Optus has changed its application process to allow entrepreneurs to apply for seed funding all year round.
Entrepreneurs wanting up to $250,000 in seed funding from Optus can now apply whenever it suits them. The telco has loosened its application model allowing start-ups to pitch for money when their business is ready for it, rather than fitting in with rigid bi-yearly terms of its Optus-Innov8 Seed program.
Optus-Innov8 Seed director Peter Huynh said this could mean more money gets handed out each year.
“The level of funding we provide is still the same, in that for each investment in the seed round the maximum we will invest is still $250,000,” Huynh says. “But we are hoping if we are going to be around all year the volume of investments may increase. We don’t have a cap on it. The more that have a fit with our investment criteria, we have funds to invest as required.”
Huynh says the decision came after start-ups complained the bi-annual terms were too rigid.
“What we found speaking to start-ups was they have very immediate needs for funding, and it may not fit in with our scheduled periods,” Huynh says. “What we decided to do is be available all year round. When start-ups are ready for funding we will assess them.”
The seed program, which is a collaboration between Optus and its parent company Singtel, has invested in two start-ups since it was announced last year. These are 121cast which has launched Omny – a rethink of radio that provides a personalised audio feed for listening on the go, and VenueMob, which hooks up people needing a party venue with people who have one.
Optus is also setting up a series of showcase events to hook start-ups with industry players and other corporates. The first will be in December this year and focus on start-ups taking a digital approach to learning.
Huynh says Singtel’s international network will help its start-ups expand.
“We have similar programs in the Philippines and Thailand,” Huynh says. “What we have agreed upon as a seed network across Singtel group is when they want to expand to other markets we give them space, help with intros, and hopefully we will help them launch in those markets in a meaningful way.”