QUT Creative Enterprise Australia (CEA) recently extended their deadline for the Creative³ Pitch (to today, so get applying now). As part of Australia’s premier conference for creative entrepreneurs, Creative³, the pitch presents a unique investment and networking opportunity for early stage creative startups, as the growth of former finalist and visual search engine Trademark Vision (formerly SeeOut) demonstrates.
Now in its sixth year, Creative³ Pitch is Australia’s only event that connects creative industries ventures with investors. This year’s pitch includes workshops and mentorship as part of the pre-event program for semi-finalists.
Four finalists will pitch to early-stage investors at the Creative³ event in September, and the winner will follow time-lapse photography app Project Tripod as Australia’s second entrant into the Creative Business Cup in Denmark. There, they will compete for a prize pool of over US$35,000 during Global Entrepreneurship Week.
“For the past two years, the CEA Startup Fund has gone on to invest in one of the finalist companies, so this is potentially a life-changing opportunity for the finalists,” Creative Enterprise CEO Anna Rooke said. “As Australian hosts for the Creative Business Cup, we’re excited to be able to offer our Creative3 Pitch winners a unique opportunity to represent Australia internationally as our best emerging creative entrepreneurs.”
Since pitching in 2013, Trademark Vision has gone on to attract significant attention, receiving investment from female-focused angel Scale and becoming the first startup to receive funding from the CEA Startup Fund in 2014.
Founder Sandra Mau got the idea for Trademark Vision, the world’s first visual search engine for trademarks, after meeting with brand managers. She said the platform uses image recognition to solve the problems of traditional trademark searches, which are normally done via subjective text descriptions or image design codes.
“When it comes to protecting your new product or company, people start to trademark registration, but at the moment it’s a hard process,” Mau said. “You’ve got to do a search to make sure no one has something similar to you; you can search with keywords, but you might describe the logo very differently.”
Since founding the company, Mau has been named one of Engineer Australia’s Top 100 Most Influential Engineers 2015 and Pollenizer’s Top 50 Australian Female Programmers 2014, and has gone on to become founding chair of IEEE Qld’s Women in Engineering. Trademark Vision has also gone on to attract over 150 trademark attorneys, and the team made their first US sales hire in April.
Other recipients of the CEA Startup Fund have included online fashion retailer Fame & Partners, wearable technology startup Metaverse Makeovers and craftsmanship marketplace Handkrafted. Launched in 2013, the fund offers between $25,000 and $150,000 in businesses with high-growth potential in Australia’s creative industries.
While these companies have obvious potential for growth and Australia’s creative sector contributes $45.89 billion in gross domestic product, according to “Valuing Australia’s Creative Industries (2013),” it is generally accepted that the economic importance of our creative industries are undervalued by investment and government bodies.
“Our creative industries sector employs more people than mining and contributes $35 billion to our GDP, however creative startups struggle to find funding as they are often viewed as high-risk by investors,” Rooke said. “Denmark has shown international leadership in this area by forming the Creative Business Cup, which profiles creative entrepreneurs on a global stage and highlights the potential for growth, jobs and innovation in this sector.
“This will only be the second time Australia has been able to compete on the world stage.”