Company Profile Archives - Tank Stream Labs

Why You Should Get to Know EQUITISE

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With the announcement of Australia’s 2015 Federal Budget, Crowdfunding has been THE topic on everyones lips. Can it work in Australia? How does it work? And how do I get involved? Luckly at Tank Stream Labs we are fortunate enough to have a new member at the forefront of this “fintech” disruption. We took a moment to get to know Chris Gilbert and his passion, Equitise – helping startups raise capital.

Chris, what is your Industry background? And why Equitise?

I have a professional background in investment banking and management consulting. I have always been determined to improve the accessibility of capital in New Zealand and Australia for startups, small and medium sized businesses and it inspired me to found Equitise.

What is Equitise? Why should startups and entrepreneurs be using it?

We enable Aussie and Kiwi startups to raise capital in an intuitive, simple and social way.

Bringing investors and entrepreneurs together, the Equitise crowdfunding platform simplifies the investment marketplace. It removes traditional barriers to investing and sourcing capital by making the process quick, easy and safe.

In doing so, we help businesses to grow and thrive.

How it works:

1. Entrepreneurs profile their plans and set a funding target

2. Investors commit money to their preferred opportunities

3. If funding targets are reached, shareholder agreements are signed (if not, money is refunded)

Equitise will be the first Australian platform to complete a crowdfunding campaign using retail and sophisticated investors (via New Zealand operation).

How are you managing to sway current crowdfunding legislative constraints and any advice for those looking to enter an industry where they may need to seek legislative change?

We’re working very closely with Australian legislation in order to facilitate the equity crowdfunding model in Australia. We are expecting the regulations to change by the spring session of parliament and envisage that we will be up and running before the end of 2015 in Australia. Bruce Billson has been a huge supporter for equity crowdfunding.

We recently hosted a conference in the ASX function centre where Bruce Billson attended as a key note speaker (among other prominent figures in the financial industry). The focus of this event was to discuss alternative finance (or ‘Fintech’) and also shed some light on the advances of equity crowdfunding in Australia.

My advice for those interested in influencing a change in legislation is to meet with government officials, network and build key relationships that can support your cause.

Why do you think Australia is so behind when it comes to crowdsourced funding?

The Australian market is closely following the New Zealand market in changing its local laws to enable equity crowdfunding. New Zealand is now the most liberal equity crowdfunding market in the world with regard to the restrictions typically imposed on investors and issuers. Fortunately, the Australian government is currently implementing a very similar approach to mimic what was rolled out in New Zealand and despite it taking longer than anticipated, I think the government is doing a good job in assessing the key components of Australian law that require change to enable private companies to more easily access this form of funding.

The restrictions include:

  • A limit on the number of shareholders in a private company before having to change its structure to public (50 shareholders)
  • Limitations on promoting private investments to protect unsophisticated investors
  • Restrictions on the number of retail (or ‘mum and dad’ investors) allowed to invest in a private offer (20 over a 12 month period)

What makes you different to other crowdsourced funding platforms?

We are the first Trans-Tasman equity crowdfunding platform. We will be able to provide investments opportunities for Kiwis and Aussies, and they will be able to invest vice versa. Equitise also plans on launching into the Asian market soon to enable both Australian and New Zealand companies a better opportunity to network and raise capital from a much wider pool of potential angel investors.

What should we expect from Equitise in the next 12 months?

Interesting investment opportunities. We are launching our Australian platform and bringing Rabble to Australia but, there is a whole lot more! Unfortunately, we can’t give away all our secret sauce, you’ll just have to wait and see.

For more on Equitise visit their website http://equitise.co.nz and register your details.

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TSL WELCOMES APPIER TO THE FOLD

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This month we sat down with Head of Operations in AUS & NZ, Roger James from Taipei based Cross-Screen Digital Marketing company, Appier.

WHERE WERE YOU BEFORE APPIER?

Prior to Appier I spent 7 years at Google where I worked closely with Australia’s largest Retailers and Media Agencies, developing and enhancing their long term digital marketing strategies. I have a deep understanding of the digital landscape and the importance of targeted advertising.

WHAT IS APPIER AND WHY SHOULD WE BE USING IT?

Appier was founded on the opportunity for cross-device, user targeted advertising created by our technology. Our founder Chih-Han Yu, has a Ph.D from Harvard specialising in:

  • Multi-Agent Systems
  • Robotics
  • Bio-Inspired Algorithms
  • Cooperative Control
  • Graph Dynamics
  • Self-Organizing Principles & Machine Learning.

He helped develop the technology behind the self driving Google Cars!

With his guidance, Appier has developed revolutionary technology that allows advertisers to re-target visitors to their site, as well as target new potential customers, across all devices they own based on user behaviour combined with Big Data and AI.

“We deliver the right ad to the right consumer, at the right time on the right screen.”

-Roger James, Appier

What do you think is stopping businesses from capitalising on Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology?

During the last decade, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a promising new technology for structuring, guiding and improving information processing and decision making.

The scale of information growth – driven by the pace of information change, has reached a point where humans simply cannot process it without the aid of intelligent computers. Small businesses need to understand this change and understand that eventually, such technology will revolutionise industries.

What makes you different to other media buying platforms?

Appier’s unique use of Big Data and Artificial Intelligence connects advertisers to users instead of just simply targeting devices. Our technology allows the advertiser to reach all potential consumers, not just those identified by unique data identifies. Ad creatives and messaging can be personalised depending on the time of day, the device used and the user’s position along the shopping journey.

What should we expect or look forward to from Appier in the next 12 months?

We are always developing new tools and advertising solutions to improve both the personalisation of advertising, the overall performance of campaigns and reporting capabilities. Cross Screen Analytics is our latest development and there are many additional projects currently under way.

Is Appier experiencing any growing pains?

As with any new brand/product that enters a market, generating awareness is always a challenge. We plan on expanding our AU & NZ team over the next few months so keep your eyes peeled for further information on upcoming positions.

Lastly, are there any special offers you would like to extend to TSL members?

A FREE consultation and overview of our technological capabilities for anyone interested in targeted digital advertising. A 5% (one off) discount on your first campaign. Offer valid for TSL members and referrals only.

Introducing iFlyflat

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Did you choose your credit card based on it’s benefits but find, like many people, you never utilise the rewards? Do you enjoy flying first or business class? Tank Streams Labs’ newest member iflyflat, explains how reward points and flying shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. We sat down with Steve Hui the creator iflyflat to discuss how he is not only disrupting the reward points market but is making any number of the 331 credit cards available in Australia work harder for you. Confused? Intrigued? We’ll let Steve Hui explain more.

What is iflyflat and what do people need to know about the business?

iflyflat provides Tailored Points Maximisation Strategies and Flight Booking Services.

We specialise in helping businesses and professionals to maximise their credit card reward points earned from every-day expenses, to ease the costs and discomfort of travel.

We can help businesses save up to 90% on airfares and enable them to grow their international relationships without the burden of travel costs.

What are 3 MUST know tips to make your credit card/ flyer points work harder for you?

  1. Every dollar of spending can earn reward points. SMEs have the greatest opportunity to harness their points to fly for free and don’t realise it.
  2. Earning MORE points is just half the plan, as different airlines can charge different points to fly from point A to point B. The key is to be earning the RIGHT points to use them effectively.
  3. Utilise points for flying and don’t redeem them for gift vouchers or goods. The most value comes from using points to fly international business class.

What is the most common misconception about point based systems and reward programs?

The common thinking is that there are no reward point seats when you want, and it is not worthwhile to pay some of the merchant surcharges to earn the points. But most have not calculated the full benefits of using points to fly, which includes the true flight savings and the ability to travel at the last minute.

What inhibits people the most about points based programs and how do you make it easier?

Most people do not realise the true value & freedom of using points to fly, and hence do not bother to accumulate the points.

They are not aware of the range of value offered by the 331 different credit reward cards in the Australian market, so may be stuck thinking they already have the best one.

How we help is to provide a strategy that aligns the travel needs with the best rewards, so that every dollar spent is earning the maximum reward points to fund their next trip. As an outcome, we have helped businesses to fly business and first class more times than ever and at the same time, save them from $6,000 to over $60,000 in retail travel spend.

What is iflyflat’s biggest challenge at the moment and the ambition for this business year?

Our biggest challenge right now is to spread the news of our unique service. Currently no one seeks us out, as this service has never previously existed. Secondly, to speed up prospective customers to take action and start earning their share of points today to get the rewards tomorrow. We have received great and ongoing media coverage to assist with spreading the word.

Our ambition this year is to help 2,000 people realise the hidden power of their points and help them to fly up the front of the plane. We have already earned and redeemed over 55 million points for flights and are engaging some high profile (business & social) members, so we are on the growth path.

Why Tank Stream Labs?

The primary reason for TSL is the handy and central city location, followed by the successful and ambitious start-ups already residents at TSL. I want to capture their energy for ongoing growth.

It was a close call initially, as the cost of a year at TSL was equal to two first class flights for me (using my points techniques), but in the end I considered as my business would grow faster in the TSL environment, that I could have both co-working and first class flights… and it has already paid off.

For more information on iflyflat or if you would like to subscribe to the service, please visit www.iFlyflat.com.au

Sydney startup Verbate takes up residence in Tank Stream Labs in 2015

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vbgYou may remember Matt Barnett from Vimily one of our founding startups at Tank Stream Labs in 2012. He joins us once again with a new name, a new direction and a focus on market fit & industry development. Taking on his learnings from Vimily, Matt is keen to share how Verbate makes real video accessible to research and PR professionals. Proving, pivoting could just be the best thing that’s ever happened to the business. Here is Matt to tell us more.

What is Verbate?

Verbate is simply the most effective way to gather great user generated video from anyone, anywhere in the world, for research, and PR use. Sent by SMS, consumers are Invited to complete tasks, or answer questions via video. We’ve seen mums & kids give feedback on fashion, lots of home product testing and even had people take us mystery shopping – all on camera.

Not only is this great, “real” video that can be shared online, we extract all the spoken word and soon facial expression, giving awesome data-rich, qualitative insights at a scale and cost previously not achievable.

What led to pivoting from Vimily? 

Market fit & industry development. We were starting to realise the power of video feedback as a research tool at events in 2013, then someone invented the selfie stick. Suddenly people were comfortable filming themselves on camera like never before. We ran a few successful remote video campaigns with big clients and they kept asking for more.

How did you navigate the change in business direction?

As we were running early projects to test the pivot, one founder exited the business moving back to Europe. To be honest this put things into perspective, a little. We made the tough decision to pull back everything, downsize, run lean and focus on development for 6 months to head back out with a revised offering. We relaunched with a very basic system and got heavily involved (manually) in early client campaigns to figure out what needed (not wanted) to be built. 6 months & a lot of testing later, we’re now systemising each valued element of the process to enable us to scale.

And what made you choose to come back to TSL?

We work with bigger agencies and brands and currently our sales cycles are 6 months +, so at the end of 2014 when these came to fruition we knew we’d be coming back in.

TSL for us is great for location, and great for the relationships we have with many of the startups in there. There is also something to be said for the mindset “shift” that comes from working in the CBD. When your customers are large brands and agencies, as ours are, it is definitely a plus for internal culture.

Braintree’s global success, a growth secret or blind faith?

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No stranger to growth and the pressures of entering a new market, Braintree appears to show no signs of buckling in its endeavour to reach and conquer new borders. So what’s the secret? Luck? A solid conviction? Tyson Hackwood, Head of APAC for Braintree would like to suggest both. Braintree is a global payment platform that powers payments for thousands of online and mobile innovators including well-known brands like AirBnB, LivingSocial and Uber.

Braintree was founded in Chicago in 2007 and acquired by PayPal in 2013, the same year it took up residence in Australia at Tank Stream Labs. Tyson Hackwood has recently relocated to Singapore to lead the new drive into Asia, but managed to spare a moment to list the groundwork needed to expand and where Braintree is heading next.

THE GROUNDWORK

Check for regulatory differences

It sounds like a heavy place to start, but Tyson explains Braintree was fortunate that online payment regulation is a global requirement.

Make sure it is relevant

Braintree supports people that use Visa, MasterCard, Amex, PayPal all of which are used in Australia.

Are you willing to fight?

“The big thing is, when you’re going to branch out into a new country, you need to have the conviction,” says Tyson Hackwood.

Ask yourself, if there are competitors, can you afford to compete with them? If there are regulatory requirements, can you afford to adapt your business model to meet them, or can you afford to fight them or leverage them? Be aware that it becomes very expensive, very quickly to get scale.

Just because it is good in one market does not guarantee it will be good in another

Don’t forget that Australia is a completely different market to the US. It sounds obvious, but Tyson points out that California is twice the size of Australia when it comes to population and GDP. In the US, multi-millionaires can own three tyre shops! You can have a delivery service for a single suburb that generates great revenue in the US – something that is not feasible in Australia.

Be honest with yourself about your available resources and the market size, make sure your business is relevant and again, make sure you have the conviction to see this through.

Expect the unexpected.

A slight twist to Murphy’s Law but you get the idea.

New – So what?

Just because it’s new, it’s not new somewhere else.

Australian business has been taunted with technology for years from big overseas companies. Tyson believes the promise of all this capability, available internationally but not yet in Australia, has led Australian business to adopt a big “so what?” attitude.

What to take from this? Don’t rely on “new” to get your foot in the door if you want to expand in Australia or anywhere else for that matter.

Availability

Braintree is fortunate that its clients are happy with online support and human interaction. As Tyson explains, “our support is 24/7, so if anyone contacts the helpline, there’s always someone available online even though they’re sitting in Chicago.”

Being available around the clock is crucial, it instills a sense of security for early adopters of your business in a new market.

Wheres the saving?

For Braintree it’s about getting its product and service into the top 5 or top 10 priorities of its customer’s business.

Tyson believes you’ve probably got something to work with when you can answer the following questions:

  • How does it really change their life?
  • What is the pain? And how does your product/service relieve it?
  • What is the real monetary saving?

Whats next for Braintree? Global domination?

Braintree aims to start making waves in New Zealand and Asia, with its sights firmly fixed on Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong. Acknowledging the massive link between Australian business and Asia, Braintree sees itself playing a pivotal role in Australia’s trade journey.

Crediting clients like Uber, AirBnB, Hailo with shaping their expansion to Australia, Braintree hopes the companies it now supports in Singapore will help propel its growth in Asia.

“Like the Aston Club who want to expand globally, we want to help them. So you’ll just see us light up regions and countries that are relevant to what people want to use, that are highly card based and highly mobile,” vows Tyson Hackwood.

Braintree will also focus on region-specific innovation in respect to making alternative payments a priority. Braintree has already integrated with Apple Pay and made announcements with Bitcoin. The recent release of “one touch payments” for Braintree’s 70 million consumers is definitely indicative of Braintree’s mission to make it easier and easier for people to trade across borders and platforms.

Talking shop with Expert360.com in a white-collar marketplace

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TSL-Expert360articleTank Stream Labs sat down with Co-founder Bridget Loudon, to chat about using freelancers, raising capital and building a sustainable sales model.Not to be confused with Freelancer.com or Airtasker.com, Expert360.com is redefining the way in which small to medium businesses hire desirable local talent.

“The way in which companies need talent is really changing,” says Bridget Loudon, co-founder of Expert360.com.

“Working at Bain & Company, my co-founder Emily Yue and I saw companies running projects in need of people for only a short period of time with nowhere really to go.”

Companies of all sizes are learning that if they do things in a lean, project driven way, they can become more successful. Traditional recruiters on the other hand, still lack the resources and incentives to support small to medium businesses seeking skilled individuals for a single project.

Loudon explains, “I was starting to see this growing pool of talent in Australia, some of the best in their respective fields. Who want more flexible hours to choose the projects they want to do and who want to work with smaller businesses. They don’t want to be locked down by big corporate. We thought, can we create an O-Desk-Elance for local highly skilled professionals?

The answer is clearly yes! With Expert360.com set to make $1 million dollars in revenue this year alone.

How did Expert360.com find quality white-collar talent?

“In the beginning, we recruited people using LikedIn. 1 in every 3 people immediately signed up to this concept. It was just a webpage! We then began to see great people apply unprompted and that is still how it happens today” confesses Loudon.

Expert360.com assures the quality of each candidate they represent through a rigorous process of vetting. The company now caters to numerous enterprise clients, small to medium businesses with about 10-150 employees and focuses on 4 key project types: Strategy, Marketing, Finance and Operations.

“And if you hire through Expert360.com, our technology platform lets you manage contracts, payments, milestones to make sure your project is delivered on time,” assures Loudon.

How is Expert360.com so successful at raising capital?

“A lot of coffees! Em and I pretty much took ourselves 100% out of the business for 3 weeks. We got our messaging really cohesive and we had good traction…It takes nothing to go out and ask for money, but we pushed the business as far as we could on our own capital and investors value that,” affirms Louden.

As a result of their success, Expert360.com is frequently asked to help start-ups seeking capital. Expert360.com’s advice to any new start-up looking to raise capital? Follow these 3 simple tips.

Tip 1: Pick 3 things you would like to show investors & spend all your resources proving those.

Tip 2: Write a clear one pager or pdf.

  • Who is in your team?
  • Who are your customers?
  • What is your traction?
  • What will you use the funds on?
  • Where are you going to get to with that money?

Start talking to people early and get some feedback because you might need to do a few more things before you can actually raise capital.

Tip 3: Try and raise capital as quickly as possible. If you are seen to be raising capital for too long, people know and it makes your business questionable.

What is the key to building a successful sales model?

It is common knowledge that anyone can make some sales, no matter what they do.

“There’s always going to be someone that’s going to buy a flashing light yoyo but, it’s about who can get in there and consistently grow 30% month on month as a start-up. And that’s what you should be aiming for,” advises Loudon.

According to Expert360.com, the secret to building a successful sales model is a narrow focus and managing capital really wisely. Expert360.com is not shy to admit it ran the business “on a credit card for 6 months” prior to seed funding!

“Everyone has a big vision but you have to be very narrow in your executional focus if you want to succeed.” – Expert360.com