10 Start-ups worth watching in 2023
It’s been a quieter year for funding in 2022, but that hasn’t stopped young Aussie businesses. This year we saw a huge amount of talent in the start-up sector.
Between massive raises, the fight to save the planet and ventures into interesting spaces like death tech and cultured meat — Australian start-ups are firmly putting themselves on the map.
Here are some that we’ll be keeping a close eye on in 2023.
Insurance tech start-up Butter came onto the scene in late 2022 with its subscription insurance tech platform. Butter is trying to make the sector less boring and more accessible to young Australians.
Butter allows users to get cover for individual tech items, like a new phone or computer, and can even do so at the counter with partnered retailers.
In December it received $1.3 million in pre-seed funding, led by Flying Fox VC, Quokka Ventures and FB10X adVentures, to help with the rollout. We look forward to seeing how it does over the year.
Moving into the gaming space we have Lauren Clinnick and Christina Chen’s Lumi Interactive. Earlier this year the company scored $9.71 million in seed funding for the studio.
Lumi is currently working on Kinder World — a free mobile game at mindfulness at the centre. Players look after virtual house plants in real time, but without the pressure of them ever dying. There’s also a focus on sending other players positive messages and the game also recently introduced a breathing exercise.
There is also a freemium element to the game via its eShop where players can purchase new pots, animal companions and more.
At the recent Australian Game Developer Awards, Lumi won an award for Excellence in Serious Games for Kinder World.
Lumi has a strong background in marketing, so social media has been the driving force behind the game. You’ll often see Kinder World videos pop up on TikTok and it will be interesting to see the impact this has on driving more players in 2023.
Disclosure: The author was a host of the Australian Game Developer Awards.
Back in September, we held The Pitch, SmartCompany‘s very first early-stage start-up pitch event. Our winner of the night was Zipr, a Sydney fashion start-up looking to disrupt the second-hand retail market.
Zipr combines video and e-commerce to allow brands and regular folk to sell clothing to targeted buyers. It’s aimed at gen Z buyers who natively use social media platforms such as TikTok to shop and find fashion inspiration.
Founder Amber Linz is a former product designer at Canva and is joined by former engineers from Atlassian and Zip.
Definitely one to watch in 2023.
In November Perth biotech start-up ULUU landed $8 million in funding for its seaweed alternative to plastics.
Seaweed has become big in the sustainability space due to its incredible ability to capture C02 even more effectively than terrestrial plants. Aquafarming for alternative plastics also takes up less space and the harvest cycle is faster due to seaweed’s growth speed.
ULUU is utilising all of that to push towards being a sustainable plastic replacement using a fermentation technique similar to brewing beer.
It’s an incredibly interesting company with a passion for the earth (and ocean) and that’s pretty damn special.
Sticking to the ocean, we also have our eyes on Bateman’s Bay tech start-up, Oceanfarmr.
In November it landed $1.45 million led by Katapult and it has been dubbed the ‘Google Maps of the ocean’.
Started by former marine biologist and oyster farmer, Ewan McAsh, the platform is designed to be an aid for aqua farming. It provides intelligent monitoring of ocean farms that can map and geolocate the likes of mussels, seaweed and oysters.
It’s a cool concept and we do love a regional start-up.
It’s been a big year for alternative meats, and one of the most exciting start-ups in the space is Vow.
Back in November, the cultured meat start-up closed on $73 million in a funding round led by Blackbird and Prosperity7 Ventures.
Part of the funds is pegged for a second facility, but what is perhaps even more exciting is the portion that is being invested in the company’s first brand: Morsel. This includes the launch of the world’s first cultured meat dining experience in Singapore, which will serve cultured Japanese umai quail.
According to the Morsel website, this dish will be “for the daring few” and will take them on “a journey of cultured flavour previously unachieved”.
Morsel will launch in early 2023 and we’ll be keeping our eyes and stomachs on it. It’s very cool to see an alternative meat start-up take on culinary culture in such a specific way and it will be fun to see where it goes.
Alternative burials and ‘death tech’ has been on the rise over the past few years, particularly overseas. But Bare is bringing that change to the Australian market to try and break our collective reluctance to talk about end-of-life, as well as save money on funeral costs.
In June, Bare raised $10 million in Series A funding, led by Perennial Partners and Ord Minnett Private Capital.
Bare aims to provide a single platform for multiple funeral-related services, including will creation, probate and pre-paying. It also offers alternatives to traditional services, such as cremation-first approaches and even options for holding a funeral before you die.
It’s a fascinating business with love and dignity at the centre and that’s worth paying attention to.
Tiny houses meetings getting offline in Unyoked, which offers short-term stays in remote locations across Australia.
Originally on the east coast, Unyoked has expanded across WA and Tasmania, as well as New Zealand and the UK in 2022. This comes after a $6 million raise in November 2021. In 2019 it even managed to partner with Matthew McConaughey for a bourbon-inspired cabin.
Mindfulness and disconnecting from technology have become increasingly important for Australians over the past few years, particularly in the wake of COVID-19.
Founders, Chris and Cam Grant look to offer people access to the benefits of uninterrupted time in nature where they can slow down, connect and in some cases, heal.
And it’s proved incredibly popular! This author has had trouble trying to book an Unyoked cabin on a few occasions, which is a great testament to how Aussies are prioritising this kind of escape, and its benefits.
Heading back to regional Australia, we’re also very interested in Wagga Wagga connectivity start-up Zetifi.
Earlier this month it raised $12 million in Series A funding for its Wi-Fi extension products aimed at Aussie farmers.
Part of the funding will go towards scaling up the headcount within the business as demand grows. It is also looking at further expansion into the US and Canada.
This is an important one because regional and rural connectivity continues to be a problem across Australia. The digital divide is still incredibly real. And where the internet can be accessed, sometimes it can be quite expensive due to reliance on the likes of satellite solutions.
Any business that is taking connectivity seriously, particularly for Aussie farmers, is something we’re interested in.
On the delivery side of things, we have our eyes on Ofload — a digital freight platform that connects shippers and carriers in one centralised supply chain ecosystem. It aims to increase visibility over what’s going where, as well as remove inefficiencies.
In November the company landed $60 million in Series B funding, led by Singapore’s largest VC firm, Jungle Ventures.
And it’s obviously looking to grow. Part of the $60 million raise included a debt financing component from Mars Growth Capital for “inorganic growth initiatives”. This was soon after its acquisition of CIA Logistics back in September.
Ofload also grabbed the number two spot in our recent Smart 50 awards, so it’s definitely one to watch.
Article Credited to Tegan Jones @ Smart Company
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