Quick Takes: Three entrepreneurs we’re watching right now

Entrepreneurs

Forbes Australia has identified four people who are making waves in Australia’s startup scene at the moment.

‘Quick Takes’ featured in Issue 9 of Forbes Australia. Tap here to secure your copy.


DIRAQ
ANFF dzurak portraits commercial project

University of New South Wales (UNSW) Scientia Professor Andrew Dzurak spent a decade working on quantum computing – patenting his intellectual property and publishing ground-breaking articles on the topic.

In 2017, when UNSW spun out Professor Michelle Simmons’ pioneering Silicon Quantum Computing (SQC), Dzurak faced a problem.

SQC became an internationally recognised leader in the race toward quantum computing, and Dzurak worked with the company and also had a financial stake in it.

However, while Simmons was using her ‘single-atom’ approach to build the technology, Dzurak believed in a different approach – one that would convert transistors on standard chips – already commonly used in everyday technology – into quantum chips.

If Dzurak could pull this off, it would redefine scalable quantum computing, with the potential to mass produce quantum bits. And so, in May 2022, Dzurak founded Diraq.

Allectus Capital was an early investor, leading a $30.6 million Series A funding round when the company first spun out in 2022. In February of this year, an ‘extended’ Series A funding round led by Quantonation saw the company raise $23 million.

Director at Allectus Capital, Matthew Gould says, “Allectus chose to invest in Diraq as we see spins-in-silicon, the quantum technology Diraq leads, as the fastest route to full-scale, commercial quantum computers. We favour proven commercial practicality over lab-based theory every time.”


STOCKSPOT 

Chris Brycki has decades of investment experience, spending most of his early career as a Portfolio Manager at UBS Financial Services. He found that the market could be difficult, and a lack of knowledge or time to dedicate to investing can be a serious entry barrier.

He wanted to make professional investing a more accessible option, so he founded Stockspot in 2013. The robo-advice firm has become a leading digital investment advisor in Australia.

Customers need a minimum of just $2,000 to begin investing, and from there, Stockspot devises a personalised portfolio based on each individual’s investment goals. Stockspot even has account options for children, companies and charities looking to invest.

By early 2022, Stockspot reported more than $600 million in funds under management for its approximately 13,000 customer base.

In August 2023, Stockspot announced a $28 million strategic investment into Stockspot by Mirae Asset Global Investments. Earlier backers included Alium Capital and H2 Ventures.

Partner and co-founder at Alium Capital, Rajeev Gupta, an early investor in Stockspot says, “Chris is a rare founder/CEO who has vision, can execute, is inspiring and has a rare demeanour, especially when things are either good or challenging. He is successfully democratising investing.” 


SPEEDX

Dr Elisa Mokany PhD (R), and Adjunct Professor Alison Todd, AM,  FTSE, PhD (L), worked together at medtech company Johnson and Johnson until 2008. While there, they patented new DNA technology with the potential for a broad diagnostic application.

However, their work stopped when the Global Financial Crisis shut down the Australian research branch where they worked. Determined to commercialise their invention, the pair founded SpeeDx in 2009 with a team of just four scientists.

Now, some 15 years on, SpeeDx has a portfolio of more than 200 granted or pending patents and is known for its work in diagnostic solutions – with a range of 45 products that includes COVID-19 PCR tests.

In early 2023, SpeeDx conducted a $26 million series A raise, with backers including Northpond Ventures, Platinum Asset Management, and Tenmile.

“Ultimately, you want to invest in technology that can multiplex efficiently at a competitive cost,” says Dr Bianca Ogden, Health Care Portfolio Manager at Platinum Asset Management. “SpeeDx technology has the potential for efficient multiplexing and providing pathology labs but also diagnostic companies with a very interesting and competitive proposition.”

Look back on the week that was with hand-picked articles from Australia and around the world. Sign up to the Forbes Australia newsletter here.

More from Forbes Australia