Entrepreneur Of The Year
2017 National finalists: Southern Region
Four years ago Melbourne-based Michelle Aznavorian arrived on the fashion scene as a 24 year old with her own label, making an instantaneous splash in the world of haute couture.
She has since designed a second line for an older audience and seen her profile grow exponentially. Her clothing line is now stocked at some of the best stores in the world, including, Saks, Revolve, the Iconic and Selfridges.
More significantly, it has forged its brand in one of the most competitive industries in the world and been taken up by a number of celebrity adopters.
Thor Essman, CEO & Founder of Versent Pty Ltd (Versent), has over 24 years of experience in business leadership, technology transformation, culture change and enterprise delivery.
Versent has disrupted the enterprise IT consulting market through its innovative fixed-
price, fixed-outcome business model. It has a unique ability to deliver better outcomes on a shorter delivery cycle compared to the large IT consulting firms’ operating model.
Servicing 78 large corporate and government customers, clients include 12 ASX top 20 companies, three telcos in the Asia Pacific region and multiple state government agencies. Versent was ranked seventh in the 2016 BRW list of fastest growing companies and has been named Amazon Web Services Consulting Partner for 2017.
AMA Group chair Ray Malone is a self-made man. His business provides services to the wholesale vehicle aftercare and accessories market. It recorded revenues of $264 million in 2015/2016 and has approximately 85 sites across Australia.
When Ray became CEO of AMA Group in 2009 the company was on the verge of failure. As a minority shareholder he called an extraordinary general meeting, replaced the board and removed $20 million in debt by converting some of it into equity. These steps gave him room to move to shake up the business.
Ray continues to grow the company through acquisitions and has a vision to build a $1 billion business.
A decade ago, Tony and Sharon Rechtman decided that the cosmetics industry was elitist, overly expensive and dominated by multi-nationals. On the back of a napkin they put together a business plan to take them on.
The result was Total Beauty Network, created as an affordable local competitor to big-name brands. The company has strong ethics, with all brands being free of toxins, certified Vegan and Cruelty Free. Additionally, Total Beauty Network’s INIKA range is certified organic.
It now sells in over 3500 retailers across 30+ countries globally and will expand into the US this year.
Andrew Walsh founded market leading financial planning software XPLAN and joined IRESS when it acquired XPLAN Technology in 2003. He developed the start-up, become IRESS’ CEO in 2009 and has since led the growth of the group.
IRESS is one of the market leaders in financial markets and wealth management, with a growing presence internationally. 47% of group revenue is derived outside Asia-Pacific.
Under Andrew's leadership, market capitalisation has doubled to $2 billion and last financial year it achieved $77 million profit before tax from annual revenues of $389 million. The company has a strong culture of giving and causes are chosen by IRESS’ people and led by local teams.
Mark Woodland joined his mother in her new childcare business after he left the army in 2010, devising an idea for an app-based sign-in for children enrolled at childcare centres.
He developed Woodland Education’s three childcare centres to a $22 million business servicing 850 families. In January 2016, he sold Woodland Education to focus on Xplor.
Xplor is one of the first apps to integrate iBeacon technology, which allows parents to automatically sign their children in and out of a childcare centre through bluetooth-enabled smart phones.
The business services around 200,000 users in the childcare space. Xplor has recently been implemented in some of Australia’s top private schools as part of a beta programme. Xplor has 300 schools waiting to use their software.
2017 Social entrepreneur
In recognition of sustained, outstanding entrepreneurial achievement the 2017 Social entrepreneur is:
When Alexie Seller became aware of the energy poverty facing many communities in the world, she took a 75% pay cut to become a founding member of Pollinate Energy, a female-led social enterprise based in Australia and India.
Pollinate Energy brings life-changing clean energy products to India's urban slum communities. The social venture began as a solar lights trial in a northern Bangalore community, replacing dangerous kerosene lamps. Since then, its range of clean energy products has grown to include water filters, cooking stoves, solar fans and mobile phones.
Pollinate also runs programs to train the future social leaders of Australia.
Champion of Entrepreneurship
In recognition of sustained, outstanding entrepreneurial achievement the 2017 Champion of Entrepreneurship is:
Gillian Franklin is the founder and Managing Director of The Heat Group. Gillian is acknowledged as one of Australia’s most innovative entrepreneurs with broad experience in creating and growing brands, as well as considerable Board directorship contribution.
Born in South Africa, Gillian immigrated to Australia in 1980 with only $200 in her pocket. After 20 years of corporate life with many outstanding achievements, Gillian formed Heat. At the outset Gillian raised capital, established a blue chip board and after initially working out of a coffee shop with a small team of two, secured the distribution rights for the Procter & Gamble beauty brands, Max Factor and CoverGirl. The P&G decision catapulted Heat into a medium-sized organisation overnight. Over the past 17 years, the Heat business has grown through strategic acquisitions, in-house brand development, and increased distribution. Heat today employs around 160 people, with over 100 brands in the portfolio, selling to more than 7000 retailers.
Gillian is known for her passion for supporting women in the workplace, and is often found sharing her business experience, leadership skills, financial acumen, strategic thinking, and values-based lessons, through formal and informal mentoring initiatives.