When David Joss called into his favourite Bendigo coffee shop for his morning heart-starter two years ago, instead of asking if he wanted sugar, barista Luke Gray popped a spoonful of innovation in his takeaway cup. Joss, chief executive of Bendigo Bank subsidiary Community Telco, and Gray, owner of cafe The Wholesome Bean, nutted out almost on the back of a napkin the basics of what is now a rapidly spreading digital currency based on loyalty, called the Redy.
Spurred on by consumer appetite for sports, health and wellbeing services, Australian start-ups are riding a wave of excitement in wearable technologies that promise to be the next great mobile evolution.
Think of Catapult Sports as a start-up a decade in the making because the pioneer of wearable analytics devices for professional sports is reimagining itself as a global, mainstream brand. With recent high-profile investors onboard, the company that serves every AFL team and has a legion in United States NFL, NBA, college sports and even soccer World Cup teams, is set to tilt at the burgeoning consumer market, says chairman Adir Shiffman.
Ben Moir admits he knows very little about fashion but that hasn’t stopped him and business partner Billie Whitehouse teaching top couturiers from Milan to New York about adorning the 21st century clotheshorse. Moir brings the software engineering smarts to the partnership with designer Whitehouse that was founded on the 2013 Fundawear advertising campaign for condom maker, Durex.
Melbourne start-up Outware Mobile has recently ported its award-winning smartphone app for local councils, Snap Send Solve, to Google Glass and provides AFL results through the Pebble smartwatch. Co-founder Danny Gorog says the challenge in both cases is getting the user experience right for these emerging but limited platforms. “Neither [platform] has the richness of iOS or Android."
Pretty soon, glancing down at stats on your smartphone during the game could be as dated as clutching a transistor radio to your ear to hear the commentary.
“Jensen, Matt Jensen”, that’s perhaps how the founder of Sydney suit maker M.J. Bale should introduce himself, 007-style, when he leans across a bar to pay for a martini. Jensen has tailored the world’s first suit with a smart payment chip sewn into the sleeve, truly a spy’s device of which Ian Fleming’s Q would approve. Jensen teamed with Queensland’s Heritage Bank on the “Power Suit” prototype that offers true peacock status to executives with a serious gadget fetish.
Pocketbook is solving the complex problem of knowing when to buy and when to save with its money management app for mobiles and Google Glass. Beyond the not-so-trivial exercise of deciding whether to caffeinate on the morning coffee run or keep pennies in the bank, the Melbourne start-up is working on a complete advice service to help Australians make the most efficient use of their money, says founder Alvin Singh.
Although he once lived just a few blocks from Wimbledon, the home of tennis, it wasn’t until three years ago, when Rob Crowder moved to Melbourne and played on the grand slam courts on the Yarra, that he fell in love with the game. But frustration at his slow improvement sowed the idea of a wearable device to rank up more swiftly.
Arthur C. Clarke wrote “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. But to Yuval Hertzog, many advanced technologies are first seen on the magic of the silver screen. The inspiration for Alphega, the social app Hertzog’s systems integrator Nubis wrote, came from sci-fi concepts in Iron Man, Robocop and Terminator.
B2Cloud founder Josh Guest couldn’t wait to get Google Glass on his face. “When Google Glass was announced it was one of those light bulb moments that this was where humanity was going with technology,” says Guest who founded the Melbourne consultancy with Luke Smorgon.
Few founders can claim like Hugh Geiger that their start-up was sparked by a near-death experience. “My great-aunt fractured a hip in a shower fall [and] nearly died because she couldn’t reach a telephone,” says Geiger, who founded Brisbane start-up Ollo Wearables with business partner Ken Macken shortly afterwards in 2011. “[The] need is helping seniors to be more connected to their families.”
Chris Tudehope is a customer many brands would love to have. The 20-year-old university student and proud “loyalty card harlot” is, perhaps unexpectedly, a regular international traveller who has five frequent flyer cards, some with top-tier status. He’s also in store loyalty schemes including Everyday Rewards and Europe’s largest, Nectar founded by Sainsbury’s supermarket and BP. But he’s loyal only up to a point, getting airlines to match status and always hunting top deals.
Thirsty Camel has a curious loyalty problem: unlike many retailers, the liquor chain doesn’t want shoppers to hang around, it just wants them to return. “We’re a drive-through, we don’t want people to loiter,” says Leah Grinter, marketing director for the national independent liquor outlet.
Arbor Australia is looking for a business partner to roll out automated nail art kiosks after it was left holding the rights because its original client went out of business....