What makes a 'cool' company?
According to Anthill founder and Cool Company MC James Tuckerman (aka 'MC Cheetah'), 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 community co-working space Inspire9, featured a networking hub with reach, a business intelligence tool with global smarts, a helmet design worth falling for, a crowd for tweaks, a steaming hot maker of gourmet pies and a web platform for prop masters.
The Coolest Company accolade was awarded to app developer Budge for creating a way to make gaming meaningful.
"When is losing fun? When charities win," said Tuckerman. "The lexicon of cool has a new addition. When you can ‘Budge’ a friend towards selfless giving, suddenly gaming acquires meaning beyond a fun distraction."
"Budge is a mobile app that merges giving with friendly competitions. Whatever the challenge -- and it can be just about anything: a fitness test, a game of Words With Friends, a Cool Company awards program -- the loser has to give a small donation to the charity of the victor's choice."
"For giving social games meaning and making a difference in the process, Budge was named this year's coolest company."
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 Hannah Koelmeyer.
For more photos, visit Anthill on Facebook.
Citrix 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.
Highly Commended: CQ Nurse, StreetHawk, RetailCare, Nimble, Brightgreen
Thumbs Up: Safe Sleep Space, Super Speak, DNA Security Solutions, Fizzics Education, Henty, Tweaky.com, Budge, TVN, Commission Factory, StyleRocks, Intelligence Bank, Plexus, RecruitLoop, Ruby Cha Cha, Search Academy, Transformed Pty Ltd, Jetts, Chieftain Communications, Dundas Lawyers, Magnetized Markets, The Lab Strategy & Planning, Take 2 Markets, Controlabill, MOM, iSwimtoo
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.
Highly Commended: Anecsys Translation, Milan Direct, The World of Mummu
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.
Highly Commended: Business Chicks, BuyAustralianMade.com.au, Calxa, Super Speak
Inspire9 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.
Highly Commended: FirstGold Save in Gold, DNA Security Solutions, Fizzics Education, SciBiz Communications, Henty
Thumbs Up: Controlabill, Inventors HQ Australia Pty Ltd, MOM, Pixel Fish, BE Hospitality Group, Forward Thinking Design, iSwimtoo
KPI 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.
Highly Commended: Tweaky.com, Budge, The Media Pad, Explore Engage, Quiip, TVN
Thumbs Up: Nimble, Vinomofo, Jetts, Amazonia, Big Kahuna Imagineering, Brightgreen, Business Chicks, Chieftain Communications, CHILL, Dundas Lawyers, Espresso Communications, Forward Thinking Design, Hub Melbourne, iSwimtoo, Magnetized Markets, Mozo, NIFNEX, Outware Mobile, Positive Training, Press Play Creative Marketing, Social Star, The Lab Strategy & Planning, The Messenger Group, Take 2 Markets
Symantec 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.
Highly Commended: Stuck on You, Budge, Commission Factory, CQ Nurse, StyleRocks, The Media Pad
Thumbs Up: Anecsys Translation, Milan Direct, BE Hospitality Group, Henty, Love it UP, Minomoh’s Online Children’s Marketplace, Sports Grab, Take 2 Markets, The Gift Mansion, Veilability, Vintage & Nostalgia Co, www.cheapsheds.com.au
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: Pie Face
Coolest Company Award
The Coolest Company Award is selected from one of the eight Category Winners.
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’.
Jordan Green was running $500m businesses before reaching the age of 30. Green has a proven history in business from Adelaide to Silicon Valley. After spending several years helping to build a distribution empire in the United States, Green returned to Australia to get involved with the Venture Capital industry.
Nowadays, Green is putting his awesomeness in action to help others be successful. His Australian Association of Angel Investors Ltd, along with other his other Venture Capital ventures, is allowing him to work with companies and investors all over the world. His leadership in the Angel Investment realm keeps him prominently active in the Australian and Asian VC communities.
Jen Storey is Anthill's editor, and says that she's “been doing the digital thing for a very long time.” Along the way, Jen has worn many hats – and she continues to do so. Jen currently works as a Marketing Lead for Edgelab Ventures, and she has founded two startups of her own – Interactive Minds and OutsideInsights.
Jen's interests include digital innovation, coffee and whisky. She has also been known to dive 30-metres on occasion, too. Jen's business skills are immediately evident in her roles as an entrepreneur and business journalist, where she routinely showcases her depth of knowledge of all things business, tech, and marketing related.
Adrian Mills is a Mad Man minus the skinny tie, narrow lapels, and Madison Avenue office – and the overblown ego. For that matter, the only thing Mills has in common with his dramatised 1960s counterpart, Roger Sterling, is a beautiful wife. Well, he also happens to be a wildly successful account man, and a humble one at that.
His official McCann Erickson profile says that he believes that there are more interesting things to read on the web than the bio of an account service man. We think he's just being modest because his list of clients has included Medibank, Cricket Australia, the AFL, Metro & V, and Holden automobiles. Amid his mad success as an ad man, Mills also finds time to teach the Adschool Account Management Course.
His most recent project -- Dumb Ways to Die -- is proving to be Australia's most successful viral marketing campaign, ever. Seriously.
Stuart B. Richardson is Managing Partner and CEO of Adventure Capital, and early-stage digital media and web 2.0 venture fund. His current positions held also include Co-Founder of Aurelius Digital, Consulting Director with BDO, and more. In addition to being a judge for the Anthill Cool Company Awards, Richardson has won numerous awards and accolades himself, including the 2008 Anthill 30under30 award. As if that weren't cool enough, Richardson has graduate qualification and post-graduate qualifications in Management and Strategy. But wait, he's even cooler than that. He is a grad of the Aussie Defense Force Academy, a former competitive swimmer, cyclist, and triathlete.
Alan Clark is many things. He is at once an entrepreneur, facilitator, speaker, connector, and futurist. Clark also happens to be performing some helpful work at his company, Complete IP, which he describes as being both “a sanctuary and a goldmine.” Word! In a nutshell, Complete IP is helping businesses protect that which is most valuable, and often most vulnerable, in a business: intellectual property. The company is low on legal jargon and high on commitment to its customers. And that commitment starts at the very top with the boss, Alan.
An old, unkempt blog about Paul Naphtali says that “he likes writing about himself in the third person.” Interestingly enough, it seems that Naphtali has few words about himself on his LinkedIn profile. But we forgive him. Paul is up to some awesomeness of his own by providing PR for startups all over the place. In fact, he's kind of a startup PR genius, with a list of clients impressive enough to make the editors of TechCrunch keep him on speed dial. Oh, and when he's not jet-setting the 'the valley', he is a big fan of the AFL. Aren’t we all?
Yvonne Adele is a social media guru. Founder, Managing Director, and Curator of her own social media management and consulting firm; she is also co-creator of The Reach Kit. She is a Certified Public Speaking Professional – a distinguished honour held by only 10 per cent of speakers worldwide. Cool beans. She has also twice served as president of the Victoria chapter of the NSAA. She was also the woman behind the media personality Ms Megabyte, an alter ego she created to communicate tech advice to a broader audience. You could say that she is an international woman of mystery and intrigue. In other words, she has plenty of cool cred, for sure.
Cat Matson is a self-described “CATalyst: a person who makes things happen- something that incites activity.” (Boom-cha!) Matson earns that description by facilitating online programs (like the Ignition seven-day video series), coaching business owners on growth, public speaking about strategy, engaging in panel discussion and workshops, and hosting events that bring people together around ideas.
Cat is a one-woman army of business consultation and training. She’s also into keeping it real: real people, real business, and real stories. Cat is driven to help others succeed, and she’s making quite a name on account of her own success in doing so. Cool points awarded!
Catherine Eibner is currently the Lead Startup advisor for Blue Chilli Technology where she assists startup founders with growing their business. Until recently, she was heading up Microsoft’s BizSpark program. Catherine joined the Microsoft team in 2008 as a Dynamics Developer Evangelist on a mission to drum up a development community around the goals of BizSpark – itself a fast track program for early-stage tech companies.
Eibner is a routine presenter at Tech ED conferences and other speaking engagements across Australia, the United States, and the Middle East. Her area of expertise is (you guessed it) startups. Catherine is also cool for her commitment to encouraging other women in the IT world through outlets like GeekGirlBlogs and events like the Australian Girl Geek Dinners.
Bec Derrington is the founder of SourceBottle, which is helping journalists and bloggers connect, for free, with sources through crowdsourcing. Derrington’s “official” bio says that she “was once a lawyer – albeit for 3.5 minutes and eons ago.” Barring any suppositions as to her immortality, one thing is clear: Bec makes use of her seemingly infinite knowledge of marketing, business, and PR to make SourceBottle one seriously interesting prospect.
She also recently launched The Media Bag, which allows bloggers and journalists to connect with products and services to write reviews about. Bec is also the proprietor of a consultancy called Wagging Tongues. For reals! Coolness, all around!
If your organisation did not make it into this year's Top 80 (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.”