How startups fared in 2021

22/12/2021 - 14:00


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It has been a positive year for 10 startups Business News has followed throughout 2021.

How startups fared in 2021
Claire Orange of DiGii Social (left) and SpaceDraft’s Lucy Cooke are growing their businesses. Photo: David Henry

In my first startup article of the year, back in January, I nominated ‘10 startups to watch in 2021’.

I argued how all had set themselves up for great things this year.

As the year draws to a close, then, no doubt there’s some value in revisiting those businesses to see how they fared over the year.

Ads on Wheels moved over east and set up shop in NSW, expanding operations as planned.

Complete Home Filtration had a spectacular year, tripling revenues and expanding the business throughout Australia.

By early 2022, it will have offices in five main capital cities.

During the year, the business appointed former West Coast Eagles captain Darren Glass as general manager, was a finalist in three categories of Innovator of the Year, and added 15 new staff.

It now employs more than 45 staff and annual revenues are projected to be $37 million.

DiGii Social closed a round of funding in February and had a 10-fold increase in the number of schools subscribing to the ‘digital behaviour’ platform.

“We now operate in all states of Australia, plus in China and the UK,” founder Claire Orange told Business News.

“And we are currently running a series-A capital raising campaign to fuel further growth in these markets.”

Intelligent work and organisational design business Functionly enjoyed a 300 per cent growth in paying customers this year, all stemming from product demand.

The business has no sales team. It raised $3.7 million in funding and grew staff numbers to 15.

Functionly has deployed more than 5,000 trials of its product and launched a free intelligent org chart tool last month.

Picture Wealth notched up 15 acquisitions of financial advisory businesses, and is providing people with a ‘digital picture’ of their wealth around the country.

Headquartered in Western Australia, Picture Wealth now has offices in NSW, Queensland and South Australia, with Victoria soon to follow.

SpaceDraft will close an additional $1.5 million capital raising this month, taking its total seed round to $2.7 million.

It moved into new premises on Stirling Highway in Nedlands, and has been investing in team and sales expansion.

“This bridge injection will be spent on gearing up commercialisation efforts and a sales team,” founder and CEO Lucy Cooke said.

Smart water systems provider SWAN enjoyed revenue growth of around 250 per cent this year, and now operates in more than seven countries.

The business won major new accounts in North America and Africa, along with growth in its home markets of Australia and New Zealand.

“We launched a new spatial imagery product during 2021 which adds another layer of data insight into the performance and health status of both agricultural and public open space operations,” SWAN co-founder Rod Campbell said.

Tiller Rides raised $1.5 million through a combination of direct investment and equity crowd funding, which will be used to turn out the first 500 of its Fremantle-designed e-bike, the Roadster.

Already half of this first batch has been pre-sold (equivalent to more than $1 million in sales), and we will start to see them on our roads early in the New Year.

uDrew achieved the first two implementations of its online design and planning system for two of the largest local governments in the Southern Hemisphere.

The team grew by 20 per cent, and has 28 live opportunities in the pipeline, with seven due to close this month. In early 2022, the business expects to be operating across three countries.

WeMoney amassed more than 170,000 downloads of its financial well-being app (growing at 60 per cent a month), and expanded its service to include assistance with mortgages, personal loans, car loans, savings, accounts, insurance, and even crypto.

“We also launched Australia’s first social financial wellness community and have achieved an 83 per cent uplift in the community engagement rate since July 2021,” founder and CEO Dan Jovevski told Business News.

Congratulations to these and all plucky WA-based startup founders out there, who have been busy innovating, disrupting markets, bringing new products to market and creating new jobs in 2021.

Best wishes for 2022.

Charlie Gunningham is founder and principal of digital strategy advisory business Damburst


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