Uniting Australian startups with local enterprises may address the early stage funding problem
When we launched Bugwolf we decided to take a slightly different approach. We spent, and continue to spend, a lot of time with some of Australia's largest companies, developing our value proposition, building a product, and reaching product market fit. We were also able to generate revenue early which kept our doors open.
Generating revenue from customers not only helped us validate what we were doing was solving a problem worth solving, but also meant we didn't need to race off and raise funding from investors before we had properly developed our business model. This not only benefits our valuation but also means the investor gets into a more proven business model, and everyone sleeps better.
There were opportunities along the way where we could have sold our product for a discount to get a new client but instead we chose not to. This was largely because we wanted to validate our value proposition and discounting products and services is not the best way to do so. Having the revenue to comfortably make these types of decisions was an important factor.
Fast forward to the recent Launch of Level 3 which is an Uber space in the heart of Melbourne. Great vibe and crowd. Literally everywhere I turned there were potential customers for Bugwolf. Even though I had to leave early to relieve the babysitter, in a very short short period of time I met three new prospects. Only this morning, once I had given more thought to the true potential of the venue, did I have the light bulb moment.
And I think Level 3 can be more than hackathons or enterprise meetups.
Level 3 has a great opportunity to match startups with enterprise customers. This would not only assist startups generate revenue and prove their business model, but it also means enterprise get access to the innovation to grow and expand their business.
As an example, startups could pitch their products to vetted enterprise buyers, real customers, but in a less formal approach. A bit like a flash mob where selected and curated startups randomly pitch their business and conduct Q&A with the audience throughout the evening. Enterprises are not given any view of the startups that are pitching prior to the event, but Level 3 vetts the customers and startups to ensure the perfect match.
By helping startups generate real revenue rather than spending most of their time pitching to investors, this may not only address the early stage funding problem in Australia, but also keep more startups in the country which can't be a bad thing for anyone including Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
We did the hard yards in the early days knocking on doors of the enterprise. It was fun and we learnt a heap about our customers. Luckily I had years of experience selling tech solutions to the enterprise, but there's a large proportion of startups which have no relationships or experience in this space. Enterprises are certainly not averse to using and leveraging startups, in fact Bugwolf has been fortunate to find customers in two of Australia’s largest companies, NAB and Australia Post.
It’s evident Level 3 are surrounded by the customer relationships, as demonstrated at their launch last Wednesday. They also have a kick ass tech and product team upstairs, some of the best engineers in Melbourne with years of startup experience working for some of Australia's biggest success stories.
This makes Level 3 the ideal venue to bring enterprises closer to startups and possible start reversing the flow of startups leaving the country to stay alive. But we need the support of venues such as Level 3 and every Australian enterprise to make this a reality.