Southern Region Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winners revealed

Thursday, 23 August 2018

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The top Victorian entrepreneurs have taken home honours from the 2018 Entrepreneur Of The Year Southern Region awards ceremony held last night at the National Gallery of Victoria. Seven winners representing six dynamic, growing businesses were chosen from an outstanding field to go through to the next round of the 2018 program. These are:

  • Benjamin Young – frank green – Emerging
  • Jo Horgan – MECCA Brands – Industry
  • Anna Kasman – Sushi Sushi – Services
  • Shaun Holthouse – Catapult Group International – Technology
  • Hunter Johnson – The Man Cave – Social
  • Jack Zhang & Lucy Yueting Liu – Airwallex – Fintech

Also recognised in non-competitive categories were Aimee Marks from The TOM Co as Emerging Female Entrepreneur and Carol Schwartz AM, as a Champion of Entrepreneurship.

The winners from Australia’s Southern Region will join talented entrepreneurs from across the country nominated for this year’s awards, competing for the Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year title.

“This year’s winners embody success with a purpose,” says EY Melbourne Managing Partner Gerard Dalbosco.

“They are disruptors – taking products that are close to their hearts, from wearable technology and healthy, fast food, through to cosmetics, nappies and recyclable containers – and delivering solutions that are not only superior in quality, they benefit society and their communities.

In each case the winners 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.”

“It is also very exciting to note that 50% of our Southern winners this year are women – and to announce our inaugural Emerging Female Entrepreneur – Aimee Marks, from The TOM Co. We have established this Award in recognition of the great female entrepreneurs we have in Victoria and in acknowledgement of the additional issues female entrepreneurs sometimes face when building their business.”

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

“This program is the culmination of a knowledge journey, helping start-ups get off the ground and celebrating their growth and success through their entire lifecycle. 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, 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.”

Commonwealth Bank’s General Manager Corporate Finance Services VIC/TAS, Todd Roberts said “Congratulations to the entrepreneurs who have been selected to go on to compete as national finalists. It is clear we have great entrepreneurial talent and spirit, which is encouraging for the Southern Region’s economic development. Commonwealth Bank is proud to sponsor a program supporting Australia’s top business innovators.”

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 1500 dynamic business people have been recognised through the program in Australia since 2001.

2018 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year National finalists, Southern Region

Benjamin Young – frank green – Emerging

During his corporate career in waste management, Ben Young learned that the economics of recycling don’t stack up. He saw that recycling needs to be a last resort and that consumer behaviours had to change.

Benjamin embarked on a four-year design process to create the frank green SmartCup and SmartBottle, which started selling in in 2015.

South Melbourne-based frank green now designs, develops, manufactures and markets three ranges of reusable cups and bottles, sold direct through its website and stocked in cafes and retailers in more than 45 countries. The company has 40 employees (half of them in Australia) and is about to launch into the US market.

The products are designed with a simple Scandinavian-inspired aesthetic and include the innovative Next Generation SmartCup with Visa payWave technology, which allows consumers to use their cup to pay for any purchases, up to a value of $50.

Jo Horgan – Founder and Co-CEO MECCA Brands

Jo Horgan founded Melbourne-based MECCA Brands in 1997 with the first Mecca Cosmetica store in Toorak Road, South Yarra, stocking seven brands. Today MECCA Brands is Australia’s preeminent beauty retailer with a 25 per cent share of the prestige, stocks more than 150 brands with a footprint encompassing over 95 stores around Australia and New Zealand in the form of four unique retail destinations: Mecca Cosmetica, Mecca Maxima, MECCA, and MECCA Brands is a privately owned and operated Australian company, has consistently ranked in the Top 5 in BRW’s Best Places To Work study for the past four years (placing second in 2017), and employs close to 3000 people. Jo Horgan is on the board of the National Gallery of Victoria Foundation and the Edward Wilson Trust, is a member of Chief Executive Women, a Governor of the St George Foundation charitable organisation.

Anna Kasman – Sushi Sushi – Services

When Anna set up her first sushi shop in Box Hill 20 years ago, she was taking a risk on Australian appetites for Japanese food. As a pioneer in the on-the-go sushi market, Anna’s gamble has paid off, with now more than 130 stores across Australia.

Anna came to Australia in 1989 to study business computing before setting up her first shop with a friend. Within a few years, she had 44 stores before starting to franchise. She has created a vertically-integrated business, with four warehouses and distribution centres in Perth, Brisbane and Melbourne, 21 trucks, 30 drivers and more than 1300 staff.

Anna is making her products more available through schools, hospitals, service stations and with wholesale partners across the country. Anna’s success is driven by the culture and philosophy she has embedded into the company, which is to provide affordable, healthy and high quality food for all.

Shaun Holthouse - Catapult Group International – Technology

When there was no commercial interest in their micro-technology research program, engineers Shaun Holthouse and Igor van de Griendt bought the intellectual property and built it into an application to improve the performance of athletes.

Founded in 2006, Catapult Group International pioneered the use of wearable tracking technology in team sports and allowed, for the first time, sporting teams to track and analyse movement and make training and tactical decisions based on empirical data, rather than “gut feel” and “eye test”.

Led by Shaun, Catapult Group International launched on the ASX in 2014 and now has more than 300 staff in 16 countries, working with more than 1800 elite teams from 35 different sports, including the AFL, NFL and NBA. These include many of the iconic names in sport like Real Madrid, New York Giants and the Richmond Football club.

Once the business had established itself with elite sporting teams, Catapult Group International pivoted away from a product and license revenue business model, to a SaaS model delivering a stable recurring revenue stream. Most recently, Catapult Group International launched a consumer business to expand its offering beyond elite sports to the mass market.

Hunter Johnson – The Man Cave Global – Social

Hunter Johnson is CEO of The Man Cave, a preventative mental health and emotional intelligence organisation for boys and young men. Hunter started The Man Cave due to the increasing rates of mental health challenges that Australian young men were experiencing, with one fifth of young people experiencing anxiety and depression before 18 and suicide being the leading cause of death for young men under 25.

Hunter and his team have worked with over 5,000 young men, their parents and teachers educating them on healthy masculinity, positive mental health and respectful relationships across Australia.

Outside of The Man Cave, Hunter has a diverse background in emotional intelligence, youth leadership and social entrepreneurship having facilitated programs with over 20,000 young Australians across the country with HeadQuarters Australia, FYA, Kids in Philanthropy (KIP) and YMCA Victoria.

Hunter was named a 2018 Queen's Young Leader by Her Majesty The Queen, Winner of the 2017 Emerging Leader of the Year Award by Third Sector Australia, Finalist for the 2017 Leadership Category of the Victorian Young Achiever Awards, an Honouree of the JCI Australia Ten Outstanding Young Persons Award and Nominee for the 2017 Young Australian of the Year Awards.

Jack Zhang & Lucy Yueting Liu – Airwallex – Fintech

Jack Zhang was working as a technology developer for the foreign exchange division at National Australia Bank when he invested at the café across the road at Docklands. It was while ordering a batch of takeaway cups from China that he discovered how much he was slugged in foreign exchange rates and fees.

This was the catalyst for launching Airwallex in 2015 as a way to simplify and cut the cost of foreign transactions. Jack and Lucy, as CEO and COO respectively, founded Airwallex with three other Chinese-Australians they knew from their time as students at the University of Melbourne.

Lucy Yeuting Liu had previously worked on foreign exchange sales desks for Barclays Bank and as an investment consultant in China.

Airwallex, employs over 120 people and is building a worldwide digital payment network to make foreign transactions easier, combining payments and foreign exchange transfers into a single transaction.

It simplifies the process of currency exchange and automates manual processes, modernising outdated foreign exchange methods with sophisticated software that speeds up delivery and reduces costs.

Aimee Marks – The TOM Co – Emerging Female

Aimee was 18 when she decided to redesign conventional tampon packaging to design packs that didn’t involuntarily open. However, when she learned of the pesticides and synthetics used in conventional female hygiene products, she decided to develop a range of pure personal care products that are both good for the body and the planet. The TOM Co was established in 2009 and was the first business in Australia to be a certified organic producer of feminine hygiene products.

The success of St Kilda-based The TOM Co and the birth of her twin girls in 2014 inspired Aimee to develop tooshies by TOM – a range of planet-friendly nappies and wipes. Products now include tampons, pads and liners, maternity pads, nappies and baby wipes. The TOM Co range is stocked in Chemist Warehouse, Coles, Woolworths and Priceline nationally as well as independent retailers across Australia. The company is a certified B Corporation.

Carol Schwartz AM – Champion of Entrepreneurship

Carol has helped pioneer social enterprise in Australia. Eighteen years ago, she became the founding chair and lead investor in Our Community– Australia's first major private company established not solely for profit, but to enhance the social good. Our Community is a certified B Corporation which creates and disseminates tools, training and technological tools for the Australian not-for-profit sector. In 2004, with her husband Alan and four children, Carol established the Trawalla Foundation to invest in social enterprises and opportunities that focus on arts, ideas, innovation and scholarship. She is involved in the formation of the new Australian Women Donors Network, which invests in women and girls and, as Founding Chair of the Women’s Leadership Institute Australia, was the driver of the Women for Media initiative, which aims to increase female representation in the news media. She is helping to rectify the dearth of women in leadership positions in Australia through her newest venture, the Women's Leadership Institute Australia.

For more information on EY Entrepreneur Of The Year go to

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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

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