Create transformative innovation

Empowering for innovation

  • muru-D is a start-up accelerator backed by Telstra
  • muru-D’s goal is to help Australia become a centre of digital business
  • The program offers six months of mentoring, tailored acceleration services and investment for early-stage start-ups
  • The second intake of 11 groups is underway

Telstra-backed start-up accelerator muru-D is helping to equip Australia’s new generation of entrepreneurs with the skills to make their businesses a success on the world stage.

Launched in October 2013, the program is halfway through its second intake of start-ups.

The muru-D program offers entrepreneurs $40,000 and six months of business mentoring and development in exchange for six per cent equity.

Empowering for innovation

muru-D derives the first part of its name from the Aboriginal Gadigal language: “muru” means “pathway”, while the D stands for “digital”. The name implies the businesses are on the path to the emerging digital economy.

Well on their way

Of the first intake, all start-ups had paying customers at the end of the program and eight of the nine had secured capital funding for the next 12-18 months.

“The goal of the program is to make better entrepreneurs,” muru-D entrepreneur-in-residence Mick Liubinskas says. “We are looking for companies that are globally focused and innovative; the technology innovation needs to be new rather than a twist on an old idea.”

The startup scene has evolved – it is all about growth hacking, fast iteration cycles and lean canvas principles.

– Brent Clark, Wattblock Founder and chief executive

This year’s crop

The 11 start-ups in this year’s program range from a surfboard manufacturer using 3D printing technology to a digital marketplace for freight transporters.

A spotlight on start-ups participating in the current muru-D intake includes:

Tripalocal – an online platform that connects travellers with local hosts for authentic local experiences. Co-founder and chief technology officer Yiyi Wang saw the muru-D program as a “perfect opportunity” to kick-start the company with much-needed support.

“The most valuable resource for us is the mentor network muru-D has to offer,” she says. “The weekly structure is certainly great for team productivity and motivation – the wonderful co-working space is also extremely helpful to increase team collaboration and confidence.”

You Chews – an online catering platform that makes it easy to find great food for meetings and events. Founder and chief executive Liz Kaelin says the program has taught the team what is really important.

“Finding the right customers, providing them with value they are willing to pay for, and using technology to facilitate scaling the sale of delicious food powered by the coolest food brands in Sydney,” she says.

“They’ve challenged us to stop thinking like a ‘catering company’ and focus on strategies and techniques which will build a globally viable brand both online and offline.”

Wattblock – produces customised, web-based, energy-saving road maps for residential and commercial strata buildings. Founder and chief executive Brent Clark believes muru-D is across how the start-up scene is evolving.

“It is all about growth hacking, fast iteration cycles and lean-business principles,” he says. “These are the skills that we now effectively deploy on a daily basis to give us an edge on the journey to success.”

Peep Digital – an English technology platform that helps children and adults struggling with English pronunciation and comprehension. Chief operating officer Nicholas Jenkins says the connections and networking the muru-D program provided have facilitated the company’s progress.

CrowdSourceHire – a pre-hire recruitment marketplace that crowd sources industry experts to assist with assessment of job applicants. Co-founder and chief executive Desmond Hang was inspired to apply for the program because of the calibre of its staff.

“The mentors and program guys have really helped us to iterate our product, develop our market strategy and how we should position it,” Hang says. “It helps to have external mentors who are not as close to the product itself but are still highly engaged and interested to help us out.”

FanFuel – a sponsorship marketplace where brands search, measure and secure their sponsorship deal. Founder and chief executive Dan Paronetto was initially unsure about taking up the program.

“We decided to join the program after participating in muru-D’s boot camp for the 20 companies that applied,” he says. “That weekend showed us how much we had learnt during the six months.”

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