Startup News & Analysis

Checkout tech startup Tiliter Tech wins coveted Golden Uniroo trophy at That Startup Show Grand Final

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien /

Tiliter Tech co-founder Martin Karafilis at the That Startup Show Grand Final. Source: The Outfit Agency.

That Startup Show has drawn the curtain on its second season, with AI checkout software Startup Tiliter Tech taking home the coveted Golden Uniroo trophy as the overall winner of the show’s pitching competition.

Tiliter Tech wins entry to the Microsoft for Startups program, including $120,000 worth of Azure credits, as well as a week at one of the Austrade Landing Pad hubs in either Berlin, Tel-Aviv or Shanghai, 2.5 hours of mentoring from M8 Ventures founder and veteran investor Alan Jones, and more.

That Startup Show launched for its second season in July, with startups pitching in front of a live audience and judges each week. The competition culminated with the grand final in the last episode of the season.

Category winners included Catalysr, an early-stage pre-accelerator for migrant entrepreneurs, which took home the best newcomer prize, and NAVI Technologies, a medical catheter positioning startup, which won the innovative tech award.

Online anti-bullying startup Project Rockit took home the trophy for best scaleup.

Overall winner Tiliter Tech has created a camera and software system that can identify fresh produce at the supermarket checkout, to make the checkout process quicker and easier — thereby reducing queues — and to help supermarkets reduce theft at self-checkouts.

Co-founder Martin Karafilis tells StartupSmart supermarkets lose around $45 million each year through theft at self-checkouts. This technology means “people can’t just put something through as a cheaper onion”, he says.

While competition was fierce on That Startup Show, it was affectionately called “the dolphin tank”, Karafilis says.

Although there was a live studio audience and judges asking questions after the pitch, “there wasn’t too much pressure,” he adds.

Tiliter Tech has gone through the pilot phase and is working on launching its first stores before the end of the year. It’s also working on its first capital raise, and thinking about expansion.

Karafilis says the team is thinking of employing some new engineers, building on the product, and thinking about opening up a new office overseas.

The startup is already in talks with supermarkets in the US and Europe, he says.

“We’ve been a global business since day one,” he adds.

Tiliter Tech is also looking ahead to more applications of the technology, with tech to keep track of stock in supermarkets and a grab-and-go function “to rival Amazon Go” in the pipeline, Karafilis says.

That Startup Show

That Startup Show host Rae Johnston and Ben Law at the That Startup Show Grand Final. Source: The Outfit Agency.

A uniroo for real?

Having taken home to Golden Uniroo trophy, Karafilis admits he would like to be Australia’s next unicorn.

“That’s every startup’s dream isn’t it?” he asks.

“There’s a lot of steps between now and then, but I think we’re definitely on the right track,” he says.

Winning That Startup Show is a validation of this, he says, and it’s given the team some extra “drive to continue what we’re doing”.

Equally, the prizes that come with the Uniroo trophy will give the startup a boost in the right direction.

The Microsoft cloud credits “will be used very fast for sure”, he says, while “having someone like Microsoft there supporting us is something that a lot of businesses don’t get the opportunity to go through”.

Equally, a week in one of Landing Pad’s overseas workspaces will lead to more conversations with potential international clients.

“That’s a big thing for us,” Karafilis says.

“Having a lot of global customers, we’re already in discussions of where our next move will be.”

However, one of the best parts of the prize for Karafilis is the mentoring time with Alan Jones. Entering the startup space with very few contacts, the co-founders took advantage of any publicly available advice from Jones, Karafilis says.

“We almost idolised the guy,” he adds.

Already, the team have several questions ready for Jones, about the commercial side of the business and dealing with manufacturers, as well as advice on securing funding in the near future.

In fact, Karafilis advises other startup founders to seek advice from as many people as possible, and to “take as much information as possible from people who have gone through the process”.

“Quite honestly, if you don’t seek out that advice and understand the startup environment you will actually fail,” he says.

Founders should listen to and “pick apart” that advice, and while it might be contrasting in some cases, it’s “a matter of understanding how your business works and could work”, he says.

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Stephanie Palmer-Derrien

Stephanie Palmer-Derrien is a reporter at StartupSmart.

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