Australia, the land down under, may be far away for most people, but its emerging presence on the global startup scene is causing people to start to take note. In Startup Genome‘s industry standard assessment of startup ecosystems around the world, cosmopolitan cities Sydney and Melbourne made the top 20, despite the fact that Australia is a country with only 23 million people.

To compile this difficult list, we interviewed startup and venture capital experts from Australia and did our own independent research. Key factors that influenced which startups we chose were funding, number of customers or users, whether they were entering a market that had potential for growth, level of innovation, and leadership.

The startups here range from small operations with just $100,000 in funding to companies with over $100 million in turnover. Many of the most successful Australian startups are fashion and design oriented, and car apps, restaurant and shopping apps, and cloud collaboration software are beaming spaces within their national scene. The last section of this list, dedicated to the tiny but mighty early stage startups, have a wonderful range of DIY, 3D printing, and smart energy devices to get early adopters excited.

Let’s go ride a kangaroo…or the next best thing, look at some cool Australian startups!

Fashion and Design

1) Shoes of Prey

Left: Michael Fox – Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer; Top right: Jodie Fox – Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer; Bottom right: Mike Knapp – Co-founder and Chief Technical Officer

Founded  2009
Funding – $8.05 million, Series A
Founders – Jodie Fox, Michael Fox, Mike Knapp
Location – Sydney
Overview – Shoes of Prey is an online platform where shoppers can design their own shoes, and then get them made and mailed to them.
Why we chose them – This is one of those ideas that makes so much e-commerce sense that you get surprised someone didn’t come up with this earlier. Co-founder Jodie Fox had the initial “a-ha” moment, and then got Michael Fox and Mike Knapp, both from Google, jazzed to join her. They have won various awards, including Most Innovative Online Retailer in 2013, and are now partnering with large brands such as Nordstrom.

2) The Iconic

Photo Credit: PR screenshot

Founded  2011
Funding – $72 million, Late stage
Founders – Finn Haensel, Adam Jacobs, Andreas Otto, Cameron Votan
Location – Surry Hills
Overview – The Iconic is one of the major fashion online marketplaces in Australia, serving both Australia and New Zealand.
Why we chose them – In 2013, it raised $26 million in funding, making it one of the largest investments in e-commerce in Australia that has ever occurred. A lot of what makes The Iconic thrive is its ability to deliver quickly in a country mired by distance and large swathes of undeveloped land. The Iconic promises to deliver products within three hours in Sydney and free overnight delivery throughout all of Australia, and offers free 100-day returns. Excellent logistics is becoming increasingly important for product-heavy e-commerce stores as more people order goods online.

3) Canva

Left: Cameron Adams; Center: Cliff Obrecht; Right: Melanie Perkins

Founded  2012
Funding – $6.955 million, Series A
Founders – Cameron Adams, Cliff Obrecht, Melanie Perkins
Location – Surry Hills
Overview – Canva is an easy to use graphic design platform that is popular among freelancers, small business owners, and increasingly, e-commerce businesses.  They offer a third-party plugin that websites can install and tablet apps.
Why we chose them – Their rate of growth has been impressive and steep so far. Since launching in 2012, they raised $3 million in 2013 and another $3.6 million this year. Their user base has also skyrocketed, from 330,000 registered users in April to 600,000 by July.

4) 99designs

Patrick Llewellyn, President and CEO

Founded  2008
Funding – $35 million, Series A
Founders – Patrick Llewellyn, Mark Harbottle, Matt Mickiewicz
Location – Melbourne, San Francisco
Overview – Billed as the largest graphic design marketplace, 99designs helps businesses contract high quality, affordable designers. They also pioneered design contests.
Why we chose them – You may start noticing that design is a theme among Australian startups: Indeed, many of the strongest startups, including 99designs, are creatively focused. 99designs in large part pioneered this sector in Australia, and has since mostly relocated to San Francisco. Now with offices in Melbourne, San Francisco, Paris, and Berlin, and a network of more than 900,000 designers, 99designs is one of the largest players in SaaS design field.

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