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Jun 21, 2013

The young entrepreneurs changing Australian business

SmartCompany journalists meet 10 entrepreneurs under 30 who are making their mark on the Australian small business scene. Who's the next breakout business boss?

SmartCompany‘s Hot 30 Under 30 class of 2013 is a group of entrepreneurs aged 30 and younger, drawn from 30 of Australia’s fastest-growing small and medium-sized businesses. They’re on the path to becoming Australia’s next generation of top entrepreneurs. The majority of those on the list have already turned over $1 million or more, showing that even at a young age they have already found success. Meet 10 of the class of 2013 …

Ned Dwyer
Company: Tweaky

Plenty of the Hot 30 Under 30 have made their living by starting online businesses — Ned Dwyer has made his by improving them. His company, Tweaky, is built on the idea that small business owners can make small changes to their websites instead of a huge, sweeping redesigns. Tweaky puts companies in touch with consultants who can help them with anything from advertising to visual design. Although the company only launched in July of 2012, it has received $450,000 in start-up money from 99designs and, run by Mark Harbottle.

Nick D’Aloisio
Company: Summly
Age: 17

Australian-born Nick D’Aloisio created Summly, an app thatcondenses news into shorter summaries, in March 2011 at only 15 years old. The algorithmically generated summaries caught the attention of many investors, and shortly after its creation D’Aloisio secured his first venture capital funding from Hong Kong-based billionaire Li Ka-shing, an investment of $300,000. The initial version of the app, which aimed to solve problems with reading the news on smartphones, was downloaded over 200,000 times, and in November 2012 D’Aloisio received $US1 million in venture capital from celebrities such as Yoko Ono, Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Fry. In March, Yahoo! acquired the app, and D’Aloisio became $30 million richer.

Nicole Kersh
Company: 4Cabling
Age: 29

Nicole Kersh cracked the cabling market in 2007, after realising traditional cable companies were “running on a stale business model”. Kersh was innovative, making her own cables and becoming Australia’s first online cable distributor. 4Cabling now turns over $8 million a year, a 25% increase per year. Currently, Kersh and her team are developing a range of e-commerce websites providing customers with more cabling services such as installation.

Jack Delosa
Company: The Entourage
Age: 26

The Entourage, Jack Delosa’s fourth business venture, is an education institution, which focuses educating and developing a new breed of entrepreneur. “We started The Entourage as a way to connect the next entrepreneurs with current entrepreneurs,” he said. The Entourage now has revenue in the “multimillions of dollars” and has increased its revenue by 100% over the last two years. “We’ve had phenomenal success,” Delosa said.

Jodie Fox
Company: Shoes of Prey
Age: 30

Online retailer Shoes of Prey has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2009, and earlier this year it partnered with department store David Jones, giving the e-commerce site a bricks-and-mortar offering. Shoes of Prey set up a booth at DJ’s flagship Sydney store, allowing customers to access Shoes of Prey’s self-designed, custom-made products while in store or design their own using tablets. This time last year, Shoes of Prey raised $3 million in funding, including investments from Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and US venture capitalist Billy Tai. The funds are being used to expand its team from 14 to 24 and publicise the site through a new marketing campaign.

Mitchell Harper
Company: Bigcommerce
Age: 30

In 2003 at age 21, Mitchell Harper launched his first software business Interspire alongside business partner Eddie Machaalani. While setting up an online store for selling computer hardware, he discovered a gap in the market — there was no service to help small retailers set up an online store. Fast-forward to 2009, and Bigcommerce was created. As of March this year, Bigcommerce had secured $35 million in venture capital funding and helped 30,000 small businesses in 65 countries, and in Australia more than 4000 businesses are using Bigcommerce. The company now has a 200-strong team and is one of the fastest growing e-commerce platforms in the world.

Andrew and Richard Branson
Company: IF Telecom
Age: 28 and 30

The telecommunications industry has been in a huge state of flux over the past few years, with the construction of the National Broadband Networking representing a huge shift in the way companies do business. This change has caused trouble for many companies, which is all the more reason why Andrew and Richard Branson’s IF Telecom is such a success story. The company is now turning over more than $6 million a year.

Tom Waterhouse
Age: 30

The son of bookie Robbie and trainer Gai Waterhouse and the grandson of bookmaker Bill Waterhouse, Tom (pictured) comes from a long line of gamblers. He started his betting business in late 2010, and has already reportedly reached revenue of $500 million — his family plays a large part in running the company. Commentators have taken issue with his company’s practice of showing live betting odds during TV sports broadcasts. Waterhouse has already agreed to cut back on advertising for gambling during sporting matches, saying he will “dramatically” cut his presence on television. An industry inquiry also conducted hearings this year to determine whether he had passed on any insider information about John Singleton’s horse, More Joyous.

Richard Chua
Company: Talent100
Age: 27

Richard Chua was given a challenge during his final year of high school, to beat his sister’s scores and earn a car from his parents. Along the way, Chua found that he could slightly game the system — he only needed to achieve a certain score in each subject to get a good, overall mark. His company, Talent100, is built on this idea. Students identify what final score they need, and the company helps break that down into manageable goals. The company has been a success, turning over more than $1.5 million.

Peter Moriarty
Company: itGenius Australia

From a young age Moriarty was Mr Fix It for all things IT-related. At 15, he started his business itGenius Australia, predominately helping friends and family with their tech problems, such as making their computers run faster or synching their Mp3 players with their music libraries. After finishing high school Moriarty worked in a small business for a year with one of his clients and ran itGenius on the side, but a year later he decided to run the business full time. Almost five years later, itGenius provides businesses with an IT helpdesk service and helps businesses move from traditional servers to the cloud. In the 2011-12 financial year the business had a turnover of just under $1 million, and this year caught Google’s attention, with the search engine giant now mentoring the team.

*Meet the other 20 in the 30 Under 30 at SmartCompany

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