Launch Pad Startup Case Study – AltaVR

A Township Tale is the first virtual reality game to create a complex world that is social and where fantasy seems to remind us of our most human quality – empathy. 

Developed by AltaVR, this is a multiplayer virtual reality game that is based on real life in a rural town in a different era. A Township Tale is a fantasy world where the player takes on a role as a fantasy character that lives and acts as the player chooses. The player becomes immersed in a fantasy world where they are able to respond and act as they choose to.

The team started A Township Tale on its own, to later join Muru-D, the Telstra accelerator, before joining Startup SydWest in 2018.

The Problem

There are many interactive games on the market but very few multi-player VR games where players from all over the world can interact. The types of games that use virtual reality include small-scale games such as ping pong. Nothing more complex has been developed, until now.

The Solution

A Township Tale is different because of the immersive experience it provides. You forget about everything; you could even run into a wall before being stopped. With A Township Tale the experience is very physical, leading to a very different kind of play. You could literally pick up something and throw it to another person to catch. 

A Township Tale is a new category in itself. A virtual reality game, a bit like dungeons and dragons where everyone has a role. One that is quite dynamic and evolves as you go. The developer explains that it clearly is a fantasy role that he likes to think is similar to The Lord of the Rings where there are monsters and magic, but there is also the mundane. Clearly, there must be farming in that world as well. So, in this world, you can knit a bag and sell it, you can throw something at someone and they can catch it. You can also decide to be a thief and organise a gang. However, the virtual reality element of this game where you stare face to face at your opponent before the take down has seen players compassion rise, and thus collaboration at a large scale is much more common than destructive behaviour.

A Township Tale during pre-alpha has a few different servers to choose from based in Australia, US and Europe. There are no fixed objectives in A Township Tale. You might wish to become the best blacksmith the town has seen. You might wish to get the strongest weapons and equipment. Or maybe you want to dive into the dangerous depths of the mines.

Although this game was developed for the sake of fun, it has evolved into a deeply empathetic experience. One that could teach players how to socialize in a future world that is predicted to be abundant in technology and lack in empathy.

Idea Validation

A Township Tale went open to play at start of last year. It has since evolved into a community of over 17,500 people. The strategy to attract players for the beta version is for users to join the chat and from their they can download the launcher.

The Business

The original team of three has been working on A Township Tale for two years and a half and now has a team of six full time employees and three part time employees. Township Tale has since attracted the attention of half a dozen investors. 

A Township Tale currently has two approaches to generating income. Firstly, by supporting, which is a monthly fee with various perks (such as discounts, currency income, etc.). Secondly, by purchasing currency in the store to spend on weapons and tools.

A Township Tale is not marketing at the moment but developing the game for the longer term. Being virtual reality it is intrinsically exclusive. However, there are about 400 people playing per day, enough to allow the development team to detect and fix bugs. The team wants to build a dedicated audience  the audience to want to play a game that they have been waiting to play for a while.

The Future

Joining the Startup SydWest accelerator program at Launch Pad in 2018 has enabled the startup to continue the incredibly hard work of developing the game and ironing out any bugs. LaunchPad has provided free space and a community of startups from whom they can receive feedback on their own ideas.

Township Tale recently won a Chinese gaming competition as the most promising Virtual Reality Game, and in December 2016 it was at PAX in Melbourne, where Australia’s biggest games are showcased. It was one of the most popular games. People queued for hours to play a short demo and gave overwhelmingly positive feedback. 

Although there is a small audience now and there are not many investors in Virtual Reality, it is only a matter of time until the world knows of this unique Virtual Reality game.

All of this makes A Township Tale a category of its own.

For more information contact Joel or see townshiptale.com

This post was originally published on Regional Development Australia Sydney.

Launch Pad Startup Case Study – bVitra

bVitra (formerly Chi Wellness Products) is the innovative brainchild of Lila Bate, a passionate person who resolved to develop an organic approach for common well-being issues. Lila is an inspiring, driven individual who wants to make a positive contribution to health and well-being, particularly for children.

The problem

Lila recognized the problem through personal experience and the experiences of people in her network. Many commercial soak remedies and restorants contain non-organic ingredients that can have negative side-effects.

The Solution

Lila was determined to create a product that was fully organic and effective in energizing the body and relieving a number of bodily symptoms including pain and other discomforts. The product is based on natural minerals and essential oils.

Launch Pad

There are only two hardtech startups in the LP accelerator program, with bVitra being one of these. Lila has been able to utilize the services of Launch Pad to develop a business plan, optimize use of social media and for coding. She has access to expert mentorship and technical advice, helping her to drive the business to a stage where it can become viable.

Where the business is at

bVitra has an amazing and modern website with online sales of 3 main products, with a number of variants depending on the reason for use of the product:

  • Bath balls

  • Body soaks

  • Foot soaks

The business is using a local manufacturer to produce the products currently on sale. It is seeking official accreditation from Australian Certified Organic plus the National Institute of Complementary Medicine. These certifications will enable expansion of market reach and give potential users confidence in the products.

bVitra is a great example of a small startup with an idea generated from negative experiences with products already on the market and the desire to create products that are guaranteed organic, ethically-sourced and effective. Launch Pad has, as the name implies, provided a launching pad to take the business idea to the next level.

For further information, contact Lila Bate or see https://chiwellnessproducts.com.au

This post was originally published on Regional Development Australia Sydney.

 

Launch Pad Startup Case Study – gymsym

gymsym is the brainchild of Nenad and Dane Dobre. RDA Sydney first met the brothers at the Liverpool Hackathon in 2018 when the brothers created an app to guide non-English speaking people around the Liverpool Hospital. They went on to win that competition.

The problem

Working out solo at his local gym, Dane recalls how frustrating it was to monitor his body alignment. This is important in maximizing workout effectiveness and preventing injury. He tried numerous wearable devices but none of them monitored symmetry, imbalances or progress.

In addition, he noted the difficulty that gym managers had in monitoring use of their equipment. The cost of purchasing new equipment that can be monitored remotely through connecting to the internet is prohibitive.

The Solution

There are solutions for businesses (gym managers) and for individuals. For businesses, gymsym allows new or old equipment to become connected to the Internet of Things. gymsym solutions can be directly embedded into new equipment or retrofitted into existing equipment. The devices will capture detailed workout data of every exercise, set and rep. Every piece of equipment can be monitored so that gyms know what is being used, who is using it and how.

Individuals can simply download and setup the app, then tap on at any gymsym enabled equipment. Once a person has finished their workout they will receive a detailed report.

In short, gymsym is of benefit to individuals working out and also to gym managers.

Idea Validation

gymsym have validated the concept, assisted in part by a Minimum Viable Product grant from Jobs for NSW and attracted interest from a number of gyms in Australia and overseas. They are currently in discussions with Western Sydney University to trial the device in their gyms.

The Challenges

gymsym spoke openly about some of the challenges they are facing. Key among these are the difficulty in accessing high cost of software development in Australia. They have tried a number of different ways to access software engineering expertise but the cost has been prohibitive, particularly for this team of two who have left their regular jobs to pursue this entrepreneurial project.

This challenge is further complicated by developers in overseas markets who do have access to software engineering expertise at much cheaper or subsidized rates.

Launch Pad 

gymsym have been based at Launch Pad Werrington since 2018, part of the inaugural cohort entering the Startup SydWest accelerator program. This is a 12-month program that gives them access to working space, mentoring, business advice and targeted training sessions.

Startups are immersed in an expansive innovation network providing easy connections to mentors, potential customers and co-founders, investors, industry experts and collaborators for research and development.

The extended period of 12 months for the accelerator program, as compared to normal 3 or 6 month programs, provides a much deeper experience, allowing adequate time for technical development and international market connectivity.

The Future

Dane and Nenad are convinced from the feedback they have received from gym managers and users that there is a market for their product. They are working harder than ever to deliver their product and hope to be able to break into international markets such as the U.S.

For more information about gymsym contact Nenad or see http://www.gymsym.com.au

​This post was originally published on Regional Development Australia Sydney.

Launch Pad Startup Case Study – Metaflo

A student at Western Sydney University, Lana found that the pressure of studies was overwhelming and exceedingly stressful. She decided to take some time off from her studies to deal with those issues and recalibrate. It was during this time that she began to think of ways for students to deal with the high levels of stress that they may experience during their studies.

Lana established a startup called Metaflo to develop an app-based service that can assist students through stressful periods.

The problem

Metaflo is solving the tremendous amount of stress felt by university students during their studies to help students on the journey of achieving new heights that goes beyond the university classrooms.

The Solution

The solution is an app-based service with three key components:

  • Stress management tools.

  • Personalised learning of skills including emotional, social and soft skills.

  • Connecting students to existing mental health services if needed such as counselling on campus, Headspace…etc.

The Business

There are currently four people working on the app and service development. As stated by Lana, the product is in a constant cycle of trial, learning and repeat. Once complete, Metaflo has the potential to be used not just by students but by people in a wide variety of situations including the work environment.

Students at Western Sydney University have been used in the testing of the product and it is hoped that a broader trial might be possible in the near future.

Commercialisation of Metaflo can be through several pathways including take-up by universities and corporates.

Launch Pad

Metaflo joined the Startup SydWest accelerator program in October 2018 and has almost reached the demo day planned for July 2019. According to Lana, Launch Pad has been of tremendous support through mentoring and making connections to related people and organisations in the mental health and education sphere.

For further information contact Hello@metaflo.co

​This post was originally published on Regional Development Australia Sydney.

Launch Pad – Where Western Sydney Entrepreneurs Can Take-Off

The high concentration of startup hubs in the Sydney CBD and surrounds compared to the dearth of such entrepreneurial infrastructure in the rest of Sydney is often a cause for discussion amongst those interested in the ecosystem. Particularly given the huge number of small (and large) businesses in areas such as Western Sydney, the rapid growth of commercial centres such as Parramatta and the presence of numerous university campuses and research centres outside the Sydney CBD.

Breaking the trend, Western Sydney University has pioneered an incubator for startups and SMEs with principal sites at Parramatta and Penrith, as well as a satellite at Oran Park. Launch Pad, established in 2015, is now renowned as a key centre for startups and SMEs in Western Sydney.

Having visited the Parramatta and Penrith Launch Pad facilities on multiple occasions over the past few years, RDA Sydney has been witness to the growing popularity and vibrancy of the incubator. The success of an incubator can be evidenced by how busy it is and the “buzz” and, using this criteria, Launch Pad Is certainly making a difference.

With primary locations at the Western Sydney University campus in Penrith and the Parramatta CBD, Launch Pad has a team of business experts and mentors on hand, meaning that entrepreneurs have ready access to advice and expertise to grow their business.

The Western Sydney Context

For the purposes of this article, Western Sydney is defined as the area from Parramatta in the east to the Blue Mountains in the west, and from Wollondilly in the south to The Hills and Hawkesbury in the north.

Some key statistics for the region include:

Population as at the 2016 Census was 1.96 million compared to the rest of Sydney at 2.5 million.

  • According to the 2016 Census, over 827,000 people from Western Sydney were in employment. Of these, 255,000 or 31% travel outside the region for work. This is the jobs deficit for Western Sydney and has many implications in terms of travel time, infrastructure demands, demand for services and so on.

  • Western Sydney has a limited number of business incubators, coworking and other spaces that support business growth from the startup stage through to the SME stage. Apart from Launch Pad, these spaces include:

    • Business incubators – South West Sydney Business Enterprise Centre; BREED Business Centre; Foundational Business Centre.

    • Coworking spaces – Creative Fringe; WOTSO; Oran Park Smart Work Hub; Space & Co.; Grounded Space; The Workary.

  • The February 2019 ABS Count of Australian Businesses showed that there are 521,179 small and medium businesses across Sydney. 172,947 of these are in Western Sydney and 348,232 in the rest of Sydney.

What the statistics reveal is that Western Sydney is a huge economy in its own right. With a population of 2 million that is growing rapidly compared to the rest of Sydney, and a booming small business market, Western Sydney is Australia’s 3rd largest economy (NAB 2019; note, this includes Canterbury-Bankstown).

And yet the data also shows that startup and SME incubators in Western Sydney are very few and far between. While there are clear reasons why the concentration in the Sydney CBD is critical to the dynamism of the sector, it is perhaps surprising that more coworking centres and incubators have not developed in Western Sydney (and other areas).

It is in this context that Western Sydney University took the critical step to establish Launch Pad.  It started as a one-stop shop for business and innovation support programs, providing facilities, assistance and resources for start-up and existing high growth technology-based businesses in Western Sydney.

Startup SydWest Accelerator Program

Building on this platform, in 2018 Launch Pad commenced a tailored accelerator program known as Startup SydWest. Startup SydWest is the only dedicated accelerator program in Western Sydney. It is a competitive program with an annual cohort, funded initially under the Australian Government’s Incubator Support Initiative in 2018. 

Thirty startups are in the initial cohort of the accelerator program. These startups entered under a rigorous application process. The program supports advanced technology start-ups working in high-growth industry sectors or using technologies where there is potential to drive international market opportunities, particularly within the Asia Pacific region.

The technology areas of focus include:

  • Virtual and augmented reality

  • Data science and analytics

  • Data visualization

  • Collaborative robotics

  • AI and machine learning

  • Additive manufacturing

The 12-month program commenced with a bootcamp, an in-depth introduction to the program and opportunity for program leaders to gain more understanding of where the participants were at. This was followed by a sequenced program of workshops, mentoring sessions and other activities that have built a solid platform for the startups.

A key strength of Startup SydWest is its corporate partners who, apart from mentoring, imparting market understanding and facilitating connections, can also provide access to discounted services. These corporate partners include Landcom, NAB, KPMG and Madison Marcus.

Targets for Startup SydWest in the first accelerator program include:

  • 20 startups launch a product by demo day (to be held in July 2019)

  • 5 startups have an international focus

Expressions of interest for the next program commencing in September 2019 are now open at launchpadlive.com.au/startup-sydwest

For further information, contact Rebecca Pham, Accelerator Manager, Launch Pad Startup SydWest or Mark Wigley at RDA Sydney.

This post was originally published on Regional Development Australia Sydney. 

Earth AI plays a key role in helping to build a community of AI driven businesses.

Launch Pad Startup, Earth AI is a “next generation” minerals exploration company that leverages a fusion of innovative geology techniques and advanced data science to fundamentally transform the process of minerals exploration to be more efficiently and sustainable.

Earth AI will secure the metals and minerals for the 21st Century, particularly focusing on the rare earth metals that will drive new technologies in high growth products such as new generation batteries. Using real-time satellite data and bringing together deep tech areas such as AI, big data, machine learning, remote sending, geophysical geomechanics data, Earth AI is lowering the cost of exploration, increasing the speed of discovery and minimising environmental impact.

Earth AI is a key tenant in the Parramatta Launch Pad centre and is playing a key role in helping to build a community of AI driven businesses. Earth is accessing a range of supports from Launch Pad including:

  • workspace for its team of 10 people
  • testing sites for its drilling rig at the Werrington campus
  • advisory support around business strategy & capital raising
  • data science R&D through connectivity with WSU CRM (planned)

Western Sydney to grow Advanced tech Start-us with new University Accelerator Program

On 14 September, two inspiring start-up founders, Faith Foster and Roman Teslyuk, shared their exceptional entrepreneurship journey at the official launch event of Western Sydney University’s StartUp SydWest accelerator program.

Faith Foster, whose online transformation collaboration business was run through a Microsoft Incubator in the UK, noted the imperative of creating solutions that benefit customers. “In an early-stage company, if you are not meeting a customer need you don’t have a business,” she said.

Roman Teslyuk founded his artificial intelligence company while working in minerals prospecting in 2016. He reflected on the critical importance of a strong team. “Building a highly competent team who are passionate about creating solutions drove technology to new heights and also delighted customers and targets,” he said.

Don Wright, Head of the Launch Pad program at the University, noted the opportunity the accelerator program will pla in transforming western Sydney towards a digital future.

“Thanks to the $500k in funding from the Government’s Incubator Support Initiative, we expect western Sydney to grow by at least 30-40 new start-ups. These new knowledge-job leaders will build technologies, such as machine learning, virtual reality, data analytics and Blockchain, which will be key in delivering the region’s major projects, including health precincts, the new airport and Aerotropolis,” Don Wright said.

As an outcome focused accelerator, Startup SydWest facilitates start-ups to identify pathways to markets that drive international market opportunities, with a particular focus on the Asia Pacific region by leveraging Western Sydney University’s international collaboration networks.

Don Wright also noted, “A year-long accelerator program is a departure from traditional programs, which are typically three or six months in duration. Our focus is that each start-up has sufficient time to enrich technical development and connect to international markets with comprehensive technical and commercial support provided by the StartUp SydWest program. This deeper level of support will maximise the chances of success and create strong networks across the innovation ecosystem in western Sydney.”

Thirty start-up founders have won admission into the program, which begins with an all-day boot camp on 2 October 2018. The Accelerator will then continue over the next 12 months with focused sessions covering content curated around analysis of the technology and commercialisation gaps identified through the application, selection and interview process.

In future issues, WSBA will showcase entrepreneurs from StartUp SydWest as they pioneer new technologies and business models.

For more information, contact Don Wright Head of Western Sydney University Launch Pad at don.wright@westernsydney.edu.au.

Western Sydney attracts advanced-tech Start-ups for year-long accelerator program

The official launch event of the Western Sydney University “StartUp SydWest” Accelerator program on 14 September heard from two inspiring Start-Up Founders about their entrepreneurship Journey at the University’s Launch Pad Business Incubator Centre in Parramatta.

Faith Foster, who ran an online transformation collaboration business through a Microsoft Incubator whilst in the UK and Roman Teslyuk, a current Launch Pad member who is a Geologist and founder of “Earth AI”, an artificial intelligence company working in minerals prospecting.

Both speakers noted the imperative of creating solutions that will benefit customers.  As Forster put it – “in an early stage company, if you are not meeting a customer need you don’t have a business”. Roman Teslyuk founded earth AI in 2016 and has since won 60 trial customers identifying seven greenfield prospects with Copper, Zinc, Lead, and Vanadium mineralization. Teslyuk reflected on the critical importance of his team saying, “ building a highly competent team who are passionate about creating solutions drove technology to new heights and also delighted their customers and targets”.

Don Wright, Head of the Launch Pad program at the University noted the opportunity the accelerator program in helping to transform industry in Western Sydney towards a digital future. “This accelerator program has been supported with $500k in funding from the Australian Government’s Incubator Support Initiative, this injection will enable Western Sydney to grow at least 30-40 new start-ups that will lead the way in developing technologies such as machine learning, virtual reality, data analytics and Blockchain” which will be key in delivering new major projects such as the regions range of health precincts and the new airport and Aerotropolis”, Wright said.

As an outcome focused accelerator, Startup SydWest will help Start-ups Identify pathways to markets to drive international market opportunities – with a particular focus on the Asia Pacific region (leveraging Western Sydney University’s  international collaboration networks).

Don Wright commented at the launch event, “a year-long accelerator program is a change from traditional programs that are typically 3 or 6 months in duration, however our focus is that each Start-up will have sufficient time to enrich technical development and connect with international markets with comprehensive technical and commercial support provided by the StartUp SydWest program”. This deeper level of support will maximise the chances of success and create strong networks across the innovation ecosystem in western Sydney.

30 Start-up founders have won admission into theprogram which begins with an all-day boot camp to kick off the program on 2 October 2018.  The Accelerator will then continue over the next 12 months with focussed sessions covering content curated based on analysis of the technology and commercialisation gaps identified through the application, selection and interview process.  In future issues, WSBA aims to showcase entrepreneurs from StartUp SydWest as they pioneer new technologies and business models.

For more information contact Don Wright Head of Western Sydney university Launch Pad at don.wright@westernsydney.edu.au