UK insurance firm provides tech to help prevent issues

By Leon Gettler >>

NEOS is an insurance company with a difference – a technological difference.

Apart from policies, the UK insurance firm also offers customers smart home technology to protect against burglaries, fires and water damage. Neos is also planning to add a smart door bell and an outdoor camera in the near future

The technology includes smart cameras, motion sensors, door-window sensors, leak detectors and fire detectors.

That is all managed through the app and if an issue is detected at the home, the customer can contact Neos through the app or on the phone and Neos will send someone out to put the situation right. 

And of course, technology can’t protect against everything so the customer still has good old insurance.

The technology is in essence offered free of charge and Neos is competitive with traditional insurance companies.

Neos was started up two and a half years ago and the firm is expanding globally, expecting to double its sales over the next year.

CEO and company founder, Matt Poll said the aim was to provide customers with something different.

He had spent many years working in the insurance and noticed customers all had a common gripe.

“Customers would come and say ‘You know what, I pay you all this money every year, I’m a great customer, I never claim, I get nothing in return and then at the end of the year, you go and put my price up,’’ Mr Poll told Talking Business.

“I thought customers deserved more and I had seen how smart technology can add value in terms of engagement to customers and help prevent claims.”


Mr Poll said it was a win-win situation. The customer wins because they are able to protect their home better and get something of value and even if they don’t make a claim, they can check in on their home whenever they want.

And Neos wins as well because if they detect a problem early, it can save on the claims payouts. 

He said Neos also has a B2B offer for other insurers.

Aviva, the largest insurer in the UK, uses Neos technology as does a large insurer in the Netherlands and another one in the US.

Neos white labels the technology and the service around it and licenses the offer to other insurers so that they can offer it around their brand.

“When we looked hard at the market, we saw the easiest way to increase our distribution internationally was through partnerships rather than trying to sell insurance in multiple different territories which is tough for a start-up like us,” Mr Poll said.

While the company is planning to expand further into the US and Europe, Mr Poll said Australia was also an attractive market (however, there is an Australian insurance company with a similar name which has been operating nationally for several years).

“We have had some interest from Australia,” he said. “It’s certainly a market if we found the right partner we would look at because there’s a lot of similarities, apart from the weather, to the UK and obviously being an English speaking country, it makes things a lot easier for us.” 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at

Gathering Events team finds Brisbane 'village' caters for developing businesses

AN OLD African saying – 'It takes a village to raise a child' – is being applied successfully in Brisbane to help foster small businesses.

For local Brisbane businesses – such as unique and interactive catering solutions business Gathering Events – the challenges of running and growing a business are about to get easier with Brisbane City Council’s mission to create Australia’s most small business friendly city.

With three new council initiatives on the way to help small business flourish – including free small business networking events, workshops to enhance skills and empty space activations in suburban retail precincts – Gathering Events managing director Jen MacMillan said it was an exciting time to be in business in Brisbane. 

“We’ve been able to directly benefit from the support of council initiatives, including mentoring when we first launched our business, which gave me advice that has shaped where we are today, and more recently 50 percent off a food licence application fee,” Ms MacMillan said.

“Even after five years in business, a saving like that is huge and gives us additional funds to invest into other areas of our business.”


The Gathering Events business, which has grown organically year-on-year from a mobile caravan bar service to now offering clients food carts, gelato carts and cocktail bars, relies on local suppliers.

“All of our suppliers, from our printer to our gelato maker, are local,” Ms MacMillan said. “We have come to consider them friends and these initiatives provide a way to create an even richer small business community in Brisbane.

“It is exciting to think that more businesses will have opportunities to develop with additional support and somewhere to talk about the challenges and wins – we’re really all in it together.”

With Brisbane as the base, Gathering Events has found its innovatie services in demand and now travels ‘far and wide’ servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Ipswich and Toowoomba. Gathering Events can also now  service Adelaide city and the greater Adelaide region in South Australia, by arrangement.


With more than 124,000 small businesses operating across Brisbane – and accounting for 97 percent of all registered businesses in Brisbane – the new support offered by Brisbane City Council will allow additional businesses to grow and start across the city.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the new initiatives were in addition to existing small business support services and were a direct response to feedback from business owners.

“We know our small business owners are battling, and want to feel more connected to the local business community, have more life in the suburbs and access training that is focused on their needs,” Cr Schrinner said.

“With the right support, small businesses can thrive in Brisbane and we want to ensure we are doing all we can to give these businesses the opportunities necessary to grow and stay in Brisbane.” 

When thinking of anyone waiting to launch their idea or businesses in their startup phase, Gathering Events’ Jen MacMillan said, “Brisbane is constantly changing and it is incredibly positive to see how our city is growing. Suburbs are being activated and Brisbane is now seen as a legitimate player by big brands. What better time to start something?”

Brisbane City Council also offers local business owners a 24-hour business information hotline and dedicated small business liaison officers who provide one-on-one support.

New small-business initiatives to be introduced in the coming months by the Brisbane City Council include free monthly small business networking events – to be held across Brisbane suburbs each month to help build regular local business connections – in addition to the existing Lord Mayor’s Small Business Forums.

Also planned are free skills workshops, a series of free intensive business training sessions aimed to help small business owners enhance their skills and build capability. These are in addition to the Lord Mayor’s Business Excellence Workshops.

Council is also developing a set of ‘empty space activation’ guidelines, for a pilot program to encourage property owners with vacant space in suburban retail precincts to allow temporary pop-up usage between long-term tenancies.

For more information on Brisbane City Council’s small business support programs, visit


Raw by Bek becomes the Australian fitness regime ‘to beat’

BRISBANE boutique fitness studio, Raw by Bek is giving the fitness industry itself a ‘workout’. Raw by Bek has developed unique, pre-choreographed ‘to-the-beat’ classes, changing the way Australians view what is now known as ‘high-interval-intensity-training’ (HIIT).

Raw by Bek’s director and head trainer, Bek Strachan said Raw by Bek is Australia’s first and only ‘HIIT-to-the-beat’ studio that features music-synced interval training designed to push members to work harder and see results faster.

Each playlist and song is carefully selected and used as the foundation for the routine, designed to engage the entire body to move to the rhythm of the music, leaving muscles burning for hours after. 

Ms Strachan said her trainers each spend 2000 hours a year choreographing routines to ensure every burpee, lunge, squat, plank and tuck jump is strategically and rhythmically matched to the music.

“Music allows us to create routines that are fresh, unique and fun. There’s nothing better than seeing everyone training, in unison, to the beat of the music,” Ms Strachan said.

“You get the biggest results in the shortest period of time. There’s something special that happens when you combine blood-pumping beats, revolutionary functional exercises, and a team of trainers who shift your mindset to a place that frees you, empowers you, and ensures you leave feeling on top of the world.

*A study conducted on the effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate indicates the combination of music and exercise increases the exerciser’s effort output and heart rate without them noticing,” Ms Strachan said.

“My classes are different to the usual HIIT workout because we create our routines using music as the inspiration for movement. The music is carefully selected for an optimal full body workout, each lyric, beat and rhythm targeting specific areas of the body.

“As the beat of the music fluctuates, so do our movements, ultimately encouraging short bursts of extremely high physical intensity with rest periods to boost fitness levels and burn fat. 

“Raw by Bek capitalises on the instinct to synchronize movements with music and channels this into a fast-paced, fun and effective workout that lifts our members’ moods and persuades them to ride out waves of exhaustion.”
Ms Strachan said Raw by Bek takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, giving people access to all the required steps in their fitness journey.

“When members sign up, they receive a Raw by Bek shirt or towel, booty bands and online access to weekly updated meal plans crafted by an accredited dietitian, at no additional cost to their monthly membership,” she said.  

“We believe in an inclusive and open community environment and strive to help our members become the best version of themselves. This really sets us apart from other gyms and allows us to be the change we want to see in the fitness industry.”  

Raw by Bek is celebrating three years in business on December 14, 2019.


Northside Gynaecology’s mantra of success: by women for women

AS ONE of the few gynaecological practices in Australia run purely by women, for women, Northside Gynaecology’s core dedication is to compassionately meet the unique and changing gynaecological needs of modern women.  

That is the ethos of its founder and owner, renowned gynaecologist Archna Saraswat. Dr Saraswat said the practice was born out of a clear need for focussed attention on gynaecological services for women. 

“We wanted to open a practice that uniquely addresses all gynaecological issues barring obstetrics,” Dr Saraswat said. 

“While having a baby is a very important part of many women’s lives, our focus is to offer clinical care that supports every woman in various stages of life,” she said.  

Instead, Dr Saraswat and her team of exclusively female gynaecologists provide a holistic approach to women’s pelvic health, offering several innovative surgical techniques and non-surgical therapies. 

This October, Northside Gynaecology celebrated its fifth birthday, with 150 of South East Queensland’s leading medicos and industry associates in attendance at Blackbird Restaurant for “an evening of great food, inspiring talks and even a little dancing”. 

“For us it was a way of giving back to our community to say thank you for all the support they have given us over the last five years,” Dr Saraswat said. “It is also a way of showcasing just how far our practice has come as well as giving us an opportunity to share our vision for the future.”

Dr Saraswat said this vision not only includes the continuance of the high standards the practice has set, but to also strive for continuing improvements into comprehensive and compassionate gynaecological care for all Australian women.

ends uncorks winemakers for wine lovers

By Leon Gettler >>

BEN REVELL has made a big difference to e-commerce wine retailing in the UK – and, more recently, around the world.

His company,, is a wine club that offers consumers the chance to buy wine at the same price direct from the supplier. It lists more than 50,000 wines and spirits. 

Working on a completely transparent model, Winebuyers does not mark up prices or charge commission on any item sold, enabling customers to buy wines at exactly the same price as they would from the supplier direct.   

Winebuyers makes its revenue from charging suppliers a subscription fee. It has custom built application programming interfaces (APIs) that automate the entire process with artificial intelligence (AI).

Mr Revell said the idea to set up the company came to him about 10 years ago when he turned up a wine auction and put in a cheeky bid for a 1959 Chateaux Margaux. The auctioneer was selling it for £7200 and Revell put in a bid of £3700, never thinking he would win it, nor particularly wanting to win it.

But lo and behold, he did. He sold it three days later and almost doubled his money.


Three months later, he had amassed 500 bottles. He wanted to sell it but there was no real viable route to do that. It was almost impossible to sell on Amazon, illegal to sell on eBay. It then dawned on him to set up the business.

“Why not connect the people making the wine to the people actually buying it?” Mr Revell told Talking Business. “After a lot of research, it blew my mind that nobody seemed to me be doing that, or doing that correctly.”

He said the company gets its wines from suppliers from 40 different countries. Mr Revell said the primary focus was on the UK but there was a lot of appetite from Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Customers also come “from all over the place,” he said.


The wine is delivered from the vineyard straight to the consumer. 

“That’s the beauty of the platform. The reality is a model like ours couldn’t have existed 10 or 15 years ago. There’s been massive developments with the three major shipping companies, UPS, FedEx and DHL.

“They’ve come on in leaps and bounds and not only made it possible for vineyards to ship to the end customer, it’s their most economic route,” he said.

Mr Revell  said producers were happy to pay the subscription fee, which works off a sliding scale based on how much wine they want to list.

The result is it being mutually beneficial for everyone involved with the customer getting it for the best price, leaving them with the warm fuzzy feeling that they’re helping the producer and not lining the pockets of the supermarket, and the producers maximising their margins selling direct to the customers.

“With us in the middle with us, if we have 1000 suppliers paying us £100 a month, why do we need to be greedy and take margin on the sale of items?” Mr Revell said.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


Brisbane’s business innovators: 56 finalists vie for Lord Mayor’s Business Awards

A HIGH-RESOLUTION RADAR named GroundProbe that predicts mine site collapses; a food delivery service, Food Connect, that links local farmers with consumers; and Law on Earth, an online platform helping people access legal services, are among 56 finalists in this year’s Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the 2019 finalists represent the wide breadth of talent and ingenuity within Brisbane’s business community.

“The 2019 finalists demonstrate why Brisbane is one of Australia’s most progressive and business-friendly cities – a place where collaboration is a genuine part of business,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Every year, the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards unearth stories of world-leading innovations, best-practice environmental and sustainable initiatives, and inspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

“These businesses and individuals make a positive impact on our local economy and community, but also internationally with ground-breaking research, products and services,” he said.

“As a finalist for the Queensland Urban Utilities Award for Product Innovation, GroundProbe’s SSR-OMNI is the highest resolution radar on the market and is used around the world to predict mine collapses with 100 percent accuracy, delivering enormous safety and productivity benefits,” Cr Schrinner said.

“In the new ISPT Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise category, Food Connect is supporting local farmers and bringing healthy communities closer together through its fresh food hub and delivery service. 

“The new Brisbane City Council Award for Outstanding Micro Business recognises companies including Law on Earth, which offers an easy and affordable way for people to access legal documents and information – a process many find daunting,” he said.

“It’s also pleasing to see an inspiring group of finalists vying for Young Business Person and Business Person of the Year – people who exemplify why Brisbane is Australia’s New World City,” Cr Schrinner said.

“These are just a few examples among the group of outstanding finalists that all contribute to our vibrant community and fuel our city with the confidence that anything is possible.

“Many successful and innovation businesses call Brisbane home and I’m pleased to see an incredibly strong group of finalists this year,” Cr Schrinner said.

“I look forward to joining Brisbane’s business community at the 2019 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards Gala Dinner on October 18, where the winners of the 11 categories will be announced.”

2019 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards finalists

Queensland Urban Utilities Award for Product Innovation finalists:

  • GroundProbe for SSR-Omni
  • Microba
  • Seipel Group Pty Ltd for Urox Bladder Control
  • Superloop for ClearView Behavioural Analytics
  • Watkins Steel

Brisbane City Council Award for Outstanding Micro Business finalists:

  • Charlton Innovation
  • Law on Earth
  • Mizzie the Kangaroo
  • Signs Australia
  • Solaire Properties
  • World’s Biggest Garage Sale

Australia Pacific LNG Award for Business Innovation finalists:

  • MTA Queensland
  • Nightlife Music
  • PeopleBench
  • Seipel Group Pty Ltd
  • Surgical Performance

ANZ Award for High-Growth Business Start-up finalists:

  • AssetOn Group Pty Ltd
  • Citrus International
  • Clipchamp Pty Ltd
  • MOVUS Australia Pty Ltd

HSBC Award for Doing Business in Asia finalists:

  • HART Sport
  • Palladium
  • Superloop
  • Tritium
  • Urbis

Yurika Award for Environmental Sustainability in Business finalists:

  • Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Sekisui House Australia
  • Solaire Properties
  • TyreStock Pty Ltd
  • University of Queensland

ISPT Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise finalists:

  • Food Connect
  • Juiced TV
  • Leap in!
  • Stronger Smarter Institute
  • World’s Biggest Garage Sale

CCIQ Award for Outstanding Small Business finalists:

  • Aremdeco Pty Ltd
  • CrossFit Torian
  • Liquid State
  • New Farm Confectionery
  • Nourish’d
  • Universal Field Robots

Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd Award for New Investment in Brisbane finalists:

  • Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Consolidated Properties Group
  • Hilton Foods Australia
  • The Fortitude Music Hall
  • Student One

Singapore Airlines Award for Young Business Person of the Year finalists:

  • Abbey Crompton – Nourish’d
  • Ally Kelly – Mind Blank Ltd
  • Harrison Black – Foster & Black
  • Jonathon Runge - VostroNet
  • Matthew McHutchison - IVAA

The Courier-Mail Award for Business Person of the Year finalists:

  • Dr Chris Jeffery – Field Orthopaedics
  • Jano Kotzas – The Prop House
  • Maxine Horne – Vita Group
  • Scott Hutchinson – Hutchinson Builders
  • Simon Kirkpatrick – Gateway Motorways

Optus Business Platinum Award:  This category recognizes the outstanding overall winner.

Other LMBA sponsors include:  BDO, Channel 7, Epicure and Sirromet.

Indigenous startups supercharge success through LaunchVic

FOLLOWING the completion of the Barayamal Accelerator program, five Indigenous entrepreneurs will present their businesses at an investor pitch event – the Barayamal Demo Day and Awards – at the Victorian Innovation Hub in Melbourne on October 25.

Assisted by LaunchVic – the state’s startup agency – this national event will bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to showcase some of the best Indigenous entrepreneurs in Australia. Organisers said the event would show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist – like the black swans described by the Indigenous Barayamal name – and they can also build successful businesses.

Five innovative Indigenous businesses were selected for the Barayamal Accelerator, which provided free co-working space at the Victorian Innovation Hub, mentoring and training from industry experts, along with financial support for the growth of their companies.

“The Indigenous entrepreneurs have grown their businesses and will now showcase their successes at the culminating demo pitch night, which is now open to the general public to register to attend with over 100 attendees  including investors, professionals, community and government representatives expected to attend,” Barayamal CEO Dean Foley said. 

One of those successful businesses featured is Binary Security, which has already received enquiries for partnerships from Australasian and South East Asian countries.

“I feel that indigenous business in Australia is set to explode onto the world stage and being part of it is both incredibly exciting and humbling,” Binary Security director Stewart Stacey said.

Mr Stacey said through the Barayamal Accelerator program the participants had learned the importance of embedding Indigenous culture into their businesses. One of the outcomes for Binary Security was the opportunity to engage with a second national enterprise customer for cyber consulting services.

As part of the Accelerator program, the business had also deployed its first proof of concept (POC) for digital product into an enterprise customer of 1,100 users.

“We have received enquiries for partnerships in Fiji, New Zealand, China, Indonesia and the Philippines,” Mr Stacey said. And the company has now opened a new office.

Other participant in the Barayamal Accelerator program were Pawa Catering and Events owner and operator, Niyoka Bundle; Pearlii CEO Kyle Turner; Our Songlines director and CEO, Kayla Cartledge; and Ngali founder, Denni Francisco.


Barayamal CEO Dean Foley said an accelerator program typically helps startups to gain access to business networks, knowledge, expertise and early-stage funding they need to build successful businesses. 

Mr Foley said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs can make a valuable contribution to this momentum towards innovation if they build and grow companies with a global impact.

“The Barayamal Accelerator wants to help Indigenous entrepreneurs achieve just that,” Mr Foley said.

“At Barayamal, we believe that entrepreneurship and technology can change the world for the better. We do this by building technology solutions, running business accelerator programs, free events, the Indigipreneur podcast, school-based education and by investing time and funding Indigenous startups, which are the high-growth economic and employment solution.”

Mr Foley also acknowledged the support Barayamal receives from LaunchVic.

This program is an initiative of Tharamba Bugheen, the Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy 2017-2021, released by the Victorian Government in March 2017. Tharamba Bugheen recognises that economic advancement of Aboriginal Victorians is critical for self-determination and is making significant investments to support this agenda.

“LaunchVic is thrilled to be supporting indigenous entrepreneurs through the Barayamal Accelerator Program,” LaunchVic  CEO Kate Dornick said.

“We wish the five startups who participated in the inaugural cohort the all very best at their upcoming Demo Day and are looking forward to watching them succeed, as we follow their startup journeys.”

Mr Foley said Barayamal means ‘Black Swan’ in the Gamilaraay language. Its significance is that black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but, before that, Europeans had only known of a white swan.

“In this instance, the black swan represents Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not been noticed in the world for their innovation,” Mr Foley said. “Barayamal plans to show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist and they can also build global businesses.”


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