In 2011, we’ve witnessed an explosion of enthusiasm in the startup scene with many people (especially journalists from traditional media) keen to feature what’s going on and who’s making it happen. While I’m strong advocate of any attention towards Australian startups in general – I’d love to see some more upcomers being mentioned. After doing some research and crowdsourcing, the following five startups (many pre-launch) piqued my interest. This list is by no means definitive and provides merely a small snapshot of what’s being created around the country. I should also refer to what my version of ‘watchability’ is… this includes the product being relatively-new, scalable, innovative, fast-growing, problem-solving, complete with a sound business model and long-term prospects. I would also like to include that my suggestions are independent – I (unfortunately) haven’t met any of the founders below.

1. mmMule

When the new MacBook Air came out a couple of months ago, annoyingly, I’d just left the US. With many people in our industry flying back and forth to Silicon Valley, I wondered if I could just ask someone to bring one back for me for the ~15% saving. But how to ask without it feeling a bit one-sided? Enter mmMule. Launching in September, this service combines community and travel with mutualistic social exchange. Although the name might prove hard for users to recall, people helping each other à la Airbnb, will mean it’ll be off to a promising start.

Founder(s): @avismulhall
Funding: Believed to be bootstrapped

2. Discovr (aka Filter Squad)

I must confess I haven’t had much of a chance to play with this app yet but have been duly impressed with I’ve learnt so far. With more and more apps flooding the Store, our obsession with data visualisation growing daily and poor meta discoverability the norm – Discovr App seems like a no-brainer. The guys from Perth have also enjoyed some global coverage, over one million downloads and a “Greatest Potential Award” at the recent Tech23 awards.

Founder(s): @stuartkhall@davidkmckinney
Funding: $200K (via CrunchBase)

P.S. Check out the Australian founded and well-funded Chomp for more app search and discovery.

3. MeeMeep

I’m still trying to get my head around the focus of MeeMeep although in short, I guess, it’s simply social moving. It creates a marketplace and turns every one of us into a potential removalist or courier. As someone who is soon to be moving out of my house, I would use this service over an official company just as I would rather stay at someone’s house instead of a clinical hotel while travelling. The service is currently in beta mode and they appear to be rocking the social media wagon solidly, with an impressive 1000+ fans on FB.

Founder(s): Rob Emmett | (and Jodie Emmett is active)
Funding: “Bootstrap-funded from a small group of Melbourne-based private investors”

4. Pointpal

When I was at Startup Weekend San Francisco last year, one of the more-promising ideas was one that took your loyalty cards and whacked them onto one app. As someone with a bulging plastic-filled wallet/purse, I’m so glad this issue is being addressed in Australia by way of Pointpal. I’ll be interested to see how many retail partners they can bring on-board in order to ensure the success of the user experience. The revenue opportunities are also plentiful.

Founder(s): Andrew Lowe
Funding: Being confirmed

5. WeTeachMe

WeTeachMe was a startup out of the Launch48 event in Melbourne back in early April. The literal name really explains it all – this is a service where you can ‘Learn’ or ‘Teach’ people new skills and the delivery is either on or offline. Boostrapped for under $400 with five cofounders, the guys have done well with the publicity machine pre-launch – even getting coverage for a recent overseas fundraising and networking mission. I absolutely love the idea and only time will tell if they can grab a share off the first-to-market NYC-based and not-too-far-off-launching-in-Melbourne Skillshare.

Founder(s): @kymhuynh | @apaddyinoz | @demitint@lampit | @martykemka
Funding: Bootstrapped

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8 thoughts on “Five Australian startups to watch

  1. Great list – I didn’t realise Discovr Apps was developed by Australians! I love the app as it’s so much more useful than the iTunes store. Hope all of the startups work out.

  2. Hi Kate,

    It’s really nice for you to post these startups, especially for someone like me based in Silicon Valley to find out what’s “innovative” in Australia. Here are some comments I have for these 5 startups:

    (1). mmMule has a good idea trying to bridge travelers for some additional “economic” values other than getting to know each other. However, the “economic” value ought to be focused on things of much higher value so that it will make economic sense to go through the trouble of buying for someone and bringing it to that person. I had a somewhat similar idea but focused on targeted audiences to optimize the “economic value”, and the socializing is just an added benefit.

    (2). Discover App – Isn’t Search in app stores supposed to do that?

    (3). MeeMeep – the monetary value may be too small to be worthwhile.

    (4). PointPal – This is clearly a useful service but it’s a lot of work to find all the top merchants to participate.

    (5). We TeachMe – Isn’t this a bit too broad? There are too many subjects and knowledge in the world. Google Search provides many useful learning tools already. A small startup should probably focus on certain subjects rather than all the knowledge of the world !

    James Gan
    Silicon Valley

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