Blinq. A new generation business card

Startup Spotlight – Blinq

A new spin on an old idea? Good timing?

When first looking at the funding this company has managed to raise, I was impressed. There’s been a number of companies attempt to build a new business card app but nothing has really stuck around and been worthwhile replacing the built-in phone functionality.

Is Blinq different?

Their initial funding round suggests they might be. The last time Blackbird Ventures and Square Peg Venture Capital Ltd. funded a Seed Round, the result was Canva.

Blinq allows users to share their live personal information with anyone via QR codes, near-field communications, short links, email signatures, and video call backgrounds, rather than business cards. It keeps information up to date, so users don’t need to tell their contacts when they change phone numbers or email addresses.

Anyone can instantly share their details via custom digital card that they can update any time. If you prefer the physical world a custom card will bring up your contacts with a quick tap via NFC.

Replacing business cards is just the beginning. The core of Blinq’s idea is that it is a live-updating identity layer that can be used anywhere – from business cards, to email signatures, zoom backgrounds or as a link in bio.

The Founder

Jarrod Webb is a business-obsessed software engineer. He was one of the first employees at Uber Eats in Australia and chose to work on the strategy team because he was fascinated with operational problems. He’s a rare combination of creativity, resilience, vision and detail orientation. He invented some of the core functionality for Blinq years ago as a side project only to see it start to explode in usage as the general population learned how to use QR codes during the pandemic.

In January 2021, Webb left Uber Eats to catch this tailwind and accelerate growth in users and businesses for Blinq in the post-COVID era. 

“Blinq is one of the fastest-growing platforms we’ve seen in recent years. Just as Twitter and Airbnb took off at events such as South by Southwest, it’s exciting to see Blinq do the same this year,” Blackbird partner Rick Baker said.

Currently Blinq offers premium accounts for both businesses and individuals. The user base is currently split 50/50 between individuals and businesses, but Webb believes that businesses will be the larger group over the long term.

Business Model and Pricing

The company offers two types of service. The first is for individuals who wish to create their digital business ID and share it with anyone and everywhere they go. The second service they offer is for a business that wish to create a digital business ID containing the company’s necessary information.

With these services, you can always keep up-to-date information, empower the identity that allows you to share your professionalism, and seamlessly combine necessary business contacts and relationships.

The company has three types of pricing depending on which service you purchase:

  • For the individual, it’s $0 to create two different IDs accessible to any device.
  • For Individuals, after the 7-day free trial, a $2.99 monthly subscription is offered if you want to create five different business IDs, add custom designs and colours, and remove the Blinq mark.
  • For business, you can create unlimited cards, view contacts of people who visit your ID, access, and authority for editing, and 24/7 help support from the website. This can be accessed after the 30-day free trial for a $2.99 monthly subscription.

“Because we charge per user, we have negative net revenue churn. So you can do a bunch of really nice growth things to fuel the expansion of the product.” – Jarrod Webb

Negative net revenue churn is when the amount of new revenue from your existing customers is greater than the revenue lost from cancellations and downgrades. 

When you share a digital business card using Blinq the person you’re sharing with doesn’t need the app to see it.

“It means almost everyone refers the product, and the use of the product is a referral,” Webb said.

Investors and Funding

  • May 16, 2022 – Seed Round – Blackbird Ventures, Square Peg Capital – $5M


Blackbird Ventures founders are Rick Baker and Niki Scevak. The group also includes 🐘 Nick Crocker,Joel Connolly, and Samantha Wong, who serve as the venture team behind the company.

The company was founded in 2012 and has made 204 investments, 7 diversity investments, and 69 lead investments.


Square Peg capital was founded by Tony Halt in 2012, the company has made 119 investments, 4 diversity investments, and 58 lead investments helping many companies to strive in their field.

The Future for Blinq

Blinq’s end-game is not just digital business cards. Webb’s vision is for Blinq to be a digital identity that can exist in multiple places — think contact apps on phones, email signatures, customer relationship management software. When a user updates their details on Blinq, the updates will happen in all those other places too.

The $5 million investment will be used to grow Blinq’s 12-strong team to closer to 30 and attempt to realise that vision.


While this company is still relatively young, it’s exciting to see its growth and the calibre of investors backing the product. 

I hadn’t heard about this product until seeing job ads for developers but time will tell as to whether there is enough adoption of the app for it to become more mainstream.

Congrats to Jarrod Webb for innovation and making Blinq a reality. So far so good.

Aussie brothers Ryan Kroonenburg and Sam Kroonenburg. A Cloud Guru

Startup Spotlight – A Cloud Guru

As one of Airtree’s most highlighted success stories, A Cloud Guru is a company name I had to look into and ironically hadn’t heard much about in the online learning space despite their massive success. 

A Cloud Guru is an education and training company specialising in teaching people about cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud, and Azure. Through courses and hands-on labs, they aim to train their customers for them to garner the proper tech skills for the IT career path.

The company was founded by Aussie brothers Ryan Kroonenburg and Sam Kroonenburg in 2015. Since then, it has grown to a multi-million dollar company, securing over $40 million in funding. They offer over 400 courses and 1,800 labs on Linux, DevOps, Kubernetes, and more.


The company was started, ironically, after Ryan Kroonenburg was turned down from a job at AWS. Through this interview process, he found out that there was a gap between the available training for cloud services and tech workers who want to try out the field. So, he decided, why not try to bridge this gap? He can provide the training himself to those workers that need it and want to advance their careers. 

Providing training services for an area that lacks it most of the time turned out to be a brilliant idea – in 2015, when the cloud service industry was barely starting, it was worth about $60 billion at the time. Seven years later, that figure has multiplied eightfold, to $480 billion. 

Investors & Financials

A Cloud Guru | A Pluralsight Company is a private company that was funded in three rounds. 

The first was a Series A Funding Round in 2017. In this round, a venture capital firm named Elephant invested $7 million in the company. 

Series B Funding Round followed in 2019 with lead investor Summit Partners – an investment firm focusing on public equity along with two other investors pumping $33 million into the company.

Its latest funding round, a Venture Round, saw investment from Bain Capital Tech Opportunities. Unfortunately, there is no available data on how much the investment was.


Bain Capital is one of the world’s leading private investment firms with approximately $160 billion of assets under management in asset classes including private equity, credit, public equity, venture capital and real estate. 

In June 2020, Sam Kroonenburg said A Cloud Guru had cruised past the $100 million revenue landmark and had a $US80 million ($115 million) annual revenue run rate, which was up from $US17.1 million a year previously.

July 31, 2017 – Series A – Elephant Venture Capital – $7M

  • April 29, 2019 – Series B – Elephant Venture Capital, Airtree Ventures, Summit Partners – $33M
  • Dec 19, 2019 – Venture Round – Bain Capital


A Cloud Guru made one acquisition – Linux Academy – on December 16, 2019. Linux Academy was, much like A Cloud Guru, an education company with their main focus on training in Linux, although they also offered training on AWS, Azure, and other applications.

June 2nd, 2021 –  A Cloud Guru was acquired by US company Pluralsight for $2 billion, making it one of the largest deals ever for an Australian tech company.

The deal to buy A Cloud Guru was funded in part by US investment firm Vista Equity Partners, which acquired the Nasdaq-listed Pluralsight for $US3.5 billion at the end of 2020, taking it private.

Despite the financial windfall, both Sam and Ryan Kroonenburg will stay on to work within Pluralsight, and in a statement Sam Kroonenburg, who is A Cloud Guru’s CEO, said he was excited by the “next phase” of the company within Pluralsight.

According to a press release, the acquisition will allow Pluralsight to address the gap between the industry-wide shift to cloud applications and the lack of tech workers’ skills with the product. In their 2022 report, 75% of tech leaders say they will use the cloud in the future, while currently only 8% of tech workers have cloud-related experience.


From humble beginnings in 2015, it took only 4 years to attract over $40 million dollars in funding over 3 investment rounds, to then be acquired in 2021 for over $2 billion dollars. Incredible numbers. 

The speed that tech companies are raising money and growing is astonishing. It’s great to see such innovation coming out of Australia and hope towards future possibilities.

Individual Spotlight: Who is Craig Blair?

When looking into Australian venture capital firm Airtree, Blair seemed to be right at the heart of it, so I did a little research. His career has been quite spectacular and for one person, he has managed to achieve a lot.

Craig Blair is a very talented individual who has worked in a variety of industries and businesses since the 1990s. According to Blair’s LinkedIn profile, “he has founded three software companies, two of which were profitable and one of which was a bitter learning experience.”

Naturally, you are thinking “Which one was the bitter learning experience?”. 

From what I can see, the three most likely companies he’s referring to would be Beamly, Travelselect, and PetCircle. 

Beamly was a software integrated company, whereas Travelselect and PetCircle are more online services. Perhaps Craig Blair could help clarify in the comments which software company was the bitter experience?. It could also be an entirely different company not mentioned.


Craig is most recently well known for his accomplishments with AirTree and PetCircle but before that, his professional career grew in a number of strategy and investment advisor roles. 

Looking at his profile with my recruiter eyes on, I would summarise (make guesses) as to how he transitioned from one position to the next:

  • 1987 – 1991 – Completed Engineering Degree in Sydney
  • No work history detailed between 1991 and 1998. Perhaps working Engineering roles he didn’t feel necessary to put on his profile.
  • 1997 – Completed MBA with INSEAD 
  • Jan 1998 – Started with Kalchas Group as a Strategy Consultant. Stayed for 1 yr, 10 months until Oct 1999.
  • I would imagine he gained a lot of expertise and knowledge in this role advising CEO’s.
  • Founded Travelselect – Nov 1999 – Jun 2003 · 3 yrs 8 months. Looks like he may have moved to the UK during this time.
  • Sold to in 2002. Perhaps stayed on a little after the sale.
  • 2 year gap after exit. Could be time off with non-compete.
  • Jan 2005 – Oct 2005 · 10 months – Advisor to Expedia on Australian launch. I could imagine he was headhunted here because of his previous experience with Travelselect.
  • Dec 2005 – Aug 2006 · 9 mos – Head of Leisure Investment Banking at Macquarie Bank
  • Not much information listed. Looks like a full-time role. Only 9 months. Perhaps the corporate working life wasn’t for Blair.
  • Jun 2006 – Jun 2011 · 5 yrs 1 mo – Executive Director/Investor at Netus
  • This was quite a long stint. Seems he did enjoy this role and investor/advisor life.
  • Feb 2012 – Oct 2014 – 2 yrs 8 months – Founder – Beamly Australia
  • Grew and sold this business. Looks like he did quite well with this company and the sale.
  • Apr 2012 – Present · 10 yrs 6 mos – Pet Circle – Founding Chairman – Started this while still working on Beamly. Perhaps he knew the exit was coming and looked for a new project.
  • Jun 2014 – Present · 8 yrs 4 mos – Airtree – Managing Partner and CoFounder
  • Only two years after getting involved with Pet Circle, he launched this new venture. 
  • The investor life got him good. Looks like these two ventures have kept his hands full until now. 


The two companies Blair grew and sold were:

Travelselect – Nov 1999 – Jun 2003 · 3 yrs 8 mths

London, United Kingdom was one of the first online travel companies in the UK. Blair was responsible for raising venture capital, business development and leading the marketing team. He also led the sale of the business to in 2002 in a transaction, which generated healthy returns to founders and investors. issued £9m in new shares for Travelselect, its first large scale acquisition in the UK, which Brent Hoberman pointed out would make an “an immediate positive contribution to operating cashflow.” In addition to the initial consideration, will pay up to a further £3m depending on the EBITDA achieved for the year to 31 January 2003.

The deal tripled’s existing UK flights volume creating a UK flights revenue stream of approximately £50 million and providing access to a further 39 airline relationships as well as giving online access to Eurostar.

Crucially, it also moved the company’s flight offering up to a similar scale as lastminute’s hotel portfolio ahead of the addition of dynamic packaging to the site later this year. Mr Hoberman said: “We are already growing at 110% year on year and this deal makes sense across all metrics. It will particularly help when we introduce dynamic packaging later in the year.” According to Atinera’s Stuart Winter, the ability to put together holiday packages is going to prove crucial to online travel sites as suppliers take control of their own inventory and commission levels fall. 

As of now, the Travelselect domain seems to be parked with no active content.

Beamly – Feb 2012 – Oct 2014 – 2 yrs 9 mths

Launched Beamly (formally zeebox) Australia. Lead the product strategy, built the team, raised 2 rounds of capital and commercialised the business. Chaired the Australian board.

Beamly was a technology company based in London, UK and New York City, United States. The company was founded in April 2011 as tBone TV, later renamed to Zeebox, by Ernesto Schmitt and Anthony Rose. It was started as a social discovery and engagement platform with 2nd-screen TV, creating the concept of social television.

Beamly, then called Zeebox, aimed to provide the optimal platform for connected television, making it a social and interactive viewing experience rather than the standard television viewing format. The platform allowed users to follow and interact with their favourite TV shows, as well as play games and take part in polls. It expanded to the US in September 2012 and into Australia in November.

In October 2015, Beamly was acquired by COTY for an undisclosed amount. Since then, there isn’t a huge amount of information about it. I found one mention saying it is scheduled for dissolution. Topic for a future article – “What happened to Beamly?”.

Worthy Note

The early focus of Blair’s career seemed to be helping international companies launch in Australia. I could imagine Blair would have gained incredible insight into international markets and how to capitalise on gaps in the Australian market.

Blair worked full-time at Netus from June 2006 to June 2011, where he rose to the position of partner and had a global track record. 

Netus partnered with international technology companies to establish operations in Australia while also supporting excellent Australian founders. It became one of the best VC funds in Australia, achieving a 4x return on investment. 

Allure Media (Gawker, Sugar Publishing), Wayfair, Switchwise, The Video Company, Ourdeal, and were represented in the portfolio along with Downstream Marketing.


Very interesting career. I’ve made a number of assumptions here about timeframes, mindset and career gaps. All positive but purely speculation. I think it’s interesting to read between the lines of “what happened when” in relation to each other to gain an insight into how careers evolve and what risks and pathways different people take to achieve success. There’s always low and high points in everyone’s journey. 

A lot of the time we aren’t aware or exposed to other ways of life unless we really dig in and search for answers. Craig Blair’s journey is a great insight into Australian startups, and the evolution of various tech businesses over the past 15 years.

Mike Frizell

With the pet industry in Australia worth a whopping $13 Billion, Pet Circle is one company that has taken their eCommerce business model to the next level when it comes to customer experience and ordering pet food online.

Founded in 2011 by Michael Frizell and James Edwards operating from their garage, they made $1 Million in revenue their first year of operation. If that wasn’t impressive enough they went on to bank a total $12 Million in their first 3 years of operation. That’s 330% growth and won top spot in the 2014 Smart50 awards by SmartCompany

Now valued at over $1 Billion dollars, they have evolved to include subscriptions, VetChat and even pet telehealth services.

Pet Circle is a retail enterprise that sells everything a pet owner could want or need. They are the most well-known and well-established online pet store in Australia with warehouses based in Sydney, Australia.

Since its founding, the company’s mission has been straightforward: to meet all of the committed pet owners’ demands without them having to leave the convenience of their own homes. 

A decade has passed, and today, Pet Circle provides improved services to over 700,000 repeat consumers. These improvements range from a more comprehensive selection of available products to lower prices. Their workforce currently numbers more than 600 people, and they are a pioneer in the rapidly expanding field of eCommerce in Australia. 

Their 2021 Series C raise amassed 125 million dollars in funding and made them one of Australia’s latest unicorn companies.

The round was led by US firm Prysm Capital along with Sydney-based TDM Growth Partners.

UK investor Baillie Gifford also contributed, along with Aussie Capital and existing backer AirTree.

Investment Funding

  • Feb 7, 2017 – Venture Round – Airtree Ventures
  • November 14, 2017 – Venture Round – Francisco Partners
  • December 7, 2021 – Series C – Prysm Capital, TDM Growth Partners, Airtree Ventures, Aussie Capital, Baillie Gifford  – $125 Million

Craig Blair, co-founder and partner at AirTree, called the Pet Circle founding team “quiet achievers” of the Aussie startup scene.

“The role pets play in our lives can’t be understated,” Blair added.

“As pet owners now look for the same level of variety and quality of products as they do for themselves, Pet Circle is in the best position to meet these expectations.”

While no recent revenue figures have been provided, the business has seen strong growth over the past 18 months, as the COVID-19 lockdowns led to a boom in pet ownership.

The latest funding will fuel accelerated growth, allowing the team to further develop the software platform and expand Pet Circle’s warehouse footprint, fleet of vehicles and product range.

“We are on a mission to reinvent the experience of pet ownership,” Frizell said in a statement.


Pet Circle looks to be expanding and growing their team with a number of jobs listed on LinkedIn including ‘Mobile React Native Developer” and “Marketing CRM Lead”. With 64% growth over the past 2 years according to LinkedIn I think we’ll continue to see this company expand and evolve technologically. 

Interesting to note they started out initially with custom software around logistics and delivery to prove the business model.

Looking forward to seeing what’s next for this powerhouse eCommerce company.

AirTree partners (from l to r): James Cameron, John Henderson, Elicia McDonald, Jackie Vullinghs, Craig Blair and Helen Norton. Image Credits: AirTree Ventures

The number of software devs in Australia that I have spoken to in 2022 who have been made redundant is astonishing. Due to overseas investment pulling back, it’s been a turbulent time for tech companies in Australia, not to mention the recent drop in the crypto market leading to further layoffs in web 3.0 ventures.

It’s exciting to see an Australian venture capital firm raising more money in 2022 than ever for Australian startups.

AirTree was founded by partners Craig Blair and Daniel Petre in 2014. Petre has since stepped back from active management, but Blair remains at the forefront of the firm’s management.

AirTree now manages a total of $1.3 billion AUD and has more than 80 active investments. 

Out of that number, 23 are valued at more than $100 million and include eight unicorns. The new round was oversubscribed and much of it came from returning investors, including cornerstone LPs, superannuation funds AustralianSuper, Sunsuper, TelstraSuper and Statewide Super.

AirTree’s 2014 and 2016 vintage funds are both performing in the top quartile of US VCs. They include early investments in break-out companies such as ProspaSecure Code WarriorPet CircleCanvaAthenaBrighteJoyousThematicTranscelestialExpert360 and A Cloud Guru | A Pluralsight Company.

Some of its most notable portfolio companies are CanvaGo1, A Cloud Guru and Employment HeroMILKRUNLinktreeMr Yum and Immutable.


Airtree works hand in hand with the founders of these companies from day one, channelling money, support, and knowledge with each of these companies – as each begins to come into its own within tomorrow’s technology arena.

AirTree Ventures has had 9 exits so far including:

Prospa is an Australian owned and operated online lending service provider for small businesses within the region.

Xplor is a leading Australian software (SaaS) platform for managing child care administration and communication.

Paxata is an adaptive data preparation platform built for the analyst to turn raw data into ready data for analytics.

AI-powered data insights meets interactive storytelling in real time.

Notiv is the intelligent meeting assistant that turns all your important voice conversations into clever business outcomes.

Elevio is a user education and onboarding platform, allowing companies to upskill their user base with ease

A Cloud Guru is a social learning platform for cloud computing.

DesignCrowd is an online marketplace that offers logo, website, print, and graphic design services.

The best quality cleaning marketplace in Australia

Investment Funds

In total, they have raised over a billion dollars in investment across 6 funds, their latest being AirTree Growth. This fund was announced on Feb 2, 2022 and raised a total of A$450M.

  • Feb 2, 2022 – AirTree Growth – A$450M
  • Feb 2, 2022 – AirTree Wed3 – A$50M
  • Feb 1, 2022 – AirTree Seed – A$200M
  • Oct 21, 2019 – AirTree Ventures Fund III – $275M
  • Sep 12, 2016 – AirTree Ventures fund II – $250M
  • Jul 29, 2014 – Fund I – A$60M

Key People

Aside from Craig BlairJames CameronJohn HendersonElicia McDonaldJackie VullinghsHelen Norton, their staff now includes the following executives:

  • Aisling McGettigan – Financial controller
  • Anna Tyndale – Portfolio Success Manager
  • Bree Fedele – Content Marketing Manager
  • Dan Lombard – Investment Operations Manager
  • Ed Gregory – Legal Counsel
  • Jess Heffernan – Head of Investor Relations
  • Jess Walker – Community Relations Manager
  • Linkle Liao – Financial Controller
  • Victoria Lowe – Operations and Compliance Manager

Airtree also has several Investment Managers, multiple partners, venture capital managers, and other community-directed management employees. Their management staff is committed to directing a team that can empower new technology companies.

Their strategy with new companies is to provide valuable management information and help companies recruit the right team members. They share marketing strategies and help companies find the most competitive pricing plans. They also provide a community forum to educate and help all their companies network and share solutions with each other. 


This will be quite an interesting company to follow. Very exciting the work they are doing, especially for Australia. 

I will be taking a closer look at a number of companies they have invested in and the various partners involved. Their company growth according to LinkedIn is 304% in the past 2 years. That predominantly looks like various founders and people working with Airtree, nevertheless they are making waves and expanding rapidly. 

Interesting to note, co-founder Craig Blair is also Founding Chairman of Pet Circle. Pet Circle is the leading Pet e-commerce player in Australia. Review coming soon…

We often hear and read about the successes in the startup world, but don’t often hear about the many failures. 

It’s inevitable that most businesses fail in their first 3 years. Taking a look into why some succeed and others don’t is invaluable research in potential pitfalls, hurdles, and realistic challenges associated with starting a business.

After reviewing the journey and eventual acquisition of Omny Studio, let’s look into the other three companies that were selected for the Melbourne Accelerator Program in 2012.

What is MAP?

MAP (Melbourne Accelerator Program (MAP)), with the help of the University of Melbourne, aims to train startup companies to grow and become the best in their field. Yearly they select teams into their program to undergo extensive training and mentoring under Australia’s best business leaders. 

They also offer global access to investors. In total, they have been able to help 200 startups which has led to a $250 million investment. As a result, revenue of $200 million has been generated, and 1500 job opportunities.

Where Are They Now?

The first intake for the program was in 2012, and they announced four winners/companies to be selected. Alongside 121cast, startup companies VenueMob, Remote Area Power System, and were selected.

1. 121cast

121cast went through a few iterations to eventually create Omny Studio which was acquired by Triton Digital in 2019. They raised $1.7 Million in funding over the 7 years.

Details of the deal with Triton haven’t been fully disclosed. The founders have gone in various directions and even into tech venture funding themselves creating Startup Galaxy

2. VenueMob

VenueMob is an online booking system that helps customers search spaces available for booking. Whether it is birthdays, parties, engagements, or weddings, you’ll find a number of venues you can search through and book online. The company was founded in 2012 under founders David WeiJames Giang, and Ying Wang.

Apart from MAP, they secured partnerships from other investors like Sydney Angels, Artesian VC, and Optus Innov 8. 

In summary, they have raised a total of 1.5 million dollars from 5 funding rounds. In addition, the startup has secured partnerships with Accor Hotels, Mantra and Rydges who have added their event spaces to the platform.

VenueMob was acquired by Spare Workspace in 2020, under Jake Dimarco and formed VenueNow.

3. Remote Area Power System

Founded by Braden Kidd, his project “remote area power system” received recognition in engineering circles. With his master’s degree in electrical engineering, he aimed to create a company that gives power systems to places in remote locations. After joining MAP in 2012, he was given recognition by the Australian Institute of Energy. He received 1st prize with a $750 monetary gift and sponsorship from the Department of Primary Industry.

From then on, this project led to the creation of his company, New Waved Power System. Unfortunately, it did not survive. It was deregistered on 2017 February 23 and still dissolved and inactive for the last 5 years.


This startup company was considered to be the next-generation social media platform for students in university. Its goal is to help new students access information from the university they are going to and connect with other students.

As a run test, a beta website was published in 2012. With their innovative idea, they were chosen to be part of MAP. Unfortunately, the company did not survive. On February 29, 2013, the company released a statement of closure. Today, the website domain is still for sale and waiting for someone to purchase it.


Overall it’s important to recognise that not every company accepted into an accelerator is going to be successful, but also keep in mind it could be a stepping stone for the founders that moves them onto bigger and better things too. We’ve all heard it, “If you are determined, each failure brings you one step closer to success”.

Interesting to note the type of companies here that received funding, gained traction and moved forward. 

A few questions come to mind and are part of the reason for exploring these startups and investor profiles:

  • What types of founders and personality types eventually achieve success? 
  • Does starting with multiple founders provide better support for growth?
  • Which business types and models are more attractive to investors?
  • Is it a coincidence of luck, right time and place that achieves investor interest?

Of course, all of these questions will get varying responses from different people, but the real answers will come from looking at the data, statistics, and track record of multiple companies over time. 

More to come. Stay tuned…

Four years to build a company that has attracted $100 Million AUD in total funding. Incredible. This isn’t some AI, military, or space-age techno gadget invention company either.

Mr Yum is a tech-hospitality service startup that makes marketing, payments, and ordering easy and seamless for events, restaurants, and other hospitality businesses. 

You wouldn’t believe they survived through COVID-19 with the devastating impact on the hospitality industry but they did, and now have the goal to become “The Shopify for Restaurants”. 

The widespread adoption of QR codes throughout the pandemic actually provided a boost to company growth and transition to digital menus.

Founded in 2018 by the team of Kim TeoAndrei MiulescuKerry Osborn and Adrian Osman 🚀, the Melbourne based company now has $73 million USD in funding and offices across Australia, the United Kingdom, South Africa, and the United States. 

According to their website, Mr Yum has been serving leading brands such as Sydney Airport, Live Nation, Strings of Life, Wayland’s Yard, and Magic Mike Live throughout the lifespan of the company.

I love this little story from an interview between Airtree’s James Cameron and Mr Yum’s founder Kim Teo:

What was your thought process and plan like for international expansion?

The reality of being an Australian company is you can’t build a very big business with only local customers and networks. And it’s difficult for a business like Mr Yum to go international without people on the ground.

We were deciding between the US and UK for our international expansion, and we chose LA for a whole bunch of different reasons. Because of COVID, we either had to go for three months or stay in Australia. We applied for an exemption to travel and were lucky that it got approved pretty quickly. We’re lucky that Kerry and Andrei could stay in Australia and continue to build the team there.

We weren’t vaccinated and it seemed like the most insanely ridiculous thing to do — LA was one of the biggest COVID hotspots at the time. Adrian and I booked a one-way ticket and there were 10 people on the flight. We looked at each other and said, “This is either the best thing we’ll ever do or the most ridiculous thing that we’ll ever do”.


When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the team built out a delivery platform for its customers in a matter of days, providing an alternative to the likes of UberEats and Deliveroo, and allowing the startup to turn a profit for at least parts of the year.


  • Feb 1st, 2019 – Pre Seed Round – Rish Chaudhuri
  • May 31, 2019 – Seed Round – Australia Venture Co. – $1.5M
  • April 20, 2021 – Venture Round – TEN13 – $11M
  • November 29, 2021 – Series A – 12 Investors – Tiger Global – $89M

Worthy note: Mr Yum achieved the largest Australian Series A funding round for a female-led company, and the third-largest Series A in Australian history.

Investors in the round, led by Tiger Global Management, include Skip Capital (the private fund of Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar and Kim Jackson), Tennis Australia’s Wildcard Ventures, Broadsheet founder Nick Shelton and Kogan founder Ruslan Kogan. Existing investors TEN13 and AirTree also followed-on in this round, making their largest investments to date into the company.

Other investors in Mr Yum include US-based Australian NBA star Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs and Grammy Award winning artists Rüfüs Du Sol.

Investors & Financials

While Teo doesn’t share any revenue growth figures, she does point out that the team has grown to more than 120 full-time employees, up from a team of 12 pre-pandemic.

Mr Yum has more than 1500 venues on the platform, with a total of 13 million users.

AirTree partner James Cameron said it’s rare to see consumers adopt a new behaviour as quickly as they have with Mr Yum’s products.

“Their QR codes have now become ubiquitous in Australia, and it’s happened pretty much overnight,” he noted. “They’re now helping hospitality venues all over the country bounce back from a very tough period through COVID, and with this new funding they are able to double down on their international markets, where they are already growing faster than they were in Australia.”


Airtree is a venture capital fund focused on investing in the best Australian and New Zealand technology founders. AirTree’s mission is to back founders from the very start with strong conviction. They’ve partnered with over 80 of the fastest growing and most impactful tech companies that are transforming a wide variety of industries. In 2022, Airtree launched a new fund with $200 million dedicated to seed stage companies and $50 million to Web3 projects.


TEN13 is another Australian-based venture capital company that focuses on companies in their early stages. It currently has 33 investments and has invested $7.59 million in Mr Yum during a Venture Round on April 20, 2021.


Tiger Global Management, a US-based investment firm that acts as a hedge fund, a private equity firm, and a venture capital company. Tiger Global is Mr Yum’s biggest investor, investing $65 million in the Series A funding round last November 29, 2021.


Mr Yum has also made one acquisition, picking up MyGuestlist – a reservations and marketing management tech company – last May 3, 2022.


As of writing – they recently laid off 44 employees (17% of its 260-strong workforce).

According to a blog post by Teo, inflation has hurt the business, which led to this decision. They do, however, have solid investors and a good amount of money on their war chest, so time will tell if they come out of this stronger.

For a startup you may never have heard of, this story spans ~7 years and shows the incredible opportunity in Australia to persevere with an idea/goal and see success.

Omny Studio is a Melbourne-based enterprise podcasting software-as-a-service startup. Founded in 2012 by Andrew ArmstrongEdward Hooper and Long Zheng, the company has a rich history in audio software and services, formerly developing SoundGecko text-to-speech and Omny personalized radio, before launching the Omny Studio platform in 2015. Today the platform is actively used by thousands of podcasting and broadcasting clients, powering world-leading publishers internationally.

There’s a number of articles online about the evolution of Omny Studio and even blog posts from the co-founders. The team originally started with an app called 121cast, then SoundGecko launched in July 2012, a TTS (text-to-speech) app. They originally saw success from promotional posts from The Verge and Techcrunch.

“121cast” began as one of four companies chosen for Melbourne’s Accelerator Program.

The first hire for 121cast was Rob Skillington, a software engineer who stayed with the company for 7 months. Clive Dickens also joined as an advisor and helped secure investment from SingTel.

The team progressed to building Omny Radio, and hired Jarrod Robins in April 2013 to lead mobile development. He stayed with the company for 2 years, 10 months.

Later came the pivot to Omny Studio, an idea from their content producer Matt Saraceni who saw a more technical and functional need of the software for content producers to be able to easily get their audio online, track performance etc. This involved focusing resources and shutting down SoundGecko on March 1st, 2015.

After many months of development, their major break came after launching Omny Studio at the Radio Days Europe Conference. From there, hundreds of radio stations signed up to try the platform. Throughout the rest of 2015 their user base and profits came more from B2B than the consumer app and pushed them to seriously consider pivoting strategy.

Sharon Taylor joined the team in early 2016 to run operations and later took over as CEO.

Late 2016, with the help of Romesh Wiss, a Swiss management consultant who was keen to get startup experience while visiting Australia on sabbatical, they made the call and doubled down on Omny Studio. From there on Omny Radio would be decoupled from the platform until it could be shut down.

Triton Digital got heavily involved in 2017 and formed a strategic partnership becoming the exclusive reseller of Omny Studio in the U.S and Canada.

In 2019, Triton acquired Omny Studio and integrated it into their own service offerings. The addition of Omny Studio’s comprehensive CMS and hosting capabilities into Triton’s preeminent portfolio of streaming, advertising, and measurement technologies provides the world’s audio publishers with a one-stop-shop to increase their reach and revenue while simultaneously streamlining workflows.

While details of the deal made haven’t been revealed publicly, the business has raised at least $US1.7 million ($2.4m) in capital since its inception, according to investment tracking database CrunchBase, which would have put its valuation well into the millions.

Success didn’t come easy, Zheng said, and the business originally “struggled” to build significant traction with its personalised radio consumer mobile app. It was only after it pivoted to an enterprise podcasting service that it started seeing significant growth and notable traction.


  • May 1, 2012 – Grant – University of Melbourne – $20,000
  • November 13, 2012 – Adventure Capital, SingTel Innov8. Optus – $250,000 
  • January 2, 2013 – Melbourne Accelerator Program 
  • May 1, 2013 – SingTel Innov8
  • June 2, 2013 – Seed Round – $170,000
  • January 2, 2014 – Seed Round – $300,000
  • August 26, 2014 – Series A – $1M
  • 2019 – Triton Digital – Acquisition

Omny Studio raised a total of $1.7M in funding over 7 rounds.


Triton Digital® is the global technology and services leader to the digital audio and podcast industry. Operating in more than 40 countries, Triton provides innovative technology that enables broadcasters, podcasters, and online music services to build their audience, maximize their revenue, and streamline their day-to-day operations. In addition, Triton powers the global online audio industry with Webcast Metrics®, the leading online audio measurement service. With unparalleled integrity, excellence, teamwork, and accountability, Triton remains committed to connecting audio, audience, and advertisers to continuously fuel the growth of the global online industry. Triton Digital is a wholly owned subsidiary of The E.W. Scripps Company (NASDAQ: SSP).


Omny Studio still has a company page on LinkedIn with 9 employees listed. Triton Digital has 198 employees with 4 listed in Australia. Tritons employee growth over the past 2 years is 25% with most being engineering roles.

We’ll see what the future holds for Omny Studio in Australia. Very interesting to browse through the profiles and see the progress and career direction of the co-founders and early hires of the business.

Payrix Payments Technology (Payrix) provides marketplaces, SaaS businesses and ISOs a flexible payments platform that enables them to unlock more revenue potential. The company provides the tools to create a seamless, embedded user experience and offers clients the choice of payment facilitation-as-a-service (PFaaS) or a full payment infrastructure (payment IaaS) product based on business appetite. Payrix is a cloud built, API-first platform that is highly flexible, customizable and scalable.

Founded in 2015 by Boruch Greenberg who has focused most of his career on commerce, credit and payments having previously founded Benchmark Merchant Solutions & Splash Payments. With Greenberg’s goal to change the conversation around payments providing vendors with a truly flexible embedded payment option, it looks as though Payrix are on track to compete with the likes of Paypal and Stripe.

Some of Payrix published clients including Real Green Systems, Storable, Perfect Gym, SimplySwim and ResMan.

Investments & Acquisitions

  • 2015 – Founded, $0 revenue
  • December, 2018 – Payrix received $22 million in funding led by Blue Star Innovation Partners and PSG. 
  • October 1st, 2020 – $50 million Series A – Blue Star Innovation Partners, PSG
  • October, 2020 – Payrix acquires Integrapay – Brisbane, Australia
  • February, 2022 – PSG and BSIP sell Payrix to FIS – Undisclosed amount.
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Investor Profile


BSIP is a Dallas based investment fund founded by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones alongside Rob Wechsler, an experienced entrepreneur and investor. Founded in 2017, BSIP has invested in 13 platform companies, and facilitated over 100 tuck-in acquisitions.BSIP operates out of the Star in Frisco, Texas.


PSG is a growth equity firm that partners with middle-market software and technology-enabled services companies to help them navigate transformational growth, capitalize on strategic opportunities, and build strong teams. Having backed more than 95 companies and facilitated over 375 add-on acquisitions, PSG brings extensive investment experience, deep expertise in software and technology, and a firm commitment to collaborating with management teams. Founded in 2014, PSG operates out of offices in Boston, Kansas City, London, and Spain.


FIS is a leading provider of technology solutions for merchants, banks and capital markets firms globally. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, FIS ranks #241 on the 2021 Fortune 500 and is a member of Standard & Poor’s 500® Index.

Key Comments

“It has been a pleasure to work alongside the talented team at Payrix and witness their extraordinary growth throughout our investment period,” said Marco Ferrari, Managing Director at PSG. “We thank the Payrix team for their partnership and look forward to their continued success.”

“We’re proud of our team at Payrix and excited for their future growth at FIS,” said Rob Wechsler, Founder and GP of BSIP.

“Since acquiring Worldpay in 2019, FIS continues to expand its strategic payments capabilities and offerings in global e-commerce,” said Stephanie Ferris, President, FIS. “Bringing the Payrix capabilities inside FIS enables us to continue our journey of serving e-commerce as well as platform companies.

Australian Opportunity

October, 2020 – Payrix officially acquired IntegraPay, and as a result has launched into the Australia and New Zealand market. Payrix now has an office based in Brisbane, Queensland.

IntegraPay CEO John De Stefani says, “We are delighted to have found a partner that shares both our growth ambitions and core values for serving clients.”

Following the company’s Series A extension, this merger positions Payrix as an independent payment technology provider supporting clients as part of a global strategy, and will add an additional $1.75 billion in processing volume to the Payrix Platform, the company states.

Payrix CEO Eric Frazier says, “We’ve listened to our clients and many have exciting plans to expand globally – it became clear we needed to eliminate blockers that were holding them back.”


September, 2022 – With ~208 employees globally, the company has seen 60% growth over the past year and 204% growth in the last 2 years according to LinkedIn data insights. With ~17 people based in Australia presently, I’m sure we’ll see that number grow significantly.

Having recently seen company ads for local software developers in Australia I’ll be watching this company to see future growth and opportunities. Stay tuned.

Bluestar Innovation Partners was established in 2016 to provide direct funding and mentorship from both the Jones Family and top executives on a variety of topics including operational guidance, strategic intent, access to capital, expert mode-marketing, branding, and go-to-market strategies.

Private investment funding is the focus of the company, which has its headquarters in Frisco, Texas. The company makes investments into a number of businesses that are active in the areas of technology, games, as well as health and fitness.

Bluestar Innovation Partners has gained recognition in a number of different regions throughout the state of Texas. Among these are their recent recognition as a nominee in the Investment Catalyst classification for the 2019 Tech Titan excellence award given out on August 23, 2019.

Key People

The following are some of the most influential people in the company’s continued success.

  • Robert Wechsler, Founder.
  • Jerry Jones, President/General Manager.
  • Stephen Jones, Executive Vice President/Player Personnel Director
  • Charlotte Jones Anderson, Executive Vice President/Chief Brand Officer
  • Chad Estis, Business Operations Executive Vice President
  • Jerry Jones Jr, Executive Vice President/Marketing and Sales Chief Officer
  • Tom Walker, BSIPartner
  • Jason Cohen, BSIPartner
  • Stuart Lodge, BSIPartner
  • Molly Slusher, BSIPartner/Gen. counsel
  • Matt Steffe, BSIPartner
  • Eric Frazier, President/ Business & Commercial Development Leader
  • Randy McGraw, BSIPartner
  • Jessica Jones, BSIPartner
  • Corey Wood, BSIPartner
  • Dan Wechsler, BSIPartner
  • Ben Kauder, BSIPartner
  • Andrew Shofner, BSIPartner
  • Brett Thier, BSIPartner
  • Tom Strachan, BSIPartner
  • Kevin Hughes, BSIPartner

Recent Investments

BSIP has a proven track record of success in identifying companies operating in a segmented marketplace that are failing at one idea that BSIP can improve upon. With this strategy, BSIP is able to add value in addition to the capital outlay.

Businesses located in northern Texas stand to gain a substantial amount of value from invested capital from BSIP. Getting supported by a collective that is deeply linked to the most senior management levels at the most important sports organisation in the universe confers a certain innate competitive edge. Specifically, this incentive comes in the form of the following:

In addition, the leadership team at BSIP is not only one of the greatest powerful professionals of its type in North Texas but also has a demonstrated record of successfully increasing tech firms. In fact, they may even be the most influential group in the region.

April 23, 2019

– Payrix  – became the lead investor with $22M raised money.

July 26, 2020

– received TravelNet Solutions

– had exit in Payrix

October 01, 2020

– Series A Payrix raised a total of $50M.

March 08, 2022

– invested in Stax ($245M)

Bluestar’s Mission

BSIP’s investment thesis is to engage in incredibly creative innovators and companies selling a service or product with an overall income between $3,000,000 and $50,000,000. This enables BSIP to enhance their expertise, access to dispersion and capital systems, and to provide different implementations with exceptional guidelines and value.

Bluestar Innovation Partners is currently working on a strategy to grow their industry by recruiting additional investors and partner organisations who share their commitment to a common goal. The company has held throughout its history the conviction that it is the essential component of a forward-thinking kind of enterprise that is able to appreciate the value of ongoing innovation.