Jessica Gardner Reporter

Jessica covers Australia's technology start-up scene, writing on breaking news and trends in entrepreneurialism, media and marketing. She was previously named Australia's best New IT Journalist for 2011.

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Links to Asia

Published 23 August 2012 04:35, Updated 23 August 2012 10:56

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“Should I stay or go?” has so far centred on Australia and the United States, but there’s another option.

Paloma Mobile, co-founded by Jennifer Zanich and Steve Langkamp, is developing apps for low-end smartphones and low-bandwidth networks common in emerging markets. The first is called Photo Chat.

“We see our service being Asia and Latin America,” Zanich says. “Australia is a great spot to get to both.”

The company recently raised $1.5 million from One Ventures and seasoned local investor Roger Allen. Zanich spent a decade in Silicon Valley running other technology start-ups and is an adviser to venture capital fund Bullpen Capital but she emphasises that not all opportunities are in the US. “As a start-up you’re always looking for that opportunity, to go where no one else is.”

Southern Cross Venture Partners holds a stake in advertising technology company Brandscreen. The venture fund’s managing director, John Scull, advised Brandscreen chief executive Julian Tol to ditch his US dreams. “There’s already deeply entrenched competitors here,” Scull says. “They have a chance to really do something special in Asia.”

Brandscreen now handles technology development in Australia and has offices in Shanghai and Singapore. Tol needed persuading but after speaking to customers, some of the biggest media agencies in the world, he realised the market was saturated in the US but that none of the companies, which offer technology that allows real-time trading of online advertising slots, were in Asia.

“We had the same reasonably well-worn trail between Australia and the States in mind,” he says. “Now, operationally, I wouldn’t think about running this business anywhere than Singapore.”

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