Australian startup snapshot: Ollo Mobile

Maker of wearable 3G device has entered talks with SingTel and Optus under Innov8 seed program.

A prototype of the Ollo Mobile device. The shell was made with a 3D printer. Credit: Ollo Mobile

A prototype of the Ollo Mobile device. The shell was made with a 3D printer. Credit: Ollo Mobile

Selling it

Ollo hopes to start selling its product in Australia this Christmas, and then expand to other world markets, Geiger said.

Ollo has already set up in Australia as an MVNO operating on the Optus network, he said. It plans to charge $99 for the device and $30 per month for the service, with bundle discounts for customers who buy multiple devices, he said.

Ultimately, Ollo wants mobile operators to sell the device like any other phone in their store, Geiger said. The company will white label the product so that telcos can put their own names on the product, he said.

“We’re in discussions with three ASX-listed telcos” in Australia, he said. “Two have agreed to carry and one’s talking white label and joint venture.”

A few non-profits have agreed to distribute the device, and Ollo is also talking to retirement villages about providing them to their communities, Geiger added.

The company next seeks to bring the device to Asia and the US.

Geiger hopes that SingTel under the Innov8 program can provide help bringing the product to Asia, he said.

Meanwhile, Ollo is working with Advance, a startup mentorship program, to bring the telehealth device to the US. Advance will bring Ollo to Silicon Valley for networking with investors this April, Geiger said.

Ollo Mobile is especially courting T-Mobile USA to carry the device because that mobile operator uses spectrum compatible with the device, he noted.

Funding it

A rendering of the final Ollo device. Credit: Ollo Mobile
A rendering of the final Ollo device. Credit: Ollo Mobile

Ollo Mobile began as a self-funded endeavour. “We bootstrapped the hardware,” Geiger said. “We did it ourselves out of our savings.”

Now, Ollo Mobile is approaching the end of its first funding round. The company has received funding from angel investors in Sydney and Brisbane, Geiger said.

SingTel Innov8, launched in June last year, will provide up to $250,000 for startups funded under by seed program. Besides cash, the seed program provides startups with mentoring, networking and dedicated co-working spaces.

Geiger said he does not believe Innov8 funding will require exclusivity with SingTel or subsidiary Optus.

Geiger advises new startups to get into incubators and co-working spaces “as soon as possible.”

“The experience you gain and the people you meet really accelerate your thing and understanding of the entire process,” he said.

Ollo is a member of iLab, a startup incubator associated with the University of Queensland, and works with River City Labs, a co-working space in Brisbane.

It’s better to seek funding earlier rather than later, Geiger said. Still, he noted that angel investors in Australia can be reluctant to fund a startup before there is revenue, especially for a hardware company.

“But it’s very relationship-driven,” he said. Finding the right ally with established credibility can improve the receptiveness of investors, he said.

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If you’ve got a startup or know about a cool new Australian business, please email Adam Bender at adam_bender@idg.com.au or on Twitter (@WatchAdam).

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