Written by Kristine Vergara for UTS Business Society. This article focuses on Australian start-up news.
NAB has provided a $20 million debt facility to Brighte, a fintech start-up that provides lending
to customers for home energy systems. Brighte is backed by Atlassian founder Mike
Cannon-Brookes through his investment company Grok Ventures. The debt deal by NAB
solidifies the growing interest of big banks supporting emerging fintech companies.
Interestingly, Brighte’s business model could also disrupt the retail energy market by shifting
customers to energy solutions involving solar panels and solar batteries rather than grid
SafetyCulture, a technology company focusing on health and safety through its iAuditor app, have recently closed a significant funding round of $60 million and is now valued at $440 million. The company has an impressive list of investors including Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar. The latest funding round will be used to further the company’s investments in research and development and the marketing of its product range.
Prospa is an Australian start-up that offers business loans between $5,000 to $250,000 to Australian small businesses through an online application process. The company employs a technology platform to determine the creditworthiness. Prospa’s main value proposition is to provide faster finance solutions for Australian small businesses, with funding approval possible within a day and funding available within 24 hours.
Prospa were due to list on the ASX on 6 June 2018, however the IPO was postponed by the company approximately 30 minutes prior to the planned listing. The day prior, Prospa received a request for information from ASIC requesting to review small business lending contract terms which is part of a broader review by ASIC of the lending industry.
Although Prospa confirms in its press release dated 8 June 2018 that the company was satisfied that the issues discussed with ASIC were not material to the IPO, no additional disclosure was required in the prospectus and that ASIC did not raise any further queries on the prospectus – the risk-averse approach taken by Prospa and its joint lead managers was one of surprise by the market. Two potential reasons for this approach could be that Prospa erred on the side of caution to ensure that a potential regulatory issue was not flagged on the same day of the float, and the prospectus did not confirm Prospa’s position on unfair contract terms within their small business lending contracts, which has been a topical area of the Royal Commission of late. It will remain to be seen whether the Prospa float will be put back on the agenda at a later point in time.
Launch Festival Sydney 4
Jason Calacanis, a high-profile Silicon Valley investor brought his popular Launch Festival to Australia in partnership with the NSW Government from 18 to 20 June 2018. Launch Festival Sydney was for early stage start-ups to seek investment from Jason Calacanis who was opening his chequebook to Australian start-ups.
The conclusion of the Launch Festival saw Jason Calacanis investing in seven start-ups with the outright winner being an Australian start-up called weploy, an on-demand staffing platform for temporary office support staff to help companies become more productive and efficient.
In a nutshell
The past few months have seen Australian start-ups such as Brighte and SafetyCulture secure funding for further investment, which contrasts with Prospa’s postponed attempt at listing on the ASX. Seeing high-profile investors such as Jason Calacanis seek out Australian early stage start-ups shows his belief in the strength of the Australian start-up scene.