heading to the US to concentrate on the slightly surreal area of electronic cigarettes.
Healy launched blu eCigs in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 2008. The business’ product is a battery powered electronic cigarette that mimics the look and feel of real cigarettes and delivers vaporised nicotine to users.
This market remains a controversial one for many people, but it didn’t prevent Healy’s business pulling in $30 million revenue last year. This success prompted tobacco giant Lorillard to spend $135 million acquiring blu eCigs earlier this year.
Healy clearly wasn’t content with the mere innovation of blue glowing electronic cigarettes. He’s taken it a step further by incorporating social networking – each pack can indicate where there are other electronic smokers nearby.
“More and more smokers are becoming lepers,” Healy told FastCompany. “We’re not just selling electronic cigarettes – we’re selling freedom.”