Two emerging Australian start-ups will have the opportunity to pitch at one of the world’s largest venture capital events after taking home the top two spots in the OTEC APAC 2016 Phoenix Pitch Competition.
The competition is hosted by start-up and business generator Investible and Infin8 Ventures, which provides start-ups access to funding opportunities through its network of China-based venture capital funds.
Elanation, which is developing wearable technology to reinvent the future of kids’ play, and Sound Scouts, an app designed to test for hearing problems in school-aged children have been chosen by the panel of judges. This panel comprises representatives from Investible, BlueSky Funds, Muru-D, Blue Chilli, Springboard, Capital Pitch and the University of NSW selected to represent Australia and pitch at the Overseas Talent Entrepreneurship Conference (OTEC) in Beijing later this month.
There’s a first time for everything
This is the first year that Australian start-ups have been invited to participate in OTEC. It is one of China’s premiere funding events and one of the world’s largest events for VCs.
Start-ups from around the world will compete for an equity-free stake of RMB$1 million in prize money (approximately AU$210,000) with the opportunity to access a RMB$5 million entrepreneurship loan.
Investible CEO Creel Price highlighted that it was great to see two start-ups in the Healthtech space and who are both headed by female founders take home the top prize.
“This is an incredible opportunity for these and other emerging Australian startups to access one of the biggest markets in the world and elevate the local mix of innovation and talent on the world stage,” said Creel.
“Investible was proud to partner with the Beijing Government to launch this fast track program in Australia. It is exactly the type of initiative that the local start-up ecosystem needs to encourage more founders to think globally rather than focusing solely on the domestic market,” he added.
How did these start-ups burst onto the scene?
Elanation is the brainchild of Katherine Maree Pace and Aimee Michele Atkins. The pair met at ‘Dirt Girl’s wedding four years ago.
Katherine designed and built technology for adults, led award winning projects and was the venture lead for PwC Australia whereas Aimee has over 20 years in children’s products and entertainment and has worked for some of the most successful children’s brands.
Katherine is also a winner of Investible’s Angel Pitch two-day masterclass that was conducted in April.
With the combined experience their respective unique industries the duo became excited about the endless opportunities to invent modern products and brands for the children’s market.
They have personally funded their their lifestyle technology company for 8 to 12 year old children and then recently closed a seed capital raise with a range of Australian investors.
“The 8 to 12 year old demographic is largely neglected by way of technological solutions,” they told us. “Although they grow up as digital natives, we tend to present them with ‘hand-me-down’ adult technology; Ipads, computers and mobile phones. These devices and their games are addictive and largely stimulate passive forms of play. Adult technology is directly contributing to childhood obesity, loneliness and anxiety.”
In September, 1,000 Aussie children can begin to pre-order our products from our website giving them exclusive access to the ELANATION launch event in October (#outdoors #AustralianAthletes #technology). People are currently signing up.
Sound Scouts is the product of Carolyn Mee, who was inspired to start it in the shower, as so many good ideas do, the morning after a friend told her about Australia’s first Aboriginal surgeon Kelvin Kong, an ENT (Ear Nose and Throat) surgeon.
Hearing about Kelvin’s work made Carolyn think about the challenge of hearing testing lots of children, how confronting traditional tests can be and how great it would be to create a solution that was accessible to all children particularly those in rural and remote areas who don’t have easy access to healthcare professionals.
Sound Scouts provides a low cost, accessible hearing screening solution, in the form of a game, that parents, caregivers and health care professionals can download from Google Play and the App Store.
Played on a tablet with a set of headphones the game surreptitiously tests a child’s hearing. Any responsible adult can set it up and supervise and then receive a report at the end of the session.
“There is a great deal of excitement about Sound Scouts and the role it can play in making hearing screening accessible,” Carolyn told Anthill.
“Australian Hearing are now recommending it as a triage tool for their paediatric services (for children aged over four years and nine months). Speech pathologists and educators are also beginning to utilise it. In September we expect to commence a commercial trial with Sydney Local Health District which will provide valuable information about how Sound Scouts might be incorporated into the healthcare framework.
“Following our launch in February by the NSW Health MInister Jillian Skinner sales have been on the increase and we expect to see significant growth after we kick off our social media marketing campaign inline with Hearing Awareness Week on August 21st.”
The science underpinning the game has been developed in collaboration with the National Acoustic Laboratories, the research arm of Australian Hearing. Dr Harvey Dillon, the Director of NAL, is the Chief Scientist of the project and has ensured the clinical validity of the offering.
Sound Scouts is soon to launch an affiliated Clinical Portal that will allow health care professionals to take a closer look at the details of individual test results. Ultimately Sound Scouts will allow all children to have their hearing tested prior to starting school which will make a big difference to the educational outcomes of those children who might have slipped through the cracks with undetected hearing loss.
In 2011 Sound Scouts received a small grant from the NSW Digital Media Initiative allowing them to develop a prototype to test the premise that a digital game could be used to screen children’s hearing. Following success with the protoytpe they bootstrapped while building out their MVP. In 2015 the start-up secured a Medical Devices Fund Grant for just under $1.1million from NSW Health which is enabling it to strengthen its product offering and begin commercialisation in Australia, and also work towards releasing internationally.
Sound Scouts and Elanation competed against several emerging Australian start-ups for the chance to go to Beijing. Local finalists included:
JoinMyWedding – An online marketplace connecting ‘to-be-wed’ couples & travellers, enabling tourists to be part of unique weddings experiences around the world.
Kayla – A comprehensive service for Airbnb hosts to ‘hotelify’ their home, providing fresh linen and bespoke toiletries and cleaning services.
Viewpop – A social network that enables users to capture and share three-dimensional photos from their smartphone.
CancerAid – An app to help patients, caregivers and clinicians personalise, organise and manage the cancer journey.