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River City Labs' second cohort pose for a group shot.
The River City Labs Accelerator Program's second cohort

Behind the scenes with River City Labs’ second muru-D accelerator cohort

Like cheese in a mousetrap, the temptation of six months intensive mentoring, $60,000 funding, and introductions to top local and international investors proved too hard to resist for the teams who were announced last week as the second muru-D Brisbane accelerator cohort at River City Labs.

Twelve teams took part in the September bootcamp weekend, run by muru-D’s new Brisbane-based Entrepreneur-in-Residence, Ken Macken, co-founder and former CTO of Ollo Wearables. Only seven survived.

“I run a very tight ship, so the bootcamp was super strict,” said Macken, a self-described modern-day MacGyver. “The mentor speed dating was intense. And the pitch sessions to the judges were pressure-filled. Everyone was vying for a spot on the program and only the best got through.”

“I’m so excited about the seven successful teams, the traction they’re already making and the potential for them to grow that traction in the months ahead.”

“But what’s equally exciting is the interest we had from international teams. Not only did they apply, but they knew more about Australia’s startup ecosystem than many Australians in it.”

“We had teams apply from Turkey, Denmark, Vietnam, The Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore, Canada and India. If it had not been for a visa issue, we would have had one international team of nine data scientists competing at bootcamp. Hopefully they can come next year.”

The one thing that disappointed Macken about this year’s cohort was that none of the teams have a female co-founder.

“In muru-D’s first Brisbane cohort, two of the five teams had female co-founders. This time around, the business ideas were too early for the female-founded teams. It’s disappointing, but it still represents progress. When I began my startup journey five years ago, it was very much an old boys’ club. Now, 30 percent of our mentor panel is female and 20 percent of the 84 applications this year had female founders.”

The seven successful startups in the second cohort are:

  • Maxwell MRI – a preventative health subscription service that combines the power of MRI and artificial intelligence to help detect potential health issues before it is too late
  • Inco Docs – a cloud-based software created to increase sales and efficiencies for exporters around the world
  • TalentVine – a talent acquisition platform where employers and recruiters collaborate to reduce the time and costs required to hire specialist and technical candidates
  • Innovative Drone Solutions – a solution for airborne testing of antenna systems using drones
  • 2ndLease – a rental marketplace that enables individuals and businesses to rent appliances and household items
  • Viberent – a cloud-based subscription software system and marketplace built for the worldwide SME hire and rental industry
  • SiteSee – a web platform for telcos that leverages 3D maps of mobile towers to streamline the design and management of mobile networks

The teams span different age and experience brackets. Inco Docs’ co-founder, Brandon Boor, is an ex-NRL player with the North Queensland Cowboys. TalentVine’s CTO, Tex Andersen, is the co-founder of the Australian Innovation Party – though Andersen gave up his political aspirations to join founder Justin Falk on TalentVine in December 2015. Andersen is young enough to have participated in Startup Catalyst’s Youth Mission in 2015. On the other end of the scale, Viberent’s founder, Siva Sivakumar, is a mature-age former management consultant, who writes plays and short stories in Tamil in his spare time.

Maxwell MRI’s founders, Matthew Brown and Elliot Smith, were also participants in Startup Catalyst’s Youth Mission, the year prior to Andersen. When asked what attracted them to this year’s muru-D program, Brown said it was “two things: accountability from being in a group of people also trying to launch fast; plus the networking and connections from muru-D and people like Ken Macken who have taken startups to the U.S. and gone through TechStars.”

For Anderson, the attraction was “acceleration and osmosis. This year’s intake has an emphasis on customer acquisition and that’s exactly what we need right now. We’re looking forward to being around experts in customer acquisition and soaking up from them as many different ways as possible to market our product and grow quickly.”

The teams will need to harness all of that enthusiasm once the program kicks off in October.

About Andrea Martins

Andrea Martins is a startup founder, writer and passionate participant in the Sunshine Coast and Brisbane startup ecosystems. Say hi to her on Twitter at @andreaexpat