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Startup wants to be Australia's

Adam Bender | Jan. 10, 2013
Pocketbook, a Sydney-based startup, seeks to build a simpler and more useful service for managing spending than current offerings in Australia.

At this point, Pocketbook's marketing is mostly based on word of mouth. The company uses an invite-a-friend button on the website to encourage viral promotion of the site.

Tan believes an opportunity for monetisation lies in making relevant recommendations to users. For example, if the site sees that a customer has been charged a foreign transaction fee for booking a trip to Hawaii with a credit card, the site could suggest another card that doesn't have the same fee, he said.

"A lot of that intelligence around optimising spending isn't there in the marketplace at the moment," he said.

Pocketbook could also potentially be of use to financial planners and accountants who want to see a single view of a customer's finances, Tan said. Currently, they have to pull up each of a customer's financial institutions individually. Pocketbook could in the future provide a read-only view of users' accounts for those advisers, he said.

The Silicon Beach

Tan said he's upbeat on the state of Sydney startup scene. "There's a whole lot of things happening that a couple years ago were unthinkable."

Accelerators in Sydney are getting more mainstream media attention, Tan said. And large corporations such as Telstra, SingTel/Optus and Westfield are setting up funds for Australian startups, he said.

Whether startups must move to Silicon Valley to find success has been a major topic of debate in Australia.

"It's still so much easier to get funding," and more of it, in Silicon Valley in the US, Tan said. There's also more hesitation from consumers to give Australian startups a try compared to those in Silicon Valley, he said.

"At the same time, I think the [Australian] government is doing some smart things" including providing grants to Australian startups, he said.

"It's definitely moving in the right direction."


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