This week I spent two days in Melbourne with some of my DiUS colleagues hearing the pitches of 20 hungry startups from all over the globe that are vying for 10 spots in the 2019 Startupbootcamp (SBC) Energy Australia.

Once again, I’ve been blown away by the stories and ideas from the smart and interesting teams that I talked to. And it made me reflect on what is really important in driving innovation, and why the SBC program is a great fit for our experience in product development and expertise in the energy sector.

As DiUS has been around for 14 years now, our startup roots are sometimes forgotten. When we were founded, we were two people with a vision for disrupting how technology solutions were delivered.

Now that we are 140 people, we’ve maintained our focus on the new, the cool, the interesting with the ability to look beyond the shiny-object phase, to really understand how the application of emerging technology is going to make a lasting impact on a business model.

While innovation is a much often debated subject, with strong — dare I say almost religious — feelings; here are two of our fundamental tried and tested principles about innovation.

It’s a journey, not a destination

Rudd Hendricks, Co-founder Startupbootcamp, said “An idea is just an idea, it’s nothing without great execution”. We agree; ideas are easy, it’s getting them to happen that’s the hard part. It’s hard because it’s a sustained effort, you need to be continually improving, testing and learning.

I like to call this the ‘how of innovation’. The methods and practices you use are just as important as the idea or technology. You must keep experimenting, talking to real users and gathering feedback. It’s a cycle of build, measure, learn, then build again.

And for this reason we feel very much aligned to SBC program focus on the concept of continual experimentation to get the right product / market fit.

Culture really does eat strategy for breakfast

In the SBC program, teams are chosen over ideas or technologies and it reaffirms something that I’ve always believed to be true - ultimately if you have the right people on your team, ones that are willing to listen, learn, collaborate and pivot; then you’re ahead of the game.

We’ve seen this so often when we go in to help clients deliver a new product or address a particular pain point. The ones that are most successful are those that are willing to work with us. Adopting new ways of working can be challenging and confronting, and requires a joint desire to continuously improve, listen and put changes in place to support us in delivering the best outcome.

There can only be 10

At the end of the two days, it was tough to select 10 teams to go through the program. The worldwide search garnered over 650 applications, so the Top 20 teams at the Selection Days were of a very high quality. So in fact, we selected 11.

A big congratulations to all the teams that were selected: BuildSpace, Ecologic apps, Elemize Technologies, Fohat, ICVbox, Keewi, Nostromo, Power Diverter, Redgrid, Senno and UCapture. All of us at DiUS are very much looking forward to working with you in 2019 and wish you the best of luck.

There’s something special about all of the startups, but there are some journeys that I’ll be watching closely.

UCapture

UCapture is a green-tech platform that reduces greenhouse gas emissions when users shop online. For me, this startup has real potential in the Creating Shared Value (CSV) space, an area that is close to my (and DiUS’) heart. CSV is a relatively new business model that sets out how to develop solutions that are profitable, solve a problem sustainably and deliver a positive impact to a community.  UCapture provides a such an easy and sustainable way for consumers, cities and organisations to be carbon neutral, supports environmental projects and is a for profit business.

Keewi

Keewi provides better energy management from the meter to the plug. I admire the cleverness and simplicity of this idea, how it leverages the the ubiquity of power points and delivers the power of energy consumption data directly to users without having to involve an electrician. This transparency and ease of use is what is the consumer needs — and is akin to the benefits we aim to deliver through our DiUS Powersensor). To date getting the data through a product requires the expense of an electrician. Being able to automate the remote powering down of appliances has yielded an amazing 20-40% savings in trials. And I also love that this is a all female founded startup — even if they keep calling plugs “outlets.”

Redgrid

Redgrid is harnessing and connecting the most efficient and relevant of distributed software technologies to enable the smart grid of the near future. They want to create the ‘internet of energy’. Got to love an Australian startup with a really big vision. Right now, this idea is mostly idea, but I’m really looking forward to how it’s going to shape up.

If you are interested in talking to us about our work with startups or the Startupbootcamp Energy Australia accelerator program, please get in touch.