Bright Ideas Paying Dividends for Budding Entrepreneurs

Tasmin Trezise

12 September 2013    |    read

Four housemates, a bright idea and a client list that’s pushing towards triple figures six months after launch. Technology entrepreneurship is alive and well in Brisbane and software developer PayAus (Now, Tanda) is among the latest wave of shoe-stringers to find an untapped market niche. PayAus’s cloud-based rostering, sign-on and reporting program promises a low-cost means for small businesses to automate what’s still a paper process for many. PayAus’s founder is 21-year-old technology graduate Alex Ghiculescu. He and his three partners, all of whom are the offspring of small business families, have progressively given up paid employment as demand for their product has grown since its February release. Advertisement “It’s getting to the point where we’re making a living out of it,” Ghiculescu said. Word of mouth and advertising through Google AdWords have seen PayAus acquire a clutch of grown-up customers across Australia including clubs and hotels and the Brisbane logistics company Interport Cargo. PayAus has also former a partnership with major accounting software vendors Xero and MYOB. The firm is among 12 start-ups that last week received a share of $25,000 in grant funding from the Brisbane City Council, via the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs program. The initiative is part of a Digital Brisbane strategy launched in July 2012 after the appointment of chief digital officer Kieran O’Hea. His remit includes encouraging local businesses to become more digitally savvy and fostering a start-up culture in the city. While the southern capitals are the epicentre of Australia’s start-up scene, Brisbane has spawned global success stories including the smash-hit game Fruit Ninja, and We Are Hunted, an online music tracker acquired by Twitter in April. Long established software and services vendors including TechnologyOne and Data 3 also began in Brisbane. Ghiculescu will spend his cut of the grant attending the Yow! developer conference this year. Fellow grant recipient Zachary Fitz-Walter, 27, says his cheque will afford his joining fee at River City Labs, a Brisbane incubator run by Pipe Networks founder and high-tech investor Steve Baxter. Since inception in March 2012, the facility has been used by 116 start-ups and currently has 55 companies in residence. Fitz-Walter is a PhD student completing a thesis on gamification at QUT’s Mobile Innovation Lab. His big idea is Monster Link, a video game which incorporates real life elements, such as location and weather. Gamification refers to the incorporation of video game features and techniques into everyday activities, to make them more engaging. “We want to show what we can do, then look for potential investors,” Fitz-Walter said. His team of four includes two PhD students and an artist. Apple technology had removed barriers to entry and made it easy for those with a bright idea to develop it quickly, Fitz-Walter said. Miriam Hochwald, the founder of Geek Girl Coffees, an international networking and support group for women working in science and technology, took a share of the cash for her sideline project, Little Geeklet. The app helps users to publish online stories. “I am aiming to assist people to tick off their bucket list item of writing a children’s book,” Hochwald said. “It doesn’t have to be a world hit, a great story or even good art work … I think creative expression is important for people’s wellbeing at any age – not just restricted to kids or so-called artists.” The council will offer a second round of grants early next year. The inaugural round attracted 96 applications. Source: Originally posted on SMH.

Four housemates, a bright idea and a client list that’s pushing towards triple figures six months after launch. Technology entrepreneurship is alive and well in Brisbane and software developer PayAus (Now, Tanda) is among the latest wave of shoe-stringers to find an untapped market niche.

PayAus’s cloud-based rostering, sign-on and reporting program promises a low-cost means for small businesses to automate what’s still a paper process for many.

PayAus’s founder is 21-year-old technology graduate Alex Ghiculescu.

He and his three partners, all of whom are the offspring of small business families, have progressively given up paid employment as demand for their product has grown since its February release.

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“It’s getting to the point where we’re making a living out of it,” Ghiculescu said.

Word of mouth and advertising through Google AdWords have seen PayAus acquire a clutch of grown-up customers across Australia including clubs and hotels and the Brisbane logistics company Interport Cargo. PayAus has also former a partnership with major accounting software vendors Xero and MYOB.

The firm is among 12 start-ups that last week received a share of $25,000 in grant funding from the Brisbane City Council, via the Lord Mayor’s Budding Entrepreneurs program.

The initiative is part of a Digital Brisbane strategy launched in July 2012 after the appointment of chief digital officer Kieran O’Hea. His remit includes encouraging local businesses to become more digitally savvy and fostering a start-up culture in the city.

While the southern capitals are the epicentre of Australia’s start-up scene, Brisbane has spawned global success stories including the smash-hit game Fruit Ninja, and We Are Hunted, an online music tracker acquired by Twitter in April.

Long established software and services vendors including TechnologyOne and Data 3 also began in Brisbane.

Ghiculescu will spend his cut of the grant attending the Yow! developer conference this year.

Fellow grant recipient Zachary Fitz-Walter, 27, says his cheque will afford his joining fee at River City Labs, a Brisbane incubator run by Pipe Networks founder and high-tech investor Steve Baxter. Since inception in March 2012, the facility has been used by 116 start-ups and currently has 55 companies in residence.

Fitz-Walter is a PhD student completing a thesis on gamification at QUT’s Mobile Innovation Lab. His big idea is Monster Link, a video game which incorporates real life elements, such as location and weather.

Gamification refers to the incorporation of video game features and techniques into everyday activities, to make them more engaging.

“We want to show what we can do, then look for potential investors,” Fitz-Walter said.

His team of four includes two PhD students and an artist.

Apple technology had removed barriers to entry and made it easy for those with a bright idea to develop it quickly, Fitz-Walter said.

Miriam Hochwald, the founder of Geek Girl Coffees, an international networking and support group for women working in science and technology, took a share of the cash for her sideline project, Little Geeklet. The app helps users to publish online stories.

“I am aiming to assist people to tick off their bucket list item of writing a children’s book,” Hochwald said.

“It doesn’t have to be a world hit, a great story or even good art work … I think creative expression is important for people’s wellbeing at any age – not just restricted to kids or so-called artists.”

The council will offer a second round of grants early next year. The inaugural round attracted 96 applications.

Source: Originally posted on SMH.

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About the author

Tasmin Trezise

Director: Tasmin leads Tanda's strategy development and growth into new markets and opportunities.

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