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Leon Hayes, 2009 Anthill 30under30 winner

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative that was 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. Anthill’s editorial team then trawls through hundreds of applications and identifies and profiles the top 30 Australian entrepreneurs under the age of 30. The process culminates in an event held in Melbourne where the 30 winners network and celebrate. We’ve been releasing profiles of this year’s Anthill 30under30 winners via our Twitter account – youngest to oldest.

Leon Hayes, 30under30, 30under30 winner, switchselect.com, anthillAge: 28 (b. 1981)
State: QLD
Industry: IT
Company: Switchselect.com

Leon Hayes began his web startup, Switchselect.com, in the energy market and developed Australia’s first free comparison website, providing a one-stop-shop for the retail sector.

“Great entrepreneurs evolve and each have stories of success and failure. My key motivator is to have a success story of my own,” says Hayes. “To me success is the ongoing pursuit of a worthwhile goal.”

After working in the UK, Hayes returned to Australia in 2006 to launch a sales company. The plan was to ride on the first wave of energy market deregulation, but the venture tanked after a major client withdrew from the market. Instead of wasting all the effort already made, Hayes saw the opportunity to offer his services impartially online. A few months later, Switchselect.com was born.

For many years the energy market was dominated by major players and winning their acceptance was not an easy process for Hayes.

“Many of the smaller, entrepreneurial energy companies have taken to the website and online acquisition of customers with great enthusiasm,” he says. “At the same time, some of the larger companies have done everything in their power to prevent us from providing the information we offer in the format we provide it – they believe we commoditise the energy market.”

Yet, Switchselect.com managed to win the endorsement of three industry bodies. “Persistence has been key. We were first to market so proving our model with persistence and quality has been keys to our success,” says Hayes.

Switchselect.com has since expanded its range of comparison services to include broadband, phone, pay TV, insurance and travel. The website now boasts more than 100 clients in 12 service verticals. It was awarded ‘Best Small Business Website’ by Netguide as well as ranked 26 in Anthill’s Smart 100.

Hayes also co-founded Shopfitcentral.com and is currently launching an entrepreneur/investor matching service.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP LESSONS ACCORDING TO LEON

“My first business started at grassroots. I knocked on businesses doors (many times Level 25 of this building or that) just to win a client. Once I won one I poured just about everything I had into supporting them and building our business around them. This meant that if they failed I would ultimately fail as I had no leverage in the marketplace. Guess what? They did fail. Failure is definitely an opportunity to learn and what I learned is the old saying of don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Today Switchselect.com has over 100 clients.”

MULTIMEDIA

How to save money on your power bill – Switchselect.com was featured on Channel Seven’s Today Tonight program.

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