Telstra Muru D’s Startup Investment Strategy

Telstra Muru D’s Startup Investment Strategy

Muru-D is a startup accelerator established to support selected tech entrepreneurial talents in Australia and Asia. It mentors, provides customized acceleration services and investment to startup technology companies.

muru-D’s goal is to help Australia and Asia become centres of digital business.  The startup accelerator is backed by Telstra, a world-class technology company.

“Muru” is the word for “path” in Sydney Aboriginal Eora and “D” stands for digital.

What is a Startup Accelerator?

A startup accelerator is an organisation that works with the founders of startups at various stages of their business (usually prior to raising series A funding). It also provides them with seed funding, as well as the skills, knowledge and connections to help them scale their business.

Startup companies usually apply for acceptance in an accelerator program. In exchange for the resources provided, the startup accelerator becomes an investor in the business.

More about muru-D

Annie Parker and Mick Liubinskas launched muru-D in 2013 with the vision to help resilient and big thinking entrepreneurs in Australia and Asia that use technology to solve tough global problems.  The muru-D program:

  • Runs six-month programs in five locations:
    Muru-D has ongoing programs in Sydney, Melbourne and Singapore. It also runs partner programs with Spacecubed in Perth and with River City Labs in Brisbane. One program is run at each location per year and they start at different times. The program duration is longer than those in other accelerators.
  • Is tailored to small businesses:
    The programs are flexible and designed according to the founders’ requirements of each cohort.
  • Accepts startups at different stages, from different industries.
  • Offer the following benefits to startups:
  • Upfront funding allowing the founders to focus on the business.
  • Co-working space.
  • Global network – startups can access mentors, investors, other muru-D teams and alumni worldwide.
  • Business skills, founder-friendly terms.
  • Free or “heavily discounted services on everything from web services to accounting and CRM software.”

If you’re interested in becoming part of the program, you have to apply online.

Why does muru-D support technology startups only?

According to its website, muru-D is “really excited about interesting technology, like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR), drones and satellite technology, and robotics!”

It also makes sense that muru-D choose technology startups because Telstra, its parent company is one of the leading technology companies in Australia.

Eligibility to be part of muru-D programs

muru-D is looking for:

  • Teams with founders who know very well or care deeply about the problem they are trying to solve. The members should be able to run the business from building to selling the product. The founders should be able to work on the startup business full time.
  • Ambitious founders working on products or solutions to “global problems with massive potential to scale.”
  • muru-D is looking for founders who are eyeing the global market for their products. That’s why the program includes an overseas trip. The product or service should have a big potential to be successful in the global market.
  • It is an important factor considering that the “D” in muru-D stands for digital. Innovation and a strong technology component would be significant advantages over the future competition.

There is no age limit. muru-D loves “diversity of gender, age, culture and thought.”  They also prefer teams which have at least a co-founder instead of just a solo founder.

SYD5 or the 5th Sydney cohort

This year, muru-D Sydney selected 10 startups for its SYD5 or its 5th Sydney cohort which started on January 29. Each program participant received $75,000 as seed capital.

A short description of five of the 10 selected startups will give you an idea of the teams they choose to accelerate:

  • AMSL Aero:
    AMSL Aero is working on a two-seat aircraft capable of vertical takeoff and landing as well as flying at 300 km per hour. They are trying to develop a faster, safer and less expensive alternative to helicopters.
  • Cookitoo:
    Cookitoo is a platform that allows caterers, cafes and restaurants to maximise the utilization of their commercial kitchen space by renting them out.
  • iCRM:
    iCRM is a cloud software platform that connects existing health and medical devices to provide customized care and support plans for quality in-home care of the elderly. The software is already used in more than a hundred old-age care organisations in Australia.
  • Neuromersiv:
    Neuromersiv uses Virtual Reality to make neuro rehab therapy fun for victims of stroke, brain trauma and other users. Neuromersiv’s innovative solution makes it easier for patients who need neuro rehab therapy to get back on their feet as quickly as possible.
  • SkyGrow:
    SkyGrow helps fight global deforestation problems by developing a tree planting system that is 15% cheaper and 10 times faster than the current methods. The tree planting robot (Growbots) can plant billions of trees in a year.

The Benefit of muru-D

On its fifth year, the muru-D program has helped over 115 startups from the programs it runs in five locations across Australia and Singapore.

According to Julie Trell, the Global head of muru-D, she is “proud that muru-D continues to grow stronger each year.” This year they got “almost 20 per cent more applications compared to last year.”

Telstra’s decision to invest in technological enterprise reflects their own commitment to leading edge innovation. Small businesses receive the funds and support to launch their ideas and muru-D benefit from being an investor, but hopefully the program will prove to be the most beneficial to the people who the innovations are designed to help.



Neil Aitken

Having worked in 3 countries for 4 telcos on both voice and data products, Neil is in a position to give you the inside track. Get beyond the marketing messages to the best plan for you.