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Australia’s ‘coolest’ companies celebrate a remarkable year at 6th Annual Cool Company Awards

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What makes a ‘cool’ company?

According to Anthill founder and Cool Company MC James Tuckerman (aka ‘MC Banter’), it is an organisation that has proven itself to be, in its most literal definition, remarkable.

“They can be amazing, innovative, one-of-a-kind. They can be all those things. But what sets cool companies apart is that they are, by their very nature, worthy of being ‘remarked’ about.”

This year’s winners, honoured at an event at MiFA (the Melbourne International Fine Arts Gallery), featured a carpooling website that has facilitated 80,000 shared rides, an innovation that helps women wear high heels on grass and an organisation responsible for the development of… wait for it… mind control technologies.

The Coolest Company accolade was awarded to telecommunications upstart brand iiNet, recognised for its use of innovation, clever marketing and for challenging some of Australia’s biggest brands.

“This company sells itself as solid like a big telco but has managed to sustain the spunky attitude of a startup,” said Tuckerman.

“Launched from a Western Australian garage in 1993, it has overtaken better funded, more established competitors.

“It even challenges itself, responsible for breakthrough products and initiatives, the latest of which is iiNet Labs, a research and development division that focuses on the needs of the company and its customers.”

This year’s trophy, as a continuation of Anthill’s tradition bestowing unusual keepsakes as awards, was a genuine Legacy five string electric guitar. Category winners received statuettes of a male forearm giving the rock salute.

The Coolest Company Award was presented by Sue Tuckerman, the mother of James (because nothing is cooler than being nice to your mum).

Image by Paul Sulovski

COOL PEOPLE AT THE COOL COMPANY AWARDS

For more photos, visit Anthill on Facebook.

THE COOL WINNERS

AusIndustry Innovation Award

The Innovation Award is awarded to a business that – through being novel, unique or different — generates a dramatic improvement over current conventional solutions. The originality and strength of an organisation’s ‘big idea’ and/or business model was the main focus for judging.

WINNER: LX Design House
Finalists: Nanotek, Oomph, Guvera, Brightgreen

Hon. Mentions: Starlettos, LeadBolt, Lexim, OrionVM, ThereItIs

ASSOB Global Growth Award

Taking on the world market is invariably ‘cool’. The Global Growth Award is awarded to an Australian company that has achieved outstanding global growth or demonstrated the potential to expand outside of its traditional boundaries and grow globally, through innovative or entrepreneurial means.

WINNER: Effective Measure
Finalists: Reactive, Nanotek

Hon. Mentions: Starlettos, LeadBolt, BigCommerce

Social Capitalist Award

Social Capitalists successfully apply commercial principles to social issues. The winner of the Social Capitalist Award demonstrates the ability to address a targeted social need in an organised, innovative and entrepreneurial way. Judges looked for sustainable success in tackling a social issue while maintaining revenue growth, or experiencing commercial success as a result.

WINNER: Jayride
Finalists: 3Fish, Destination Dreaming

Hon. Mentions: Picknik, Beyond Zero Emissions

KPI Micro-Business Award

The winner of the Micro Business Award has no more than four (4) full-time employees and has built a market presence that is disproportionate to its relative size, through creative or entrepreneurial means.

WINNER: Starlettos
Finalists: 03Office, KISS Mobile

Hon. Mentions: Lexim, 3Fish, Twisted Frozen Yoghurt

SIGNARAMA X-Factor Award

Some businesses just have something that no one can describe but almost everyone can sense. The X-Factor Award is awarded to a company that demonstrates extraordinary levels of innovative, entrepreneurial and creative flair. The winner of this particularly subjective award is assessed against the vision, strategy and execution of its exceptionally cool business product and/or service.

WINNER: Starlettos
Finalists: Nanotek, Doin Time, LX Design, Big Kahuna Imagineering

Hon. Mentions: Velteo, RubyChaCha, IntelliTrac, Mozo.com.au, Pure Hacking

Online Business Award

The internet has forced modern companies to re-think established business functions, from marketing and distribution to human resources and project management. This award was developed to recognise Australian businesses that are harnessing online models to achieve positive commercial outcomes.

WINNER: StuckOnYou.com
Finalists: ServiceSeeking.com.au, LeadBolt

Hon. Mention: RetailCare, KISS Mobile, HireMeUp

Big Kahuna Award

Just because you’re big doesn’t mean that you’re no longer cool. This category recognises companies with 100 or more employees and will consider initiatives to promote positive employee/employer relations, programs to support environmental and sustainable business practices, the strength of the organisation’s brand among its target market, the history of the organisation as an Australian innovator.

WINNER: iiNet

Coolest Company Award

The Coolest Company Award is selected from one of the eight Category Winners.

WINNER: iiNet

THE COOL TOP 50

Listed in alphabetical order. (The Top 50 are not ranked.)

COMPANY CATEGORY HIGHEST ACCOLADE
iiNet Big Kahuna COOLEST COMPANY
Effective Measure Global Growth CATEGORY WINNER
Jayride Social Capitalist CATEGORY WINNER
Starlettos Micro Business, X-Factor CATEGORY WINNER (x2)
Stuck On You Online Business CATEGORY WINNER
3Fish Social Capitalist CATEGORY FINALIST
Big Kahuna Imagineering X-Factor CATEGORY FINALIST
Brightgreen Innovation CATEGORY FINALIST
Destination Dreaming Social Capitalist CATEGORY FINALIST
Doin Time X-Factor CATEGORY FINALIST
Guvera Innovation CATEGORY FINALIST
KISS Mobile Micro Business CATEGORY FINALIST
LeadBolt Online Business CATEGORY FINALIST
Nanotek Innovation, Global Growth CATEGORY FINALIST
O3Office Micro Business CATEGORY FINALIST
Oomph Innovation CATEGORY FINALIST
Reactive Global Growth CATEGORY FINALIST
ServiceSeeking Online Business CATEGORY FINALIST
Beyond Zero Emissions Social Capitalist HON MENTION
BigCommerce Global Growth HON MENTION
HireMeUp Online Business HON MENTION
IntelliTrac X-Factor HON MENTION
Lexim Innovation HON MENTION
Mozo.com.au X-Factor HON MENTION
OrionVM Innovation HON MENTION
Picknik Social Capitalist HON MENTION
Pure Hacking X-Factor HON MENTION
RetailCare Online Business HON MENTION
Ruby Cha Cha X-Factor HON MENTION
ThereItIs Innovation HON MENTION
Twisted Frozen Yoghurt Micro Business HON MENTION
Velteo X-Factor HON MENTION
Acorn Brand Design Innovation TOP 50
Adventurous Women Micro Business TOP 50
AtomicSearch X-Factor TOP 50
Australian Fresh Leaf Herbs Innovation TOP 50
Butterfly Skye’s Innovation TOP 50
Chill Mobile Coolrooms X-Factor TOP 50
Customer Underground Innovation TOP 50
Forward Thinking Design Innovation TOP 50
Gradvantage Innovation TOP 50
IF Telecom X-Factor TOP 50
irevenuestream.com Innovation TOP 50
Mercury Creative Micro Business TOP 50
NEW WORK PHOTOGRAPHY X-Factor TOP 50
OneSaas Innovation TOP 50
Outware Mobile X-Factor TOP 50
Qimota Training Innovation TOP 50
Signmanager Innovation TOP 50
SME Group Innovation TOP 50
Socialite Media Innovation TOP 50
The Messenger Group X-Factor TOP 50
The Transcription People Online Business TOP 50
Ultra Serve Innovation TOP 50

OUR COOL JUDGES

Every year, Anthill selects its Cool Company Award judges from a variety of fields, from venture capital to intellectual property. They are chosen for the diverse range of experiences and the different interpretations they bring to the concept of ‘cool’.

Malcolm Thornton, Starfish Ventures

Malcolm Thornton is Investment Director for Starfish Ventures, a Melbourne-based venture capital firm. Malcolm joined the firm (starfishvc.com) in January 2003 and focuses on investments in IT and medical devices.

He is responsible for all aspects of the investment lifecycle from deal sourcing and execution through portfolio management and exit creation. Prior to Starfish Ventures, Malcolm worked in venture capital for several years as Investment Manager with JAFCO Investment (Asia Pacific).

Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin, BlueChilli

For the past decade, Sebastien Eckersley-Maslin has balanced the demands of a full time Naval career, a Masters in Engineering and running personal businesses in his scant spare time. In 2009, Eckersley-Maslin returned from active duty in Iraq with a drive to storm the ‘front line’ of Australian business.

To address the two most common barriers to starting a business – time and money – he demonstrated publicly that it was possible to build a viable venture in seven days and on a budget of $500. After just one week he launched AutoCarLog, an online system to manage vehicle mileage logs.

Now, Eckersley-Maslin runs BlueChilli – a “Venture Technology” company that builds and invests in digital start-ups by providing technology rather than cash. Through BlueChilli, Eckersley-Maslin is currently launching a new online business every two months.

Marcus Tarrant, BusinessPlanningHQ

Marcus Tarrant has been assisting Australian companies realise the value of innovation for 17 years.  As founder of BusinessPlanningHQ, he is exposed to the business plans of five new Australian businesses per day.

Marcus has held various senior roles with leading consulting firms including: Deloitte Consulting, Lloyd Morgan Consulting, and Offspring Ventures/ipernica Ltd.  He has delivered in excess of 200 projects assisting clients better manage and extract value from innovation.

Clients have included: DSTO, CSIRO Landgate, Monash University, Starfish Ventures, Austhink Software, Audinate/Nicta, Carnegie Group Ltd, Department of Industry and Resources (WA), Telstra, Vodafone, NAB, Axa Asia Pacific, Brambles, and Speedcure Pty. Ltd.

Glen Carlson, Entrovo

Glen Carlson is the director and co-founder of Entrevo, a marketing and brand agency for micro entrepreneurs.

Three times a year, Glen runs a 30 week brand incubator where successful Australian entrepreneurs mentor participants in how to stand out, scale up, and punch above their weight in the new economy.

It’s called “How to Become a KPI (Key Person of Influence)”. Aside from running his own business, he has mentored and assisted hundreds of Australian entrepreneurs improve their personal branding and become KPIs.

Natalie Giddings, Pollen Marketing

Natalie Giddings is the founder of Pollen Marketing — a boutique marketing agency that provides practical marketing direction and services.

Under Giddings stewardship, Pollen develops and delivers strategic lead generation and brand awareness programs designed to pollinate “brands in the business ecosystem”.

Adrian Mills

Adrian Mills is Group Account Director at advertising agency McCann Erickson. His career has spanned several of Australia’s leading agencies.

Despite the stereotypical excesses of the advertising industry, Adrian is reclusive and has a fondness for poodles.

NOT COOL?

If your organisation did not make it into this year’s Top 50 (or if you can’t quite comprehend why we didn’t choose your organisation as the ‘coolest’), please don’t dismay. The Cool Company Awards are, by their very nature, highly subjective.

We devised them as a way to promote and support organisations that are doing things differently. Yet, every year, we receive several clusters of applications from sets of industries or from organisations applying a similar model.

For example, this year, we received an abundance of entries from digital media agencies. Last year, we received a plethora of crowdsourcing models. When this happens, it’s hard for any one of any popular group to stand-out (and demonstrate their unique qualities).

Furthermore, the Cool Company Awards are highly egalitarian. Previous winners have ranged from two-person startups to large national companies. The overall winner is rarely judged against organisations of similar shape or size. They are chosen because they stand out, usually in ways that are quite unusual when held up against each year’s entrants as a whole.

We appreciate your passion and we hope that you don’t let our views make you feel discouraged. Great businesses don’t get put off by hurdles or rejections.

As fellow entrepreneurs, we encourage you to simply extend your middle finger, point it purposefully at your computer monitor and exclaim loudly, “F*#k you, Anthill. What the hell do you know? You are wrong and I’m going to show you.”

And, then, we’ll see you next year.

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