Previous Unearthed Melbourne participant now co-founder of IoT start-up

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SkyGrid, one of ten start-ups accepted in muru-D’s SYD3 round last year, was co-founded by Luke Taylor, previous innovator at the Unearthed Melbourne hackathon in 2015. Since participating in Unearthed, Luke and his team have continued the growth of SkyGrid, which saw him present and wow the audience at Unearthed Demo Day in December 2016.

Luke Taylor, Chief Operating Officer, shares his entrepreneurial journey since participating in the Unearthed Melbourne hackathon, explaining how it was an eye-opening experience into the resources sector that furthered his passion to build the next generation of IoT technology here in Australia.

1. How was your experience at Unearthed Melbourne 2015?

a) How did the Unearthed hackathon differ from previous ones you have participated in?

The Unearthed hackathon presented an opportunity to work with big organisations, such as CSIRO and Anglo American.

b) What did you learn about yourself and the direction of SkyGrid from participating at Unearthed Melbourne?

I knew we had a good idea but it is a big concept that takes a while for people to get, and Unearthed helped us shape our pitch better. We got to test out our pitch on a real business audience and we used that feedback to shape our product and company.

c) How did participating at Unearthed Melbourne and the IoT challenges that were presented stimulate you to continue your work on SkyGrid?

Each new use case helps us build our knowledge of IoT and how can create a general cross industry platform, forming a generic solution to different industries. Unearthed gave us exposure to potential viability into the mining industry, as seeing the problems of the mining sector encouraged us to build a product that companies would use.

d) What was the highlight of participating in Unearthed Melbourne?

The highlight of participating in Unearthed Melbourne was meeting several new people. It was great practice leading a team and working with people whom I have never met before.

Luke Taylor with his team members at Unearthed Melbourne 2015.

2. Where and how did you meet CEO of SKYGRID, Rory Gleeson? (What made you decide to pursue a start-up together?

I met him at my old company, Ericsson, prior to Unearthed. We both worked on an internal innovation project which developed a hardware and software solution to integrate 4G base stations, which cut down the time of work from 4 hours to 20 minutes, and reduced the number of staff needing to be on-site from 5 to 4.

We felt stifled being in a big company as we had to go through several levels of approval before an idea materialised. We wanted our product to progress faster, therefore we took the leap.

3. How have your previous work experiences contributed to your current career?

They were pivotal in getting to where I am now. As with every experience there are different learning lessons to take out of them, and all have contributed to my goals and aspirations of today.

4. You recently gave a presentation at the Unearthed Demo Day, how did that impact SkyGrid or your own professional advancements?

It gave us a lot of exposure and leads as we are still talking to some companies, such as Minearc and a mining consultancy that focuses on IoT.

5. Describe your first sale or customer, and what was the same or different compared to your most recent?

We met our first customer by chance. Rory and I were at a water utilities-type trade show and dropped our business cards to a few exhibitors’, who made contact. Our first sale was very different to our most recent one. We know what we’re doing now…

6. Has Skygrid impacted your life, social life, or relationships? Have you changed as a result? If so, how?

SkyGrid is my life. Yes, it has affected all aspects of my life. In a professional capacity, I have grown an incredible amount, not just technically but in so many other aspects – social life, relationships etc.… I’m probably using up some of my best years.

7. What advice can you give to future participants at Unearthed or budding founders of technology start-ups here in Australia?

Get good co-founders (like I did).