Windlab Systems - A Global Wind Energy Development Company

Vishal Tuesday, March 24, 2009 , , , 0 comments

Today we showcase story of an exciting venture, from Canberra, Australia, Windlab Systems - A Global Wind Energy Development Company, co-founded by Dr Keith Ayotte and Dr. Nathan Steggel.

In a recent email based interview with us, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took to launch
6-12 months from idea to launch. Several years of IP development prior

• Stage of Venture
Windlab formed in May 2003 with 2 FTE's and 2 part-time.
As at March 2009 we have 22 staff across 4 countries (Oz, South Africa, Canada, USA).

• Which Market Segment
Wind Farm Development

• Customers
Financial Institutions; Electricity Asset Owners, Operators and Retailers.

• Targeted Age Group
We are not a consumer service provider. Our customers are large institutions

• Users Using Service
Again, we are not an end-user service - we work closely with large institutions with a mandate to provide clean energy to their customers

• Marketing Technique
Approach individually

• Measuring Success
Business Model with partners built on success fees - we get paid as projects progress through success stages

• Monetizing/Revenue Model

  • Consulting - fee for service
  • Partnering on wind farm development - paid success fees as projects progress
  • Pure wind farm development - see projects for development margin at some stage of development e.g. Financial close
• Main competitors
Other wind farm developers e.g. Epuron and Wind Prospect in Australia.

• Technology Stack used
WindScape wind mapping technology developed at CSIRO by founders and now 100% owned by Windlab.
RaptorNL and turbulence models developed at CSIRO and in-house.

• Database
N/A - ?? - we use GIS systems with SQL to store large amounts of data about individual projects

• O/S
We mainly use OSX (Mac) for the computations and most of the post-processing. All of our number crunching machines are Intel Mac's (quad Mac Pro's and Xserves). Windows XP and Vista are used for the GIS work, which is a substantial part of the work flow.

• How Much Money is Used/Reqd.
The Company needed of order $1-$3 million to set-up and develop business model in early years.
Has required additional larger funding to expand and progress business model

• Main Barriers
Expansion capital

• Advice For People
  • Seek cash early and often
  • Get good legal advice for major deals and try to get larger partners/clients to pay for it as part of any term sheet
• Your Education/Professional Background
Both founders have PhD's

• External Funding
External funding has come from Epicorp, inQbate, Angel Investors, Blue Cove Ventures and Innovation Capital

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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Glynx - Your World of Private Applications

Vishal Monday, March 23, 2009 , , , , , 0 comments

Today we showcase story of an entrepreneur, Malcom Allen, from Melbourne, Australia, founder of Glynx - Your World of Private Applications, i.e; it is a software you run on your PC to control your online identities and make your internet private.

In a recent email based interview with us, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took to launch
From first concept to today six years. We have had several goes at it, realising the problems are far greater than we initially anticipated, both technically and in terms of the competitive intensity. It would be true to say that I am not sure we would have started if we had known how hard it would be (and the amount of sacrifice required). For us it has really been a "force of will" - we are creating a business literally from nothing. We didn't even really believe the meaning of "we don't know what we are getting ourselves into" until we experienced it!

• Stage of Venture
Our first public beta launch was Janary this year. We launched an engineering prototype mid last year to fifty or so interested parties. While the core platform is still static there is still massive amounts of work going on to build out the applications that use the technology - expect lots of interesting things...
We completed an Angel round early last year and have been using that (plus some top-up funds) since.

• Which Market Segment
We are targeted at anyone who wants to control the privacy of their information online.
Key consumer markets for us are professionals who distribute client documents and those who need to maintain databases of client details. Examples are professional contractors, lawyers, doctors, project managers, bankers, etc. At a broader level our technology substantially enhances privacy functionality for those who manage Identity details on behalf of users: Bank online portals, social networking sites, affiliate groups, etc. At an even broader level our technology enhances privacy for any user concerned about losing control of use of their personal details online.

We provide tools to support both producers of this Identity information and consumers of that information. Students are good producers - they create lots of new personal details as they change employment, residence, etc. and they are used to working online. Their friends are typical consumers: its tough keeping up with what everyone is up to today! You should expect at least one in three of your contacts to change their Identity information annually. Think of what that costs you today in maintaining your contact list, lost productivity, lost calls, bounced emails, and lost opportunities.But have you the right (let alone trust) to give all your private contact information to a third party website(s) to manage or advertise to? Glynx solves this problem.

• Customers
It's hard to tell because our model is total privacy so we don't actually know who all our customers actually are, by definition! You can use Glynx like Microsoft Word or Excel - we don't need to know. We do have a core group of users using our system today most of whom are concerned about online privacy and control. This includes bloggers, commentators and innovators working at the forefront of the field of online Identity Management, Trust and Social Networking.

• Targeted Age Group
Our user base seems to be more middle aged, if only because this generation understands the value of reputation. Once your data is on the public web you cannot take it back. Younger people do not tend to have built up sophisticated models yet for managing their online activity and they tend to have less to lose if their privacy is compromised by their favorite social networking site (for example).

• Users Using Service
It's still early days and I think most of the people that have signed up are tech heads checking out the interface.

• Marketing Technique
Our business is all about giving users power and control of their Identity online
"Your business is your business" Consequently our primary model is referral. To seed the market we speak to bloggers, commentators and leaders in the field of online Identity Management and show them a better way to manage user information online than trust it to third parties to manage.

• Measuring Success
Our game is all about user uptake. Do enough people care about managing their own information online to give us critical mass? Ultimately we could end up being a core technology for a larger business, but our model is stand alone. We have a business plan to cash-flow break even that we are working towards.


• Monetizing/Revenue Model
Value added consumer paid services like those used by high end professional networking sites and Identity Provider verification services. Some limited advertising (without breaking our promise of user control and privacy), such as targeted employment ads.

• Main competitors
Those who provide centralised online Identity management services that observe who you are, who you have relationships with and what activity you do. The main players in this market today are Plaxo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google/Grand Central, etc..

• Technology Stack used

  • Server side: Linux, J2EE/Tomcat/Struts, Hardware encryption
  • Client side: Eclipse SWT,
• How Much Money is Used/Reqd.
Cash investment to date is well over six figures. Many people have made investments in our business as "sweat equity"..

• Main Barriers
We wanted to ensure our core technologies were patented before launch. This required substantial investment in time and money. Startups have to make a strategic decision early: Do you want to go for speed or securing a core technology first? Our last startup was based on speed and we spent the whole time looking over our sholders concerned that others could easily come over the top of us. It was a trememdous distraction and led to several reinventions of our business model. This time we made a tremendous effort to get to the root cause of competitive advantage in our market and secure that advantage before proceeding to build the business.
As with any startup, time and/or money remain barriers to speed to market - we can only do what we can do with the resources we have. To that end we have taken a fair amount of effort to ensure the business has the appropriate tools at the back end to make the staff as productive as possible.

• Advice For People
Get your app infront of users as fast as possible. You never have enough money to do what you want. How much do you really, really need? This comes down to understanding the competitive essence of your business and putting all your effort into expressing that in its purest form.
What do YOU really need to do or what can others do for you - and why?
Try/learn/try.

Speak to and learn from people who know more than you about what you want to know. Most of what you really want to know cannot be found online (or will not make the appropriate impression there). This is particularly difficult for people based in Australia as you need to establish relationships with those you aspire to be like. For us that means "The Valley".
It's hard work and you need to sustain the passion. Have a sense of belief in yourself. It is not easy and we would have given up many years ago if we had done it for the money.
We worked for many years at two jobs to pay for this - working nights and weekends away from the family until some of the team could afford to do it full time.

• Your Education/Professional Background
MA, MBA, Business Fellow in the US. However I wouldn't put too much store on this as there is as much to learn from a particular mindset and experience/historical background as formal education.

• External Funding
We sought $3m in an Angel round 18 months ago. We didn't get nearly that but we got enough to get going. A key message is just get going. We are interested in further funding from partners who know this space and believe they can add value.

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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JustRosters - Easy and Simple Staff Rostering

Vishal Wednesday, March 18, 2009 , , , , , 0 comments

Today we showcase story of an entrepreneur, Aulay Macaulay, from GoldCoast, Australia, founder of JustRosters - a web application for Staff Rostering.

In a candid interview with us, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took to launch
It took 3 of us 6weeks from brainstorming to launch @ about 25hours per week each. That is around 450 man hours all up.

• Stage of Venture
Launched on the 3rd March 2009.

• Which Market Segment

  • Industries that employ a high number of part-time staff (Hospitality and Retail)
  • Industries that employ shift workers.(Health, Emergency Services, and Manufacturing)
  • Industries that have staff working at multiple locations (Building and Construction)
  • Industries that sub-contract on an irregular basis (Government and Contractors)
• Customers
Business owners / manager. Whoever is in charge or rostering for the businesses identified to above.

• Targeted Age Group
All ages.

• Users Using Service
Just under 30 as of March 5th. It's still early days and I think most of the people that have signed up are tech heads checking out the interface.

• Marketing Technique
Funny you ask - I am looking for someone to help me with this side of the business at the moment. My team has a strong background in online marketing, but I know we need help with our offline marketing which is critical for this app!

• Measuring Success
First goal is 500 happy (paying) customers ASAP.


• Monetizing/Revenue Model
Monthly subscription based on amount of staff the business is managing (50 staff account costs $US29 per month). Some SMS credits for notifications are included in each subscription, but they can also be purchased in blocks.

• Main competitors
Microsoft excel, findmyshift.com and about 50 other companies with over complicated solutions..

• Technlogy Stack used
  • Hardware: Dedicated LAMP server
  • Software: CakePHP Framework, jQuery to make the interface sexy
• How Much Money is Used/Reqd.
I developed JustRosters using my time and the time of guys from my web development company. I guess if we working on client projects instead of JustRosters we could have made around AUD$30-40K.

• Main Barriers
Learning curve on iPhone O/S, Objective-C. Registration/approval and compliance with Apple's requirements. Increasingly crowded space. Downward pressure on prices.

• Advice For People
If your app is NOT aimed at the tech crowd directly, get it out the door as quickly as possible. The tech guys (especially in Australia) are really cool and because they are the first ones to see your app, their feedback and support is golden. Now if your app IS aimed at the tech crowd, make sure it is polished, or they will cut you down :-)

• Your Education/Professional Background
I had a small lawn mowing business at the age of 12 and things kind of went from there. I was sick of the education system by the end of high school and founded Digital Acceleration, now Marvel Internet Group Pty Ltd, shortly after it finished. Through MIG we have provided hosting, web development and online marketing for a heap of companies internationally. My focus has shifted to building in-house start-ups like JustRosters, while keeping a handful of MIG clients for that bread and butter money

• External Funding
No

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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iPhone App OZWeather - Tracking Weather Conditions in Austraila

Vishal Thursday, March 05, 2009 , , , , , 1 comments

Today we showcase story of an entrepreneur with successful ventures under his belt, Graham Dawson from Sydney , founder of OZWeather - an iPhone application for weather tracking and forecasting in Australia.

In a candid interview with us, he gave insights how he is managing and juggling. This is what he has to say in his interview with us:

• How long it took to launch
From idea to web app took about 2 weeks, although it used back end infrastructure that was already in place. From web app to native iPhone app in iTunes took a further 10 weeks or so.

• Stage of Venture
Product was launched on 1st Nov 2008, and has had several incremental updates since.

• Which Market Segment
Aimed at general public - Anyone with an interest in the weather.

• Customers
Aimed at general public, iPhone or iPod Touch owners. Anyone with an interest in the weather.

• Targeted Age Group
All ages.

• Users Using Service
Currently about 30,000, typically increasing at a rate of 1500 per week.

• Marketing Technique
Relies solely on listing in iTunes app store, and maintaining a high ranking for visibility to prospective customers.

• Measuring Success
Breakeven occurred less than 2 months after launch of native app. Apple supply daily stats of sales

• Monetizing/Revenue Model
Sells for AUD$2.49 per copy - of which Apple keeps 30%. Apple forwards payments on a monthly basis.

• Main competitors
Pocket Weather, BOM Radar, AUS Weather and others.

• Technlogy Stack used
Backend - Linux server (hosted account), PHP. App runs natively on iPhone.

• How Much Money is Used/Reqd.
Development costs: until launch of first version approx AUD$15,000. Subsequent revisions have required approx AUD$10,000.

• Main Barriers
Learning curve on iPhone O/S, Objective-C. Registration/approval and compliance with Apple's requirements. Increasingly crowded space. Downward pressure on prices.

• Advice For People
Carefully polish your app before initial release, as early bad reviews can kill an app

• Your Education/Professional Background
B.Sc. Physics & Meteorology, Ph.D. Dynamical Coastal Oceanography. Career in IT in oil & gas industry. Owner of small business developing Windows consumer desktop application.

• External Funding
No

Note: For Video demo click here and iTunes link can be found here

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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One Year Later....

Vishal Sunday, March 01, 2009 , , , 1 comments

Its more than a year, since this portal started following and discovering new ventures coming out of Australia across various domains. Its been an interesting journey learning about the stories of people behind these ventures and their success stories. To reflect upon what has been achieved in last 12 months I have compiled the list of top 5 reports and interviews published here.

Top 5 Reports

Top 5 Interviews
Note: This data is compiled from web statistics of this portal.

Ongoing coverage on Australian startups, innovation, business and tech trends, and interviews with experts in various domains can be found here

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