The votes are in and the winners of the 1st annual The Next Web Australia awards have been selected.
Before I announce the winners I’d like to congratulate the Australian Tech Startup Industry as a whole. The calibre of organisations nominated has been exceptional and is the best evidence yet that those people working hard to build a true startup ecosystem in Australia are starting to achieve real results.
Now on to the award winners…
BEST NEW STARTUP
Winner – We Are Hunted
Honorable Mention – Posse
There were a bunch of really amazing startups created in 2009 but most of the attention in our awards went towards We Are Hunted and Posse. In a very close race We Are Hunted (WAH) won mostly because of the potential of what they’ve achieved.
Let me explain.
If real time is the future of the web, then WAH is what the future of real time will look like. It’s that simple.
WAH has created a framework for accessing, using and creating value out of the rivers of information that the real time and social web provides through sites like Twitter, Facebook and many other sites across the Internet. The key to how they do this is by using the power of the Aussie-built wotnews semantic engine that has been changing all manner of industries, from news, to share-trading to fashion over the past couple of years.
Add to that a slick front end, a business model, and the simple fact that you can get massive value out of the site on first use without any direct contribution and you start to get a feel for why WAH had to win.
WAH is a disruptor today, a foreshadowing of how we’ll get filtered information tomorrow and proof that there really is massive value in real-time, even if Twitter can’t find a business model.
Congratulations to the team.
Posse gets an honorable mention because of the idea behind the site – helping fans promote the bands they care about – and the execution of that idea. The potential for “social selling” is massive and Posse have positioned themselves well to be there when it takes off.
Winner – Perkler
Honorable Mention – IPScape
I first published a story on Perkler in 2008 while at TechNation Australia. The idea behind Perkler was always simple – help people access the stuff they’re entitled to through the various memberships and loyalty programs they’ve signed up to. Lots of potential there.
In October last year I went to an event in Sydney and heard CMO Justin Barrie speak about how the business is growing and the traction they’re getting here in Australia and abroad. At that event Perkler was also one of a group of startups pitching for funding. If I was an Angel investor I would have put money in there and then.
The potential I saw in 2008 has turned, through great execution in 2009, into a business with long term success written all over it. Keep an eye on this one.
Congrats to IPScape as well for continuing to build their hosted Call Centre service throughout 2009. The cloud is the future of business and IPScape have taken a niche idea and grown it throughout 2009 into a business that has a very bright future.
Winner – We Are Hunted
Honorable Mention – Adioso
Again, another award win for the team from WAH. Aside from the reasons given above explaining why WAH is such a great startup there’s no denying that the service itself is just plain cool!
Honorable mention goes to the Adioso team for turning the boring world of flight ticket purchasing into a wonderland of possibility.
MOST LIKELY TO CHANGE THE WORLD
Winner – Atlassian
Honorable Mention – Red Bubble
At first I thought this award would be won by some kick-ass technology that would change the way we live…the tech equivalent of a gold rocket car or something. But when I looked through the nominations I realised that there are startups out there making a real difference in the lives of people around the world that goes beyond giving them a better toy or site to play with.
With that in mind, and after reviewing all nominations, one company came to mind – Atlassian.
You can read all about the Atlassian Foundation here and the great work they do both with their own employees and the community more generally.
Of all those things though, the most impressive in my mind is their support of Room to Read. By providing hundreds of thousands of dollars (and helping developers all over the world get access to their software for bargain basement prices at the same time) they’ve helped provide the base infrastructure for this and future generations of underprivileged children to get educated and make a change to their own families, communities and the world more generally.
It’s such a software engineer approach to doing things – find a way to scale your efforts (giving people the tools to influence others) so you get the biggest bang for your buck.
Congratulations also go to Honorable Mention winner Red Bubble for allowing people all over the world to share their passion for, and make a business out of, art, photography and design. The rise, once again, of the artisan is something that will have an enormous effect on the economy of the future and Red Bubble is helping push that change along.
STARTUP PERSON OF THE YEAR
Winner – Bart Jellema
Honorable Mention – Mick Liubinskas
Many of you might know Bart. He created Startup Australia – a great repository of information for Aussie startups – and the national phenomena, Startup Camp and BootUp Camp. These last two initiatives alone have been responsible for the genesis of more amazing Aussie tech startups (either directly or indirectly) than anything else over the past year. On top of that he’s regularly around on the Silicon Beach Google Group and the associated “Friday Night Drinks” providing words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs. He has also helped some of those entrepreneurs with office space/mentoring . Oh yeah, he’s done this all outside of his “day job” as co-founder of one of Australia’s top startups, the super successful coupon site, Tjoos.
As everyone who knows him will testify, his can do attitude and penchant for action when others would prefer to talk, has helped the Australian startup scene immeasurably. Not bad for a kid from the Netherlands.
Honorable Mention goes to Mick Liubinskas, who would have won this award for sure had Bart not been around to pip him at the post. Mick (and his Pollenizer partner Phil Morle) have been creating focused!, kick-ass aussie startups over the past few years, changing everyone’s perception of what the local industry can produce. Outside of his work at Pollenizer he’s also been an amazing advocate for the industry.
Congratulations to both of these guys.
BEST WEB STARTUP
Winner – We are Hunted
Honorable Mention – 99 Designs
The WAH team pick up another award for their excellent work in 2009. I know it sucks that they keep winning awards but it was just too hard to go past them.
Honorable mention in this one goes to 99 Designs, for me the most interesting of the SitePoint family of sites (including SitePoint itself and Flippa). Crowd-sourcing will play a large role in the future of business and 99 Designs is one of the best examples of a crowd-sourcing marketplace on the web.
BEST MOBILE STARTUP
Winner – mogeneration
Honorable Mention – Graham Dawson
We don’t cover that many mobile startups at The Next Web AU. That’s not by design, it just seems that there’s a bit of a disconnect between the mobile and web startup scenes at the moment so it’s a little difficult to keep abreast of both. No doubt that will change as the mobile web continues to become more and more ubiquitous.
That having been said, we’ve found an excellent winner for this category in mogeneration. It might seem a little odd they’ve won, as mogeneration is more of a development house than a typical tech startup, but there’s no denying the influence they’ve had over the mobile industry in 2009.
Honorable Mention in this category goes to Graham Dawson as proof that as an individual, and one that focuses on developing niche products, you can have great success in the modern age of mobile apps. He’s also been amazing in his willingness to share information openly about the development process and the financials involved in the iPhone app industry.
BEST ENTERPRISE STARTUP
Winner – Atlassian
Honorable Mention – ThreatMetrix
What Mike Canon-Brookes and Scott Farquar have managed to do in a few years, and without external funding, is quite amazing. As a company Atlassian is almost single-handedly keeping the Australian software export industry alive and to make matters worse for their competitors, while everyone else was firing people in 2009 they went on a hiring binge to grab the best of the best.
Atlassian is still at the beginning of what I think will be a great success story. A lot of that has to do with their products, their culture and their leadership. Really, for the enterprise award, was there any other choice?
Honorable Mention in this category goes to ThreatMetrix and their fraud fighting solutions. This is a company of heavy-hitters helping large organisations solve a problem which costs everyone from small e-commerce provider to the largest financial organisations masses of money each year.
So that’s it for these awards.
Thanks to everyone who nominated either by commenting, emailing or stopping me on the street.
Once again let me reiterated that I’ve been blown away by the growth of the local tech startup scene in 2009. That having been said, there’s still a long way to go for us, so use the companies and people who have won awards as an example, go out there and create something special in 2010!
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