SA start-ups off to US boot camp

Four start-up ventures from South Australia are heading to the US for an intensive accelerator program in February 2017 after becoming national finalists in the international MassChallenge event.

The SA finalists, including Flinders University staff members Ben Flink and Selena Woodward, are supported by the Flinders New Venture Institute Venture Dorm entrepreneur and mentoring program and related networks.

Selena Woodward, an Adjunct Lecturer in Education (with a professional e-folio program for teachers called Edufolios) and Flinders NVI Deputy Director Operations Ben Flink (with his online child-protection filter Psybersafe), will join Venture Dorm 2014 winner James Stewart (quit smoking app Kick.it) and leading Adelaide technology developer Leila Henderson (hands-free business support Freddi Studio) were the SA winners.

They will join six other Australian high-tech micro-businesses for an intensive five-day accelerator program in Boston next year.

MassChallenge is a United States-based not-for-profit start-up accelerator program providing support to the highest-impact and highest-potential start-ups and entrepreneurs.

The program has supported 835 companies worldwide, which have raised more than US$1.4 billion in funding and generated more than US$575 million in revenue, and created more than 50,000 jobs.

In Australia, the Bridge to MassChallenge was sponsored by Microsoft, Monash University and the State governments of SA, Victoria and NSW and the Commonwealth Government.

The global winners selected in Boston will have a chance to win major corporate sponsorship deals.

The SA competitors were selected from 15 South Australian entrepreneurs who participated in a three-day South Australian Bridge to MassChallenge competition at the Microsoft Innovation Centre in Adelaide. NVI alumni Oli Madgett and Georgia Heath also finished in the top 15.   

Mr Flink says SA’s success in Australian Bridge to MassChallenge is testimony to the success of Flinders NVI, Venture Dorm and other innovation, entrepreneurial and mentoring channels in Adelaide.  

Psybersafe, an online safety net for children which alerts parents to online predator attacks, is preparing for a limited, test launch in early 2017 before rolling out in 2018.

Mrs Woodward says Edufolios will expand in 2017 “as we develop our strategic relationships with each state and territory teacher registration boards.

“We’ll also begin delving into the international markets, including Indonesia, also accelerate the development of Reflect Growth where teachers will be able to experience a Fitbit like approach to professional development and gain deeper insights into their practice within the classroom,” she says, of a second venture with her partner Matt Woodward.

Mr Stewart says the Kick.it app has been continually improved with ambitions to “build the leading quit smoking technology in the world and integrate it into the healthcare system to make it easier for the world’s one billion smokers to kick the habit”.

Kick.it also is heading for a soft launch in early 2017 in Australia and New Zealand then plans to open up to the global market later in the year.

Leila Henderson and business partner Stephen Koop have developed a new system called Freddi, described as “the Lego of business process automation which can quickly build new rules, tasks and apps for any type of enterprise to improve productivity, reduce costs and increase revenue”.

“The company will raise its first seed round in early 2017 and is currently training its technical sales team and scaling up to offer its multi-tenant platform to IT consultants, web developers and digital media companies,” Ms Henderson says. 

 

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