Event Review: Innovation Bay Angel Dinner

Event Review: Innovation Bay Angel Dinner

Last night saw the latest Innovation Bay (IB Angel) dinner in Sydney where budding startups pitch their business ideas to an intimate collection of angels from the Australian and regional technology and digital Eco system.

As the longest standing Angel network in Australia, IB has seen over 150 start ups pitch over the last 10 years with some outstanding success stories along the way. The network has helped to raise over $10m in seed investment and provided invaluable advice, guidance and mentorship to many aspiring Aussie Zuckerbergs!

As usual, the competition amongst the startups had been fierce even to qualify for inclusion at the event. Around 20 entrepreneurs had submitted video pitches over the last month which were then voted on by the angels with the 4 most popular concepts being chosen to pitch on the night. The audience heard from a wide range of innovative concepts and business ideas seeking to solve problems and disrupt traditional markets.

Following the initial welcome drinks and networking session, the invite only guest list took their seats in the always popular dining room of TableFor20 and waited to be impressed.

Ian Gardener (the co-founder of IB with MitchelLake’s Phaedon Stough) addressed the room first, thanking everyone for their continued support and reminding the audience of how difficult it is to successfully launch a disruptive business idea in any market. The importance of providing support and investment dollars is critical to continuing to back Aussie ideas on the world stage.

And then the main event of the evening began with the four startups using their 7 minute times slots (plus a further 7 minutes for Q&A) to impress, inspire and intrigue the angels.

First up was Edisse, – a watch that will save lives. A company that has only been around for 5 months and is developing a product aimed at the medical analytics and personal healthcare device market. An automatic panic button built into a watch the product has 3 unique features including fall detection, real time tracking and data analytics none of which they claim are features of their competitive products. With 39 million people over the age of 65 in the US alone, the business calculates a $1.4bn market awaits their solution.

Nick from Edisse explained their growth strategy and the team they have gathered to commercialise the business as well as what they plan to do with the investment they are seeking.

Then it was over to the Angels for questions. These ranged from the technical platform the product was built on, the competitor landscape and marketing strategy.

Over main course the next business pitched. Swipe Ads. This is an interactive online advertising platform that distributes targeted ads through a spam blocking capture solution. They are trying to solve the problem of security capture systems on e-commerce sites by combining gamification and advertising to increase completion rates and introduce a revenue model into the process. Run by experts in game design and online sales they are looking to grab part of the 280m capture processes that are used everyday across the web.

Matthew from SwipeAds outlined their go to market strategy, competitive landscape (including the size of similar acquisitions) and growth plans for their next stage of development. The solution is currently in use across 1200 websites in 90 countries.

The questions from the Angels were more pointed than those for the previous pitch, often indicating a strong level of interest. The classic start up Hockey Stick revenue graph was challenged as was the catch up position of the competitors. Matthew seemed to have the right answers to these queries and we then moved onto pitch number 3.

Pygg is a messaging and payments platform which has recently pivoted its model to address the cash payment challenges faced by Australian schools. Many schools still insist parents load up their kids with hard currency to pay for excursions, lunches from the canteen and extra curricular activities. All of which they claim can be solved with Pyggs’ cashless platform. Parents create a Pygg account and deposit funds into it, fees are then transferred electronically to the school to pay for the activities.

With an estimated $50m market in Australia alone, the Pygg team are seeking investment to grow their footprint in the local market. This will mean growing the school user base to 50 in Australia before looking at a series A investment followed by potential overseas expansion. Peter from Pygg then outlined the current team he has built around him and the existing investors who have backed the business. The Angels were obviously warming up now as more razor sharp questions followed around why people hadn’t taken up the solution in the existing trials to date as well as what the Pygg strategy was against the larger competitors.

Already lots for the Angels to think about and we hadn’t even got to dessert yet.

Luck last was Hungry Hero a Qld based start up attempting to reshape the group buying market. With a focus on the hospitality sector the smart phone app allows vendors to quickly fill venues with offer based deals during quiet times and enables consumers to source nearby venues at discounted rates. The platform is cloud based, free to venues with a revenue model based on a small fee for the user. Already installed in over 100 venues in Australia they claim the app has topped the local Apple App store charts within its category over the last 2 months. Funding will ensure they maintain their first mover advantage and increase their technology and market footprint.

Some of the Angels grilled Chris from Hungry Hero around the revenue model and the market perception of “another group buying solution” but he was confident their solution was a worthy option in what has been a crowded market.

The end of the pitches meant that the evening was coming to a close but not before more networking, a few more one on one conversations with the start-up founders were observed and the wine bottles were emptied. Follow up meetings were arranged and more advice provided to the entrepreneurs from those that had the scar tissue from their own start up experiences.

My pick of the night? – SwipeAds as I think they are solving the biggest problem identified during the night with a simple but effective solution. Watch out for them and all the other start-ups that pitched.

Overall another great IB event with the network continuing to grow from strength to strength. The next pitching dinner is in August so if you’re interested in showcasing your business idea to the IB network get working on pitch!