Welcome to Ignition Lane’s Weekly Wrap, where they cut through the noise to bring you their favourite insights from the technology and startup world. Ignition Lane works with ambitious business leaders to apply the Startup Mindset to their technology, product and commercialisation problems.
This wrap goes out free to subscribers every Saturday. Don’t forget you can catch Gavin Appel discussing the week on the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz every Monday at 2pm. If you miss it, you can catch up on the week’s shows here.
Here’s their review of the week.
Shipped: New releases from Australia’s tech giants
We know product/feature releases aren’t usually the most captivating topic, but 1. we can’t help but nerding out over a good tech stack; and 2. these updates can give good insight to a company’s strategy for further world domination.
First up, Atlassian launched Trello on steroids. Trello is the grandfather of digital Kanban boards. Since launching in 2011, it has grown to become one of the most popular project management tools in the game, with over 50 million users worldwide.
That said, the US$64 billion monster has a host of well-funded competition hot on Trello’s heals – Sequoia-backed Linear, Wrike which was recently acquired by Citrix, Teamwork, Asana, Airtable, Monday.com, the list goes on. With many of these tools offering Kanban views, it’s increasingly hard for Trello to stand out from the crowd. So it’s no surprise they are stepping up with this major release.
The most exciting new features take data visualisation and organisation to a whole new level and solve its customer’s productivity pain points. For instance:
- The team table view, which brings multiple boards into one for the first time.
- Cards now allow you to see previews of URL links (e.g. YouTube, Google Drive, Figma, JIRA) inside of Trello, where they can be organised and discussed.
Work tools have been unbundled and Trello wants to put itself at the centre of the ecosystem. To that end, it is also opening up an API to anyone who wants to build their apps into Trello cards.
Canva has also been busy. It was last valued at AU$6 billion after raising $60 million back in June, which was almost double its 2019 valuation. We suspect those numbers would pale in comparison to the valuation it would attract today.
This week it released a series of “link in bio” templates, similar to the function provided by Linktree – the Melbourne-based startup who led the link in bio movement, raising AU$15 million in October from some high calibre investors.
Canva also recently launched two big Australian partnerships to grow its ecosystem. Kmart Create is a collaboration with Kmart that allows customers to personalise just about anything from clothing and accessories to stationery and homewares (similar to Redbubble—which posted impressive H1 results this week—but DIY design).
Snap-Canva is a partnership with Australia’s largest print franchise network, Snap Print & Design. Canva first launched its own branded printing service, Canva Print, in 2017. The new partnership indicates print is an offering in high demand.
And if that’s not enough action, this week Canva schooled us on how to turn a major outage disaster into a PR opportunity (a notable improvement from its communications debacle relating to a 2019 data breach). This ‘Note for your boss’ sent customers gushing:
Finally, Gilmour Space, who is developing new hybrid launch vehicles to launch small satellites into low earth orbits, showed the world its latest product progress:
Did you know… A rocket needs to travel at ~8 km per second to achieve 'orbital velocity' (about 25 times the speed of sound).
To achieve it and get to orbit, you need a really powerful rocket engine (among other things)…
Here's ours:- https://t.co/kmqYZ2AZxw
— Gilmour Space (@GilmourSpace) February 17, 2021
Deals deals deals
Elevio’s Danish exit. Melbourne-based knowledge management startup Elevio has been acquired by Danish customer support platform, Dixa, in a deal reported to be worth US$15 million in cash and shares. By U.S. standards, Elevio is practically bootstrapped – only ever raising ~AU$1 million from Blackbird, AirTree and angels, following their participation in Startmate in 2015.
We loved this LinkedIn nugget from angel investor Alan Jones on 1. the core component that made Elevio awesome from the outset; 2. how the best angels get great deal flow, and; 3. how to do DD like an angel:
I remember … knowing I was 100% all-in on this one, so excited about the opportunity for Elevio. I stayed with them and the rest of their Startmate cohort at StartupHouse in SF for a few days, seeing how they worked so well together, making rapid progress on their MVP while pitching customers, scoping the SF startup scene and trying to catch a Warriors game. They were a classic Minimum Viable Founder Team in action and despite the distraction of the NBA playoffs it was one of the best angel investor experiences I’ve had (want to get to know a team? Book a bunk bed next to theirs in the same startup doss house for a week).
Amazon purchased Selz, a Sydney-based startup that makes tools that enable businesses to more easily launch their own ecommerce stores. The acquisition helps Amazon ramp up its arsenal against Shopify, which is an increasing threat. Prior to the acquisition Selz had raised AU$11 million from investors including Macdoch Ventures.
It’s not crazy to view this Amazon acquisition, however small, as an acknowledgment of the long-term threat Shopify could pose to Amazon.
Shopify has huge base of small and midsized merchants, the beginnings of an online marketplace in the Shop app, & young fulfillment network https://t.co/mD6bsf8MWf
— Jason Del Rey (@DelRey) February 16, 2021
Small win(?) for Bailador. Last year Bailador wrote down video-streaming company Viostream from AU$23 million to $0. But all is not lost. It has sold the company to Bloom Venture Partners for $1.1 million.
PE firm Potentia makes another move. After making the big bucks flipping payroll company Ascender to HR tech giant Ceridian (US$14B market cap) a few weeks ago, mid-market tech PE firm Potentia Capital has announced its latest investment in Commerce Vision, a Brisbane based 20-year-old eCommerce CRM platform.
Another U.S. startup investment by Telstra Ventures, who participated in a US$58 million round for U.S. security startup, vArmour. The application relationship management company has its sights on going public and is hunting for acquisition opportunities. On that note, applications for CyRise (cyber security accelerator program) cohort 5 close on 25th Feb. Get in quick!
AustCyber and Stone & Chalk are merging.
Other goings on in the land down under
SPACs are hunting down under. You can’t go onto US tech news without the acronym SPAC (Special Purpose Acquisition Company used to complete a backdoor listing) slamming you in the face. And this week Patrick Grove (a leading entrepreneur in the Asia Pacific region – iflix, Frontier Digital Ventures, iCar Asia) launched an Aussie-focused SPAC that reportedly raised US$300 million ($390 million) in its IPO and NYSE listing. Who’s it gunna be?!
Facebook bans everyone. Facebook blocked thousands of pages on Thursday, after deciding to go to war against the Aussie Government and select media organisations over the Draft Media Code (which is, admittedly, a shambles). In addition to blocking news sites—in a move that showcased its huge market power, rather than eliciting sympathy—it also blocked hospitals, health services, emergency, weather, charities and even its own Facebook corporate page. In its defence, Facebook argued that it had only shut down sites that would be classified as ‘news’ under the draft media code. Thought-provoking piece by Benedict Evans on paying for news. And another by Wired on why this is actually a great move. To be continued…
Eating away at the banks. Neobank Judo Bank raised $284 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. London-based low cost share broker Freetrade announced it will launch in Australia. NZ-based share trading platform Sharesies is also stepping up its Aussie launch, and is on the hunt for an Australian Country Manager.
New people, new money. Former AWS ANZ boss Paul Migliorini has joined Our Innovation Fund as its new venture partner, after it closed an AU$80 million raising. Skip Capital launched a new $100 million infrastructure fund. Ex-Vend CEO Alex Fala has become the CEO at Syft, a world leading provider of Selected Ion Flow Tube Mass Spectrometry solutions.
Impact venture funds database. Our friends at Giant Leap Fund launched a database of impact venture funds around the world.
The outback stack
The Innovate with nbn grants winners were announced. The winners showcase some awesome regional startups, including:
- The overall “Champion”: WUNA (HoldAccess) – A digital wallet designed to provide instant access to compliance and skills certificates, ID and for First Nations people, proof of (Aboriginality) heritage, which is required on government Indigenous procurement contracts – an essential for Reconciliation Action Plans, and improves Indigenous Land Use Agreements when negotiating employment and training opportunities.
- Black Box Co – predictive agriculture in the beef industry. Black Box forecasts production outcomes across the supply chain by using machine learning and a growing database of animal records to inform prediction algorithms.
- Cattlesales.com.au – a cattle marketplace.
- Sunshine Butterflies’ ‘Tech Connect’ program is helping people living with an intellectual and/or physical disability learn new technology-based skills.
- DME3 – a music streaming service for people who live with a disability.
Our divided thoughts on Clubhouse
We’ve been having a play around on the “hottest” new audio social networking app, Clubhouse, for a few weeks. We held our inaugural Clubhouse session ‘Inside Lane’ on Tuesday at 8.30am with Catch founder (and author extraordinaire), Gabby Leibovich and Summon founder, Tim O’Neill.
As a team, we are divided on Clubhouse, which now has over 8 million downloads. Here’s why:
- Something new! It’s refreshing to have a social networking tool that isn’t Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. It works well, is simple to use, there’s no endless doomscrolling involved and is great if you love a yarn.
- Networking. It can be an amazing networking and learning tool if you know who to follow and how to get involved in high-quality discussions.
- Candid conversations. Because Clubhouse conversations are intended to be live and not recorded, people talk more freely. We’ve overheard some juicy gossip from CEOs and VCs that would never be put into writing or divulged in a conference.
- Instant access to the world. You can listen in on conversations between Silicon Valley “elites” such as Mark Zuckerberg, or you can hear your favourite K-pop star sing you a lullaby. Equally, you can reach a global audience.
- Exclusive = exclusion. Clubhouse plays on FOMO to create hype by being invite-only (an increasing trend). Plus, it’s only available on iOS. There are already huge access issues in tech/VC and Clubhouse risks compounding that problem.
- Pro-ableism. It excludes people living with a disability: “If you’re Deaf or low vision, you’re out of luck joining this club”.
- Spare a thought for the introverts. Writing and speaking use different pathways in the brain, and introverts can struggle to put thoughts into spoken word, particularly in the stress of a live, public setting. Sure you can listen to conversations, but the real power of Clubhouse lies in holding the mic.
- Amplifies already powerful voices. Frequently, the people who speak are already legitimised as having an authoritative voice. Do they need another platform?
- Work-life blur. Quality conversations are often being held outside work hours. This also further excludes access, e.g. to parents who juggle families, work and home-life.
- Reinforcing dangerous opinions. As a live, unmoderated platform, it could (and has) become a breeding ground for misogyny and racism.
It’s still early days for the app, and we hope that some of these issues will start to be solved as it matures and more people join. It has the potential to be a useful platform.
If we’re going to get in on the Clubhouse bandwagon, then we recognise we have a role to play in helping more people from different industries/professions, regions, ages, ableisms, races and cultural backgrounds get in on the benefits of Clubhouse.
Here are our Clubhouse tips:
- VCs are talking to founders on Clubhouse. Startups are recruiting from here. So if you’re a startup/aspiring entrepreneur/aspiring startup employee, you may benefit from getting on Clubhouse.
- Need an invite/iPhone? If you are an avid Android user (like Bex), borrow an old iPhone. Put a shoutout on LinkedIn asking if anyone has an invite to spare. If you get really stuck, reach out and we’ll do our best to get an invite to you.
- Talk. Start your own room. Put your hand up in others’ rooms.
- Be strategic about what you want to get out of Clubhouse, who you follow and try and get in on private/smaller rooms, where some of the best action happens.
Join us at PauseFest 2021
We’re hosting a PauseFest panel session at 11.35 on Monday 1 March: ‘Putting the human into data’ with Nikki Brown (Partner, Ignition Lane) Kate Glazebrook (Founder, Applied), Mark Crispey (Chief Product and Data Officer, Carsales) and Tessa Herd-Court (Founder & CEO, IntelligenceBank). It’s going to be a goodie!
That’s a wrap! We hope you enjoyed it.
Tune into Clubhouse at 8.30am on Tuesday.
Bex, Gavin and the team at Ignition Lane