MAP teams secure $700,000 in Optus-Innov8 seed funding

121cast team

121cast team l-r: Long Zheng, Edward Hooper, Andrew Armstrong

The Melbourne School of Engineering is proud to announce that two student/alumni start-up teams supported by the Melbourne Accelerator Program have been chosen as the inaugural recipients of $700,000 in funding through the Optus-Innov8 seed funding program for start-ups.

121cast and Venuemob were recognised with the inaugural investment after competing in a pitch round in front of potential investors, pitting their projects against entries from across Australia.

The 121cast team, made up of Long Zheng, Andrew Armstrong and Edward Hooper, has developed SoundGecko, a mobile application that converts online articles into sound files, allowing users to listen to articles while on the go.

121cast has also been receiving international media attention, with The Huffington Post praising their application, SoundGecko, in its feature, 5 Tools You Need to Stay Productive at Workand the Tech Crunch article 121cast Raises $250K to Accelerate Development of Sound Gecko, a Personalised Audio Book for the Internet.

Venuemob, developed by Ying Wang, Devrim Van Dijk, James Giang and David Wei, is an app that helps users find the best venues for an event, taking into account their location, budget and preferred venue ambience.

During the course of the the Optus-Innov8 program, 121cast raised a total of $250,000 in investment, led by SingTel Innov8 and co-invested by Adventure Capital, while Venuemob raised a total of $450,000 also led by SingTel Innov8.

Austin R. Bryan, Vice-President of Digital Communities and Ecosystems, SingTel Group Digital L!fe said the program received a number of impressive entries that showcased remarkable ideas and concepts.

“This really validates our view that the startup community in Australia is bursting with talent and we are proud to offer them the opportunity to take their concepts to the next level.””

121cast co-founder Long Zheng said the team was very excited to have Singtel Innov8 as as their investment partner, and Optus as strategic partner.

“With their technology expertise and business network, we believe the support from SingTel Innov8 and Optus will strengthen our product and business development,” he said.

Venuemob co-founder David Wei said the funding would help Venuemob expand, so they can offer users venue choices in cities such as Sydney.

“The support from the Optus-Innov8 Seed Program certainly reflects the fast-growing nature of the Australian entrepreneurial ecosystem,”” he said.

The Venuemob team

Earlier this year, both Venuemob and 121cast were supported through the Melbourne School of Engineering’s Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP). MAP is an entrepreneurial program for students, recent graduates and staff. It assists start-up companies by providing mentorship opportunities, fellowship grants and workshops in the early stages of a start-up’s development.

Dean of The Melbourne School of Engineering, Professor Iven Mareels congratulated the Venuemob and 121cast teams on their outstanding success in the Optus-Innov8 Program.

“It is encouraging to see such strong industry recognition for the hard work and innovative ideas of our students and alumni,” Prof Mareels said.

“The latest news is a solid validation of The Melbourne Accelerator Program and its support and development of emerging entrepreneurs. The Melbourne School of Engineering is determined to continue to foster a strong culture of entrepreneurship among our students, staff and graduates by providing outstanding new entrepreneurs the opportunities they need to succeed.”

Professor Mareels said he wanted to acknowledge the alumni entrepreneurs who initially selected the MAP fellows nearly 6 months ago.

“Clearly their talent spotting credentials are impeccable! It is a real delight to see the entrepreneurial community come together around the Melbourne Accelerator Program.”

Read “Optus makes first startup investment” by Renai LeMay, Delimiter, Tues Nov 20, 2012.

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  2. This is an achievement we can proud of. This will inspire the current and future students to be more innovative and competative

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