31 Mar 2017
For Bluedot co-founder Emil Davityan, the eureka moment which changed the direction of the business he put together with fellow entrepreneur Filip Eldic business was about precision.
The Adelaide-founded location-services group didn’t realise what it had at the time - but through work with a SME growth accelerator program has now expanded into a multi-national (with a presence in both Melbourne and San Francisco) success story, including securing $US5.5 million in Series A funding earlier in 2018.
"It's really critical to both have that support and credibility [which comes from working with large organisations].” - Emil Davityan
“What we were originally going to do is to build a mobile tolling application - so an app that sits on your phone that handles your toll payments as you drive through it,” he told bluenotes.
“Then… we realised as we were developing the product, the most challenging thing was ‘how do you detect where the phone is in the fast-moving car?’.”
“That’s when we started to focus on location technology and we realised that we had developed something that was unique and could [add] a lot of value across multiple industries.”
Part of that funding included $US4 million from ASX-listed infrastructure giant Transurban, a group which has released an app - LinktGo - powered by Bluedot technology.
The tech – “20 times the accuracy” of its closest rival, according to Davityan – can allow businesses to pinpoint customer locations with unrivalled precision – in some cases just a few metres, compared with the traditional hundred.
Davityan is aware of the power a good partnership can have, particular between a startup and larger business with experience and knowledge across multiple sectors.
“As a startup you really tend to focus on a particular type of product or a particular problem that the customer has in an industry,” he said. “There are always traditional companies, often very large corporates and other businesses that have been in the market for decades.”
“It's really critical to both have that support and credibility but also to work with [those companies] to understand what their pain points are what they actually need - so you're not developing technology in a vacuum.”
ANZ’s GM Small Business Banking, Australia Guy Mendelson is well aware of the impact large businesses can have by supporting startups.
ANZ has spent “a lot of time” working with the University of South Australia on programs aimed at helping SMEs take the next step, he told bluenotes .
“Starting up is complex,” he said. “But once you get it going that growth phase can be really daunting. Making sure [SMEs} have a series of people around them that can support them [is important].”
From little things
In 2013 Bluedot was accepted into and participated in an early ANZ accelerator program for startups. Today that program continues in partnership with the University of South Australia as the ANZ Business Growth Program.
“Early on when we were just a really small scrappy startup of a couple of people,” Davityan told bluenotes.
“So early on that really put us on the right track, where we started to focus on the right aspects of the product and how we were able to expand in the Australian market and ultimately internationally.”
The connection with a large bank like ANZ provided Bluedot with credibility in the market, Davityan said, allowing the founders to meet the right people - opening windows into funding and other support.
For Mendelson, seeing the success of Bluedot is “what we’re all about”.
“You often meet these customers when they have a little glimmer in their eyes and an idea,” he said.
“To hear that they take that idea into something that becomes a reality [is satisfying]”.
From inception many startups have “more ambition than data points”, according to Davityan. The right kind of partnerships can help offer perspective.
“The thing about startups is that you're trying to do something incredibly difficult where you're creating a technology or a product that just doesn't exist,” he said. “You're trying to introduce it into an existing market that's incredibly complex and large.”
“It's about understanding your customer in the market as rapidly as possible and of course iterating, adjusting and improving as quickly as possible. It's an incredibly competitive.”
For Mendelson, the future for Bluedot – and the rest of Australia’s startup space - is rich.
“It's a big challenge being involved in this space because it's changing at a furious pace,” he said. “And if you want to participate in this part of the economy you have to be on top of all that change.”
Shane White is senior production editor at bluenotes
The views and opinions expressed in this communication are those of the author and may not necessarily state or reflect those of ANZ.
31 Mar 2017
23 Jan 2018