Five inspiring Australian startup success stories

Nina Hendy
@ninahendy

Australia has bred its fair share of startups that have taken on the world, challenging the status quo and forging a new path. Here’s five, plus a look at what we can learn from them.

99 Designs

One of the most successful startups in Australia is 99designs, where designers compete to get paid. The concept behind the startup polarised the crowdsourcing model.

Founded in 2008, 99designs had a humble and organic beginning. It was launched by two men who noticed users competing in a thread to identify the best designer, and from this the concept of design contests was born.

Learning: Always be on the lookout for trends, bootstrap early and get funding to fuel your growth.

You might launch in Australia, but dream big, and find ways to take your offering global.

Canva

Online graphic design platform Canva shook the scene by replacing the expensive, complicated software that put design out of reach for most people, and made it simple to create social media graphics, presentations, social media posts, posters, invitations and more.

Canva is now the largest school yearbook publisher in Australia and has expanded into France and New Zealand.

Learning: Find a way to simplify complex software and put it in the hands of everyone at minimal cost

Atlassian

This Sydney-based enterprise software company helps organisations plan, build and launch software. It’s best known for issue-tracking application JIRA and its team-collaboration produce Confluence.

Founded in 2002, its customers include Citigroup, eBay, Netflix and Nike. Atlassian employs more than 800 people and has offices dotted around the world.

Learning: You might launch in Australia, but dream big, and find ways to take your offering global.

Perfect your idea, then get grassroots support to get it off the ground.

LIFX

LIFX reinvented the light bulb, debuting its innovative smart home device on crowdfunding site Kickstarter in September 2012. Straight away, backers pledged a total of $1.3 million in just six days, then an additional $2.1 million from investors.

LIFX lights are brighter than regular bulbs, can be controlled through any device with Wi-Fi, and last up to 25 years.

Learning: Perfect your idea, then get grassroots support to get it off the ground.

Campaign Monitor

This email marketing company launched in 2004 and was profitable from day one. Founded by two life-long friends during their final year of university, the business now sends in excess of one billion emails a month. Investors have taken the platform global.

Learning: Work with someone you trust and look for investors before the growth curve.

Nina Hendy

Nina Hendy is an Australian freelance business journalist and wordsmith who writes for BBC Australia, BRW, sections of The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and affiliated mastheads, SmartCompany, Private Media and Edge titles.

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