GOLD COAST DIGITAL MASTER ON FAST TRACK TO THE US
Written on the 25 February 2016 by Jenna Rathbone
THE founder of a Gold Coast digital company is packing his bags for America, after being named in KPMG's exclusive accelerator program for startups looking to tackle the US.
Together with Advance, Australia's global innovation network, KPMG has revealed 11 tech startups selected to take part in the 2016 Elevate 61 program.
The cohort, which aims to conquer US expansion, represents a cross-section of Australia's startup eco-system and includes companies from sectors including logistics, insurance, and hospitality.
Bradley Illich (pictured), founder of Gold Coast-based NewBook, says he was approached by KPMG to take part in the program after winning the Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award's digital category in 2015.
"We fit KPMG's criteria because they were looking for businesses, not startups necessarily but scale-ups - businesses that are already making money and have a product that they are scaling up to the next level," says Illich.
Illich founded NewBook in 2010 after noticing that many in the tourism industry were limited and frustrated with their operating systems, including managing bookings, billings and marketing on the one portal.
The cloud reservation system, which works for properties including hotels, holiday parks, resorts, apartments and villas, is able to take online bookings and check guests in and out.
It features a complete automated billing system, online booking engine, in-built credit card payment options, direct debit functions, email marketing possibilities and two-way SMS messaging with guests.
The portal can even automatically increase or reduce prices of hotel rooms depending on how busy or quiet a period is.
The business has boosted turnover to more than $2.5 million annually and is growing at around 50 per cent year on year.
However, through the Elevate 61 program, Illich says the opportunities to expand and grow even further are limitless.
"In Australia there is only about 7000 hotel or accommodation providers, and as of 2014, America has 52,000," he says.
"It is a significantly bigger market, it is a market that is adapt to new technology and the cloud, and it is a place where we feel people are paying above the odds for the services they are being provided.
"Factor that in, and now that the Australian dollar is worth 40 per cent less than the US dollar, it is really good timing to expand into that bigger market."
Illich adds that there is massive scope to tackle other industries, not just hospitality and accommodation.
Illich joins the directors of 10 other companies, which together achieved combined turnover of more than $25 million over the past 12 months, to participate in the program.
They will be paired with industry mentors from Advance and KPMG, and in April will have days of intensive workshops that will provide specific guidance on how to approach US markets.
In May they will journey to the US for a 10-day programmed visit to San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York.
James Mabbott, head of KPMG Innovate, says the number of quality scalable businesses uncovered during the Elevate 61 application process is promising.
"I can honestly say there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian enterprise tech startup," says Mabbott.
"The successes these entrepreneurs are achieving demonstrates the potential of Australia's startup eco-system to compete on the global stage.
"By up skilling these proven businesses and entrepreneurs, and accelerating their understanding of the US market, Elevate 61 hopes to empower the next generation of global Australian leaders."Here is the full list of ventures joining the Elevate 61 program:
Author: Jenna Rathbone
About: Jenna Rathbone is a Queensland-based journalist who writes on a range of issues including business and property affairs and social issues.Connect via: Twitter