With the ongoing uncertainty caused by COVID-19, 2020 is shaping up to be one of the worst years on record economically, and Australian startups are particularly feeling the pinch as many investors withdraw funding. However, a silver lining, perhaps, is that the pandemic poses an opportunity for startups to challenge bigger businesses and to grow, adapt and pivot. The versatility, agility and vision of startups are going to work in their favour at this time – if they have the right leadership.
For the last decade, startups have contributed to the Australian GDP almost as much as the entire Creative and Entertainment industry. According to PWC’s The Startup Economy, by 2033, startups will generate around 540,000 jobs. Although most of these jobs focus on information media and technology, there are many opportunities for other industries too.
It’s important for startup founders to have their global growth strategy in mind from day one in Australia; as the country is geographically isolated from the rest of the world, it therefore has a limited population to sell to. Startups such as Canva and Prospa have, and continue to, pave the road for other Australian startups to expand into the wider market. Startups now have an increasing connection with the global market which is exciting to see.
Here are our top five Australian startups to follow in 2020 and beyond.
Founded by Nick Molnar and Anthony Eisen in 2015, AfterPay might be one of the most famous companies in this list. No wonder, as it has been seen in most large retail shops across Australia.
Afterpay is a financial technology that went public in 2016 and developed its mobile app back in 2017. From there, it increasingly becomes a bull market.
The startup company offers its customer a buy-now-pay-later service to its customer for free and with no interest. The most appealing aspect about AfterPay is their four fortnightly payments, offering a payment plan alternative to one-time purchase fees.
According to the latest report back in 2019, Afterpay total revenue reached $251.6 million (AUD). Although the global business experienced a fall in its stocks at the beginning of the pandemic, the finance company bounced back with a soaring 66% increase in their stock prices.
There are two possible reasons why AfterPay is thriving this year. The first one is the increasing need for money loans from customers during the economic crisis. Second is the increase of eCommerce businesses and more opportunities for AfterPay to provide a simple and secure method of payment online.
Founded by Mathieu Cornillon, Ben Nowlan & Bastien Vetault in 2014, Sherpa is one of the most promising Australian startups to follow this year. Although Sherpa is not as famous as the aforementioned Afterpay, it is older and equally stable.
Sherpa is a mobile and web-based delivery service that mainly operates in Sydney and Melbourne. However, the company is currently preparing to expand itself to the Asian market. Similar to other delivery startups like Deliveroo and Uber, Sherpa provides on-demand services using crowdsourcing methods. However, what makes them different is that they extend their delivery services beyond culinary and mobility. Sherpa accepts almost every parcel and is able to deliver them within an hour. It could be called the Uber-version of Australia Post.
Sherpa’s business model has been developed in several Asian countries like Indonesia’s Gojek services. While it has been successful in those countries, Sherpa hasn’t gained similar fame to those others delivery companies – yet.
Sherpa is currently providing a no contact delivery, and so stands out as one of the most needed services during the pandemic. With the increasing need from both small business and individuals, 2020 might be the year for Sherpa to gain more exposure and revenue.
Legal services are extremely traditional, following archaic rituals at times, and many practices from decades ago are still relevant today. However, a former barrister, Laura Keily, is proving that it doesn’t need to be that way, founding Immediation back in 2017 to revolutionise legal services.
Being an online-based business, Immediation provides fast and affordable legal services that can be easily accessed by small businesses. The company works mainly by providing an online platform for dispute resolution so their client can avoid stepping in a courtroom, which could be expensive and time-consuming. Immediation promises result within 30 days, which is relatively fast compared to the average 18 month court hearing.
Consisting of lawyers with different ranges of expertise, Immediation has simplified one of the most intangible but essential aspects of society: justice and law. Thus, it is just a matter of time before this company, brining a fresh idea of law to the 21st century, becomes a well-known company. That time may well be this year, with coronavirus adding to the need for legal support, for example with increased M&A activity, commercial rent disputes and employee rights disputes (in the case of returning from JobKeeper).
The only eCommerce startup in this list, Tecmask is a company that sells disposable masks as more than just a mere health necessity. Launched in 2015, Tecmask aims to make face masks a fashion accessory. The company was formed by father and daughter duo Maddy and David Scarf way before COVID-19 hit.
During the pandemic, the demand for mask and hygiene product has skyrocketed. Tecmask is one of the many companies that has benefitted from the pandemic in terms of sales activity; as of January they have been an experiencing 8000% increase in revenue.
With the uncertainty of the pandemic, it is evident that Tecmask is going to be more relevant this year. The epidemic has definitely change Australian’s way of life, including people’s perceptions of hygiene and health. Later on, after the pandemic is over, this company will likely be a part of our lifestyle.
5. Giraffe Technology
Founded by four young Australians with different backgrounds, Giraffe Technology helps those who work in the housing and design industry. They offer a user-friendly platform that transforms a 2D design into a 3D version. Think Canva – for urban designers.
The pandemic has proven that more jobs than previously thought can be done online. That includes urban planning and architecture. However, with the Giraffe’s collaborative feature and the spatial visualisation feature, it is possible to even do architectural design remotely and relatively easy.
The main reason the company will thrive this year, however, lies in the need for rapid property development. So far, the pandemic has been emphasising the most significant issues that Australia has been experiencing, which includes the housing issue. Now, the government and urban planner are trying to develop more sustainable housing and infrastructure, and this technology that can quicken this process.