To put it bluntly, the amount of angel investment available in this country is actually larger than one what people imagine. Perhaps, this is because the actual amount of angel investments being made in the country is quite underwhelming. Then again, this is an advantage for overseas players keeping a close eye on the Australian market for opportunities.
An organisation that is capitalising on this opportunity is Malaysia-based angel investment firm QEERAD. The firm provides funding to startups, while also assisting them with their marketing strategies via training and workshops. The firm also works with government agencies that are engaging in similar marketing activities and providing grants to founders. Essentially, the firm is a hybrid of investment and training.
At the moment, QEERAD is trying to find at least one startup team based in Australia to begin to expand its portfolio. The way it has chosen to go about doing this is via a new “accelerator” programme it will be running in Sydney called Launch Q. The programme will run for six weeks and consists of three workshops. The focus is also on companies that make a social impact, that improve the value of the world.
The first workshop is all around ‘Idea Validation’; it looks at how clear participating startups are about their customers, the problems they face and how their idea solves those problems or working out whether there is a product-market fit.
The second covers the topic of ‘Rapid Prototyping’, which looks at the key product features that are needed to develop a minimum viable product, which will then allow startups to attract early users and collect market feedback.
The third workshop focuses on ‘Branding, Bootstrapped Marketing and Cashflow’; this is all around developing the startup’s story, looking at marketing channels that will work for them, and the amount of money that is needed to keep the company going for 12 to 18 months.
All startups will have access to onsite trainers and mentors, as well as access to a virtual mentor network via Skype that consists of individuals from Australia and Asia that have built and sold technology businesses, are investors and have an understanding of both markets.
When it comes to funding, some of the startups that have received angel investment by QEERAD include Poptani, an urban farming technology play; TapauTV, an independent online television station; and GiveReceipt, a a fintech SaaS startup that makes managing receipts easier. All startups that QEERAD support receive at least AUD$100,000 in funding from the firm. It operates purely in the seed space, investing between $100,000 and $500,000 per company.
The firm is also quite new to the game, launching only in September 2014. It declined to answer questions from Startup Daily pertaining to how large the size of its fund was.
Sydney will be the first market for the Launch Q programme; the program has not even been run in the Malaysian market as of yet. The reasons behind deciding to trial the programme outside of Malaysia tie back to one of the advisors at QEERAD, Peter Gould who is Australian and based out of Sydney Australia. Already having someone on the ground meant that getting the programme up and running was a much easier process.
As of today, there are already 10 startups that have been shortlisted to take part in the programme. At the conclusion of the programme, participating startups will pitch to investors and the QEERAD team. One or multiple startups have the potential to receive investment based on their performance.
Considering QEERAD prides itself on investing in ‘people’, no doubt the company will also be assessing what the founders and teams are like to work with throughout the six-week period.
While there is nothing wrong with what QEERAD is doing in regards to this Launch Q program, I think it is stretching the truth a little by calling itself an ‘accelerator programme’. Sure, it’s a training programme, but it most definitely is not the same as Startmate, AngelCube or muru-D that run actual accelerator programmes. It is a marketing tactic being used by a firm that teaches marketing to help enhance its investment deal flow – it is a clever way to do it.
I don’t know why QEERAD just don’t call the programme what it is. After all, anything that can help Australian startups break into the Asian market and directs more angel investment into our ecosystem is a good thing.