THE RiverPitch Live event series took place for the first time in Sydney on June 27 at the Sydney Startup Hub, giving 10 innovative early-stage companies a platform to attract vital investment in Australia.

After a successful RiverPitch series in Brisbane, powered by River City Labs and followed by a television series, RiverPitch Live Sydney welcomed a guest list of investors, startup industry professionals and the technology startup community.

Ten teams were selected to pitch on the night to an audience of more than 100, including pre-screened investors.

“It was our first time presenting RiverPitch Live in Sydney, we had high expectations of the Sydney market,” ACS Labs CEO Peta Ellis said. ACS Labs operates Brisbane’s River City Labs, Sydney’s Harbour City Labs and Melbourne’s Bay City Labs.

“The goal was to deliver the same value as our previous Brisbane RiverPitch events for startups and investors and to provide a strategic and direct approach to capital raising" Ms Ellis said. 

“It was great to see the Sydney community of startups and investors come out to support us in our first official event powered by Harbour City Labs. We look forward to delivering RiverPitch events in Sydney as our commitment to facilitate greater levels of investment in Australian startups.”

Teams presenting on the night included Robert Bate’s Swarm Farm Robotics. A farmer from Emerald and founder of Swarm Farm, Mr Bate impressed the audience with his robotics technology farming machinery, designed to create a new farming system using lightweight, autonomous robots.

Staybil presented their team’s award-winning AI-powered software-as-a-service (SaaS) that allows organisations to reduce costs, time, workforce turnover and environmental impacts while simplifying their operations not complicating them.

Founder of Power Ledger, Gemma Green pitched the company’s technology in helping to transact energy, trade investment commodities and invest in renewables.

The evening concluded with networking and teams showcasing their products and services to potential investors..

RiverPitch Live Sydney 10 final teams were Monarc Global, Squizify, Staybil, Conpago, Superdraft, Inndox, Benchvote, Power Led, Swarm Farm Robotics and Vapar.

RiverPitch is an investment series run by River City Labs that provides a platform for entrepreneurs to present their business opportunities to a group of registered investors in order to help raise capital for the company.

“RiverPitch aims to provide a different approach to capital funding and de-formalise the search for the next investment,” Ms Ellis said.

“We are committed to fostering innovation, putting founders first and creating outcomes to ensure tech sector growth impacts our economy to produce world stage tech brands.”

River City Labs was founded by television’s Shark Tank judge, Steve Baxter, in 2012 and the not-for-profit organisation was bought by Australian technology professional association, ACS last year, in order to expand its national reach.

ACS Labs was formed, headed by serving RCL CEO Peta Ellis, and the RiverCity Labs method has since been extended to both Melbourne and Sydney as Bay City Labs and Harbour City Labs.


AFTER A SERIES of successful RiverPitch events in Queensland – with up to 15 business start-ups and scale-ups participating at each event and pitching to an audience of over 100 – the renowned RiverPitch Live event will launch in Sydney on June 27 at the Sydney Startup Hub.

RiverPitch Live-Sydney 2019 will replicate its RiverPitch Brisbane Live event series, where screened start-ups and screened high-profile investors come together in a social evening where investor-ready projects can be pitched. The event will aim to foster both the start-up and investment community in Sydney, where investor-ready start-ups and teams are connected with experienced investors.

Last year RiverPitch Brisbane 2018 helped at least eight teams – over two RiverPitch Live Brisbane events – to secure funding to progress their businesses. 

RiverPitch aims to provide a different approach to capital funding and de-formalise the search for the next important investment – and there have been 16 public events since 2012 run by the Labs Group, producing 61 alumni companies. About a third of those raised capital within a 12 month period after RiverPitch. In 2018 RiverPitch also produced an eight-part television series in partnership with the ACS, the Australian association for the ICT industries, and YourMoney, the now wound-down joint venture TV and digital channel of Nine Entertainment and News Corp’s Australian News Channel.  

City Labs Group CEO Peta Ellis said there were high expectations that the RiverPitch events which had been so successful in Brisbane would go to a whole new level in Sydney.

“The Sydney start-up scene is developing each year and events like RiverPitch will fast-track progress even further,” Ms Ellis said. “With the recent launch of Harbour City Labs in Sydney (River City Labs’ sister brand), it is a great time for us to introduce to the start-up scene in Sydney, our popular RiverPitch Live event that we launched seven years ago in Brisbane and continues to showcase start-ups raising capital.

“We are looking for start-ups and scale-ups who have a strong ambition to grow fast, and scaling and seeking investment to become nationally and globally relevant companies. RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019 will assist founders to connect and develop relationships with an elite high-profile community of investors that have had an ongoing and reputable tie with our organisation.”

RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019 applications will close on May 19, 2019, at midnight.

“Part of the application process includes providing a 90-second video pitch highlighting what your product or service is and why you would like the opportunity to pitch at RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019,” Ms Ellis said.

She said all submissions were carefully vetted by a committee of RiverPitch judges. The successful teams are then invited to pitch in front of a room full of investors on the June 27 at the Sydney Startup Hub.

Apply for RiverPitch Live Sydney 2019 at


BRISBANE tech startup hub River City Labs will support the Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Brisbane Chapter as a sponsor of the Accelerator Program in 2019.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis said, “River City Labs has been in the business of supporting founders and startups since 2012 through our Accelerator programs and events. It seems only natural for both organisations to work together in supporting Brisbane’s Entrepreneurs journey. 

“I look forward to sharing River City Labs’ facilities and network with the Entrepreneur’s Organisation in providing support to its Accelerator participants and EO Brisbane members. EO Members (US$1m+) and EO Accelerators (US$250k-$1m) are later stage entrepreneurs no longer in the startup phase, with thriving businesses. The partnership aligns with our vision to support founders from all stages of their journey.

“The benefit for our members is that via this partnership our connections and talent pool for mentors, advisors and industry experts and veterans has increased in size and quality significantly”.

The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) is a global, peer-to-peer network of more than 13,000 influential business owners with 181 chapters in 57 countries. Founded in 1987, EO is the catalyst that enables leading entrepreneurs to learn and grow, leading to greater success in business and beyond. 

“We are thrilled to welcome River City Labs to the EO Brisbane community and in particular to our Accelerator program,” EO Australiamarketing and communications chair Annika Launay said.

“We feel there are strong synergies between the two organisations particularly through our passion and commitment to supporting entrepreneurs. With such a strong network of business founders and dedicated professionals, we look forward to growing together towards a successful and rewarding 2019.”

The Entrepreneurs’ Organisation Brisbane Chapter was founded in 1997. The organisation represents a diverse range of industries, including but not limited to

accounting, agriculture, architecture/design, information technology, construction services, education/training, environmental, financial services, health/medical, hospitality services, import/export/trade, legal services, manufacturing, marketing, mining industry, real estate, retail, sports/fitness services, telecommunication services, television/film, travel.

River City Labs’s 12-month EO Brisbane sponsor’s support runs throughout 2019.


THE DIGITAL arm of global professional services group GHD is backing River City Labs (RCL) with 100 hours of voluntary service.

GHD’s support was announced at the Australian Computer Society (ACS) Reimagination Conference on November 1, just as ACS was settling in to its new ownership of River City Labs from innovator Steve Baxter, who founded and guided the business incubator from 2012.

GHD Digital was formed by the professional services group GHD to help clients embrace rapidly emerging digital advancements to future-proof their businesses.

GHD global digital leader Kumar Parakala announced the pledge during an interview by River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis. 

“Our objective is to create value for our clients in the disruptive world,” Mr Parakala said. “GHD has more than 10,000 people, including 500 digital professionals, in 200 offices delivering services to more than 135 countries around the world.

“This pledge is part of our commitment to engage, co-create, educate and invest in the technology and innovation sector. We are committed to supporting RCL with its coaching and mentoring needs and providing startups in RCL with exposure to our industry and clients in areas of mutual interest.

“We look forward to learning more about the innovations the startups are working on, and are excited about the opportunity for GHD Digital to partner with RCL to better serve our clients and support the RCL start-up ecosystem.”

Ms Ellis said GHD’s commitment created a rare opportunity for RCL startups and scaleups.

“One of the big barriers for growth for young companies, or those in the scale up phase, is not having connections into large organisations,” Ms Ellis said. “Being supported by and aligning with corporates like GHD will enable us to propel our start-ups further and faster.

“We continue to build valuable relationships with organisations that help foster the growth of our start-up companies. We are looking forward to working together and seeing where this relationship will take us in the future.”


ASPIRING ENTREPRENEURS looking for support and mentorship to turn their idea into a strong business proposition are being invited to apply for a 12-week placement based at River City Labs’ innovation space in Brisbane.

Australia’s largest credit union, CUA is again sponsoring the CUA Conduit Pre-Accelerator Program – which was formerly called the CUA Sponsored Entrepreneur Program – to provide startups with full-time desk membership at River City Labs to help accelerate their ideas. 

Under the membership, the teams receive support such as structured mentoring, specialist masterclasses and support with publicity and promotion.

CUA has been supporting River City Labs since 2015 and has sponsored 25 teams so far.

River City Labs CEO Peta Ellis welcomed CUA’s continued involvement in the program.

“We are looking forward to partnering with CUA again to deliver an expertly tailored program to drive innovation for micro-business,” Ms Ellis said.

 “We expect to see a high calibre of applications from teams with products already in the market, that will gain value from the workshops and mentor sessions and ready to fast track their progress.”

CUA head of innovation, Melissa Witheriff said she was looking forward to seeing new, innovative business ideas being nurtured and developed.

“We’ve seen previous groups of entrepreneurs identify a significant market need and respond with unique ideas that were turned into value-added solutions,” Ms Witheriff said.

“This program is an excellent opportunity for startups to lay the foundations to become strong global businesses.”

The collaboration is part of CUA’s innovation strategy and the member-owned organisation’s focus on leveraging external expertise, tapping into innovative new ideas and supporting startups to develop solutions to real-world problems.

CUA is Australia’s largest credit union, Ms Witheriff said, offering responsible financial health and insurance solutions to about 500,000 Australians.

“As a mutual, we were created by members for members and we care for them through the changes and challenges in their lives,” she said. “Our growth and success enables us to reinvest in our business, deepen our relationships with members and build stronger communities.”

River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling its corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the startup community

Applications are open until 11.59pm AEST on June 11, 2018.

Link for applications:



ACS, the professional association for Australia’s ICT sector, has acquired the River City Labs Group – including the operations of the RCL Accelerator and Startup Catalyst – with immediate effect and a determination to accelerate the iconic Brisbane-based business incubator.

ACS has committed to invest $7.5 million over the next three years in ramping up its mission to support tech entrepreneurs, according to River City Labs founder Steve Baxter.

From its creation by Mr Baxter in 2012, the River City Labs Group has led the way in fostering the growth of tech startups and scale-ups in Queensland and is focused on building the platform solutions for the world of tomorrow. 

On May 9, Mr Baxter – who made his early fortune from the astute development and sale to TPG of PIPE Networks, but is probably best known as a ‘shark’ on Ten’s Shark Tank startups TV program – circulated a call seeking expressions of interest from corporates, community groups or individuals with the vision, the capability and the passion to take control of
future operations and ownership of River City Labs Pty Ltd. 

More than 20 EOIs were received, which were then short listed first as a group of six, and then again down to a list of four. 

“We’re tremendously excited by being afforded the opportunity to grow River City Labs,” ACS president Yohan Ramasundara said. “ACS’ vision is for Australia to be a world leader in technology talent, that fosters innovation and creates new forms of value.

“We understand that new jobs growth in a digital economy comes from tech startups, and we are pleased to be in a situation where we can contribute to growing the tech ecosystem both in Queensland and more broadly across the country” Mr Ramasundara said.

For existing tenants and partners of the RCL Group, services will continue unchanged. The team will remain the same with Mr Baxter still involved as an advisor and continuing to be a major influence.

“After six amazing years, I’m truly excited to see RCL evolve,” Mr Baxter said. “When we launched this process it was about finding the right custodian for RCL, not just to maintain business as usual but to take it to the next level.

“The ACS came to the table with fresh new ideas, a compelling vision for supporting tech 
entrepreneurship in Queensland and beyond, and a willingness to invest. There are so many people who’ve
contributed so much to this journey, thanks to all of you.

“But don’t go anywhere – the job has only 
just begun,” he said. 

Since its launch, more than 700 startup founders have set up office at River City Labs. Just under 29,000 people have passed through the doors, attending more than 1,000 startup and community events. 

RCL has run programs in partnership with some of Australia’s biggest companies, including BOQ, CUA, Suncorp and Telstra. RCL is a leading provider of startup-related programs in Australia, including River Pitch, a quarterly event bringing together pre-screened startups and investors; the RCL Accelerator and Startup Catalyst.

The RCL Accelerator, powered by muru-D has graduated 28 Queensland startups including
 Travello, Maxwell MRI and Punta. Startup Catalyst takes startups, investors, corporates, tech-savvy
youth, and innovation leaders to international startup hotspots including Silicon Valley, London, Berlin, Israel, and Asia.

The ACS acquisition of RCL takes effect immediately and all team members have been asked to remain in their current roles, with ACS is committed to stability and continuing RCL’s and Startup Catalyst’s growth and ensuring a thriving tech ecosystem both in Queensland and across the country. 

ACS is the professional association for Australia’s information and communication technology (ICT) sector. More than 42,000 ACS members work in business, education, government and the community. ACS was originally known as the Australian Computer Society and now prefers its acronym because of the vast expansion of its membership and the sectors it covers.


AFTER ITS SUCCESS in 2017, the Advance Queensland Young Starters’ Competition is returning with up to $45,000 worth of prizes for Queenslanders aged 15-24 who want to take their business ideas to the next level.

The Young Starters’ competition is aimed at helping Queensland’s young entrepreneurs to build business skills and develop their startup ideas to become investor-ready. 

“Following on from the success of last year’s competition, we anticipate an increase in applicants both in Brisbane and regional Queensland,” River City Labs organiser and operations manager Tarryn Thiele said.

“We’re excited to also have on board Scott Millar, finalist from 2017 Young Starters Competition, to provide guidance to entrepreneurs starting in this field,” Ms Thiele said.

Successful applicants will have the opportunity to see entrepreneurship as a career pathway, develop and pitch ideas to investors and be a part of Queensland’s contribution to supporting youth in business.

The competition was officially launched on April 6 at River City Labs’ Fortitude Valley headquarters in an evening of celebrating ‘young starters’.

River City Labs welcomed more than 100 attendees as they heard stories from some of Queensland’s young entrepreneurs.

Among the presenters were Bop Industries founder Scott Millar, who told his story and acted as master of ceremonies for the Let’s Celebrate Young Starters’ event; the GenIn challenge project manager, Megan Short; Indooroopilly State High School deputy principal Timothy Barraud; AntiOrdinary founder Rob Joseph; Pegasus App founder Rosanna Relton; and TechFlow co-founder Yash Dutt.

Young Starters 2017 winner Grant Sampson said he gained valuable experience from entering the competition.

“Before the Young Starters Competition in 2017, I had the very limited knowledge and scope of what I had to do to take my startup to the next level,” Mr Sampson said.

“Over the course of the weekend, I was able to receive more feedback, knowledge and skills than I had already gathered through previous courses. This didn’t stop there. The support I have received since the competition has helped me to grow and bring my idea to a reality. I now have a small team helping me finish my app, BragTag.

“I would highly recommend to everyone with either a small idea or a progressing startup to enter as, no matter what stage your idea is at, you will gain so much knowledge and many business skills.”

Applicants are required to progress through a series of stages throughout the competition, including submission of pitch videos and selected to attend a pitch bootcamp. Ten teams will then be chosen to present a live pitch at the Young Starters Competition Pitch Breakfast held on July 23, and the winners will be announced.

The winners will share in prizes including an entrepreneurial skills program for a school, up to $5,000 for a startup; co-working space for a startup, and participation in the Startup Catalyst Youth Mission.

Applications for the Young Starters’ Competition are open until May 31 at 4pm.

“River City Labs fosters the growth of startup companies wanting to solve big problems,” Mr Thiele said. “We provide resources to empower, support and connect entrepreneurs. Central to everything we do is a focus on collaboration and connection.”

“Since 2012 more than 460 entrepreneurs have called River City Labs home. Through our events program we have welcomed more than 16,000 guests into our community by hosting over 500 events aimed at supporting founders on their entrepreneurship journey.”

River City Labs powers a range of programs, events and engagement opportunities, enabling its corporate partners to innovate differently and embed their teams within the startup community.


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