The Melbourne Startups Making Their Moves – Only at MAP 2016 Demo Day

You’re invited to
MAP 2016 Demo Day
Thursday 27th October 2016, 6pm
Melbourne Town Hall  

What do some of the hottest sectors in innovation have in common? How are medtech, clean energy, extreme sports and big data linked? Answer: they’re all found at the Melbourne Accelerator Program!

On Thursday 27 October, mingle with the founders driving Melbourne’s entrepreneurial scene, as you witness pitches from Allume, Honee, Axon, Deliciou, Shacky, Black AI, Bajaboard, CNSDose, Onolytics and Simple. Marking the official conclusion of the 2016 MAP program, this is your unique opportunity to delve into the world of MAP and see what this extraordinary group of founders have been working on this year.


The MAP startups this year have exceeded our expectations. The founders have grown together as a cohort and we were blown away by the level of collaboration and camaraderie across the group.  Each of the founders have experienced a unique journey – either through applying their learnings to achieve product-market fit, exceeding their growth targets or accelerating product development and expanding their teams.” – Maxine Lee, MAP Accelerator Manager.

With investors, founders, corporates, and champions of Melbourne’s wider entrepreneurial community present, the MAP 2016 Demo Day is your chance to be connected with the best and brightest minds from across Australia. Meet and support the people making Melbourne a world-class startup hub.

Be a part of something big.

Register online today. General admission and limited investor tickets available.

MAP startup Black AI wins leadership award in Tech23 competition

MAP16 startup Black AI were this week awarded the Enterprise Mobility Leadership Award at Tech23’s startup competition in Sydney.

Black AI CEO and co-founder Keaton Okkonen pitches at Tech23.

Black AI have created Ani, an artificial intelligence system that can watch and understand human behaviour. Ani automates the direct observation of people movement and flow through environments, detecting interactions and notable events, reporting on them in real time. The technology focuses on context driven insights, which in essence, provides an efficient system to capture and simplify big data. Ani is already in preliminary market tests, with Black AI securing a partnership with the University of Sydney in a study for early detection of Alzheimers and Dementia.

“This is a hugely scalable program that can be plugged in to any living space to collect the data that you actually need. It shifts our relationship with data from being reactive to proactive”, said Black AI CEO and co-founder Keaton Okkonen, who opened up the 2016 Tech 23 program with his presentation on Smarter Data.

The Black AI team in Seattle at the Imagine Cup World Final 2016.

In July this year Black AI were amongst the 35 teams selected worldwide to compete at the Microsoft Imagine Cup World Finals. Competing in the Innovation category in Seattle, to compete on the world level. From tens of thousands of competitors around the globe, representing Australia as a finalist at the world cup demonstrates the impact of this young team and the potential of Ani to make a positive impact across industries such as healthcare, retail, urban planning and entertainment.

Celebrating Australian innovation, the Tech23 competition attracted over 400 delegates in 2016, its eighth year of operation. Black AI were amongst 23 high-growth potential and technically competitive startups selected to pitch their innovative solutions. Keaton will once again pitch Black AI’s Ani at the Melbourne Town Hall on October 27, as part of the upcoming Melbourne Demo Day featuring the 2016 cohort of MAP’s startup accelerator.

As part of his prize, Keaton will travel to Boston, Massachusetts to learn more about the startup scene on the US East Coast. He will also receive mentorship from Tech23 alumni BigtinCan – the sponsor of the award – and will attend a special Boston Product Management Association event. In addition to the leadership prize, Black AI were also awarded the MYOB award and will receive a personalised session with a MYOB Executive Leader.

Congratulations Keaton and the Black AI team!

Finding true north: how to define your growth compass.

screen-shot-2016-09-19-at-4-42-34-pmLessons on growth from Envato’s Ben Chan

It’s always a great learning opportunity when the founders in our startup accelerator gather together for their weekly workshop. When the guest presenter happens to be a General Manager from one of Australia’s most successful startups, the excitement and engagement step up another level. Ben Chan, General Manager of Envato Market, captivated our startup founders last week as he shared some key pointers on how to measure and pursue growth. Since its launch in Melbourne in 2006, Envato has grown its community to over 6 million users, making it the world’s leading market place for creative assets.

With a background in investment and management consulting, Ben has an incredible wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw. After completing his undergraduate studies in Commerce and Engineering at the University of Melbourne, Ben worked in Investment Banking in Melbourne, before moving to Goldman Sachs in New York. While based in the US, Ben completed his MBA at Stanford University. In 2010 Ben returned to Australia to work in management consulting for McKinsey & Company, later moving to Envato as Director of Growth and Revenue in 2013.

“Growth should serve as a compass for startups, helping to guide your movements at every critical decision”, Ben revealed. If you’re making decisions that do not clearly link back to your growth objectives, you’re missing out. Ben shared the four key pillars of Envato’s impressive growth with our founders, who were keen to learn from his wealth of experience. For Envato, growth comes down to: a strong user focus; delivering products that address those users’ needs; having the right team to deliver the product; and ensuring the right processes are in place to assist your team. This last step is critical for startups struggling to scale their business.

Envato’s stellar growth is fascinating to consider, given the challenges that typically face online marketplaces. While trying to grow both the supply side (their authors) and the demand side (their customers), Ben explained how crucial it was to understand what is important to each. He admitted that, at times, one side of a market place can be easier to develop than the other, but that in order to grow, you need to double your efforts to invest in the side that proves to be a greater challenge.

Through Envato’s careful market analysis they discovered that authors of digital assets wanted to earn a living through freelancing, but that they also were desperately seeking a sense of belonging and a community where they felt cared for. On the other side of the equation, buyers of digital assets wanted good value, trust, high quality and diversity of product. Ben and the team at Envato provide proof that both suppliers and customers in a marketplace can be satisfied simultaneously, and have continued to expand their marketplace tailored to the specific needs of each group.

Taking this advice on board, our founders were keen to learn more about how Envato have grown their customer base. Approaching digital marketing by channel, Ben was quick to stress the importance of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). “Search Engine Optimisation is critical. It doesn’t matter if you have the best product in the world, if Google and your customers can’t find you, that’s the end.” Paid acquisition can be used to bolster your audience, but, as Ben stressed, it is often costly and only generates small volumes. “Affiliate marketing is a huge industry and can be a great way to encourage a virtual sales team – but you need to make it worth their while” said Ben. Our founders had plenty of questions on this topic, discussing how best to select and engage with affiliates. Email marketing was also discussed as a key tool in pursuing growth. The founders were challenged to think beyond the use of email for existing customers, instead using it for new customer acquisition by collaborating with complimentary organisations, where benefits can be realised for both user-bases through joint marketing campaigns.

As the discussion turned to focus on the processes needed for growth, Ben shared the value in iterating fast and gathering customer feedback at every stage of the sales funnel. Laying down the challenge, Ben encouraged the startups to push out at least one market or customer ‘experiment’ per week in order to gain valuable feedback which can then be used to make data driven decisions. “While focus groups are useful, even the best focus groups can only give you a few voices. Some of those voices may be louder than others but not necessarily point in the right direction”, shared Ben. “Real data should always trump anecdotes”.

Ben concluded the workshop by covering the two key growth metrics that Envato consider the most valuable: conversion rate and value by cohort. While most people think of conversion rates from a ‘visit to action’ point of view, Ben suggested our startups break this down even further to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their sales funnel. Each step in the sales funnel from should be tracked, in order to minimise leakage. Looking not only at page visit to purchase, but also at customer lead to face-to-face interaction, or event view to event registration, can provide useful insights that can be used to improve your offering overall.

Value by cohort groups users and customers by common factors, including but not limited to the channel that brought them to you, the geography they’re from, the product they’re interested in, the campaign that won them over, and when they engaged with your business. This data can then be used to understand the revenue generated by a cohort, in comparison to their cost of acquisition. Particularly valuable for startups to identify where traction and revenue is being generated, and consequently, where marketing efforts should be focused.

Ben was incredibly generous with his advice and time, staying behind to talk to our founders after his workshop. We are very grateful to Ben for sharing his wisdom and advice, and we look forward to having him back at MAP again soon.

Morning tea with Ian Bernstein, co-founder of Sphero


Co-founder of Sphero, Ian Bernstein shared his startup experience with us in a special visit to LAB-14 on Thursday 25 August. The MAP team was incredibly excited by Ian’s visit, as he truly is a leader in the development of interactive toys and applied technology. Sphero’s star product is a robotic ball that can be controlled by smartphones, which as we learnt, played an integral role in the creation of the iconic Disney Character, BB-8.

Ian’s journey started when he and co-founder Adam Wilson were accepted into TechStars. Accelerating their growth through sheer determination, hard-work and a commitment to take advantage of every opportunity, by the end of the program, the boys had developed the basic prototype for Sphero. At this point, and after demonstrating significant success through sales of their robotic balls, Ian and his co-founder Adam were invited to the Disney Accelerator program. After a chance meeting with a Disney executive involved with the Star Wars Episode VII movie, in in the space of 4 hours, Ian and Adam developed a (very) rough prototype for BB-8, and the rest, as they say, is history.

The film was a huge success, BB-8 was a stand-out character, and Sphero’s BB-8 app-controlled droid went on to achieved ‘Toy of the Year’ status.

Here’s a sneak peek into the Q&A session we had with Ian.

MAP: There are many different accelerators around the world. How do you figure out which one to apply for?

IB: The easiest way to find out is to search for the companies that those Accelerators have funded, to give you a better idea of who they cater to. In the U.S, for instance, some of the commonly known Accelerators include Y Combinator, 500 Startups, and TechStars, which are mainly for early-stage startups. Other Accelerators such as HAX and Disney Accelerators are designed to help more established startups to scale up.

MAP: How do we go about choosing where to manufacturing our products?

IB: Most hardware companies (including Sphero) manufacture their products in China. Firstly, it is important to choose manufacturers that you can trust to reduce the likelihood of being copied by other surrounding manufacturers. Secondly, manufacturing in China requires founders to stay highly involved with the production line to ensure the quality of their products. I personally spend a substantial amount of time each year visiting our manufacturers to solve all kinds of technical issues.

MAP: What should we do if we want to expand our product line?

IB: BB-8 has been the most popular product by Sphero to date. This doesn’t mean we won’t continue to develop. How will Sphero expand our product lines to stay relevant in the market? We have products for users at different levels, so that when they have developed or progressed beyond one product, we can upgrade the speed for players or the challenge from intermediate to higher levels. This has proved effective to keep our users engaged and challenged so far.


MAP16 Launch Party

The impressive Plaza Ballroom at the Melbourne Regent Theatre was a fitting setting for the launch of the 2016 Melbourne Accelerator Program, where the ten startups that have been admitted for this year’s intake were formally announced. With a crowd of over 750 people at the launch, this year’s program is set to be the biggest and most successful yet, with MAP looking to build upon its ranking of 8th best University accelerator in the world.

MAP’s startup accelerator received over 120 applications this year – more than all of the applications combined from previous years. Applications were diverse in every sense, which MAP looks forward to continuing to improve upon and encourage. The program rewards successful applicants with office space, industry-leading mentorship, pitching opportunities across Australia and Silicon Valley, and A$20,000 funding – equity free. This year, ten startups were accepted, up from eight last year as a result of Australia Post’s support of two additional startups.

The evening kicked off with a sense of anticipation building in the ballroom. Seats filled, standing areas filled, stairways filled, Accelerator Manager Maxine Lee began proceedings with an overview of the program and this year’s application process. Rohan Workman, MAP Director, then took to the stage to outline MAP’s grand design for growing the entrepreneurship scene in Melbourne. Taking us on a brief history of MAP, the program has gone from Rohan working part-time in 2012 to today’s format where MAP fills a ballroom for its events. Rohan stressed that MAP is just part of a startup’s journey – a facilitator to provide the conditions for growth and success. Partnerships are a key component of this – MAP’s collaboration with Australia Post was represented by Greg Sutherland, who described his delight at working with the program and in helping broaden entrepreneurial talent and training in Melbourne and beyond into regional Australia. Before the Startups then pitched their ideas, Entrepreneur-in-Residence Jeremy Kraybill explained his involvement in MAP, particularly how the program has inspired him to volunteer more time and even move his business to Lab-14. It was suggested that at the current rate of growth, MAP may need to hire the MCG for the 2017 launch party….watch this space.


The main feature of the night was for the accepted startups to pitch their businesses to the diverse audience – given three minutes each. In a telling sign about the sense of community fostered in the program, each startup introduced the next, with high-energy performances and the crowd evidently engaged. The ten startups who shall complete the 2016 Melbourne Accelerator Program are:

  • Allume Energy – A renewable energy technology company focused on grid sharing and solar as a service for Australian communities.
  • Kind – Provides home care services to help seniors live a fulfilled life in their own home.
  • Onomap – Identifies unique insights from customer data.
  • Black – A collective of hackers looking to build a smarter world.
  • Bajaboard – An all terrain buggy at your feet.
  • Shacky – Tiny house getaways.
  • Honee – The discovery and booking platform for all wellness, beauty and fitness services in Melbourne.
  • Deliciou – Offers premium blends of healthy snacks and seasonings that are fun and easy to use.
  • Axon – Connections in health.
  • CNSDose – Genetically Guided Antidepressants: Fast-Track Finding the Right Antidepressant.

Congratulations must be extended to the successful startups, who join the program at the start of June. However there are so many more points of contact through which to get involved in MAP. Masterclass speeches, Velocity Series workshops, Founder Meet-Ups, Open-office hours and the grand Melbourne Entrepreneurship Gala in August make up just some of the activities that MAP offers to Melbourne’s entrepreneurs and interested parties alike.

13235506_1189826957704790_6877187366151880926_oWith formalities complete, drinks flowed and networking continued late into the evening – with the venue even having to announce that the event had concluded, such was the sustained energy in the room. The Launch represents just the start of what will be a massive year for MAP and entrepreneurship in Melbourne. Many events will be running throughout the year, so make sure that you keep an eye on MAP’s eventbrite and keep in touch.

Melb Uni

MAP Masterclass Recap – ‘How to Grow your Startup’ with Willix Halim

A packed house was treated to the latest MAP masterclass on Wednesday, focusing on the key concept for any startup business – growth. Willix Halim, VP Growth at, provided core insights into how to focus, learn and build for growth. At a company where 95 per cent comes under the ‘growth’ department, and with a Gold Bravo Award at Honeywell International for his work in growing revenue, Willix is highly qualified to inform the next generation of scalable startups in Australia.


Willix started with the first of his three central take-aways for the session – your team matters. He explained Freelancer’s divide into 15 product teams, ensuring that accountability is at the centre of any decision. Metrics from across each team are visible from wherever you are in the Freelancer organisation. Whether in London, Melbourne, Jakarta, Palo Alto, or any of the 10 Freelancer offices, you are able to track what other teams are doing. Transparency in Willix’s team is paramount. It allows for rewards and reprimands, ensuring that everybody is on the same track and meeting similar performance standards.

This led smoothly into Willix’s next central thesis, and perhaps the idea that he stressed the most throughout the lecture. He outlined the vital role of statistics and data in order to ‘track everything’. Whilst this certainly applies to the performance of the team, there were wider applications across the whole business that Willix explained could drive growth and provide focus for a company. Data ‘reduces every step to work’ and allows you to locate value in your business. Willix recommended tracking your competitors and copying what works for them, and going beyond tracking just revenue, traffic and users like most firms. Testing and data analysis are at the centre of everything that does, and can be used to inform every decision made in the business.

Willix then stressed how this needs to be done in a speedy manner, with conversion rate being the major priority. He claimed that ‘everyone’s ideas are the same – speed and prioritisation are the only difference’. He introduced a ‘growth sprint’ concept to his team based on delivering 3 targets per day, achieving 7 times more revenue just from slight tweaks to the ‘call-to-action’ page on their website. Marginal gains were stressed as influential. ‘Fast is always good’ and ‘conversion rate is everything’ were Willix’s major pain points and the areas upon which to give the most focus for growth.

Willix provided some absolutely central insights during his masterclass, and the full-house at Lab-14 were engaged throughout. With people, product and market at the forefront and a focus on conversion rate and speed through data analysis, Willix gave a clear message to the audience about how they too can achieve similar growth to

Watch Willix Halim’s Masterclass and other speeches again on our Youtube Channel.

Don’t miss out on MAP’s next speech in the Masterclass Series. Book now HERE.

The 10 Selected Teams for MAP16

The Melbourne Accelerator Program is proud to announce that we have selected 10 teams for the MAP16 Startup Accelerator!

After reviewing 124 applications, we shortlisted 36 teams at Pitch Night and 17 teams for final Selection Interviews. The process was gruelling and we saw many exceptional teams this year.

The 10 selected teams are:

  • Allume Energy – A renewable energy technology company focused on grid sharing and solar as a service for Australian communities.
  • Kind – Provides home care services to help seniors live a fulfilled life in their own home.
  • Onomap – Identifies unique insights from customer data.
  • Black – A collective of hackers looking to build a smarter world.
  • Bajaboard – An all terrain buggy at your feet.
  • Shacky – Tiny house getaways.
  • Honee – The discovery and booking platform for all wellness, beauty and fitness services in Melbourne.
  • Deliciou – Offers premium blends of healthy snacks and seasonings that are fun and easy to use.
  • Axon – Connections in health.
  • CNSDose – Genetically Guided Antidepressants: Fast-Track Finding the Right Antidepressant.

Each team will receive $20,000 in early stage funding to support the founders in accelerating their businesses. Startups will be given access to office space in LAB-14, at The University Of Melbourne. The 5 month program will involve structured mentoring from industry leaders, development workshops and will conclude with pitching opportunities in Melbourne, Sydney and Silicon Valley.

It’s an exciting time for MAP! The program will kick off on June 1 2016 when the teams will move into the Lab-14 space.

Grab the opportunity to meet our 10 teams at the MAP16 Launch Party on May 25! Tickets available here.

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