Eavesdropping on Sydney Startups: 6 quotes you might have missed

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The Sydney startup scene moves fast. So you can’t be blamed for missing a few golden nuggets of information over the last month. Here’s what we heard recently…

The genuine opportunity for partnership was something that attracted us to EY Foundry and we look forward to gaining access to industry skills and networks while sharing insights from our journey and experience as a tech startup. We believe our AI platform is very scalable and feel the size and scale of EY will be able to assist us with our growth ambitions.”
Danielle Owen Whitford, CEO and Founder of Pioneera

Pioneera became one of this year’s EY Foundry winners giving them – and the other three winners – $120,000 worth of Microsoft Azure credits along with a six-month residency in EY’s Sydney CBD office where the winning tech startups will receive tailored learning programs to accelerate their businesses. Pioneera believes stress is the smoking of today’s generation and its “whingebot” Indie, powered by AI, gives employees a safe place to vent after a tough day in the office, helping prevent burnout and other mental health problems.

“I’m definitely not thinking of the next funding round or exit or initial public offering or anything like that. It’s not what gets me out of bed. The reason we took funding was to ensure we could grow and make a bigger impact on the world. I still don’t think I’m at 1% of what Deputy could be, so the journey continues.”
Ashik Ahmed, founder and CEO at Deputy

Deputy has doubled in size in just one year, but Ashik Ahmed was keen to play down any talk of the workforce management app becoming Australia’s next unicorn startup. In a wide-ranging interview, the founder also described how he experienced computers for the first time when he came to Australia.

“We are the first to take the pure search engine approach whereas the others are more like paid marketplaces.”
Doron Ostrin, co-founder of TheUrge.com

TheUrge might have launched quietly earlier in 2019, but has since generated $250,000 in sales. It’s a website service that provides users access to 10,000 retail brands and aims to be a one-stop fashion shop streamlining the online search journey for internet shoppers.The site is adding as many as 250 new brands every week, which is testament to its impressive growth so far this year.

“It’s you on the street understanding what is the pulse of the environment. And then, test, test test. Quickly get something up, and then see if there’s traction. See if there’s a need, see if people want it. If there’s not, take a step back and reevaluate.”
Erin Corcoran, co-founder of Nuzzl

With Australian farmers doing it tough over the last few years, Sydney startup Nuzzl is looking to support rural communities and go beyond the expected house pets and on-call vets market. Nuzzl acts as a triage for a whole host of pet problems providing 24/7 access to vets, veterinary nurses and other animal specialists. The service offers phone call support as part of the platform because wifi isn’t always available in rural Australia. And co-founder Erin is a firm believer in focus groups and surveys – and, of course, chats in dog parks – as a form of market research.

“We saw Australia as an opportunity since day one. Australians do love a pool and it is a country of 2.7 million pools with the highest pool ownership per capita in the world. Australia is also very adaptable to the sharing economy model.”
Bunim Laskin, founder of Swimply

Described as the Airbnb of swimming pools, Swimply announced its launch in Australia with high hopes for the startup’s first international market. Bunim has negotiated a deal with pool maintenance supplier, Poolwerx giving Swimply access to a database housing 70% of all pools across Australia. The startup wants to emulate the pool ownership experience and Bunim says competition from Australia’s many public (and free) ocean swimming pools doesn’t phase him.

“The evidence suggests that we aren’t doing as much in the early stage as we should be, to make sure it’s not just a golden generation of start-ups coming through.”
StartupAus chief executive Alex McCauley

Startup Aus’ 2019 Crossroads report makes for some interesting reading as it explores the staffing levels of Spotify, Transferwise, Atalassian, Airbnb, Canva, Deliveroo and Waze. But these big name brands weren’t on the mind of Startup Aus chief, Alex McCauley, who was more concerned with how the economy supports early stage businesses. He celebrated Australia’s approach to paying developers higher-than-average wages keeping jobs local, but warned that younger startups mustn’t be overshadowed by the golden generation of tech in Australia.