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Sprout Kitchens, Cardihab, and Critik founders pose together for a photo at RiverPitch.
From left, Caroline Lepron and James Jordan (Sprout Kitchens), Simon McBride (Cardihab), and Andrew Austin and Michael de Hog (Critik)

ESIC RiverPitch attracts a full house and an investment offer

If you’re looking to invest money into beer, quirky venues, kitchen space, customer feedback, or cardiac rehab – then Brisbane’s RiverPitch last week was the place to be.

In a full house of 80 pre-screened investors, venture capital firms, and entrepreneurs, five mostly local Brisbane teams pitched their progress and lofty goals in the hopes of securing a potentially life-changing seed investment.

Organised by Brisbane’s not-for-profit technology startup hub, River City Labs, this was the first RiverPitch focussed purely on early stage innovation companies (ESICs) – a theme inspired by the federal government’s new tax incentives for investment into qualified ESICs.

“ESICs can get a 20 per cent tax offset, and it’s important they take full advantage of that for cash flow purposes,” explained River City Labs founder and Shark Tank star, Steve Baxter. “This is the 11th or so RiverPitch we’ve done. [It’s] all about getting people networking and getting their story out there.”

RiverPitch alumni have raised millions of dollars since the event’s inception in 2012. Startups such as Travello and Bliss have gone on to secure more than $1 million each, thanks in part to their participation in RiverPitch.

The five teams on stage at this pitching event were:

The Good Beer Company – With 50 percent of their profits earmarked for charities such as the Great Barrier Reef, The Good Beer Company claims to be Australia’s first social enterprise beer company, encouraging you to “drink beer that does good”.

Zenue – Zenue’s platform helps you find unique, quirky spaces for your next event or activity. The company is developing a niche of “non-boring venues” for “non-traditionalists,” with property listings across Australia, the US, and the UK.

Sprout Kitchens – Sprout Kitchens is an online marketplace where kitchen owners can list, search, and book unused kitchen space to grow their business. An investment will help Sprout keep the momentum they gained earlier this year from Slingshot’s 12-week Simplot Ignite accelerator program.

Critik – Critik is an online platform that automates the collection, management, and analysis of customer and employee feedback. With the lure of zero paperwork, fewer overheads, improved customer service, and actionable business data, Critik hopes to capitalise on the trend of customer-centricity.

Cardihab – A spinoff of the CSIRO, Cardihab offers “convenient cardiac rehab, from wherever you are.” With their easy-to-use app, the startup aims to provide “the world’s only scientifically validated, home-based, smartphone-enabled, cardiac rehabilitation that can be delivered by existing healthcare providers.”

After the event, the participating teams reflected positively on their experiences.

“RiverPitch brings a level of transparency that you don’t usually get when trying to meet with investors,” said James Jordan, co-founder and CEO of Sprout. “We made connections with some key people and one investor made us an offer on the spot, that could see Sprout moving to Brisbane early next year.”

Cardihab co-founder and CTO, Simon McBride, was similarly positive, summing up the experience as “an excellent opportunity to receive feedback on our business and to network with the angel investor community.” For McBride and the other entrepreneurs, the event was “well worth the effort.”

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