The difference between good and great lies in the details. It's the seamless user interface, intuitive navigation, beautiful typography and the cohesive design—together creating an exceptional user experience. As a team dedicated to software development, how can you achieve this level of excellence consistently across your product portfolio? The solution lies in leveraging the power of a design system.
What is a Design System?
In simple terms, a design system is the master plan for your product’s visual design and interactive components. It's a comprehensive library of reusable UI elements and design guidelines, manifested in reusable code snippets. But it's more than just a reference manual—it equips your team with a fundamental understanding of the design principles that underpin your product.
Why Is a Design System Important?
The impact of a design system is twofold. Firstly, it helps create a unified design language (across everything from spacing and colour palettes to your style guide and iconography) which leads to a cohesive digital experience. It also ensures every interaction with your product is familiar and coherent, making your software not just functional, but delightful to use.
Design systems supercharge your UI design and development efforts. With a library of UI component building blocks at your design team's disposal, crafting consistent interfaces becomes a swift, straightforward task composed of carefully designed templates.
Streamline Design & Development
Time is of the essence. A design system is a key to unlocking efficiency, offering an array of predefined, reusable components and guidelines. This saves your team starting from scratch for new design components. Instead, you’ll have a design language to quickly assemble interfaces, saving valuable time and effort.
On the development side, a design system fosters collaboration and enables code reuse. Developers can easily access design assets and implement them using streamlined code. This accelerates the development process and also promotes better communication between designers and developers, resulting in higher-quality product design.
Elevate UX & Brand Consistency
Standing out from the crowd demands more than just functionality; it's about resonating with users on a personal level. And that's where a design system comes into play. Think of it as a shared language, aligning your interface with your brand's unique identity, resulting in a software experience that genuinely connects with your users. This consistency goes beyond just enhancing brand recognition; it nurtures a relationship of trust with your user base.
Now, let's talk about your user's journey through your software. When the path is clear and well-marked, the journey is enjoyable, and you're more likely to want to do it again. That's precisely what a design system does. It identifies potential stumbling blocks or confusing turns and transforms them into a smooth and consistent experience. The result is a product that delights your audience, boosting their satisfaction and encouraging them to return time and again. A great example of this is Uber, bringing all of their experiences together in Base – an open-source design system.
Simplify Collaboration & Communication
As your software company grows, maintaining consistency across multiple products and teams can be challenging. A design system mitigates this challenge by providing design processes, guidelines, and a collection of reusable components that ensure cohesive theming across all of your products.
A design system acts as your single source of truth, giving all team members and stakeholders access to the latest pattern library/UI kit and guidelines. This eliminates back-and-forth exchanges and reduces the chances of errors. Product teams (such as that of Atlassian, Github and Salesforce with their Lightning Design System) commonly use Figma to design and manage design systems and component libraries.
Moreover, a design system helps your company adapt to evolving trends in UI/UX design, such as Atomic Design. It allows your products to stay current and innovative, meeting the changing needs of your customers. This adaptability is crucial for future-proofing your software.
Scale & Future-Proof Your Company
Scaling isn't always a walk in the park. The larger your enterprise grows, the more products you're likely to manage and the more teams you'll coordinate. These variables can make consistency a challenge, particularly in design. But a design system proves its worth here—it anchors your growth with clear design patterns and processes that ensure a unified aesthetic across your products. It is your comprehensive guide that means less time and resources spent tackling front-end inconsistencies and more on delivering a harmonious user experience.
How design systems increase scalability:
Ensuring Consistency: Establishes clear design guidelines and processes, ensuring a unified aesthetic across your products. Saves time and resources spent on resolving inconsistencies, delivering a cohesive user experience. Borrowing words from Shopify’s Polaris Design System – Details aren’t just details. They make the product.
Enabling Adaptability: Equips your company with agility to meet the dynamic demands of the software world, allowing your digital products to remain fresh, relevant, and innovative.
Anticipating Market Changes: Allows you to anticipate and respond swiftly to market shifts, keeping your products attuned to evolving user needs.
Expanding Opportunities: Provides the flexibility to explore new product landscapes and tap into emerging markets, enabling business growth and establishing industry leadership – from iOS and Android to web design.
Supporting Scalable Processes: Provides a framework, enabling consistent and manageable workflows as your company grows and you bring on more people.
Potential Drawbacks & Mitigation
Like all tools, design systems are not without potential drawbacks. They require an upfront investment in time and resources to build and maintain. If not implemented thoughtfully, they can become restrictive, stifling creativity and innovation.
When building a design system, keeping flexibility at the forefront can create a system that is robust and adaptable. It is helpful to view the design system as a living document that evolves with your product, as opposed to a static set of rules.
The journey of software development is filled with challenges and opportunities. Design systems are transformative tools that can navigate these waters, streamlining your development process, enhancing user experience, and cultivating a consistent brand identity.
However, we understand that embarking on the journey to create a design system can seem daunting. It's not a small task to balance the need for standardisation with room for creativity and innovation.
At Edition, we're no strangers to these challenges. We've been down this road before, walking alongside our clients as they built design systems that have unlocked new levels of efficiency and innovation.
With a well-crafted design system in place, your software company can weather the storms of today and be prepared for tomorrow's challenges. Let's take this journey together, and craft a design system that will be a catalyst for your long-term vision.
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In recent years, Australia has emerged as a thriving ecosystem for technological innovation. Amidst this burgeoning tech startup landscape, venture capital (VC) firms have played an instrumental role, catapulting forward-thinking startups towards success.
Despite the wealth of VC firms eager to invest in groundbreaking startups, the details surrounding Australia's venture capital landscape can be challenging to find—often out-of-date, scattered, or hidden behind paywalls.
In this article, we offer an extensive guide as a list highlighting the leading VC players actively backing and catalysing the growth of Australia's technology startups in 2023.
AirTree Ventures is committed to standing by founders from the outset, believing steadfastly in their audacious visions. As devoted long-term partners, they go beyond mere funding; they actively help portfolio companies with critical recruitment efforts, offering expert guidance on organisation design, employee experience, and compensation strategies. Additionally, founders gain access to an invaluable network of experienced individuals who understand the intricacies of scaling growth-stage startups.
Stage: Seed, Early stage
Focus: Technology, Health and Life Sciences, Clean Energy
Artesian is a global alternative investment firm, focusing on early-stage venture capital investments. They employ a co-investment model to provide startups with seed stage capital, while providing investors with diversified exposure to the venture capital class of asset management.
Bailador is a growth capital fund focused on private investments in the information technology sector. They partner with startup founders at the expansion stage, providing not only capital but also extensive operational experience to help businesses achieve international success.
Stage: Pre-Seed, Seed, Series A, Series B, Growth, IPO
Blackbird Ventures, one of the largest and most active venture capital funds in Australia, focuses on supporting ambitious startups with a vision for global impact. They target technology companies that have the potential to generate over $100 million in annual revenue and have a strong track record of success. With a discerning eye for tech-driven startups with a lean capital requirement and high potential for rapid scaling, Blackbird Ventures commits to supporting founders from inception. They provide an exhaustive suite of resources, networking platforms, and programs to enhance startup success. Though they often lead investment rounds, they're also open to co-investment with other venture capitalists and making initial investments alongside angel investors.
Stage: Early stage, Series A, Series B
Focus: Health and Life Sciences, Biotech
Notable Investments: Global Kinetics Corporation, Vaxxas, PolyActiva
Brandon Capital Partners is Australia's leading life science and biomedical venture capital firm. They manage the Medical Research Commercialisation Fund (MRCF), one of the largest life science investment funds in Australia, providing capital and expertise to support promising biomedical discoveries.
Stage: Early Stage, Series A, Series B
Focus: Fintech, AI, Marketplaces
Notable Investments: x15ventures, Judo Bank, Athena Home Loans
Carthona Capital is a venture capital firm focusing on disruptive technologies and breakthrough medical research. They support founders/co-founders from the early stages of their venture and provide them with the necessary resources and mentorship to help them succeed.
Ellerston Ventures is a division of Ellerston Capital, dedicated to investing in early-stage businesses with significant growth potential. With an emphasis on the technology sector, they partner with entrepreneurs to offer strategic support and capital to drive growth and success.
Flying Fox Ventures injects early-stage capital to propel Australian & New Zealand companies across the globe. They look for amazing people who deeply understand the challenges around them and are breaking the mould on how to solve them. They also cultivate a robust community of early-stage investors while managing around $30M in funds across 50+ companies, aiding them in achieving their ambitious goals.
Giant Leap Fund
Stage: Seed, Series A
Focus: Impact Tech, Sustainability, Social Impact
Notable Investments: YourGrocer, Sendle, Amber Electric
Giant Leap is a venture capital fund backing founders who intertwine profit and purpose. They believe in using business as a force for good, focusing on investing in companies that deliver a social or environmental impact in addition to financial returns. Through a blend of capital, network, and expertise, they strive to assist their portfolio companies in amplifying their impact.
H2 Ventures is a venture capital firm helping early-stage entrepreneurs reinvent financial services. They offer alumni networks, mentoring, and operational guidance for early-stage entrepreneurs focussing on fintech, data, and artificial intelligence driven solutions. In addition, H2 Ventures provides companies with an in-house pre-seed program.
Stage: Seed, Series A
Focus: Diverse Industries
Notable Investments: QPay, Buzzy Games, Car Next Door
Investible is an early-stage investment group that provides high-potential founders with financial, human, and intellectual capital. They focus on supporting startups with global ambitions and have a methodology-driven approach to identify, invest in, and support the best founders.
Kosmos Ventures is a venture capital firm specializing in investments in technology sectors, specifically software and AI. The firm supports talented founders and teams by providing them with the capital and resources they need to grow their businesses.
Main Sequence Ventures invests in pioneers solving the world's most challenging problems. As the manager of the CSIRO Innovation Fund, they have a strong interest in deep technology startups that are based on high-quality research. Main Sequence Ventures' portfolio companies benefit from connections to leading global technology hubs, a strong advisory team, and resources to support their growth and market entry.
OneVentures stands as one of Australia's leading venture capital firms, with a focus on transformative businesses in technology, healthcare, and life sciences. OneVentures is known for its hands-on investment approach, helping companies navigate the complexities of growth with the aid of a team that has been through it all before. They offer extensive operational experience, global connections, and commercialisation know-how to propel startups to their full potential.
Our Innovation Fund (OIF) is a leading Australian venture capital firm that aims to back and build world-class businesses. They strive to create long-term partnerships with entrepreneurs and are committed to providing more than just funding. OIF provides guidance, strategic advice, and the operational expertise necessary to build successful companies from the ground up.
Rampersand VC is an early-stage venture capital firm focused on helping the most ambitious Australian and New Zealand technology companies achieve their potential. They pride themselves on their founder-friendly approach and a deep understanding of the technology landscape. Rampersand VC provides investment capital, operational support, and access to networks and expertise to help their portfolio companies scale.
Reinventure is an Australian-based, early-stage venture capital fund that invests primarily in fintech and adjacent areas. Backed by Westpac, one of Australia's leading financial institutions, Reinventure Group provides entrepreneurs with access to capital, network, and a deep understanding of financial services. They aim to invest in companies that have the potential to reshape the financial services industry.
Sapien Ventures is a technology-focused VC fund investing primarily in early-stage companies. They leverage foreign capital, Silicon Valley know-how, local market experience, to help the next generation of Australian tech ventures become successful globally. They are heavily focused on fin-tech, marketplaces, and other software-driven tech disruptions that will change societies.
Skip Capital is an Australian private investment fund with a focus on the technology sector, renewable energy, and healthcare. They invest across all stages, from seed to growth. Their mission is to support entrepreneurs making a difference in their fields and having a positive impact on the world.
Southern Cross Venture Partners is focused on creating and growing world-class tech companies. They partner with entrepreneurs with the drive and talent to take their innovations global and offer them funding, networks, and mentorship, with a particular focus on clean technology, ICT, and life sciences.
Square Peg Capital is a leading venture capital investor that has made its mark by backing extraordinary founders who are solving hard problems in large markets. Since its inception in 2012, they've been ardent supporters of startups in Australia and Southeast Asia. Their investment strategy is centered around understanding the unique strengths and visions of founders, and they provide more than just fundraising support – offering strategic guidance, market insights, and extensive networks.
Telstra Ventures is a strategic growth investor in lighthouse technology companies that are shaping the future. They leverage the power of their trusted brand, strong balance sheet, and global reach to give the companies they invest in an unparalleled advantage.
Ten13 is a syndicate-style VC platform that focuses on investing in early-stage tech startups, particularly in the fintech, proptech, and SaaS sectors. It stands apart due to its syndicate model, which allows high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and institutional investors to co-invest in startups. Ten13 offers a streamlined investment process and support to founders to help them realise their business vision.
Tidal Ventures is an early-stage investor focused on leading seed and Series A rounds. They back exceptional teams with global ambitions and provide them with the capital, network, and expertise needed to realise their vision.
Australia's tech startup scene is booming, with investment opportunities and high-growth valuations like never before. The government's dedication to fostering entrepreneurship, coupled with the availability of VC funding at early stages (as well as accelerators and incubators – new article on this soon), makes it an appealing destination for tech startups.
Remember, the fundraising journey is about more than just securing funds—it's about finding partners who believe in your vision and can provide the support you need to succeed. With the right help, you can navigate the entrepreneurial journey and leave a lasting impact on the world.
If you're a tech startup in Australia, this is a reminder that you don’t need to be in New York or San Francisco! Connect with your local venture capital firms mentioned in this article, present your ideas, and unlock your business's potential!
Building a successful technology company is hard work. There are endless challenges to overcome, from prioritising an ever-growing product backlog and securing investment to attracting new customers. But there's one often-overlooked factor that can make all the difference between success and failure: branding. It's not just for big corporations like Apple and Airbnb and influencer-driven skincare products.
Uniqueness and loyalty are king, and branding has become a non-negotiable for tech companies. With so many competing for attention, early-stage startups need to have a strong and memorable brand that refuses to blend in. A well-crafted brand can create a competitive edge, helping you rise above the market chatter, imprint a memorable image in the minds of potential customers, and find product-market fit.
What is Branding?
Before we jump headfirst into branding for tech startups, let's define what we mean by "branding". Put simply, the branding process is the creation of a compelling identity for your company that resonates with your target customer and sets it apart from the competition.
Branding encompasses a wide range of elements that all work together to create a cohesive and memorable image for your company. This includes everything from your company name, logo design, typography/fonts, and colour palette, to your brand message, tone of voice, marketing material, web design, and overall customer experience. One of the key benefits of branding is that it helps to establish trust with your target audience. By creating a consistent and professional image, you can build credibility and make it easier for customers to recognise and remember your brand.
But startup branding isn't just about creating a pretty logo or catchy tagline. It's about communicating who you are as a company, what you stand for, and what makes you different from your competitors. This can be achieved through a variety of unique strategies, such as developing a unique brand voice, compelling content marketing, and embedding your brand values into how you approach customer service.
One of the most powerful applications of branding is in customer acquisition. A strong brand can help you to attract the attention of your target audience, and encourage them to engage with your product or service. How? By creating a connection and emotional resonance with your potential customers that goes beyond mere features and benefits.
People are more likely to buy from companies they feel aligned with, that they share values with, and that they believe understand them. A strong brand will cultivate an emotional connection and build trust with potential customers, making it more likely that they will choose you over your competitors.
But how do you go about building a strong brand? It starts with understanding your target audience and what they value. What are their pain points? What motivates them? What are their aspirations? Once you have a clear understanding of your audience, you can bring to life a well-crafted brand story and create an emotional connection with potential customers.
Your marketing strategy should aim for consistency across all brand touch-points, from your website design and social media channels, to your email marketing and customer service interactions. This consistency builds trust and reinforces your identity.
Retention & Loyalty
Branding is a powerful tool that can help technology companies build loyalty and retain customers. In today's competitive marketplace, it's more important than ever to create a lasting impression in the minds of your customers, a strong brand can help you to achieve this.
One of the key benefits of branding is that it can help to build a sense of community and belonging among your customers. When customers feel like they are part of something bigger than just a product or service, they are more likely to develop a strong sense of loyalty to your brand. This loyalty protects you from your competitors, leading to increased customer retention and ultimately a higher lifetime customer value.
Not only are loyal customers more profitable, but those that feel a strong connection to your brand are also more likely to recommend it to others. By helping you spread the word and attract new customers without the input of direct marketing costs, loyal customers help you lower your cost per acquisition.
Attracting & Retaining Talent
Building and retaining a talented team is a substantial challenge for young technology companies. The scarcity of skilled professionals, coupled with an increasing number of technology companies competing for their attention, makes it a daunting task. When your brand values and mission are clear, and you have a compelling identity to go with these, you are more likely to attract and retain the right employees for your business.
Branding isn't just important to customers; it's a beacon for prospective employees. A strong brand identity sends a clear message about your company culture, ethos, and what you stand for. It helps tech professionals envision what working with you entails. For example, if your brand clearly differentiates itself and demonstrates a commitment to leveraging technology for social good, you're likely to attract individuals with shared values.
When it comes to talent retention, a strong brand can also be an invaluable asset. Employees derive pride from associating with and contributing to a strong, reputable brand. Being part of a brand they respect and align with plays a crucial role in employee loyalty. For instance, if your brand design is inclusive and emphasises diversity, it can lead to better retention of diverse workforce. They're likely to feel more valued and understood in an environment that actively appreciates their unique insights and experiences.
When it comes to securing investment and establishing partnerships, your brand identity plays an even larger role than you might think. A strong, consistent brand not only communicates your company's potential and unique market position but also resonates with investors on a deeper, personal level. This is particularly important when there are so many other early-stage technology companies also competing for investors' attention.
Early-stage technology investors look beyond functionality, financial projections and market dynamics; they want to invest in companies and startup founders that align with their personal values and visions. The story your brand tells, its mission, values, and the impact it aims to create, becomes an integral part of the investment decision. A brand that showcases a commitment to social responsibility, environmental sustainability, or technological advancement, for example, might attract investors who share these values.
Additionally, a strong brand can reflect your company's potential for the long-term success that comes from customer loyalty. Investors want to see that you have, or have the potential to, cultivate a strong connection with your audience - realising that this often translates to customer retention and consistent growth. Your ability to demonstrate this connection through your tech startup branding can significantly increase your chances of securing investment.
How to Build a Strong Brand Identity
So, we've established that branding is critical for early-stage tech startups. But how do you go about building a powerful brand from scratch? Really this is another article in itself, but below is a high-level overview of key considerations.
Firstly, take the time to define your brand strategy. This includes your company's mission, core values, and unique selling proposition (USP). These are your building blocks, and will help you to differentiate yourself from your competitors and connect with your target audience.
Next, craft your messaging and tone of voice. How do you want to communicate with your target audience, and what language and style will resonate with them?
From there, develop your visual identity, including your company name, logo, and brand colours. These should be aligned with your mission and values, and should reflect the personality and tone of your brand – ultimately reflected in your brand guidelines.
Finally, ensure that your identity is consistently represented across all brand touch-points, from your website and social media channels (LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram), to your digital product design, email marketing campaigns and customer service.
In early-stage tech startups, where product development often takes the front seat, don't forget about the importance of branding. Your brand identity is not just what you do, but who you are and why you do it. A strong and differentiated brand can be a powerful force for success, helping you to stand out, connect with customers, and attract the resources you need to grow.
If you're an early-stage technology company, you need to take the time to invest in your brand. Carve out your brand positioning, craft your identity design, hone your messaging, and ensure consistency across all touch-points. After all, a powerful brand identity could be the difference between popping champagne and, well, going back to the drawing board!
Brand building can seem daunting, but remember that you don't have to do it alone. At Edition, we are a branding agency committed to helping early-stage technology companies find their unique DNA, define their brand strategy, and create a compelling visual identity that stands out. If you want help, let's talk!