Five start-up success stories you need to know about

Joel Svensson

It’s often hard to pin down the magic ingredient that separates one start-up success from another failed venture. Is it timing, capital or just plain old luck that gets a great idea over the line?

Here are five entrepreneurial Cinderella stories to help you make the most of the odds.


James Chin Moody realised there was a gap in the delivery market when he found users of his (now-defunct) e-trading startup, TuShare, were exploiting the platform to send parcels to each other.

Now, his second start-up is set to disrupt – or at least seriously compete with – Australia Post’s monopoly on delivery. By providing a simple and intuitive front-end interface over a network of courier partners, Sendle offers easy-to-use, flat-rate parcel delivery that also happens to be carbon-neutral.

In 2015, Sendle closed a $1.8 million funding round and locked in logistics giant Toll as one of its courier partners. The Sydney-based company also announced a partnership with e-marketplace Etsy earlier this year.

The lesson:

Your business may not end up where you think it will. Having a keen sense of opportunity can allow you to turn problems into solutions – just as Moody turned an exploit in his first business into a new company altogether. In an ever-changing landscape, staying flexible is key.

Pay close attention to the world around you - an exciting business idea might be lurking in your own pet peeves.


Next time you’re at the doctor’s office for a check-up, imagine uploading your vitals to a server and interfacing with your physician from the comfort of your own bed. Dr Andrew Lin and Dr Hon Weng Chong liked this picture so much they decided to make it a reality.

The two Melbourne-based doctors left promising medical careers to pursue their idea of providing accurate, low-cost telemedicine to average people. Enter CliniCloud.

Thanks to their new range of smartphone-compatible stethoscopes and thermometers, CliniCloud enables users to send important information such as temperature and heart rate straight to their doctor’s office. CliniCloud secured $5 million in funding last year and convinced American retailer Best Buy to begin stocking its smart medical kits.

The lesson:

CliniCloud has yet to launch in Australia due to complicated regulations surrounding telemedicine reimbursement, but has found international success in Canada and the US. This is partially due to the high cost of healthcare in America – estimated at USD $69 per visit – making demand for cheap medical advice much higher than in Australia.

This goes to show that the market you know best might not be the best one for your product. Don’t be afraid to look abroad for target demographics.

This goes to show that the market you know best might not be the best one for your product.

Divvy Parking

Having spent most of his adult life working in and around Sydney’s CBD, Nick Austin had long held a loathing of urban car parking – or rather, the lack of it.

So, in 2011, Austin launched Divvy, an app-based leasing service that has since been dubbed “the Airbnb of car parks”. Divvy uses commercial property partnerships to allow city workers to book spaces before they even leave home. Based in Sydney, the service is also available in Melbourne and Brisbane.

The lesson:

It’s no secret that innovation is a fancy word for finding new solutions to old problems. Those problems might be right under your nose, but that doesn’t mean that they’re obvious. Pay close attention to the world around you – an exciting business idea might be lurking in your own pet peeves.

Look for industries that are ripe for disruption.


The long arm of the law has never been famous for grasping new technologies. But two IT professionals, Damien Andreasen and Paul Lupson, are already changing the face of legal service delivery.

The pair have now set up Lawpath, an online space that connects clients with cheaper alternatives to the big law firms, including startups and solo practices, for a monthly subscription fee. It now boasts a database of over 600 lawyers, mostly from small-to-medium firms, and a growing client base of 10,000 business owners. And its rapid expansion has already attracted $1.3 million in funding.

In partnership with LexisNexis, Lawpath also provides customisable standard transactional legal documents on everything from non-disclosure policies to shareholder deeds.

The lesson:

Just like Trivago did for hotels, Lawpath is injecting competition back into a stagnant industry that has long been defined by reputation rather than value for money. Look for industries that are ripe for disruption.

In an ever-changing landscape, staying flexible is key.


As ever more people and devices connect to the internet, demand for mobile data is set to skyrocket. Currently, Australian telcos charge around $10 per gigabyte of extra data for mobile users, and around 20 per cent of Lebara Mobile users pay for more data on a regular basis.

New to the game is Melbourne startup Unlockd. Co-founded by CEO Matt Berriman, Unlockd is a mobile service that allows users to watch ads on their phones in return for extra credit or data. The platform is currently in an Android exclusive, but is looking for other partnerships. In the meantime, Unlockd has signed deals with Lebara Mobile, Vodafone 3G and, more recently, American company Boost Mobile. Unlockd expects to generate up to $100 million from this latest partnering.

The lesson:

Unlockd has found success by tapping into a common vice: our addiction to data. Then it tied together two existing but disparate technologies – online advertising and mobile data – in a way that no-one thought of before. In doing so it illustrates three fundamental vectors for market penetration – what people want, what they’re willing to do for it, and inventive ways to get it to them.

Joel Svensson

Joel Svensson is a Melbourne-based freelance writer specialising in politics and business.


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