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Ryan Wardell, 2011 Anthill 30under30 Up-and-Comer

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What is 30under30?

30under30 is an Anthill initiative launched in 2008 to encourage and promote entrepreneurship among young Australians. This year’s batch of nominees was extensive and impressive. So much so that we believe several young talents who didn’t snag 30under30 top honours still deserve your attention and recognition. We’re calling them our Up-and-Comers. More.

Ryan Wardell, NSW (b. 1987)

Name: Ryan Wardell
Age: 23 (Born: September 1987)
Gender: Male
State: NSW

Crowd-funding has been spun as a viable alternative to traditional modes of finance and sponsorship in Australia, particularly for cash-strapped artists and independent filmmakers. But what if the crowd-funding model can be applied to startups as well?

It’s a question that has been floated recently, and Ryan Wardell thinks he has the answer. He’s just launched Project PowerUp, and if it catches on, it will do for small businesses what Kickstarter has done for the arts.

With Project PowerUp, an entrepreneur will be able to advertise a project and implement a campaign to raise pledges from campaign donors (known as “backers”) out there on the Web. If the campaign reaches its target amount before the deadline, all the funds raised are transferred to the new startup. If the campaign falls short, no money changes hands and donations are refunded to the would-be backers.

“Project PowerUp is an Enabler,” says Wardell. “It forces you to focus and use the resources you already have more efficiently.”

Wardell’s efficient use of his resources, mixed with his imaginative quirks, means that he was smart enough to win YAA Managing Director of the Year for one of two businesses he was running in Year 12. It means he once closed a sale by making reference to the “Underpants Gnomes” episode of South Park. And it means that he has never held a full-time job in his career.

His life story is about transforming hardship into opportunity. At 17, he found himself kicked out of his home and hit the road, which triggered his survival instinct and led him to Sydney. “I had to learn to think for myself, to take control of my life,” he says. “It’s probably the best thing that could have happened to me.”

Where he has succeeded, he has done so by possessing an ability to relate to every individual on some level — South Park fans or not.

“It might not sound like much,” he says, “but being able to get through to people and get them to want what I want is actually a very handy talent for an entrepreneur to have.”

Anthill asks: Ryan Wardell, what motivates you as an entrepreneur?

“I want to change the world. And if I can make a truckload of money while doing it…well, that’s good too.”

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

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