NSW Entrepreneur Of The Year™ finalists revealed

Friday, 3 August 2018

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The top NSW entrepreneurs have taken home honours from the 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year Eastern Region awards ceremony held last night in Sydney. Seven finalists representing five dynamic, growing businesses were chosen from an outstanding field to go through to the next round of the 2018 program. These are:

  • Ben Thompson – Employment Hero
  • John-Paul Syriatowicz and Stephen Barker – Squiz
  • Jordan O’Reilly – Hireup
  • Dr James Chin Moody – Sendle
  • Troy Douglas and Drew Bilbe – Nexba

Also recognised in non-competitive award categories were:

  • Dr Sam Prince – One Disease – Social entrepreneur
  • David Hyman – Lendi – Fintech entrepreneur
  • Champion of entrepreneurship – Marcus Blackmore – Blackmores

    The finalists from Australia’s Eastern Region will join talented entrepreneurs from across the country nominated for this year’s awards.

    “This year’s finalists embody success through diversification and disruption,” says EY Sydney Managing Partner Andrew Price.

    “They represent a broad range of industries and services. Interestingly many of them began from a socially conscious position - drinks that tackle obesity, a client-centred employment service for people with disabilities, and an environmentally friendly courier service, to name just three. These business leaders have been able to build and grow enterprises that are successful for their owners and the community.”

    “In each case the finalists have identified a problem and devised a solution with potential for growth and scope well beyond their original intent. We are very excited to be a part of the journey of these fast growing companies.”

    Rob Dalton, EY Oceania Growth Markets Leader said, “EY is proud to support growing dynamic businesses through a number of platforms, including the Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards.

    “It’s not just a “branding” program, although this is important. It’s the culmination of a knowledge journey, from helping start-ups get started, through to celebrating growth and success of their businesses all along the way. EYs Entrepreneur Of The Year program plays a significant part in embedding entrepreneurship into society.”

    “We collect and collate critical data on success factors globally, and then feed this back to the entrepreneurial community to help these dynamic business people achieve their growth aspirations. This coupled with the wisdom they gain, the mentoring they receive and the connections they make is something that money just can’t buy. I encourage all up and coming entrepreneurs to look into how they can engage with EY’s Entrepreneurship program.”

    Mario Saia, CBA General Manager, Corporate Origination, said: “We pass on a big congratulations to the finalists from Australia’s Eastern Region who will join a line-up of talented entrepreneurs from across the country nominated for this year’s awards.

    “Entrepreneurs are integral to Australia’s business environment by creating jobs and economic growth, which is why Commonwealth Bank is proud to sponsor a program that continues to foster innovative talent,” he said.

    The Australian winner will continue onto the global program, travelling to Monte Carlo in June 2019 to compete for the title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year.

    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is considered one of the world’s most prestigious business awards and is the only truly global program of its kind, taking place in 145 cities in more than 60 countries. More than 1,500 dynamic business people have been recognised through the program in Australia since 2001.

    2018 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National finalists, Eastern Region

    Ben Thompson – Employment Hero

    Ben Thompson is on a mission to make humans as employable as possible. Combining business with technology, Ben has created a group of four companies: Employment Innovations (law, HR, payroll and hiring), Power2Motivate (loyalty and reward schemes), KeyPay (cloud payroll) and, most recently, Employment Hero (HR, payroll and employee benefits platform). Sydney-based Employment Hero was launched in 2014 and works as a community of people who can use their collective buying power to negotiate discounts and deals for everyone. It takes care of functions including payroll processing, employee on-boarding and performance management and provides services for 3,500 employers, representing 100,000 employees and $7 billion in wages.

    What the judges said about Ben Thompson

    Ben has taken a new approach in a changing world. The use of collaboration and collective technology to help enhance success for others has created success for them.

    John-Paul Syriatowicz and Stephen Barker

    JP Syriatowicz was completing a degree in neuroscience in the late 1990s when he saw the internet for the first time. Intrigued by its potential to transform the way people communicate, he began building simple bespoke pieces of open source software. Squiz was born when JP teamed up with Stephen Barker in 1998, Stephen brought with him a considerable client base in need of an online presence. Most websites at the time needed to be hardcoded – a significant barrier to creating and managing timely content. JP set about building a content management technology that would democratise content creation. Squiz has evolved to become a creator of digital experience platforms, such as CMS (content management system), CRM (customer relationship management), Marketing Automation, Enterprise Search and Innovation technology. It now has more than 450 employees on three continents. The business has grown organically at around 20% per annum, has been profitable every year of operation and has no debt.

    What the judges said about John-Paul Syriatowicz and Stephen Barker

    Although it would seem an unlikely pairing of a neuroscientist and a publisher in the technology space, Squiz’s agility and ability to pivot in a moving market place is very impressive.

    Jordan O’Reilly – Hireup

    Motivated by growing up alongside a brother with cerebral palsy, Jordan O'Reilly built an online platform to address challenges facing people with disability. Jordan had seen how the scheduling of support workers could be disempowering for people with disability and their families – having little control over who would arrive or when they would arrive. For-purpose venture Hireup launched in 2015 to provide tools to find and manage more effective support, directly connecting people with disability and support workers. Users join the peer-to-peer network to search for people in their local area. They can privately message and book each other online, while Hireup takes care of administrative functions such as comprehensive insurance cover, superannuation, tax, payroll and employer compliance. By removing the agency “middleman”, Hireup is 25 per cent cheaper than the traditional model. There are now more than 25,000 users on the platform.

    What the judges said about Jordan O’Reilly

    Hireup has a fantastic business model. Through Jordan’s personal family experience, it highlighted the gaps and challenges and created an innovative solution determined by and built around the needs of the end user. What Jordan has achieved has had a huge impact on the industry.

    Dr James Chin Moody – Sendle

    James Chin Moody and Craig Davis co-founded sharing marketplace TuShare, in 2012, to prolong the life of household items and get used products into the hands of those who needed them most. The platform grew to 50,000 members, but they realised the biggest obstacle to their business was the cost of sending items around the country. Thus the idea for Sendle was born. The founders built Sendle in 2014 by knitting together a patchwork of existing courier networks, using the vacant space in the delivery, creating a cheaper, faster and more convenient delivery. A certified B-Corporation, they were also able to offset 100 per cent of their carbon emissions and customers can choose projects to offset the emissions of every Sendle delivery. Sendle’s customer base has grown yearly by 250 per cent and 180 per cent respectively and its international service, launched in 2017, covers 220 countries and territories.

    What the judges said about Dr James Chin Moody

    It is impressive that in just 6 years, Sendle has taken on the big gun and disrupted business by showing it can be done cheaper, with more convenience to the customer and be 100% carbon neutral.

    Troy Douglas and Drew Bilbe – Nexba

    Drew Bilbe was inspired to create a natural, low-calorie ice tea, while enjoying a home-made version on a Mexican beach. Returning to Sydney, Drew teamed up with brother-in-law, Troy Douglas, to create their range of healthier beverages, with a mission to tackle diabetes and obesity. Nexba was founded in 2010 and its beverages are now stocked in thousands of stores in Australia, with Naturally Sugar Free ranges including soft drinks, flavoured sparkling water and ice teas. Troy is Global CEO, overseeing the foreign expansion strategy and Drew is the Australian CEO, accelerating core market growth. Initially bootstrapped by Drew and Troy, Nexba has successfully raised over $3.5 million in capital since 2017 and is now securing its first distribution beyond Australia and into the UK market.

    What the judges said about Troy Douglas and Drew Bilbe

    Nexba not only delivers stand out products in a busy marketplace but they also deliver on passion, energy and commitment. Epitome of ‘true blue Aussie’ entrepreneurs.

    Social entrepreneur – Dr Sam Prince – One Disease

    Sam is a humanitarian, philanthropist, entrepreneur and medical doctor. Inspired by his mentor, Professor Frank Bowden, who led the elimination of the disease, Donovanosis, from our remote Indigenous communities, Sam founded One Disease, which is a registered charity with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC). One Disease’s mission is to eliminate crusted scabies from remote indigenous communities. Sam believes no Australian should die of a preventable disease. In 2012 Sam was awarded Young Australian of the Year, ACT in recognition for his work at One Disease.

    Fintech entrepreneur – David Hyman – Lendi

    When the four founders of Lendi were trying to secure their own home loans, they discovered it was an unnecessarily stressful undertaking. They came up with the idea of offering an easy online home loan process, supported by advice from experts.

    Since 2013, the company has settled more than $5.5 billion in home loans and grown to more than 250 team members.

    Managing director of Lendi, David Hyman and Sebastian Watkins (sales director) were both part of the founding team of the LivingSocial online marketplace. They teamed up with Martin Lam (operations director) and Mark Kalajzich (executive director) to create the platform that allows borrowers to search, apply for and settle their loans online, comparing more than 2,500 loan products from more than 35 banks and lenders.

    Champion of entrepreneurship – Marcus Blackmore – Blackmores

    Marcus Blackmore was born in Queensland in 1945, received his high school education at Church of England Grammar School in Brisbane, and later gained a Naturopathic Diploma from the NSW College of Naturopathic Sciences. He served from 1969-1971 in the Australian Army with service in Vietnam. Marcus is a member of Harvard Business School Alumni. Marcus is an Executive Director of Blackmores Ltd, a public company employing over 1,000 people in Australia, New Zealand and Asia. The company markets the premium brands of vitamin and herbal products under the ‘Blackmores’, ‘BioCeuticals’ and ‘Fusion’ labels and is widely recognised for its ethical practices and its treatment of staff.

    For more information on EY Entrepreneur Of The Year go to www.ey.com/au/eoy

    - Ends -

    About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™

    EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The 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.

    EY encourages women to apply to enter the Entrepreneur Of The Year awards. The program supports women entrepreneurs to think bigger, gain access to capital, enhance their business profile, network, learn from their peers and find seasoned advisors.

    The Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year program now has alumni of over 1,400 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

    EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all of our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.

    EY refers to the global organization, and may refer to one or more, of the member firms of Ernst & Young Global Limited, each of which is a separate legal entity. Ernst & Young Global Limited, a UK company limited by guarantee, does not provide services to clients. For more information about our organization, please visit ey.com.

    This news release has been issued by Ernst & Young Australia, a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited.

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