The founder of location-based app Roamz has urged start-ups to exploit the opportunity provided by G’Day USA, after winning the Digital Australia Shootout at this year’s event, taking home a bevy of prizes.
Held in the United States, G’Day USA is an annual program designed to showcase Australian businesses in the US and enhance the relationship between the two countries.
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The 2012 program, held from January 11-29, included Digital Australia Shootout – a pitch competition featuring Australian start-ups in media, entertainment and technology.
Representatives from Silicon Valley Bank, Rustic Canyon Ventures, Pan Pacific Capital, New Medici and Boost Mobile USA judged the competition.
The winner of the competition was Roamz, a location-based app founded by Jonathon Barouch. Launched last October, Roamz is based in Sydney and employs 12 staff.
Since its launch, it has reported 60,000 downloads of its app and has made more than one million recommendations to its users.
Barouch says he was impressed by the calibre of investors at G’Day USA, saying the program would be valuable for “anyone in hardware, software, content and any media-based business”.
“There were a lot of US investors from the entertainment industry and the tech industry, but focusing on entertainment and content,” he says.
“In the [Digital Australia Shootout] audience were either US residents or people who live in the US, which is great because that’s what we wanted.”
Barouch says contestants were given just five minutes to pitch, which proved harder for some.
“I think it’s very hard for investors in five minutes to get a sense of a start-up. One or two hadn’t launched yet,” he says.
“It was hard for the start-ups that haven’t launched yet because even if they do have a wonderful idea, are they going to get traction or not?”
“Roamz has been in the market for three months. We’ve proved the technology, proved there was a demand, and it was a good idea as well.”
As the winner, Barouch will receive a month of free office space at either Fishburners in Sydney, Elias Bizannes’ Startup House in San Francisco or another start-up venue in Los Angeles.
“Fishburners is awesome but we don’t need an office in Sydney – we’ve already got one,” he says.
“I’m always a bit nomadic when I’m in San Francisco, so it would be nice to have somewhere I can crash or have meetings. Maybe we’ll end up opening an office there.”
As part of the prize pack, Barouch received a “whole bunch of other things” including an iPod, books and even wine.
Barouch encourages other tech start-ups to attend G’Day USA, saying he “didn’t appreciate they had quite a strong digital stream”.
“There are a number of deals that will come out of [our attendance at G’Day USA],” he says.
“[I recommend] sussing out all the different events and which ones are appropriate. There are panels on how to raise funding and enter partnerships, and a bunch of interesting outside events.”
“The key thing is actually being there… Take a box of business cards and make sure you’ve handed them all out by the time you get back on the plane.”
“I’m quite a prolific networker but in the USA, that’s part of their culture… They like it.”