Hot DesQ Case Studies

Since being established in 2015, Advance Queensland’s Hot DesQ program has successfully attracted international and interstate entrepreneurial talent to Queensland, boosting our startup ecosystem and broadening our global connections.

These case studies highlight some of the innovative businesses that have relocated to Queensland following their Hot DesQ participation.   

Hot DesQ: Round 2

Pinch Labs (now Notiv)

Pinch Labs is an artificial intelligence enabled enterprise and virtual assistant startup from Silicon Valley, led by Founder, Chris Raethke. During their time in Queensland, Pinch Labs has progressed product development and now have a team of six full-time and part-time employees based in Fortitude Valley. Chris remains in Queensland, sharing his expert knowledge and experience in the startup sector. He facilitates professional connections and provides workshops to educate Queenslanders about building teams, scaling startups and managing rapid growth. To date, Mr Raethke has facilitated more than 50 one-on-one mentoring sessions with Queensland startups.

Less Industries

Less Industries is the startup from Chile behind ‘Internet of Things’ – a suite of solutions designed to optimise agricultural and industrial processes, led by Founder, Sebastian Cerone. Less Industries’ innovative products promises to boost productivity across a host of Queensland industries, especially agriculture. Sebastian relocated to Queensland as a Hot DesQ funding recipient and remains here, growing his humble startup. His products are now being piloted by a number of farms and researchers in Queensland, assisting Queenslanders to save water in irrigation, reduce crop losses, optimise the condition of fruit during shipping, and diminishing the cost of grain storage through spoilage prevention.  


PledgeMe is a crowdfunding platform helping people to raise money to turn their ideas into reality. Led by Co-founder Anna Guenther, this New Zealand startup is the only female-led equity crowdfunding platform to be licensed in Australia. PledgeMe relocated to Australia in October 2017 as part of the HOT DesQ program. They became one of the first nine business Australia-wide to secure one of the ground-breaking crowdfunding licences from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. Whilst in the Queensland, Ms Guenther was committed to meeting as many companies as possible to not only build the best crowdfunding solutions, but to help companies grow in the Queensland region and in turn support local communities.
Read the PledgeMe Medium story.


Edoome is a social-learning platform providing tools for effective communication and collaboration between teachers and students relocating from Chile to Queensland, led by Co-founder Leonardo De La Fuente. On completion of Hot DesQ round 2, Mr De La Fuente returned to Queensland to participate in the River City Labs Accelerator program. He is currently raising funding to expand his local team and to stay long-term in Queensland.

Hip Money

Hip Money create software to improve the financial health and wellness of Australians. Originally from Nebraska, this Brisbane-based Financial Technology (FinTech) company is led by Founder and CEO Mark Zmarzly. Following participation in most recent round of the Hot DesQ program, they have announced a partnership with Bank of Queensland which allows them to stay in Queensland and grow their team. Mr Zmarzly is committed to sharing his knowledge and connections with as many entrepreneurs as possible and during his time in the Hot DesQ program travelled to a number of Queensland regions including Toowoomba, the Gold Coast, Longreach, Cairns and Ipswich.
Read the Hip Money Medium story.


VivaCity provide an innovative translation, customer experience and reputation management platform to unlock the Chinese inbound tourism market. As part of the Hot DesQ program, Co-Founder, Szelee Lai relocated from London to Australia for six months to establish a second international office in the Asia-Pacific. Whilst in Queensland, Mr Lai mentored a number of local startups, specifically sharing his connections into the Chinese market and opening opportunities for local entrepreneurs to scale their startups internationally. Since completing the program, Viva City have secured additional funding through the Advance Queensland’s Ignite Ideas Fund and are continuing to scale locally. They have employed local staff members and interns to continue the Queensland-based office and will continue to expand their Queensland base to other states in Australia.

Kusaga Athletic

Kusaga Athletic is an innovative apparel brand offering a range of sustainable sportswear and activewear and the name behind ‘The Greenest T-shirt on the Planet’. During participation in the Hot DesQ program, Founder Graham Ross focused on keeping his company, BlockTexx here in Queensland. Mr Ross facilitated a number of international and interstate connections while in Queensland and hired 5 employees, including three interns.


Hot DesQ: Round 1


FlowPay are a Fintech startup commercialising Continuous Flow Payments (CPF) technology in Australia. CFP solutions integrate with payroll, wages and contractors, bills, receivables/payables, loan payments, improving cash-flow liquidity and make it easier for employees and businesses build wealth and grow. Founder, Manfred Neustifter relocated from Silicon Valley to Brisbane to continue growing the business, appointing a Brisbane software developer and two interns to join his team. Mr Neustifer remains in Brisbane growing his new ventures, FluxPower and FlowpayAI.


CoverCard is a recruitment app improving the job search, recruitment and training of blue collar jobs across Australia.  During their participation in the Hot DesQ program, the company engaged two interns - one of which was engaged through the Federal Government’s Youth Jobs PaTH program and previously a long-term unemployed youth. This internship has now transitioned to a paid position. On completion of their six month program, CoverCard continued their presence in Queensland and as a result of partnerships with Queensland-based industries associations, have hired additional staff members.


Pixc is platform aimed at helping eCommerce stores optimize their product photos so they can increase their sales. Founder, Holly Cardew relocated from Silicon Valley to base herself at River City Labs in Queensland as part of the Hot Entreprenuers program. During her time in Queensland, Ms Cardew travelled to a number regions in Queensland including Cairns, Atherton and Gladstone sharing her wealth of experience with local startups. Holy remains actively engaged with the startup community in Brisbane, and regularly mentors for programs including the Startup Onramp.
Read the Pixc Medium story.