Startup Analysis

“Made in Australia”: True Aussie tech companies are the key to a strong startup ecosystem, says MOVUS founder Brad Parsons

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

MOVUS

MOVUS founder Brad Parsons. Source: Supplied.

Brisbane IoT startup MOVUS is riding a wave of growth following a $4.8 million funding round last year, but founder Brad Parsons says further growth of the Aussie ecosystem depends on our capability to hang on to tech talent.

Founded in 2015, MOVUS manufactures IoT devices allowing businesses to monitor, manage and maintain their machinery.

Last year, the startup raised $4.8 million from Blackbird Ventures, Testra’s VC arm, and Skip Capital, the venture fund headed up by Kim Jackson and her husband, Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar.

Since then, the startup has more than doubled its team, going from 12 people to 25.

And, although he doesn’t disclose exact figures, founder Brad Parsons says MOVUS has seen a four- to five-fold increase in revenues over the past 12 months or so.

The funding round was about “setting the foundation up for global scale”, Parsons says.

Part of the tactic here is to make the technology accessible to small- and medium-sized businesses. SMEs can purchase 10 devices at a time, download an app, “and then they’re away”, he says.

“If we can do it locally with SMEs … they’re the mums and dads who run businesses, and they’re not just here but globally,” Parsons adds.

“If we can ship those units anywhere on the planet, then that unlocks that massive market.”

Now, the technology is available in the US and Canada, and soon it will be in the UK, Spain and Germany.

“There are about half a dozen countries lined up,” Parsons says.

“It’s keeping us busy.”

The growth has also seen the startup “filling out the team”, and getting the right people into the right roles, Parsons says.

“Brisbane is a small market so that’s quite a challenge.”

However, the founder makes a point of keeping R&D activities in-house, and manufacturing in Australia.

“When was the last time you saw a bit of technology that said ‘made in Australia’ on it?”

Building and developing the technology here is important to the founder, as he sees MOVUS as part of a growing Aussie tech industry.

“There’s a wealth of capability and talent here,” he says.

Building tech companies, and keeping them in Australia, is the way to build a critical mass of talent, he says.

Employees can learn from one company and take that knowledge to another, “and then we can feed off each other”, he adds.

“If we all build an ecosystem here, we will win.”

On a personal level, Parsons notes both of his daughters work at MOVUS part-time, while they’re at university.

“When they finish uni, if the STEM jobs are not here, then where are they going to go? They’re going to pack up and move to Silicon Valley.”

If they can’t attract Australia talent, startups will struggle to grow. But the more they struggle to grow, the harder it will be to keep that talent here.

“It is a war for talent, and unless we build great businesses here, that talent is going to go overseas,” Parsons says.

“I can assure you were feeling it, and the growth won’t be able to continue unless we have that great talent.”

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is the editor at StartupSmart. You can contact her at [email protected].

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