Quick Takes: Three entrepreneurs we’re watching right now


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

‘Quick Takes’ featured in Issue 11 of Forbes Australia. Tap here to secure your copy.


Founder and CEO Mimi Tang has spent almost three decades working in allergy immunology. For much of that time, she was unsatisfied with the common approach – avoid the allergen and turn to the EpiPen in an emergency. But, after an initial trial in 2015 showed hope for the possibility of ‘curing’ peanut allergies, Tang left her job as a senior physician to work as a start-up founder.

Prota Therapeutics was spun out of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in 2016 and began working towards developing an oral immunotherapy solution for children with food allergies. Tang is in the top 1% of highly cited researchers in the field of immunology and was recently the recipient of the Distinguished Leadership Award at BioMelbourne Network Women in Leadership Awards for her work on peanut allergies.

It was announced earlier this year that in a series A1 round, Prota Therapeutics had successfully raised $31.6 million from investors led by SPRIM Global Investments (SGI). The capital raised in this round will go towards commercialising the product – although that could take years. Managing Partner and Co-founder at SGI, Michael Shleifer, says, “We chose Prota Therapeutics first and foremost because of Dr. Tang’s very focused, clinical-driven approach that yielded  
a remarkable efficacy profile for Prota’s treatment.” 


In 2007, Chris Marr and Peter Burnheim were friends at the Australian Defence Force Academy when they crossed paths with Craig Cowdrey, a corporate lawyer in the Army Reserve. The trio shared a passion for safety, and by 2017, they had leveraged their unique skills and left their jobs to build Sonder, a comprehensive and proactive employee safety platform.

The app was born from a vision of using military procedures to support civilians in professional settings and started as a security solution for international students. The platform provides 24/7 support for medical, mental, and physical problems. Sonder is also connected to a global network of responders that allow an in-person response for users who may need more than an app can offer.

Since its launch, Woolies, Allianz, and McDonald’s have all signed up as corporate clients, and it was reported that in 2022, the company closed a $35 million funding round. Early this year, a series B extension round saw the company raise a further $16 million, with backing from SEEK Growth Fund and Blackbird Ventures. “The co-founders lead with operational excellence and resilience and have built a product that employees and business love,” said Max Meyer, an investor at Blackbird. 


As a personal trainer with a background in women’s health, Olivia Orchowski had been looking for ways to help her clientele better understand their bodies and unique health needs but found available solutions lacking. So, in 2020, she picked up a side hustle – that quickly took over her professional life. Using its signature basal body ring – designed to be worn at night and measures basal body temperature, heart rate, and heart rate variability – she created Femtek to address the gap in the wearable health-tech market for women.  

The ring is connected to a menstrual cycle tracking app, the product is intended to provide users with health insights that are significantly more accurate and insightful than what is provided by traditional tracking methods. This data is precious for users working with healthcare professionals to tackle issues related to reproduction and infertility.

In April this year, Arcanys Ventures and Techstars led a fundraising round that saw Femtek raise $1 million in capital to be put towards further software development. “Femtek has developed a great product that solves a real problem in the daily lives of women,” Alan Debonneville co-founder and Managing Partner of Arcanys Ventures says. “It now needs a boost on the software end to get it to the next level – this is the role Arcanys Ventures plays.” 

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