Big business is increasingly backing startups

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Big business is increasingly backing startups

Optus and Qantas are just two of the enterprises backing startups – here are the selections for their latest programs.

Big businesses are increasingly turning their backs on the “not invented here” mindset by turning to startups for inspiration and future opportunities.

We recently reported on the way beverage company Lion is backing an accelerator program for startups relevant to the food and drink business, and late last year Spotless ran a hackathon for projects applying Internet of Things (IoT) technology to facilities services.

Other large organisations getting involved in this way include Optus and Qantas.

Optus Future Makers

Optus has announced the finalists in its $300,000 Future Makers funding and mentoring program for start-ups, which focuses on innovative tech ideas to help disadvantaged young people.

Each finalist gets a place in a four-month accelerator program which includes mentoring and practical advice, plus the opportunity to pitch for technology grants of up to $10,000 and up to $100,000 in seed funding, judged by World Vision CEO Claire Rogers, financier Andrew Tyndale, The Big Issue CEO Steven Persson, and Optus Business managing director John Paitaridis.

The finalists are:

  • Angus Robilliard – an app to link indigenous young people who have been placed in new jobs with mentors who provide ongoing support and advice.
  • Danny Hui – an app enabling multiple people involved in a disabled child’s care to share information efficiently.
  • Dervla Loughnane – a ‘virtual psychologist’ offering mental health services via text message in order to remove barriers to traditional counselling such as the fear of talking about issues face-to-face.
  • Sandy Buchanan – an app to deliver online therapy and enable people to share their stories in a supportive environment and track their mental wellbeing.
  • Michael D’Rosario – a subscription textbook service to provide students in underprivileged areas with gratis access to digital textbooks.
  • Alex Gavranich – an online platform to improving employment outcomes for disadvantaged young adults, including mentoring and matching with potential employers.

Qantas AVRO Accelerator

Qantas also announced the selections for its AVRO Accelerator program, which isn't restricted to travel-related ideas – pretty much anything relevant to the company's business was considered as long as it fitted into one of the themes of seamless journeys, care beyond the air, connected platforms, transforming for tomorrow, and innovating without limits.

The startups selected for this year’s program are:

  • Aeroster – allows pilots, cabin and ground crew to view and share rosters with family, friends and colleagues.
  • Coverhero – an insurance Robo-advisor that helps to understand, buy and manage insurance in one place.
  • easyshare – an online platform for bill splitting and payments.
  • Landmarx ID – uses mobile location data against known points of interest to provide clients customer insights.
  • Leezair – an inspiration, discovery and booking platform for unique experiences.
  • Travelshoot – connects travellers with local professional photographers across the globe.

AVRO Accelerator was open to scaleups as well as startups, and six established businesses were also selected: Birch (optimise credit card and loyalty spending), BoozeBud (alcohol delivery), LoanDolphin (banks and brokers compete for users' home loans), Meeco (user-controlled personal data platform), Pawshake (pet minding network), Volantio (travel industry revenue and marketing optimisation).

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