They narrowly missed out on a place in the Top 30 but are still hot in our books. Introducing Anthill’s 2010 30under30 Honourable Mentions.
Venture: Blank Label
Imagine being able to customise and personalise a dress shirt, and having the creation delivered to you within three weeks. That’s what Fan Bi’s Blank Label does. Using resources from Shanghai, Bi assembled a venture that launched its website in November 2009 and has built $300,000 in revenue. Blank Label got a lot of buzz, including a feature article in the New York Times’ print and online editions. Bi says his goal is “to remain as independent and capital-efficient as possible, for as long as possible.”
Fan Bi’s words to succeed by:
“When you combine immigrant parents, growing up in a small business and going into corporate industry too early, it’s hard not to look at being your own boss as a very attractive, and almost obvious, life choice.”
Venture: Ready Steady Print
Kamil says his Ready Steady Print business, launched in 2005, removed the “inherent inefficiences” of the printing industry, delivering products to clients at a fraction of the cost. He says he outsources all areas of production to optimise price and quality, and is able to give SMEs print products at costs typically available only to big corporate players. Kamil is an old hand at venturing — he started his first business at age 12. And his current venture ranks in this year’s Smart 50 by SmartCompany.com.
Joshua Kamil’s words to succeed by:
“I want to be in the position to test and try different business models in different sectors and be able to assume calculated risks that others may not be able to take.”
Venture: Native Digital
Native Digital, which concocts digital strategies, design and implementation for client companies, was launched in 2008. It’s one of several ventures Dwyer has had a hand in starting. In the last six months, Native Digital has doubled its revenue and tripled the size of its accounts. Beyond Native Digital, Dwyer has helped expand participation in The Hive, a networking organisation for entrepreneurs.
Ned Dwyer’s words to succeed by:
“I’ve never been one to follow traditional business models. I’m out there creating innovation by doing the opposite of what the major players are doing.”
Venture: Interaction Dynamics
Matt Leeburn has been a computer hacker since age 12. Over the years study of behavior shifted from programs to the human brain. He studied everything from hypnotism to behavioural economics. The result is Interaction Dynamics, which is designed to help companies optimise revenue by analysing and predicting consumer behavior. He dove into social media to raise his credibility. “I also spend a lot of time in the real world. The content I’ve produced has allowed me to back up conversations I have with executives, investors and prospects once I’ve met them.” The company is currently courting outside investors.
Matt Leeburn’s words to succeed by:
“Being an entrepreneur allows you to spend all of your brain space on the things you want to be doing, rather than wasting it on something you don’t believe in for a company who doesn’t care about you.”
Venture: Health Management Dietetics
Health Management Dietetics works with clients in person, via email or by phone to achieve health or weight-loss goals. “I wanted to help people achieve their goals in a fun, inspiring way without feeling guilty or stressed that they are doing something bad,” says Diversi, who started the business in 2003. Her practice has 11 employees in three locations between Port Douglas and Ingham. She has attracted more than $750,000 in government grants and written three books.
Tara Diversi’s words to succeed by:
“I never want to be in a position where I feel stuck, trapped or have to do work that I don’t want to do.”
Venture: Travel Is Living
In 2007, Lynas created a travel agency with a specific — and ultimately lucrative — target: school and university students eager to cut loose on holiday. Under the Travel Is Living umbrella lies Unleashed Schoolies, a collection of travel packages that whisk young partiers to the Fijian islands, where all hell is encouraged to break loose (in the spirit of fun, of course). Lynas said his packages fills a need created by the pressure and negative press the young partiers placed on the Gold Coast. He says a company started with $1,000 now turns over $3 million annually. It was one of Australia’s first travel agencies to run a Facebook page parallel to its main website.
Jot Lynas’ words to succeed by:
“I can identify an emerging market and design a product or service to suit. I will offer a quality product that represents value to the customer while having big margins and can be executed with low overheads.”
Farhad Meher-Homji’s Brightlabs, a online solutions company, is quite mature by Internet standards, having coming into being in 2002. As the name implies, he strives to put bright minds on his team, which now numbers 24. And he tells his potential clients: “If you think of a website as in IT solution, then we are the wrong provider for you. You need to see it as a marketing solution.” Brightlabs has won 18 international awards and enjoyed average growth of 38% over the past three years.
Farhad Meher-Homji’s words to succeed by:
“I am driven by achievement. I want to build not just one, but a group of companies in various locations around the world. I feel this will provide me with a variety of challenges that stimulate me and allow me to travel (which I love).”
When the world tipped and tumbled into financial freefall, Stevan Premutico quit his job in London as a regional marketing director came home to Australia. He had an idea that was so delicious he was willing to take the leap. In 2009, he launched Dimmi, a service that allows hungry people to book restaurant reservations online. Dimmi now has 1,500 partner restaurants and about 30 partner outlets that promote the eateries, including Fairfax, Good Food Guide and NineMSN. “We are now seating a diner every 45 seconds,” Premutico says.
Stevan Premutico’s words to succeed by:
“I enjoy being involved in creating, inspiring and changing something that will have a lasting effect on people across the country.”
Mike Knapp, Michael Fox, Jodie Fox
Ages: 29, 29 and 28, respectively
Genders: Male, male, female
Venture: Shoes of Prey
Knapp and the Foxes met as law students who concluded they weren’t suited for the legal profession. A mutual desire to create a splash in the business world led to Shoes of Prey, an online retailer that allows women to design their footwear, which is then manufactured and delivered to the buyer. Knapp (see an Anthill interview with him here) said that after the company was launched in 2009, a promotional video it commissioned for YouTube pushed sales through the roof. Shoes of Prey was honored three times at this year’s Online Retail Industry Awards.
Mike Knapp speaks for his partners on their success formula:
“There are two key things that drive us: to create something new and unique that we own; and to have control over what we do day to day rather than being told by someone else where we have to go and what we have to do.”
Venture: MyPak Packaging
Some serious globe-hopping has paid off for Howard Siow, sfter purchasing the fresh-food packaging company MyPak Packaging in 2008. In 2009, he lived out a suitcase as he successfully pitched to clients in the United States and the UK, thereby expanding a business what already served the Pacific Rim. Siow says the company was turning over $2 million a year when he acquired it; it now turns over $12 million. He employs about 500.
Howard Siow’s words to succeed by:
“Business is a game, and it’s about surviving and thriving when multibillion-dollar competitors are doing all their tricks to try to squash you and keep you out of their oligopoly.”