University of Sydney Incubate Program Winter 2013 Start-ups announced

by Mike88Jul 17, 2013

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Incubate the start-up incubator program funded by University of Sydney Student Union and run by James Alexander has announced their Winter intake. They all gave a quick 2 minute elevator pitch at a function last night.

Incubate is a fantastic program, where students and researchers can launch a business inside the University, they get a workspace + $5k plus mentoring and support to get their business launched. When I went to University (some years ago) I don’t ever recall anyone promoting the idea of starting a business or launching or building something or doing anything remotely commercial.

Universities felt their role was to turn out employees or academics, given I am an incurable entrepreneurial tragic I can’t tell you how good it is to see the major Universities changing the culture and running programs like Incubate to try and kickstart an entrepreneurial culture and build something instead of just turning out employees.

They had a major win in their first program over summer with one of the businesses “The Best Day” scoring a $1 million investment round within a month of launching which is one of the fastest capital raising’s I have ever heard of in Australia and a number of the others Cloudherd, Weaver, Snapdisco and Edisse look like they are going to build real businesses.


Incubate Winter 2013 Start-ups


The founder described this as Pizza Hut delivery for new car test drives. Basically they provide a service to book test drives for new cars. At first when I heard this being pitched I wasn’t that keen, however after seeing the progress these guys have made in a very short time I think they might be onto something. Lead generation is a huge business in mortgages and other financial services sectors so it could very well be for cars as well.
For a company that has only just launched and is in an incubator their website and value proposition was a lot more developed than I expected.


Encrypted secure Instant messaging service. I really like this one, given the issues with the NSA, Prism and the increase in security awareness across the board I think its a great idea. I got to talking to the guys after the event and they both have PhDs in Physics, my only comments is that I would be looking to recruit a top Hacker from the Computer Science department to the business as they really need someone in the founding team who comes from that background. Looks like this one is pre-launch as I couldn’t find a website.


Advice website on career transition for young professionals. I think this one needs some more work on the business model, it wasn’t clear from the pitch how big the problem was or how they will monetise but it’s possible that they might have something.


Reviews, advice, beauty advice community. At first I wasn’t that impressed when I heard about this, it wasn’t clear what the business model was but here is the kicker, they have apparently launched a Facebook page and have 8000 members already so they have a ready made launch platform and traction which is more than half the battle, if they can keep this growing they can work out how to make money out of it later.
My wife is in a senior role in the cosmetics industry so I get a good view of the new sites and apps in the space and this market is hot in the US and whilst there is a an active cosmetics blogging culture in Australia there hasn’t been much activity here as far as new business models go.


Online platform for driving real social change I got the feeling it is a Kickstarter meets Kiva. The founder sounds very committed and passionate about his cause, not sure about his business model but given the social good focus they probably don’t need one, couldn’t find a website so assuming they are still pre-launch.

Neighbourhood Networks

Website for hyperlocal services. Even though there are a stack of hyperlocal services in the US most of them have had little penetration in Australia, so there is still a space here I think. These guys have a beta site which I signed up for, it still needs a lot of polish and it wants too much information upfront before I get to see a benefit, but there could be something there.

Positive Vapour Culture

Interesting concept, I love growing stuff, they have re-engineered hydroponics to get rid of all the water, fertilizer and electricity so, seems like he has spent some time on this and hopes to be able to use the new technology to get people growing their own food at home. I love the Maker Grower culture so I am  100% behind anything that makes it easier to encourage people to make or grow the things that they need.


Casual Employment Matching Platform. In my opinion no one needs another job board, unless that job board can do more than just provide a place for people to list jobs, I got the feeling from the pitch last night these guys are trying to build some machine learning and intelligence into the casual job marketplace to try to improve the matching algorithms to provide recommendations and ratings to employers. The employment market has no Ebay Buyer/Seller rating equivalent and if they can create a model where the employer gets a rated known casual employee on demand, I think they are onto a winner.
James and the University and University Union should be applauded for driving this program forward, it is an extremely positive step to growing the start-up culture in this country.
Here are some of the successes from the last program

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About The Author
Mike Nicholls Australian Inventor + Entrepreneur working with a small team of engineers building prototypes from Inventions including two medical devices. Publishes and has assessed/reviewed +500 inventions and +200 startups in the last 3 years. Mentors Sydney Startups via Incubate and other incubators and helps members of the Australian Startup Community via the website with free publicity and advertising. Experience in numerous industries including Digital Publishing, Cloud Computing, Apps, Hardware, Aviation, Real Estate & Finance and Health/Medical Devices.