Founders of Pepperstone named Australia’s top entrepreneurs for 2014

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Thursday, 21 November 2014 - Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr, co-founders of online foreign exchange broker Pepperstone, have been crowned the 2014 Australian EY Entrepreneurs Of The YearTM. The pair took out the top gong at a gala awards ceremony in Melbourne last night, among a field of stiff competition from 26 other national finalists.  

As the Australian winners, Mr Davenport and Mr Kerr will travel to Monte Carlo in June next year where they will compete against national winners from over 60 countries for the chance to be named the 2015 EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™. 

Mr Davenport and Mr Kerr co-founded Pepperstone in 2010. Today, Pepperstone services over 20,000 retail investors in more than 150 countries and has an average trading volume of over US $3.3 billion per day. The company is among the top 15 retail foreign exchange brokers globally and currently has offices in Australia, China and the United States, offering trading in 68 currency pairs and metals. 

Mr Kerr says he always knew he didn’t want to work for a big organisation. “I wanted to create something – to have the challenge of building something from the ground up.” 

It was after meeting Mr Davenport through a mutual friend that the idea for Pepperstone was born. “At the time, Joe was a foreign exchange broker and I was a trader. We looked at the foreign exchange landscape and had some ideas on how we could create a better broker experience through automation and technology,” Mr Kerr said. 

Mr Davenport credits much of their success to hard work, drive, focus and “not being afraid to make mistakes.” 

“I believe that the spirit of entrepreneurialism is being opportunistic and identifying new ways to sell products and build businesses. We looked at the market of online foreign exchange and realised that there was a lot of cost involved and it wasn’t really accessible to the average person. We saw that as an opportunity, so we developed a product, bought it to market and it’s been very successful,” Mr Davenport said. 

But Mr Kerr admits it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. “We didn’t really have much money when we were setting up the business. We were living on tuna and beans and scraping together everything we could to put into the business. We’ve faced quite a few obstacles but, through sheer hard work, we were able to overcome those obstacles and I think that’s ultimately what drives success.” 

Chair of the independent judging panel Joycelyn Morton, Chair of Thorn Group Limited and Noni B Limited, said the judges were highly impressed with Mr Kerr and Mr Davenport, describing them as “young, dynamic, wonderfully entrepreneurial leaders who are absolutely committed to their business”. 

“Pepperstone is an innovative business that has revolutionised the forex industry. Joe and Owen saw an opportunity to transact international exchanges faster and more efficiently than traditional providers. The speed and the volume at which they can transact and the global reach the business now has is impressive,” Ms Morton said. 

“It’s amazing that a business like this comes out of Australia. We should be extremely proud that young entrepreneurs in this country, like Joe and Owen are seeing these types of niche market opportunities, seizing them and creating successful, globally recognised businesses.” 

Six other exceptional Australian entrepreneurs also took home national category trophies from the awards ceremony. The 2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National winners, by category are: 

  • Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year and Services category – Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr, Pepperstone
  • Emerging category – Sam Chandler, Nitro
  • Industry category – Peter Freedman, RØDE Microphones
  • Listed category – Jon Stewart, Aurora Oil & Gas Limited
  • Social entrepreneur – Jean Madden, Street Swags
  • Technology category – Chris Dance and Matt Doran, PaperCut Software International 

Congratulating the winners, EY Oceania CEO and Area Managing Partner Rob McLeod said the entrepreneurs recognised through the awards were an inspiration to others with their determination to succeed and make their ideas a reality. 

“EY founded the Entrepreneur Of The Year program nearly 30 years ago to recognise and promote entrepreneurs. We make this investment because we know that entrepreneurs create jobs, build economies and support communities,” Mr McLeod said.

“In Australia, we have recognised over twelve hundred entrepreneurs through our awards since 2001 and the fact that, 14 years on, we are still seeing such amazing talent come through the program reinforces the high calibre of entrepreneurialism that Australia has to offer the world.” 

“On behalf of EY, I congratulate all of our 2014 national category winners for their innovative ideas, determination and entrepreneurial spirit. We also wish Joe and Owen all the best when they go on to represent Australia at the World EY Entrepreneur Of The Year awards in Monte Carlo next year.” 

Michael Cant, Executive General Manager, Commonwealth Bank, said that this year’s finalists and award recipients are of an impressive standard. 

“The Commonwealth Bank shares a common passion for entrepreneurial spirit and innovation and in our third year as the Principal sponsor of EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards, we are proud to be part of a program that celebrates the achievements of Australia’s best and brightest business leaders.” 

“The 2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year finalists and winners showcase the high calibre of entrepreneurial ability in Australia, combining impressive leadership capabilities, progressive thinking and strong business acumen. We congratulate everyone who took part in the awards program, especially this year’s Australian Entrepreneurs Of The Year, Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr,” he said. 

For more information on the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year program go to


Notes for editors

Bios, judges’ comments and quotes for each of the national category winners are attached. Photographs from the awards ceremony will also be available, on request, from the morning of Friday 21 November. To arrange an interview with the Australian Entrepreneurs Of The Year or any of the national category winners, please contact Rebecca Aley on 0418 835 849 or Rebecca Aley

About EY Entrepreneur Of The YearTM

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The unique award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential, and recognises the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognising them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 145 cities in more than 60 countries. 

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year awards program, launched in 2001, is conducted in five regions culminating in the national awards. The program honours entrepreneurs whose ingenuity and perseverance have created and sustained successful, growing business ventures. Entrepreneur Of The Year’s primary objective is to identify, acknowledge and celebrate the outstanding contribution entrepreneurs make to the Australian business community and economy. 

The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year program now has alumni of over 1,200 entrepreneurs who have participated in the program. Since the program’s inception more than 15,000 people have attended Entrepreneur Of The Year events and award ceremonies in Australia. 

About EY

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