Five start-ups to get expert leg-up

Michael Reid 12 July 2016
Charles Black cycling business

Five Canberra start-ups have been chosen to receive expert advice and support as they strive to make a success of their fledgling businesses.

GRIFFIN Accelerator is a three-month intensive program run by a group of seasoned Canberra entrepreneurs who invest in, host, teach and mentor selected start-ups to create successful businesses.

This year the Accelerator will invest up to $250,000 in the selected teams. After three months, teams will pitch to investors, then receive an additional three months of support.

Accelerator chief executive and founding mentor, Dr Craig Davis, said he was particularly pleased four of the five start-ups were founded by women. “We hope that is a sign that the typical imbalance can change,” he said.

“We have a wonderful diversity in the start-ups,” he added, “from platforms to brands to innovative physical products. All teams have innovations with the potential to make a big impact.”

The winning candidates were selected from more than 80 applicants. The strong field reflected the depth of innovation in Canberra, said Davis, who has been running the program for three years.

One of the successful start-ups is CycleLifeHQ – described as an AirBnB-style service for cycling experiences – which helps people enjoy cycling rides and tours curated by local experts. Cyclists can use the platform to find, arrange, enjoy, and rate their cycling experiences.

The team’s website,, was released a month ago with initial listings for Canberra and is now looking for cycling companies and destinations keen to collaborate to increase their customer base.

CycleLifeHQ was founded by Charles Black (pictured), who left corporate life after 25 years – latterly with IBM – to change the world by making cycling better for everyone. He has been joined in the venture by his 19-year-old son Tim, and with co-founder Matt Ryan, he says they are aiming to establish a digital platform than can tap into the $200 billion global spend on cycling experiences.

“Many people do not appreciate the number of successful businesses that have been established in Canberra – ground-breaking, innovative businesses on a global scale,” Black said.

“The Accelerator people will tip in cash, but more importantly they will tip in expertise. We will have access to two skilled, highly experienced mentors as we grow our business. It’s a really good model.

“The partnership will also enable us to tap into a wider network and provide a pathway to grow our business and create jobs.”

The other successful start-ups for 2016 are:

Anti Grabbity, a simple device to prevent children climbing over balconies. Founder: Hollie Bell.

Rockstars and Royalty, an online service offering customisable special occasion dresses with Rockstars and Royalty’s signature vintage-inspired style. Founder: Vicky Kidd-Gallichan.

Hometaste, a marketplace for delivered meals by local chefs. Founder: Teena Thaliyath.

Mashblox, a toy that easily introduces toddlers to their first solids. Founder: Alix O’Hara.


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