Here’s one more Aussie startup – think of some as a caged bird – that seeks to fly. Brisbane-based tech startup RedEye Apps articulated its goal this week, as it nailed a $500,000 contract from Arrow Energy, and just recently turned one.
RedEye Apps has developed a cloud-based, SaaS (Software as a Service) solution for managing engineering drawings. It has had a blessed start – signing up BHP Billiton, the big daddy of mining, as its first client and is keen to seize that momentum and move forward.
“Having a company like BHPB as our first client is a huge endorsement of the value of our solution. Getting Arrow Energy as our second major client and in a different market sector shows that RedEye is relevant across multiple markets,” co-founder and CEO Wayne Gerard told Anthill in an e-mail interview. “We are now in discussions with over 53 prospective clients across six market sectors and three geographies. So it’s an exciting time.”
Global plans already afoot
RedEye’s software has an intelligent “drawing conversion search engine” that learns over time and helps mining companies manage their drafts, saving time and labour. Being cloud-based, it also provides anywhere-access.
Gerard and co-founder Randall Makin have bootstrapped the startup so far, but all along have been clear in where they eventually want to take RedEye Apps.
“We built RedEye to be a globally relevant solution from the MVP stage, it was always our intention to develop a international client base as soon as we could fund the growth,” said Gerard.
In recent months, RedEye Apps has opened talks with Sydney-based venture capital and private equity company M.H. Carnegie & Co. and others. It also has assembled a globally recognised board and is “in the process of finalising a small bridging round from the board that will give us the runway we need to plan our expansion into the U.S. for a Series A round in March-April. RedEye Apps plans to name the board members ahead of the company’s launch in Canada at PDAC 14 (Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada conference during 2-5 March 2014), and in the U.S. at SXSW (South by South West) during 7-11 March 2014.
Funding challenges abound
Gerard realises the challenges ahead in the march to global markets. He picks funding, especially Series A, as “the biggest challenge for any Australian startup.” Additionally, RedEye Apps occupies a niche in enterprise software that is far from familiar – or for that matter, appealing – to most VCs.
“Very few early-stage investors understand or have experience investing in enterprise solutions like RedEye. We self-funded RedEye for the first two years (it almost killed us on more then one occasion),” Gerard recounted.
The other aspect of going global is to identify the larger market and grow to scale. Gerard believes RedEye has a “very large, global, addressable market in the order of a couple of trillion drawings.” Besides, “we are always getting asked to expand our offering beyond engineering drawing management.”
Still, at this stage, RedEye Apps wants to become a category leader in Engineering Drawing Management, rather than consider other applications.
Get a leg up from large companies!
Gerard has a message to other Aussie startups with global ambitions.
“We are just about to provide BHPB with a plaque thanking them for being our first client. Australian startups need large Australian companies as early clients. My belief is that, every startup that is lucky enough to secure a large client, needs to deliver awesome value to them so that we can encourage more adoption of innovative technology from startups. If we can build trust and value between startups and large Australian companies we will help more startups get off the ground in Australia and ultimately build a more sustainable ecosystem. We think RedEye has an important role to play in building this momentum.”