How being a resident at The Studio contributed to success
Oovvuu is a rock star Australian company setting the example that you can create, build and run a global company from Australia. When The Studio opened in 2018, Oovvuu was the first startup through its doors. Since then, Oovvuu has attracted more than $10 million investment and grown their customers from 10 to 200, to include the world’s best publishers and broadcasters.
"At The Studio we found not just a home for Oovvuu but a brilliant community that has allowed us to scale globally and connect with the right industries to continue the pace of that growth" says Ricky Sutton, CEO of Oovvuu.
Oovvuu’s latest success is as a video technology partner to WordPress, making Oovvuu available to over 60 million WordPress sites.
Ricky’s advice for the any startup at The Studio, "connect with the community and keep your eye on the front door. You never know who you'll meet next!"
Thriving in times of uncertainty
Adaptation to thrive in a pandemic is key as the world reacts to extreme disruption. It is resilience in times like these that makes a company stronger. If surviving is a test of grit, thriving is a test of leadership. For The Studio’s resident company, Curious Thing, they had to rethink and adapt, starting with their sales process. David McKeague, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer, was at pains to express, "The initial WFH was a distinct shock to our business. We had to think through how our business development activities work in a world of Zoom calls." Their thinking paid off and growth now continues, with the US Air Force selecting Curious Thing for their AFWERX ‘Recruitment Reimagined’ programme.
Curious Thing enables automated phone interviews using voice-based AI to help recruiters make shortlisting decisions using behavioural analytics. At a time of shrinking job opportunities and rising unemployment, Curious Thing offers an important solution to help companies acquire the best matched talent. David says, "it’s a fairer process and enables the recruiter to draw from a huge pool of talent efficiently as we move into the knowledge economy." He explained, "every company needs a media tech strategy and being in The Studio creates the culture we want, the connections to grow, with the facilities to help us communicate what we do."
"Accessing capital and demystifying the world of venture capital"
There is a craft to securing investment. In life and business, understanding your needs and matching these with the right relationships will achieve goals. The same is true for investment.
Every company requires a form of investment to give it life and enable growth. First are founders, investing time, knowledge, skills and their own money. Tim Parsons, computer scientist and aerospace engineer with an impressive career in the startup world, is an investor (and Board Member of The Studio). He is also a highly-regarded pitch coach for The Studio’s quarterly "Pitch to Investors Nights", providing startups with an important investor’s perspective. "The ability to compile a five-minute pitch and convey the story is incredibly hard." His top tips include: investment takes time; don’t take money from someone when values don’t match; and align your exit with your investors.
COVID-19 is impacting the way we work, but Tim is excited by the possibilities: "I’m bullish about the demand. Smart investors see a crisis as a time of opportunity. Virtual events make geography irrelevant, you no longer need to be in the US. Startups can grow very, very fast in ways that bigger companies don’t. They are very attractive investments."
Smart Company reported in 2019 that Australia has over 50 startups valued above $100 million since being founded in 2011; and a Unicorn a year since then, generating over 10,000 jobs. Investing in founders and startups is vital for the economy.
Collectively, startups at The Studio raised more than $41 million over 18 months.
How disruption leads to jobs and business growth
Digital marketing has never been more complex with the current global pandemic; it’s a crowded marketplace. If the life-force of any company is revenue and sales, then it is the marketer who feeds this vitality.
"50% of all SMEs fail in the first two years and marketing is one of the top two reasons. AI powered technology providing timely market insights is the solution," explains David Fairfull, CEO and founder of Metigy. Founded in 2016, Metigy is a software-as-a-service platform using AI and machine learning to deliver real time marketing strategy, decision support, insights and recommendations.
Metigy grew 300% revenue in 2019, has a client base of 25,000 brands from 92 countries, and continues to grow rapidly generating jobs with a current headcount of 30. "Our platform fits very neatly with a recession mindset of cutting costs and helping businesses to focus on performance," says David.
"The Studio introduced us to the Optus Accelerator Program, resulting in a co-selling partnership to 435,000 SMEs," says David. "We have now applied the co-selling solution to partnerships in Singapore, UK and US. The Studio facilities, programs and networks were invaluable."
David’s top tips for managing growth:
1. Focus on priorities, don’t be afraid to make mistakes. "If nine out of ten things go wrong, focus on the one right thing and do it incredibly well."
2. Select team members carefully, choose those who are fully aligned. "Sometimes a fast-growing business outgrows some people. Don’t delay making changes, it’s good for them and good for the business."
3. Be selective with your capital partners. "Back yourself with your own decision once you have sought advice and trust your instincts."
"Global from Day One", expanding businesses into international markets
International markets offer Australian companies lucrative opportunities. Tech-based companies have no geographic barriers and can scale globally. Australia’s relatively small population creates market limitations but offers an important testing ground for innovative businesses.
Two such examples at The Studio making a global impact, are Playable and Quillette. Playable uses AI to deliver optimized HD video and live streams via email marketing. Quillette is an influential online magazine with over 2.5 million page views monthly.
"Playable has flourished in Australia with the help of The Studio's ecosystem and networks", says Anthony Mansour, Customer Success at Playable. "Having staff here and in the US - working with brands like Warner Bros, ASICS, FOX, Brightcove, Telstra, Comcast and Theory UK requires a solid base. The Studio provides this, delivers opportunities and understands the needs of a startup business."
Quillette, founded in 2015 by Claire Lehmann, is a platform for rigorous ideas and commentary outside the mainstream. Using a reader donation model, Quillette, has proved profitable and employs a team of nine staff and hundreds of writers globally. Lehmann describes Quillette as, "a hybrid between an academic journal and a magazine for a general audience". Fifty percent of readers are based in the US, followed by Canada (10%), UK (10%), Australia (4%) and the rest from Europe and around the world. Per capita Australia is the second highest however this demonstrates just how small relative to the global opportunity Australia is. "With staff dispersed around the world, being based at The Studio keeps me motivated. I use all the resources and it has been a massive boost for my mental health," says Lehmann.
From Startup to IPO
V Breathe, a portable indoor air detoxifier, and its creator, Mohit Sharma personify innovation and entrepreneurship. This start-up journey has been 3 years 5 years in the making and is still evolving, as Mohit continues to respond to a fast-changing environment and opportunities brought on by COVID-19.
In terms of its design, V-Breathe is a beautiful object with exceptional functionality, controlled via an app on your phone . But it is the “VActive Gel” that is the real star of the show and the secret sauce of V-Breathe. Independently tested by leading third-party Australian laboratories and universities, the Gel protects from harmful indoor pathogens and airborne toxins. This all-natural and food-safe gel contains a unique blend of Australian essential oils.
The gel in combination with the medical-grade HEPA filter means the V-Breathe device, through independent tests, captures up to 97% of fine particles up to 1.0 micron and 96% of PM 2.5 particles. As the world continues to find new ways to live with new viruses, the arrival of V-Breathe is timely.
V Breathe will IPO in 2021.