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Australia is actually a lot closer to the heart of tech innovation than geography would otherwise suggest, and many of its cities are vibrant and diverse startup ecosystems. Sydney in particular, is home to a growing number of tech startups that are characterised by a focus on solving real-world problems. Alongside its world famous reputation for beaches and leisure, the city has set the bar high when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Sydney is one of the most startup friendly cities in Asia Pacific; it’s been featured as a top startup ecosystem in the Global Startup Ecosystems Report 2018, and was named the best spot for new businesses by the same organization earlier this year. Startup Genome’s 2019 Report labelled Sydney as the fourth best in the world for local connectedness, commended it as an ecosystem, with notable successes in Fintech and Edtech.
Here are some of the top Sydney startups that we think are the ones to watch in 2020, with emphasis on those that have been slated to make headlines and raise additional funding in the coming year:
The Sydney-based design tool maker recently announced that it has raised an additional $85 million in funding, to bring its overall valuation to $3.2 billion. Investors in the company include Bond, General Catalyst, Bessemer Venture Partners, Blackbird, and Sequoia China. Alongside the new funding and valuation, Canva is also making its first foray into enterprise with the launch of Canva for Enterprise.
Up until now, the company had primarily offered users a lightweight tool set for creating marketing and sales decks, social media materials, and other areas of content creation and publishing, commonly used by businesses outside of product design. Canva is free to use for individuals, but professional organisations are encouraged to sign up to paid plans, under the Canva Pro monika; a premium version of the product available for $12.95/month.
Learn more about Canva:
A relatively young company, Skippr Cash Flow assists small and medium-sized enterprises gain access to the tools needed to predict, manage, and understand all the facets of cash flow. Skippr leverages predictive analytics to simplify and automate cash flow management for SMB, using finance and payment strategies. The key features of the platform include a cash flow dashboard, automated forecasting, alerts and reminders, impact and scenario modeling, interactive charts and reports, and in-app financing. Companies can receive a line of credit based on the strength of their invoices and their customer base, and Skippr promises that through this form of invoice financing, business owners will know how much they owe, how much they can borrow and why.
Skippr Cash Flow’s latest round of funding raised $1 million in venture capital from Patrick Tuttle and Andy Taylor; and another $15 million through debt financing by the same investors.
Learn more about this startup:
Specialising in music promotion and customised advertising solutions, Broken 8 Records is a fast growing startup which works with independent and unsigned artists who are looking to expand their audience and take their work to the next level. The site is one of Australia's fastest-growing platforms for independent bands and musicians of all styles and genres, with a network of over 50,000 dedicated followers across its social media channels.
Broken 8 Records primarily develops and distributes music reviews, feature articles, interviews, across online channels, and states that “there's no sound or style that [they] can't accommodate”. The company’s services can be viewed and booked through their music marketing platform, whereas merchandise and vinyl records are available for purchase from their online store.
Find out more about this top startup in Sydney:
This Sydney-based startup offers free HR software and payroll technology, with the aim of eliminating manual HR admin, increasing onboarding efficiency, and improving employee retention. It’s the only company of its kind in Australia, assisting medium and large businesses with core HR functions as well as onboarding and benefits. Flare HR has recently closed a $21 million funding round, and was previously supported by the Westpac-backed venture fund Reinventure. The bulk of the capital raised will be used to hire additional staff, as Flare HR aims to double its headcount within the next 12 months.
In 2019, Flare HR grew from supporting 100 to over 200 corporate clients, including Sephora, Knight Frank, General Pants Co, and PeopleBank. Co-founder Dan Cohen has said that Flare will remain locally focused over the next few years, based on a belief that, given the limited resources available to the start-up, it was best to "go all in on a market".
Read more about the top tech startup here:
SaaS startup data republic has created a secure platform allowing companies to share data with one another, while ensuring full control over its ownership and use, and protect customer privacy. The company recently raised $22 million in Series B round funding, with plans to expand to the United States and Singapore. Current investors include Singapore Airlines, Ryder Capital, Reinventure Group, Qualgro VC, and ANZ.
Data Republic’s platform was designed to solve the complexity of multi-party data sharing, helping to transform manual governance procedures and patched-together analytics solutions into simple, online workflows, which can be used by a variety of organisations. The Sydney based startup which was founded in 2014 by Danny Gilligan and Paul McCarney, and is now used by more than 140 organisations worldwide.
For more information about this organisation, head to:
Fat Zebra is a fast-growing internet payment gateway startup, that was initially set up by Pred Dragila in 2012. The purpose of the Sydney based platform is to facilitate simpler yet more secure credit card transactions for merchants to accept payments online, and competes with the banks’ solutions, as well as long-term providers like eWay and SecurePay.
Fat Zebra specialises in online credit card processing, merchant services, fraud protection, and billing, across a simple and modern API, which can provide real-time analytics. The company’s payment gateway provides organisations with all the features and benefits provided by industry leaders, without hidden fees or charges. The company’s most recent funding activity was its Series A round, in which it secured $8.8 million.
Find out more about this startup:
A specialised consulting firm focused on delivering business solutions which leverage Microsoft’s Digital Technology Stack, Barhead is last but not least on our list of top Sydney startups to watch. Barhead aims to enable clients and businesses to enhance and modernize their systems and processes, in areas such as enterprise resource planning, customer engagement, business analytics and reporting, and human capital management.
The company’s expertise extends to independent software vendor (ISV) product development, utilizing Microsoft’s Power Platform. Barhead are one of only nine certified Microsoft Business Applications ISV Development Centre organisations in the world, and was named as one of CIO Review’s 50 Most Promising Microsoft Dynamics Solutions, and one of ARN Top 6 Hot List of Companies to Watch.
To read more about Barhead, you can visit:
Sydney presents all the signs of having a thriving startup economy, and becoming a promising hub of tech innovation. Numerous factors have helped the above list of companies find a strong footing in Sydney’s startup ecosystem, from business-friendly government, a robust talent pool, an array of supportive investment and education partners, plus a host of active and innovative accelerators and incubators. It’s clear that many of these Sydney-based startups are well on their way to become established global brands, and that there’s a huge amount of inspiration to go around for every entrepreneur based in this world class city.
We’d love to know which startups are on your radar in 2020, and which of their founders has inspired you the most. If you think there’s a company missing from our list, get in touch with us via email.
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We are Jacob and Taylor. Travel is our passion and we love sharing our experiences here at The Travelling Souk. Our hope is that you would be inspired by this little blog to try something new, embrace an adventure, and live life to the fullest.