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Ben Johnston, 2011 Anthill 30under30 Winner

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in early 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. Each year, we invite our readers to nominate young Australian entrepreneurs deserving of recognition for their outstanding entrepreneurial endeavours. More.

Ben Johnston, QLD (b. 1983)

Name: Ben Johnston
Age: 28 (Born: April 1983)
Gender: Male
State: QLD

“I believe in creating business models that are buzz-worthy in their own right,” says Ben Johnston, the big man behind Josephmark.com.au.

Take one look at Johnston, or at his businesses’ videos, and one could easily characterise him as an artist-bohemian hovering around Brisbane’s low-key hipster scene. (Oh, and don’t watch the videos just yet — they are highly addictive!)

Johnston, in fact, is no slacker. He has eight businesses to his name in seven years of entrepreneurship, of which Joseph Mark, his brand management and design company, is certainly the biggest.

After we singled him out as an Emerging Digital Doyen last year, Johnston has roared to the surface, proving that one doesn’t need to sacrifice cool or conscience for profitability.

Trying to pin down Josephmark as a brand strategist, however, is limiting. It’s also a design studio and innovation lab for breeding ideas about creativity and sustainability. The website, with its photo galleries, essays and event listings, is as much a cultural weathervane as a publicity magnet.

Additionally, Johnston has started up companies that focus on motion graphics and animation (StudioBreeder), IT management and support (Wolfbyte), Indigenous Australian art (Gilimbaa), and online fashion (MadeInTheNow). And if the digital landscape is too overwhelming, there’s also a boutique Brisbane bar where you can rest your boots (The End).

Each of these companies, in some way, appeals to young artists and professionals looking for innovative solutions that reverberate with a progressive, free-spirited aesthetic.

“I come across so many talented people who simply need a place to perform,” says Johnston. “With a vision to believe in and a structure to operate in, they can achieve this.”

The success of his clients is a strong motivator, but there’s another factor: the thrill of the new. “It’s the exhilaration of the exploration and adventure that a new business promises,” he says. “I see a mountain and want to climb it.”

Digital or not, he has many mountains left to explore, always leaving a trail of business buzz in his wake.

Anthill asks: Ben Johnston, what gives you entrepreneurial cred?

“I have the stupidity, the courage and the luck to take big risks. Fortunately, I seem to be able to attract better people than I to plan, implement and execute these ideas. The last seven years of hard work, self-belief, trust in others and leaps of faith have all contributed.”

josephmark Reel 2009

josephmark Reel 2009 from Josephmark on Vimeo.

BREEDER Reel

BREEDER REEL from BREEDER on Vimeo.

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To check out the full list of Anthill’s 30under30 winners, click here.

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