by Rose Powell, ARF 14 July 2015
It’s not as sexy as Uber or AirBnB but two of Australia’s most experienced technology investors are willing to bet more than $1 million that an Australian rostering software company, which is readying to expand globally is the next big thing in enterprise technology.
AirTree VC, led by serial tech investors Craig Blair and Daniel Petre has invested $1.2 million into Melbourne-based technology startup Ento.
Founded by Aulay Macaulay in 2009, the software enables enterprise clients to coordinate the rosters for hundreds of employees.
Macaulay had been developing the customer base for the software slowly and mostly in Australia. He signed up Ento’s first international clients in April and May this year.
“We’ve been growing steadily but the competitive landscape was heating up and I realised we needed to back out or accelerate,” Macaulay said.
AirTree, which is in the process of finding tech startups to back to the tune of $60 million, had been on the look out for a software startup in this space for some months when Mr Macaulay pitched Ento to them, Mr Petre said.
“We were keen to get into this space because it’s taking off, but we wanted to find the best technology. Fortunately, we found that with Aulay, and we liked it was a solution that was disrupting desktop software,” he said.
Rostering software has long been the domain of cumbersome software that could not be accessed on a tablet or mobile, like most business management software. But this has been increasingly eroded in a number of business categories by software as a service companies such as Xero, which took on the then desktop-bound incumbent MYOB in the accountancy sector.
“Rostering is still quite a diversified market, with no major number one. Among the disruptors, no one has really won so we decided to pick a competitor in that fight, and back them to win,” Mr Petre said.
Most of the funds will go towards developing a sales and marketing team to increase their company’s client base. Both AirTree VC and Mr Macaulay’s team recognise the sales process could take months per company and so significant capital is needed to launch a viable sales process.
This funding is the first external capital for Ento. Mr Macaulay described its position as “cash flow neutral” and says they anticipate raising capital again within three years.
Ento becomes the latest addition to a varied portfolio at Airtree, which includes online cleaners marketplace TidyMe, online design platform Canva, crowdsourcing platform DesignCrowd, and online pet-minder marketplace Pawshake.