ebilities: one of the first Aussie startups set for Singapore Landing Pad

Margaret Paton

Online psychometric business, ebilities, will be among the first startups to experience Austrade’s Singapore Landing Pad from early February 2017.

Ebilities has Australian and US patents for its mental agility tests used for pre-employment, which captures information about high potential candidates’ abilities and their confidence about those abilities. The tests integrate into an organisation’s or company’s own HR platform or software, are available in several Asian and European languages and can be taken on computers, tablets or mobile devices.

“We are in that psychometric testing space, but we like to make it extremely accessible for people to test themselves. It’s very straight forward and sharper,” says Director Clare Lewis.

“So when you look at candidates, you could be looking for people who are learning agile, are the best numbers people, or, who are the most versatile candidates. The tests offer a whole new frame of reference and give insights into how confident people are in their decision making and being able to adapt to the changing nature of work,” she says.

Why the Singapore Landing Pad?

The company, which formed in 2008, already has “a number of Asian clients” and believes its three-month stint on the Singapore landing pad will boost the venture, particularly in hooking up with integration partners.

“What interests us about Singapore is there’s a real appetite for looking at new and innovative ways of doing things.”

“It’s such a big opportunity because our tests aren’t heavily based on the English language. They use numerical information, which is very acceptable to people and removes the language bias that’s often the case in other tests,” says Lewis.

“We’re an e-business. We can work from wherever in the world. What interests us about Singapore is there’s a real appetite for looking at new and innovative ways of doing things.”

Her company’s tech support and some research service staff will continue to be based in Australia.

Singapore is the Asian headquarters for many multi-nationals.

Federal Minister for Trade Tourism and Investment, Steve Ciobo, says the landing pad program gives Australian entrepreneurs opportunities to engage with the global innovation system.

“The Singapore Landing Pad, in particular, will help participants scale their business by introducing them to a dynamic local startup scene and broader opportunities across ASEAN. 

“Singapore is located at the heart of some of the fastest-growing services markets in the world. Its deep business relationships with booming markets in the region provide access to affluent consumers and large multinational corporations.”

“Aussie startups will get to hobnob with any level they want and anytime.”

The benefits

Singapore-based Director of the Australian Trade Commission, Prerana Mehta, says the Landing Pad is within the BASH (Building Amazing Startups Here) co-working space on Block 79 “right in the middle of everything” surrounded by Singapore’s CSIRO equivalent, Fusionopolis, Biopolis, research organisations including universities, venture capitalists and investors plus international firms.

“Aussie startups will get to hobnob with any level they want and anytime. Singaporeans love to eat so no doubt when the first Landing Pad cohort are out and about, they'll bump into someone who'll be very useful,” she says.

Austrade has booked 10 desks in BASH and is finalising its list of would-be startups to be part of the first group. Austrade will bring the cohort up to speed on regulators, connecting with the key players in their particular sector and mentoring. Startups would cover their own living costs, usually at less than $10,000 per person for three months, says Mehta.

“The Singaporean government is investing $16 billion in the five years to 2020 to foster innovation.”

“What we can’t do is promote them; that’s their role to promote themselves. We provide the tools to get them on track. We can’t pitch for them, they need to work out what they need to do and after the 90 days if they feel they need further assistance and if they qualify for Austrade services, Austrade can provide that fee for service.”

As a base for startups, Singapore stands out, says Prerana for being “really easy to do business and everyone speaks English”. In 2015 alone there were 250 deals recorded notching about $US1.16 billion. The Singaporean government is investing $16 billion in the five years to 2020 to foster innovation and already the country is the world’s best place to create a startup. Not bad for a country of just under six million people.

What does a startup need to join?

Austrade’s other Landing Pads in San Francisco, Shanghai, Tel Aviv and Berlin are also operational.

Those keen to join a Landing Pad need to be “ready to go global”, says an Austrade spokesperson. They need clear objectives and a strategy for achieving them, scalability, proof of concept through existing sales and customers, for example, product/service differentiation and market relevance.

“Without the Landing Pad, we possibly may have delayed moving international.”

Bennet Merriman from Rosterfy who took part in the first cohort of startups in San Francisco in mid 2016 says: “The biggest positive was the opportunity to arrive into a new country with a support network already in place. Without the landing pad, we possibly may have delayed moving international as quickly as we had.”

Applications for the program in any of the five cities are open with Austrade assessing applications every two months. 

Margaret Paton

Former Sunday Age staff journalist, Margaret Paton (formerly Jakovac) has written widely for corporations/government departments and more than 100 online/hard copy mastheads in regional NSW, Sydney, Melbourne and Europe

Image: Aotaro, Flickr Creative Commons license

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