Retail management startup Hike has won Startup Victoria’s Pitch Night: Diversity and Inclusion competition, for its platform syncing business applications and helping small-business owners keep track of their stock.
The competition, held at the Victorian Innovation Hub in Melbourne last week, was focused on diverse startup leadership, and showcased startups headed up by migrant and women entrepreneurs.
Hike co-founders Hiren Savjiyani and Jay Sutaria both came to Australia as international students, launching the startup in 2015.
The platform is designed for small-business owners selling products across multiple channels, for example, in-store as well as on several online platforms and their own online store.
In their pitch, the founders introduced a hypothetical business owner, Jane.
“She has to sell on individual platforms,” Savjiyani said, maintaining the product lists on each platform and site.
“That means she needs to do five people’s jobs.”
Hike is designed to sync any sales with the other platforms, and with other business applications, allowing for stock and accounting updates in real time.
“The reporting is centralised,” Savjiyani explained.
“That way she can have a holistic view of her business, and how all her business sales channels are doing.”
A growth journey
Since launch, Hike has seen 110% year-on-year growth, Sutaria told the judges.
In 2016, it launched 24/7 support from its Melbourne HQ. It broke even in March 2018 and became cash-positive in the following November.
Now, Hike is “on a growth journey”, Sutaria added, and is projecting 300% year-on-year growth by 2022.
Currently, it’s in the process of raising $1 million in capital, pegged for product development, investment in marketing, and working with a PR agency, the founders said.
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The funds will also fuel further global expansion.
“Small business is the engine room for any global economy,” Sutaria said.
There are some 35 million small-business retailers across the world, he added.
Already, Hike has customers in more than 40 countries, and customer numbers in the US, particularly, are growing fast.
Investment would allow the founders to set up a sales team in the US, Sutaria explained. Currently, members of the Melbourne team are working late nights and early morning to manage sales in the US.
“Having a person on the ground will certainly help us to do that expansion,” he said.
The Hike founders fought off competition from Michelle Mannering, co-founder of Enova Design, who was presenting the startup’s smart electric scooter, and small-business cyber security startup Cynch, headed up by founder Susie Jones, who won the evening’s ‘People’s Choice’ Award.
The judges praised the quality of the Hike founders’ pitch, with Rachel Yang, investment manager at Giant Leap venture fund, telling the pair “you’ve really smashed your growth and you’ve got impressive traction”.
Prizes include participation in an AusTrade Landing Pads program in Singapore, Berlin, Shanghai, Tel Aviv or San Francisco, as well as $5,000 in Amazon Web Services credit, and a month’s flexi membership at co-working space One Roof.
The package also included various credits for consultation, training and legal and financial advice.