Food for thought: Our 2023 entrepreneurship picks for your holiday reading

Food for thought: Our 2023 entrepreneurship picks for your holiday reading

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Amidst an end-of-year surge in merger and acquisition activity, and what seems anecdotally to have been a strong December for startup funding rounds in a year of tighter capital markets, we would like to take this opportunity to highlight some of our more 'evergreen' stories from 2023 that go beyond the news cycle

The following selection of articles were not the most breaking news stories, but they were very enjoyable for our editorial team to write, and so we've made our picks and divided them into a series of themes for your reading pleasure.

Our news team will be taking a break for the last week of 2023, but we will be back on deck in the new year and look forward to hearing your feedback, news and ideas throughout 2024. In the meantime, have a wonderful festive season and we hope that these stories give you some food for thought.

Green shoots in a challenging year

Australia, NZ see fastest early-stage funding growth of any global region

The startup ecosystems of Oceania recorded the fastest growth rate in early-stage funding globally between 2018 and 2022, representing a positive longer-term pattern for the region despite a 13.6 per cent decline in 2022.

Startup Genome's Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2023 (GSER) released today placed Sydney in a tied 20th position with Bengaluru-Karnataka in India, while Melbourne jumped an impressive six places to 33rd thanks to a 43 per cent increase in ecosystem value to $25 billion. Click here to continue reading

Shining a spotlight on Australia’s ‘hidden gem’: Deep tech

From the creation of WiFi to the cochlear implant, Australian innovators have developed deep technology that has shaped the lives of billions of people across the globe.

While the path to commercialising these complex systems can be arduous, expensive and require long-term strategic support, investors back home are increasingly taking note of the potential opportunities in Australia’s startup scene. Click here to continue reading

Women-focused Verve Super launches ethical investing platform

Within the space of five years the 'for women, by women' superannuation fund Verve Super has accumulated $270 million in funds under management (FUM), but now the group is broadening its horizons with the launch of an ethical investing app Verve Money following an oversubscribed pre-Series A round.

But that does not mean only women can join. Click here to continue reading

Top 101 South Asian Founders list reveals Australia’s $1.1b unsung startup heroes

A group of Australian entrepreneurs who have raised more than $1.12 billion since 2013, among them women who are punching above their weight compared to their international counterparts, has been heralded by a new report as unsung heroes in the startup space being largely ignored by mainstream media.

The 101 South Asian Australian Founders List released by the SAARI Collective has highlighted the impact of one of the world’s fastest growing populations in Australia’s startup community. Click here to continue reading

Gold Coast leads Australia in founders per capita

In a report that will likely be unsurprising for Gold Coast-based entrepreneurs but may come as a shock to readers elsewhere, the Glitter Strip is punching above its weight with the highest number of founders in the country per capita when it comes to LinkedIn users in Australia's 10 largest cities. 

A report compiled by OnDeck shows the Gold Coast has 143.5 founders for every 10,000 users on the professional social media platform, which is 72 per cent higher than the national average of 83.2. Click here to continue reading

Shifting the dial on culture

SeenCulture founder Nikki Tugano
SeenCulture founder Nikki Tugano.


How SeenCulture is cracking the code of workplace satisfaction with data, AI

After spending a decade consulting employees who felt dissatisfied, burnt out or underappreciated, SeenCulture founder Nikki Tugano is looking to change the state of workplace culture by building a software solution that uses AI to improve morale.

Tugano, who teaches positive psychology at the University of Melbourne, spoke with Business News Australia about what inspired her to start the company. Click here to continue reading

'Incredibly unhealthy and toxic': How hustle culture is harming the Australian startup ecosystem

Long office hours, increased risk of company collapse and significant cultural differences are some of the pressing concerns across Victoria’s startup ecosystem, according to a recent report published by The Tech Council of Australia and LaunchVic.

Titled Ensuring Victorian startups have skills to scale, the report highlights how a combination of these factors is diminishing the attraction of the startup ecosystem for many potential applicants. Click here to continue reading

Founder learnings

Make mistakes early: Advice from a beverage entrepreneur who took on titans

For many Australians, summer is all about laying back, great mates and a cool drink clutched in one's hand. That beverage may just have a massive '&' symbol emblazoned on it - and you can raise a toast to the co-founders of Ampersand Projects for that.

For co-founder Alex Bottomley, who is one third of the trio that started the ready-to-drink (RTD) company alongside Marcus Kellett and Shaun Rankins, the journey that saw the brand become a cult icon that stands out in a highly competitive space wasn’t easy-going. Click here to continue reading

'There was no path to follow': Megaport founder bullish after rise from startup to ASX200

Network as a Service (NaaS) pioneer Megaport (ASX: MP1) celebrated a decade in July after its first ever net positive cash flow quarter, and followed that up with an optimistic forecast for FY24 as more customers sign up to its flexible service for connecting and storing data with multiple cloud computing partners.

The group's capability is a far cry from what founder and non-executive chairman Bevan Slattery describes as 'humble beginnings' in a small office in Brisbane's Fortitude Valley - an area that forms part of a key part of the 'Brisbane Corridor' deemed by the CSIRO as one of Australia's top four digital clusters for startupsClick here to continue reading

How Showpo founder Jane Lu trusted her gut to keep 100 per cent of a $100m revenue business

Today her online fashion store rakes in more than $100 million annually, but when Jane Lu started Showpo in 2010 she kept the venture secret from her parents, maintaining the façade that she was working as an analyst at Ernst & Young.

She faced the professional expectations that were common amongst Chinese-Australian families at that time when the idea of starting a business was nowhere near as normalised as it is now. But deep down she didn't want to work in accounting, and was eager to become an entrepreneur. Click here to continue reading

Fishburners CEO and Tiliter co-founder Martin Karafilis
Fishburners CEO and Tiliter co-founder Martin Karafilis.


Raise when you don't need the money, says Fishburners CEO

Fishburners CEO Martin Karafilis believes there is no better place in the world than Australia right now when it comes to early-stage investment, which has bucked the trend of declining deal size, but he urges founders to strike the correct balance between not wasting time and being alert to unfavourable terms.

He tells Business News Australia the best time to raise money is when you don't necessarily need it, 'because when you do need it, things become pretty tough'. Click here to continue reading

With limited data, how does an early-stage investor know which founders to back?

Entrepreneur-turned-early investor Trevor Folsom readily admits that luck and 'gut feel' have played their part in the value generation experienced at Investible over the years, having backed such companies as CanvaCar Next DoorCIMMastt and more.

But early on in the journey there was an understanding that data, no matter how limited, needed to play an integral role. Click here to continue reading

Founder journeys

Brisbane startup Xrecruiter breaking down 'enemy over the hill' barriers for recruiters

Starting out as work colleagues before becoming business rivals and now successful business partners, the startup journey for Xrecruiter founders Declan Kluver and Blake Thompson sums up the competitive nature of the recruitment sector.

But since kicking off in 2022 with a white-label solution for recruiters who want to start their own agency, the young entrepreneurs are doing the unthinkable – creating a collaborative network where recruiters can grow their businesses while engaging with their opposition. Click here to continue reading

Flora & Fauna, Nourished Life rescued by Julie Mathers with NZ partners

Eco retailer Flora & Fauna has been rescued by founder Julie Mathers who will re-acquire the company from BWX (ASX: BWX) in partnership with New Zealand-based online retailer HealthPost.

The pair will also take control of e-commerce site Nourished Life, which alongside Flora & Fauna had an uncertain future after their now-former parent company BWX fell into administrationClick here to continue reading

Yellowbox co-founders (L-R) Ben Delaney, Vanessa Zhao, Ho Jun Tang and Adrian Brossard.
Yellowbox co-founders (L-R) Ben Delaney, Vanessa Zhao, Ho Jun Tang and Adrian Brossard.


How digital disruptor Yellowbox became a global force in smart locker technology

Whether it's the rigmarole of managing an ever-changing list of names in an Excel spreadsheet or even paper on a clipboard, self-registered pin codes that mustn't be forgotten, or simply keeping track of keys, antiquated locker systems can be a burden for both users and the people who look after them.

It is an industry so ripe for disruption, so obvious in its addressable problems, that it is remarkable that of all the entrepreneurs and tech companies worldwide that could have risen to the challenge, four young entrepreneurs from UNSW Founders' 10x accelerator have cracked the code. Click here to continue reading

Oztix, from the Big Day Out to a national ticketing giant

The startup story for Oztix, Australia’s largest independent ticketing company, could be tracked to a boom in online ticket sales at the Big Day Out on the Gold Coast a little over 20 years ago.

But for managing director and co-founder Stuart Field, the spark that lit the fire came after he was tasked with overseeing an album launch for Brisbane-born hip-hop band Resin Dogs. Click here to continue reading

Why Fergus Creese gives students direction with edtech SaaS scale-up My Careers

With an interest in business from the age of 14, farm boy Fergus Creese grabbed the bull by the horns through his fascination with commerce, taking him from running a 'quite profitable' blue light disco in high school in Launceston to studying commerce, entrepreneurship and innovation at the University of Swinburne.

It was a degree that he eventually finished after quitting three times to start different companies. Click here to continue reading

SimplyAI programs new era of growth backed by Liverpool Partners

An investment by private equity group Liverpool Partners earlier this year has put Sydney-based artificial intelligence, automation and data modernisation service provider SimplyAI on track to build on its heady growth over the past four years.

For Johan Misquitta, one of the four founders of SimplyAI, the investment has come at an important time for the company which has grown its employee base from just one partner in December 2019 to a team of 150 specialists in Australia and New Zealand. Click here to continue reading

Sydney’s HEO Robotics putting eyes on satellites to make space safer

The space industry has launched an average of about 100 satellites a year over the past five decades, but when something goes wrong, Australia’s HEO Robotics wants to have eyes on it.

HEO Robotics, initially founded in 2016 by William Crowe and Hiranya Jayakody to look for errant asteroids, is a satellite-to-satellite image company which is said to offer this world-first commercial service to the burgeoning space sector. Click here to continue reading

Inspiring innovations for a better world

Kapture founder Raj Bagri.
Kapture founder Raj Bagri.


How Raj Bagri plans to Kapture carbon from diesel generators globally

Melbourne-based green technology startup Kapture has secured its first pilot customer for a product that sucks up carbon emissions from stationary diesel generators, releasing a non-toxic byproduct that can be sequestered in soil.

It took 18 months of research and development for Kapture founder Raj Bagri to develop a shell technology for the idea, which was bootstrapped until pre-seed funding support came from the Startmate accelerator program. Click here to continue reading

Melbourne startup DiaperRecycle closes loop on nappy waste, creates cat litter byproduct

Amidst a waste problem worldwide that stinks from both a literal and climate change perspective, the founders of a Melbourne startup have decided it's time for a nappy change.

That change is recycling. Click here to continue reading

Tim Flannery advocates for RegenAqua, the climate tech tackling toxic runoff in the reef

Renowned conservationist Professor Tim Flannery has been announced as the ambassador for RegenAqua, an innovative water treatment solution that uses endemic seaweed and river grass to strip wastewater of environmentally harmful pollutants before they enter the ecosystem.

The technology, developed by Pacific Bio in collaboration with James Cook University, is currently being rolled out in the construction of a world-first wastewater bioremediation treatment facility at the Ayr Wastewater Treatment Plant in North Queensland. Click here to continue reading

Samsara Eco scales up with new research facility for ‘continuous plastic recycling’ technology

Australian enviro-tech startup Samsara Eco has stepped up plans to commercialise its ‘continuous recycling’ technology and rid the world of plastic waste through a new a research and development facility planned for Queanbeyan.

Samsara Eco’s technology uses plastic-eating enzymes to infinitely recycle waste and says the new facility is the first step in its plans to recycle 1.5 million tonnes of plastic per annum by 2030. Click here to continue reading

Edible coffee cup maker Good-Edi hungry for more after crossing sales milestone

It was a passion for sustainability and a desire to solve the problem of single-use disposable coffee cups that brought former co-workers-turned-co-founders of Good-Edi, Catherine Hutchins and Aniyo Rahebi, together.

Both having backgrounds in food packaging and processing, the two were uniquely placed to tackle the issue - and where better to start a revolution in the space than in coffee-loving Melbourne? Click here to continue reading

Mobile phone camera AI tech developer Acusensus makes ASX debut

Melbourne-based mobile phone camera technology company Acusensus (ASX: ACE) launched on the ASX in early 2023 with a first-to-market advantage that is capturing the attention of road safety enforcement agencies globally.

For co-founder and CEO Alexander Jannink, the listing is the culmination of a decade-long crusade that was triggered by the death of a friend at the hands of a distracted driver. Click here to continue reading

BindiMaps co-founder and CEO Anna Wright.
BindiMaps co-founder and CEO Anna Wright.


Sydney startup BindiMaps changes the game for indoor wayfinding

As a person with a vision impairment, Anna Wright vividly remembers a moment of frustration that would ultimately lead her to co-found BindiMaps, a navigation app that today is used by shopping centres and offices around Australia while an international expansion is also in the offing.

Feeling lost amongst the hustle and bustle of a major train station in Sydney, she thought: "Am I seriously going to have to trail my fingers around the walls of Central Station to try to find the Braille?" Click here to continue reading

Now self-funded, Humanitix makes largest donation to date with $4m given to charities in 2023

A Sydney-based events booking platform that directs 100 per cent of profits to charitable projects has announced its largest donation to date, injecting a total of $4 million toward causes that assist children in low-income communities, offer Indigenous students scholarships, teach young girls computer science, and more.

It brings the total amount Humanitix has donated to charity projects since it launched in 2016 to $6.5 million, with the capital directly going to the platform’s charity partners. Click here to continue reading

Legacy building

Nature's Way owner bets on Aussie provenance amidst pending Blackmores sale to Kirin

PharmaCare Laboratories is no household name in Australia or the other 40-plus countries where it operates, but this company behind such brands as Nature's Way and Bioglan is out to make its local provenance a differentiating factor in the $1.5 billion domestic supplements market where its two largest rivals will soon be in foreign hands.

With competitor Swisse already owned by a Chinese group since 2015, PharmaCare CEO Glenn Cochran says the Blackmores (ASX: BKL) board's endorsement of a $1.9 billion sale to Japan-based Kirin was a 'monumental day for the industry'. Click here to continue reading

Longhurst keeps growing his Gold Coast ‘field of dreams’ as marine industry booms

Tony Longhurst has put the pedal to the metal at his ‘field of dreams’ in the Gold Coast Marine Precinct at Coomera with plans to continue his expansion of The Boat Works superyacht facility amid sustained demand for marine services in southeast Queensland.

The ‘build it and they will come’ strategy shows no sign of abating for the former V8 race driver and marine industry veteran. Click here to continue reading

Allara Global’s e-learning platform proves the right mix for training hotel staff

Sydney-based Allara Global, a specialist e-learning company for the hospitality sector, set in train a path for growth when it opted to develop a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model for upskilling bar and hospitality staff.

After buying the JERRY online training platform from Singaporean spirits distributor Proof & Company in 2021, and now with the hospitality sector experiencing a post-pandemic staff shortage, Allara has reported a 240 per cent increase in revenue in FY23. Click here to continue reading

Homeschooling an emerging pandemic legacy driving rapid growth for Euka Future Learning

Rapid business growth for Sydney-based Euka Future Learning over the past two years has highlighted homeschooling as another potential legacy of the pandemic alongside the work-from-home trend.

Euka, a company founded by schoolteacher Ellen Brown in 2016, currently supports 13,000 students nationally with the take up of its services driving a 170 per cent increase in revenue since 2021. Click here to continue reading

Who is Elijah co-founder Raquel Bouris.
Who is Elijah co-founder Raquel Bouris.

Who is Elijah, the Aussie perfume brand on the global a-scent

In an industry where the youngest of the world's top 10 brands was founded in 1947 and three were established in the 19th century, some may be asking themselves how an Australian upstart is getting a whiff of the action.

With a cryptic name, gender non-conformist attitude, cruelty-free credentials and what its co-founder Raquel Bouris boldly claims to be 'best smelling fragrance on the planet', Who is Elijah has earned the distinction of a top-three seller in two of Australia's leading online retailers, THE ICONIC and Adore Beauty (ASX: ABY). Click here to continue reading

PYRA: the making of an outdoors apparel brand now bolstering its bricks-and-mortar presence

Sam Moore, a Gold Coast entrepreneur with 15 years’ design experience in the apparel industry, could not have known what was ahead when a private equity group acquired streetwear brand Culture Kings for $600 million in 2021.

Moore was building on his latest venture, PYRA, a technical apparel brand for the outdoors which had the backing of Culture Kings’ co-founder Simon Beard. Click here to continue reading



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