The startup has been awarded $100,000 from the Victorian government’s Sector Growth Grant Program, plus $50,000 from CSIRO’s Data 61 innovation group, under the agency’s Kick-Start program, which provides support for Australian startups.
It is also partnering with CSIRO, which initially developed the Bluetooth-based tech, on implementing the product in three sites managed by construction firm Probuild.
Founded only in February by Matthew Barbuto, Matthew Lickwar and Adam Jago, the Melbourne-based startup provides an end-to-end technology solution for better connecting people working on construction sites.
It uses a Bluetooth low-energy localisation algorithm to track materials on site, on both a horizontal and vertical plane. Using very little power, and without requiring any additional network connection, it’s designed to be scalable and easy to deploy.
Co-founder and chief executive Adam Jago tells StartupSmart the aim is to build out a user interface “with industry DNA”, making the product “super user-friendly”.
The two grants will help the startup to ramp up its product development, working with Probuild and the industry to make sure it’s “building something that’s really built for purpose”, Jago says.
To secure the Victorian government grant, in particular, the startup had to lay out a set of “clearly defined” key milestones, he adds.
The team will then prove that concept works across multiple levels, before working on improving the user interaction aspect, to “bring the value into a return on investment” for clients, Jago says.
And achieving these milestones is part of the grant process.
“They do keep track of you,” he says.
The funding from the Victorian government also had a requirement for some participation from the industry, and so having both CSIRO and Probuild on board by that point was “looked upon positively [as a] collaboration between industry, CSIRO and us — a startup”, says Jago.
“It’s something that put us in a good position to be successful. We’re making something that’s really unique,” he adds.
Jago recommends other early-stage startups look for the government grants that might be available to them.
“Being able to have help financially without having to lose equity when you’re a small business is super important,” he says.
However, he notes that when granting funding, governments have different incentives to venture capital investors, and different incentives depending on the grant.
Some, for example, focus on the possibility of job creation, Jago says.
Equally, governments “don’t want to have a high exposure to risk”, he adds.
It’s a different way of capital raising but “all in all, make sure you’re looking high and low in every possible place for all the different grants”, Jago advises.
“The money is available, but you have to really look,” he adds.
And in the application process itself, the key for startups is to understand the incentives of the grant program they’re applying for, and the criteria required.
“You can have the best startup in the world, and be very successful and have great traction … but if you’re not ticking the boxes of that grant you won’t be considered,” Jago says.