Queensland start-up gets Silicon Valley boost
A promising Queensland start-up has hit a jackpot of sorts.
The three founders of GreaseBoss revealed this week that they have snared a highly-coveted spot in a prestigious Silicon Valley accelerator program known as Y Combinator.
Past participants include the founders of such household names as Airbnb, Dropbox and US-based food delivery giant DoorDash.
The trio-Steve Barnett, Pete Condoleon and Tim Hall (illustrated top to bottom)-are the only Aussies among 17,000 applicants worldwide to get accepted in the current twice-yearly program.
It includes a $125,000 capital injection and three-months of intensive mentoring via Zoom, culminating in a pitch to private equity players in the US late next month.
They are aiming to build scale for the company and its novel concept, which has application across multiple sectors dependent on heavy machinery, including mining, agriculture and transport.
It's a simple yet ingenious idea, deploying cloud-based software to help prevent costly equipment failures and reduce maintenance costs.
Using a scanning-enabled tag on every grease "nipple,'' operators are able to determine if a shot of lubrication is needed.
If so, they will be told how much to inject and then that servicing will be digitally recorded. The system also sends out alerts for overdue treatments.
The gents signed their first major contract this month with mining giant Glencore, which has started using the hardware and tracking technology at their Oaky Creek coal mine in the Bowen Basin.
They have also done a deal with Brisbane engineering services firm Corematic.
Aussie investors are already taking notice, with accelerator The Melt and investment group 77 Partners tipping in a collective $125,000 as part of GreaseBoss's first major seed funding round now under way.
Another $100,000 has arrived in the form of a grant from the state government via its Advance Queensland Ignite Ideas Fund.
Barnett, an engineer like his compatriots, told City Beat on Friday that the aim is to create "the iPhone of greasing''.
"Our goal is to build a digital layer and try to make it easy to manage remotely. Our whole thesis is that fewer people will be working at mine sites over time but the people remaining will have to do the same amount of work,'' he said.
Barnett came up with the idea a few years ago while working at a copper mine in the Outback.
When a conveyor tail pulley collapsed from a lack of lubrication, he had an "aha'' moment that there had to be a better way since machines kept breaking down due to poor record keeping.
He met Hall and Condeleon at a three-day "hackathon'' in late 2019 at Brisbane's Arc Accelerator, where they won the top prize allowing them to use office space for three months. Downtime from COVID then allowed them to develop the concept.
Getting accepted at Y Combinator was "incredible,'' Barnett said, but it's proved gruelling since the sessions started last month.
Three mornings a week he gets up at 2:30am for video meetings with trainers and mentors running the program in California.
The partners are now hoping to generate enough investment capital to launch an assembly plant on the Sunshine Coast by the end of the year.
Originally published as Queensland start-up gets Silicon Valley boost