Meet the 2017 entrepreneurs
Entrepreneur Of The Year
We have received entries from some of the country’s most exciting entrepreneurs and we are proud to announce regional finalists for 2017.
The finalists will meet our esteemed independent judges at judging events held around the country in June.
Please select the region below, then click on the finalists name for more information.
Click on the tabs above to view the regional winners.
- Joe Collins, CAMMS
Twenty years ago, Joe Collins seized an opportunity. He left his CEO role in the public sector and pursued a new business venture. Initially starting as a management consulting company, Joe saw the potential and need for more intelligent business systems.
Today, Joe’s company CAMMS boasts the world’s only truly integrated, end-to-end, Enterprise Performance Management platform. Backed by industry recognition from global analyst firms, including Gartner, CAMMS has tens of thousands of users across five continents, with offices in Australia, New Zealand, Asia the UK and North America.
- Anna Dimond, Palas Jewellery
Anna Dimond has been at the cutting edge of jewellery design and sales for the past 21 years, bringing her Palas Jewellery collections to around 400 stockists, predominantly in Australia.
Anna’s designs and core values strongly reflect her life experiences and are at the heart of the business. The business has had to deal with many difficulties, especially during the global financial crisis but has adapted and is now adding a new revenue stream and global growth strategy with online retail.
She supports an orphanage and health clinic in Bali and is a great believer in encouraging visual design talent. She sponsors an award in her sister Eran’s name at the Adelaide Fringe Festival each year.
- Sebastian Galipo, Galipo Foods
Sebastian started Galipo Foods in 1983 with a $5000 personal loan, distributing products from chest freezers in his home garage. His passion for sales developed when he was just 12 years old when his father encouraged him to sell the family's excess lettuces to help supplement the family income.
Today, Galipo Foods has grown into a broad range food service distributor with over 6,500 different products and a fleet of 42 trucks delivering to the SA Food Industry.
Galipo Foods employs over 130 staff members and has a very strong team culture. Sebastian and the team are proud to have been voted Number One Foodservice Distributor in Australia in 2014 and 2016 by the Foodservice Suppliers Association of Australia, at their National Awards of Excellence.
- Patrick Gluyas, Territory Trade Services Pty Ltd
Three years ago Patrick Gluyas headed to the Northern Territory, believing there was a need for better building infrastructure in remote areas. He started with no contacts, building Territory Trade Services into a viable company within a year.
The company now provides qualified personnel for infrastructure projects in far off areas for government, resources and the oil and gas sector. Patrick has also set up Direct Imports which imports construction and building equipment from China, and revenues are already strong.
Patrick has shown a strong commitment to the indigenous community, recently setting up a training program that enables young Aborigines to become apprentices under the Territory Trade Services banner.
- Paul Hamra, Solstice Media Ltd
Paul Hamra formed Solstice Media in Adelaide in 2003, to provide high quality, independent news in a capital city that, at the time, had just one newspaper.
His response, The Independent Weekly, became a reality in 2004. Hamra has since moved into the digital space, creating InDaily, an online news service which serves its subscriber base by email.
The company is now pioneering news products based on the IP it developed in Adelaide, producing national news sites including The New Daily, which is one of the top 20 Australian news sites.
- Dimi Kyriazis, Golden North Pty Ltd
Dimi Kyriazis has achieved an excellent turnaround for iconic South Australian ice cream maker Golden North. After taking on the business in 2009 with a group of like-minded investors, they have almost doubled revenues in the past eight years.
They rationalised the customer base and sourced new supply arrangements that would generate greater profit. Innovation and rebranding for the future is now a priority to create a competitive advantage in the marketplace domestically and internationally.
The company has worked hard on its supermarket strategy and products are now available in all major supermarkets. Dimi hopes to make the brand a success in Asia and foresees revenues continuing to increase.
- Peter Marshman, Youth Opportunities
Peter Marshman, a former merchant banker and direct marketer, came up with the idea for Youth Opportunities in order to concentrate on what he thought he could do best: motivating young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.
He formed Adelaide’s Youth Opportunities in 1997, which has since evolved into a viable business, giving students the life tools and motivation they may not receive at school.
The company is now moving into the online space to reach students in other states and to make programs more flexible for schools. It now also offers a scholarship to around 20% of its program graduates who are financially disadvantaged and in need of additional support.
- Leko and Milenko Novakovic, Novatech Creative Event Technology
Brothers Leko and Milenko Novakovic are leading providers of entertainment and event technologies. The pair founded Novatech Production Services in 2001 as an equipment hire and live performance production provider.
The company experienced tremendous growth in the live concert and festival market and with an ever-increasing demand for high calibre Technical Management services, Novatech Productions changed its name to Novatech Creative Event Technology. This reflected a move toward providing total presentation solutions rather than just equipment hire, and answered the demand for a new standard of professionalism to the industry.
Now in its seventeenth year of business, Novatech celebrates landmark accomplishments such as integrating Australia’s first d3 video production suite and developing a proprietary, scalable, network driven conferencing solution, OneSystem.
- Andrew Nunn, JBS&G Australia
JBS&G was started by Andrew Nunn in 2002, and is a national provider of environmental management services with over 120 staff. Andrew was appointed as the youngest ever Victorian EPA environmental auditor and he has subsequently been appointed auditor in SA, WA and Queensland.
After being transferred to South Australia in 1999, Andrew realised there was a significant business opportunity in environmental works in the State, and in 2002, sold his only asset, hired two local engineers and started Soil and Groundwater Consulting (S&G).
Over the next 10 years he built a business which redefined environmental consulting. In 2014, S&G merged with JBS to form JBS&G, which is now one of Australia's largest contaminated land consulting firms.
- Cheryl Shigrov, Precious Cargo Education
Eleven years ago Cheryl Shigrov conceived Precious Cargo Education, a Montessori-style early learning centre for children, building the business from nothing.
Cheryl has since built six of the Montessori-style early education centres in South Australia, with another four in the building stage. Centres in Melbourne are soon to follow with further possible expansion into Brisbane, Sydney and then overseas to New Zealand.
She has also set up another more accessible brand, Treasured Tots, which aims to bring the Montessori Method of education to a wider demographic.
- Ben Trussell and Graeme Rutter, Floral Image Pty Ltd
Floral Image revolutionised the corporate flower market by developing and globalising the concept of renting life-like artificial flower arrangements.
Floral Image designs and manufactures the flowers, and distributes through a global franchise network to over 30,000 businesses across 77 locations in 20 countries, adding São Paulo, Munich, Dublin and Paris this year.
There are now more than 30,000 global customers. The goal by 2020 is 150,000 customers worldwide. To achieve this, the plan is to consolidate the US and European side of the business.
- Paul Vasileff, Paolo Sebastian
Paul Vasileff started Paolo Sebastian ten years ago in Adelaide and has become one of Australia’s leading high fashion designers, selling his couture gowns throughout the world.
Paul is among only a handful of Australian fashion designers to have had his creations revealed in Paris during Paris Fashion Week and he is the only South Australian to have ever showed there.
Paul was named Young Australian of the Year for 2017 and aims to create Australia’s first haute couture fashion brand, equivalent to Valentino or Chanel. He believes the market is changing, with big demand now coming from the Middle East and Asia.
- Jordan Walsh, Australian Green Clean
At just 25 years of age, Jordan Walsh is the Group Managing Director of Australian Green Clean (AGC), industry leaders in sustainable cleaning and waste management, employing 400 staff and servicing 1000s of clients throughout Australia. AGC provides innovative and sustainable cleaning and waste management services to events, venues, stadiums and commercial premises throughout Australia.
After graduating from the University of Adelaide with an honours law degree in 2013, Jordan founded Australian Green Clean, building the company from the ground up.
Australian Green Clean won the 2016 Telstra South Australian Business of the Year. Shortly after the award, they merged with Adams Cleaning and Maintenance Services and Jordan took up the position of Group Managing Director.
- Top Blokes Foundation, Melissa Abu-Gazaleh
Melissa Abu-Gazaleh developed a desire to improve mental health outcomes and wellbeing for young men after noticing their high suicide and crime rates. In 2006 at the age of 19 she established Top Blokes Foundation.
Melissa faced two challenges when she started the foundation: lack of recognition about the importance of young men's health and minimal business experience. She has more than overcome these challenges.
Top Blokes Foundation has delivered social education and mental wellbeing programs to 10,000 young males aged 14 to 24. Melissa now earns a full-time salary through the business and by July 2017 expects to employ 7.5 full-time employees.
- Ashik Ahmed, Deputy
Ashik Ahmed worked with his mentor, Steve Shelley, to find a solution to reduce burdensome, administrative tasks for business owners to allow them the freedom to succeed in both business and family.
The product of this was Deputy, which provides online rostering and staff management software to more than 20,000 customers in 73 countries worldwide.
Ashik has invested heavily in AI, machine learning, robotics and data analytics to assist Deputy to automate menial tasks such as rostering and scheduling with a single button. It also generates business insights by leveraging its immense dataset across industries.
The business booked revenues of $5.6 million in the 2015/2016 financial year.
- Christian Beck, InfoTrack
Christian Beck was developing software for legal firms before the search engine concept was an internet byword. His company, InfoTrack, now offers data analytics visualisation which simplifies complex search information, verification of identification and electronic contracts for sale on NSW properties.
In 20 years he has devised platforms which make the information search easier not just for law firms but for all manner of business and financial professionals. InfoTrack now has a large market share of the information search market in Australia and has made inroads in the UK and the US.
The business has enjoyed three years of strong growth, with revenues growing from around $123 million in fiscal 2015 to $186 million estimated this year.
- Luke Berry, ThirdiProperty Pty Ltd (Thirdi Group)
Luke Berry and his partners built Thirdi Group in tough times but the company hung in and are now reaping the rewards with industry changing innovations and escalating revenues.
Specialising in large-scale property developments around Sydney and Newcastle, they have launched a number of innovations, including an augmented reality tool (ARTi) allowing agents and clients to see developments in Virtual Augmented 3D, a form of reality not seen before.
Luke has also championed a solar energy deal with one of the world’s largest providers with plans to install solar networks into all Thirdi developments.
Luke and his fellow business partners have set up Foundation of Youth to help children who have lost a parent, and the Buy for a Charity initiative where clients nominate a charity to receive a one-off donation for every property sold.
- Norm Black, TripADeal
Norm Black’s TripADeal travel company has come off the blocks at a great pace and is now one of the country’s leading purveyors of packaged travel.
The Byron Bay-based company will record revenues of $100 million in fiscal 2017. In 2016 it was ranked number one on the BRW Fast 100.
By building unique travel packages from scratch, cutting out the middle man and selling high volume, TripAdeal is able to offer bucket-list trips at prices that everyday Australians can afford.
Norm believes that providing a complete end-to-end service with a strong focus on the customer experience makes TripADeal a true market leader.
Norm’s company is the biggest employer in the Northern Rivers region of NSW and sponsors the Byron Bay to Ballina coastal charity walk.
- Bruce Buchanan, ROKT Pty Ltd
Former Jetstar CEO Bruce Buchanan has reinvented himself in the last five years, swapping duties as an airline executive to build a new digital marketing platform known as ROKT.
Since 2012, he has been ROKT’s chief executive, pioneering a platform which connects advertisers to customers when they are said to be most receptive - just as they've made an online purchase.
The digital marketing company has grown quickly. In 2015 its revenues were around $15 million but by the end of 2017 it expects that to climb to $58 million. The company has plans is to expand into Europe and Asia, with launches this year in France, Germany and Japan.
- Andrew Clarke, Cashrewards
Andrew Clarke started Cashrewards, a cash back site, with one developer at his kitchen table. The business receives commissions for referring sales to merchant sites and shares these funds with its 250,000-plus members.
Partner advertisers only pay when they make a sale, a business model that is prompting major advertisers to shift their budgets from traditional and digital media to Cashrewards.
The model is so compelling that in the 2015/2016 financial year Cashrewards originated approximately 2% of all online sales in Australia. In the last 12 months it has generated more than $360 million in transactions and returned more than $19 million to members.
- Irene Falcone, Nourished Life
Five years ago Irene Falcone found that the market for healthy and environmentally-friendly products was cluttered, misunderstood and opaque.
She formed Nourished Life with her own capital and has since averaged over 350% per annum growth since 2012. The $20 million business has a team of scientists, doctors, formulators and naturopaths offering trustworthy green labelling to its products.
Irene sees opportunities in data mining to improve customers’ shopping experiences. She has received many accolades and received the 2016 Telstra New South Wales Entrepreneur Award.
- Tim Fung, Airtasker
For the past five years, Tim Fung has been the inspiration behind Airtasker, a business which has become a byword for matching odd jobs with willing hands.
Airtasker now has 1.1 million community members and puts more than $75 million into the pockets of its workers.
New and innovative tasks such as furniture assembly or employing someone to wait in line for the latest iPhone have become its mainstay.
Tim believes the company will grow exponentially and he wants to give back. He sees Airtasker offering disaster relief or lending its many capable hands to community causes.
- Lana Hopkins, Mon Purse
In three years Lana Hopkins’ Mon Purse has become a brand without a brand, allowing customers to design their own handbags and leather accessories without paying designer brand premiums.
Now a $12 million business, it is set to double in 2017. Mon Purse has set up showrooms in Bloomingdales in New York and San Francisco; in Selfridges in London, Manchester and Birmingham, and in Myer stores throughout Australia.
Co-founder Lana says no other company has yet scaled the mass customisation of affordable luxury handbags and accessories both in retail terms and digitally.
Lana was a finalist in the Young Entrepreneurs of the Year World Retail Awards in Dubai in 2017.
- Andrew Koloadin, Digital Pacific
Andrew Koloadin is the founder and CEO of Digital Pacific, the largest privately owned web hosting company in Australia. Andrew started the company in 2000 after borrowing $99 to rent a server and spending the previous 12 months learning how to set it up and host websites.
Seventeen year later, Digital Pacific now owns and operates thousands of servers based out of their own purpose built data centre in the Sydney suburb of Pyrmont, hosting over 150,000 websites for customers ranging in size from SMEs to multinational corporations.
They have recently acquired two major competitors which has allowed them to scale and bring in new talent.
- Josh Nicholls, Platinum Electricians
Josh Nicholls started the business at the age of 22 in 2001 with just $15,000 in capital. At that point he had never turned on a computer and struggled to apply for a mobile phone plan because he had no business trading history.
Today, Platinum Electricians is a national electrical contracting company with 350 employees and 21,000 clients. The business has 52 franchises across Australia, with a plan to increase the number of franchises to 66 by 2018.
Josh has a long-term plan to eventually establish 150 franchises. The business recorded revenues of $8.9 million in the current financial year.
- Fred Schebesta, finder.com.au
Fred Schebesta is the co-founder and director of finder.com.au (finder), an entrepreneur, award-winning digital marketer and active member of the Australian start-up community.
His started his entrepreneurial journey at just 22. Together with his business partner and friend Frank Restuccia, they created Freestyle Media, while at university. In 2009, they launched finder.com.au which exploded into the comparison market – one of the most competitive internet categories.
Today, finder is a free service which compares virtually everything from credit cards, home loans and insurance to savings, travel and technology. finder has since launched in the United States and the United Kingdom, employing more than 117 people globally.
- Eddie Sheehy, Nuix
Eddie Sheehy joined Nuix in 2006 and gave the company a new direction. He immediately saw the right target for the company’s information processing tool – digital investigations, which was a growing industry.
As litigation has proliferated and threats to corporate security have intensified, Nuix has become a world leader in data processing, able to index, search and analyse large amounts of both unstructured and semi-structured data at an extremely fast rate.
The business has since grown through corporate demand for investigation and litigation software. Nuix has been self-funding since 2008 and has enjoyed burgeoning revenues for the past three years, reaching $98 million in fiscal 2016.
- John Walters, NEXTGEN Distribution Pty Ltd
John Walters has applied a military-style discipline to selling enterprise software products, boosting sales exponentially in the past three years as a key distributor of major IT brands in Australasia.
His methods have been completely different from other IT facilitators and by leveraging his knowledge of the industry, he has held off aggressive, multinational competitors by developing into a best in class provider of IT solutions through innovative business models.
One of the company’s innovations was to establish separate business units which delineate the products being distributed and increase focus and speed to market. John says the addition of new brands will be part of the company’s next wave of growth and relevancy, allowing NEXTGEN to continue its vision of being an industry disruptor.
- Peter Winkle and Nicholas Perry, Bailey Nelson
Peter Winkle turned down a scholarship to Oxford University to focus on building disrupter eyewear business Bailey Nelson. At the same time, his co-founder Nicholas Perry left an exciting role at The Iconic.
The pair launched Bailey Nelson, Australia's only national, omni-channel optometry provider and started spending each Sunday running a stall at Sydney’s Bondi Markets to learn about eyewear.
The business has built a global supply chain and now ships hundreds of pairs of glasses per day from Hong Kong directly to Australia, the fastest turnaround time in the industry. They now have operations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. It has 257 staff across 28 stores and has sold more than half a million glasses.
Bailey Nelson earned revenues of $15.7 million in the 2015/2016 financial year.
- Sarah Wilson, I Quit Sugar Pty Ltd
In four years, Sarah Wilson has built the I Quit Sugar empire into one of the country’s best known e-commerce health platforms which employs 20 people and turns over $4 million a year.
A former editor, Sarah’s revolution started when she began explaining the health problems surrounding sugar, wrote a bestselling book and built a ‘wellness’ ecommerce platform offering products, advice and counselling.
Her ten-product range is now selling at local supermarkets and gaining traction in the UK and the US. Sarah was one of the big movers behind the sugar tax push and has been behind several sustainable food projects.
- Graham Booysen, Cornetts Supermarkets
Cornetts’ CEO Graham Booysen is the supermarket chain’s turnaround man, who three years ago made a pact with its board that he could bring the ailing company back to profitability. In 30 minutes, he produced a proposal for the board that would streamline the business and accelerate sales growth.
Graham’s methods were tough but fair. He began to reduce the number of stores, slim down the workforce, retrain staff and bring in new digital systems.
The company has shown a profit since financial year 2014. With 33 stores and sales growing, Cornetts is lookingto expand the number of stores in its portfolio.
- Siavash Es’haghi, Imaging Queensland
Siavash Es’haghi wants to revolutionise the way people look at diagnostic imaging services and founded Sunshine Coast Radiology in 2007 to provide a less corporatised form of patient care.
The Maroochydore-based company has since recorded revenues of around $50 million and operates throughout Queensland servicing 19 clinics, including seven hospitals and three specialised nuclear medicine departments.
Imaging Queensland has been able to acquire private and public hospital contracts thus weaning it off Medicare. Only 50% of the company’s revenues are now Medicare related. At the forefront of treatment, Imaging Queensland was one of the first radiology firms on the Sunshine Coast to offer patients 3D mammography.
- Susannah George, The Urban List
Susannah George is the founder of The Urban List, Australia and New Zealand’s largest local lifestyle guide.
Launched in 2011 from humble beginnings in her bedroom, The Urban List has emerged as one of the region’s fastest-growing, most influential lifestyle destinations, attracting more than 2.5 million visitors each month.
The idea was born from Susannah’s passion for small business – a curated city guide, driving new customers to the operators she loved. Today, the reach and influence of The Urban List audience has attracted a customer base of the world’s most influential lifestyle brands, tourism bodies, restaurants and retailers.
The revenue and audience size has doubled every year since its launch and the site now services seven markets with further geographic expansion planned for 2017.
- Ross Hopper, Maleny Dairies
Maleny Dairies is a fast-expanding provider of quality milk products that caters for a strong consumer demand for ethical and sustainably produced foods. Owner Ross Hopper set up the company after the industry’s deregulation in 2000, bucked the trend of commoditising milk and offers highly quality milk from “superior” Guernsey cows.
Maleny has evolved to offer Guernsey milk, cream, yoghurt, flavoured milk and custard. The company now processes the milk from eight of the 11 dairy farms locally and is keen take on more.
The company is expecting to receive an export license from the highly receptive Chinese market and is upscaling capacity to do so.
- Vincent Huang, V.H International Holding Pty Ltd trading as V Resource
V Resource operates the only licensed lead acid battery recycling operation in Queensland. The founder, Vincent Huang, developed and patented a proprietary treatment process that removes more sulphur from lead than its domestic competitors.
Without V Resource’s recycling plant, lead acid batteries in Queensland would likely end up in landfills, potentially producing contaminated run offs that could pollute Queensland's waterways.
V Resource is in the process of constructing a fully integrated, fully automated smart recycling plant (to replace its prototype plant) to enhance its processing capacity and operational capabilities to serve the Queensland market.
The company earned revenues of $10.1 million in FY2016 and is expected to achieve revenues of over $13 million in FY2017.
- Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett, Orange Sky Laundry
Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett co-founded Orange Sky Laundry, one of the world's first free mobile laundries for the homeless. The business now has 13 vans and 800 volunteers on the road and recorded annual revenues of $1.7 million in the last financial year.
When vans are not washing and drying clothes for free, they are used to train and employ people doing it tough. Orange Sky can respond to people affected by homelessness temporarily through natural disasters.
In Brisbane, Orange Sky has won a number of commercial laundry contracts, executed by eight homeless friends. During 2017, the company hopes to expand throughout Australia, helping people in remote Indigenous communities and creating employment opportunities for people in each state.
- Ben Markwell, INSELEC
Ben Markwell wanted to improve the way the electricity industry recruited personnel, so INSELEC devised its own matching technology, a new way to marry electricians’ skills with the sometimes complex and difficult jobs requested by clients.
From its beginnings in Brisbane’s Red Hill four years ago, electrical recruitment specialist INSELEC has enjoyed remarkable growth, with revenues in fiscal 2016 at around $18 million.
The company had grown quickly in Queensland and now has offices in Sydney and Perth, with a Melbourne office coming soon. Ben is well on the way to making INSELEC a national business
- John McLean, Bundaberg Brewed Drinks
Bundaberg Brewed Drinks is an Australian family owned company based in the small Queensland town that shares its name, Bundaberg. For generations, the company has been craft brewing premium non-alcoholic beverages using time-honoured brewing methods and quality ingredients.
John McLean took over as Chief Executive Officer in 2007 with a mission to grow the business both domestically and internationally whilst maintaining the strong entrenched family values.
Since then, the company’s unique range of 12 brews have been exported to over 44 countries around the world with a continued growth focus on both domestic and international market development.
- Tatiana Porter, Workplace Central
Workplace Central’s predecessor, Labour Hire Australia, was established in 1989. In 2012 Tatiana and a team of managers acquired an equal shareholding in the business.
Workplace Central has pioneered a Total Workforce Management solution. This integrated concept is a significant point of difference to competitors’ approaches, which usually focus on one aspect of workforce management.
The new team has ensured a long-standing company is well placed for the future as they provide flexible employment solutions for both employers and employees.
Growth in annual revenues from $53 million to nearly $80 million is representative of the success of this transition.
- Michelle Aznavorian, Misha Collection
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.
- Richard Blumberg, Wingate Consumer Finance trading as NOW FINANCE
Richard Blumberg set up NOW FINANCE in 2012 to offer consumer-friendly personal loans to the middle market of Australians.
The company has set up an easy-to-use web-based system and a number of proprietary processes allowing it to offer a competitively priced product and exceptional customer service.
Richard wants to transform the personal lending market and it seems to be working. Volumes have risen quickly in the past 12 months and the business has now written loans of over $150 million. NOW FINANCE’s revenue expects to come in around $17 million this fiscal year.
- Peter Cooper, Cooper Investors
Peter Cooper’s corporate career culminated in a role as Head of Australian Equities and Managing Director at Merrill Lynch. His entrepreneurial drive led him to found Cooper Investors.
Cooper Investors is a specialist equities fund manager with funds under management of approximately $12 billion. The business has six managed portfolios which have, on average, outperformed the market by 6% on an annualised basis and 166% on a cumulative basis. A strategic process is in place to double the current $2 billion international portfolio.
Peter is passionate about making a difference and established the CI Philanthropy Fund in 2008.
- Thor Essman, Versent
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.
- Raymond Malone, AMA Group
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.
- Ben McHarg and Craig Silbery, Evolution Health
Evolution Health offers products tailored to customers’ life stages. The business developed the first Australian over the counter probiotic formula for pregnant women and the first probiotic for babies aged six months to three years.
Ben and Craig took a risk taking their probiotic product Life-Space to market, competing against established players domestically and globally. It paid off, and Life-Space achieved 350% sales growth across the 2015/2016 financial year.
Evolution Health has a presence in China, with multiple distribution channels including Alibaba. Life-Space is now the clear number two brand in the domestic market.
- Ant Morell and Simon McNamara, Bounce Australia
Bounce is a category-creating operator of Action-Adventure Centres. It focuses on radical innovation around culture and customer experience to inspire diverse customer segments, from pre-school children to elite athletes.
The first BOUNCE opened in Victoria in 2012 and paid itself back in eight months. Bounce now has 2000 staff and 20 venues across eight countries, generating annual revenues of $105 million.
Its latest innovation (X-Park) has achieved a 25% increase in year-on-year revenue and payback inside 12 months. 12 new venues will open in the next year across 5 countries including Russia, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
Ant and Simon share a passionate pride around the impact they feel their business is having, encouraging physical activity and social engagement on a global scale.
- Tony and Sharon Rechtman, Total Beauty Network
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.
- Alexie Seller, Pollinate Energy
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.
- Phil Streeter and Mark Heintz, The Pastoral Pork Company
The Pastoral Pork Company was formed in 1992 by a family consortium that believed that Australians weren’t eating the meat they deserved.
When Phil Streeter entered the scene in 1996, he had worked for a pork producer in Tasmania but believed he could improve Pastoral Pork’s methodologies and build scale without compromising standards of quality.
Mark Heintz came on board as the business CEO just under two years ago. Mark has taken the Victorian regional brand both nationally and internationally, putting extensive effort into developing new product pipelines for the Otway branded sales and adding new factory automation to expand throughput and capacity.
The company now turns over $21.5 million and supplies major supermarket chains.
- Andrew Walsh, IRESS
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, Xplor
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.
Regional finalists to be announced soon
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