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What is 30under30?
30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. This year saw more outstanding entries than ever before. So, we thought we would highlight some of the bright and innovative nominees who just missed Top 30 by a wink. Behold, our 2011 30under30 Honourable Mentions! More.
Ben Carroll, NSW (b. 1984)
Name: Ben Carroll
Age: 27 (Born: September 1984)
The next time you tune in to the Cup to cheer on the Wallabies, take a careful look at what the players on the pitch are wearing. That way you can better appreciate what Ben Carroll of Velflex does for a living.
Velflex specialises in using heat transfer technology to print numbers, lettering, and digital images on garments for the sportswear and promotional industries.
“Promotional garment printing solutions were needed that were fast, 24-hour turnarounds, a very viable option for us,” explains Carroll, whose heat transfer method improves on the screen printing technique traditionally employed.
The 27-year-old from Albury, NSW, began running Velflex by himself in an underground carpark storage room four years ago. To grow publicity at industry trade shows, he would position himself directly across from his established competitors in the industry.
Carroll knew that in business, as in sport, everyone loves an underdog.
“We didn’t have the same large range of products they did, and our stand was only a fraction of the size and nowhere near as elaborate,” says Carroll. “But we were more personable, able to speak on the same SME business level and generate rapid market share growth.”
One early Velflex client was KooGa, then a newcomer in the sportswear industry. When contacted the first time to do numbering, Carroll admits he didn’t have the staff available to fulfil the order.
“I hired relatives of my local post office to do shift work for a week to complete it,” he says. “It was too good an opportunity to pass up.”
Today KooGa manufactures sportswear for rugby clubs around the world and remains Velflex’s largest client.
Carroll, meanwhile, has expanded Velflex services to include logo design and restoration. He has grown his staff to eight full-time employees who, he insists, are too talented for his own good. His role, he says, is to “provide the super-glue” that enables them to work productively together.
“I get the most satisfaction out of my business when my employees are getting great satisfaction out of their role within the business,” he says.
Anthill asks: Ben Carroll, what has been your biggest setback?
“The GFC. Many of our clients failed and our cashflow dried up, but we didn’t slow down. We learnt to grow a lean business through Internet marketing and other innovative ways to promote and connect with potential clients. Our competition was cutting costs and marketing while we pushed for rapid growth in other ways.”
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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.