Meet Australia’s top 30 entrepreneurs under 30
* The following profiles are not ranked.
Location: Western Australia
Young entrepreneurs can do worse than begin their career working at fast food franchises. After working at McDonald’s and Eagle Boys Pizza, Perth-based Damien Langley became the youngest Eagle Boys franchisee (20) and the youngest multi-store owner (23). The two stores soon ranked among the most successful Eagle Boys Pizza outlets in Western Australia.
In 2003, Langley founded his own online venture, studentedge.com.au, which provides a discount card for all student members and useful information website links for student jobs, career help, study tips, health and wellbeing, etc. It has attracted a WA student membership base of 50,000 and is scheduled for national rollout later in 2008. Langley employs 70 people and turns over more than $2m every year, though he is selling one of his Eagle Boys franchise stores to focus more on studentedge.com.au.
Location: New South Wales
Company/Role: Brands R People 2
At 29, Jess Logan just makes it under our age 30 ceiling. But her experience as the marketing strategist behind some of Australia’s biggest brands puts her in a class of her own. At 24, she was the National Brand Director at Boost Juice, increasing the national franchise’s brand awareness from 63 percent to 96 percent in just 14 months, helping to build it up from 12 stores to 98 stores and an overall turnover of $78m. Since then Logan has held director roles in Hairhouse Warehouse, Mr Rentals, Banjo’s and Healthy Habits, enjoying similar success with each.
In an age when astute branding can be the difference between the commercial success or failure of a promising product or service, Logan has demonstrated her ability to play king-maker. She has accumulated the public accolades to prove it.
And here’s another one.
Company/Role: Hippo Jobs
James Masini’s age was both help and hindrance in taking his online employment marketplace, Hippo Jobs, from start-up to success. Masini’s friends were always broke, not because they didn’t want jobs but because they couldn’t find employers willing to give the young and inexperienced a go, and take into account study timetables. So he came up with the idea to give the 15-24 year-old segment a targeted website for job searching.
Trying to raise capital for Hippo.com.au site, however, Masini felt his youth was an impediment. Only 23 at the time, Masini says, “The one factor that stuck out most was my age and lack of experience.”
Not easily deterred, Masini eventually found support from Boost Juice founders Jeff and Janine Allis and went live in April 2007. Like all new ventures, the business has had its ups and downs, but now boasts 75,000 profiled job candidates nationally, most under the age of 25, and 7,000 employers have advertised 13,500 jobs. With numbers like that, who cares about age?
Location: New South Wales
Company/Role: 199QUERY, Blue Chilli Technology, Weapons Electronics Engineer (Royal Australian Navy)
Trainee entrepreneurs – pay attention. In Sebastien Maslin’s first business, an electronic music events company called Sebtrackt Productions, the need arose to fly a well-known international music artist between shows in Sydney and Canberra late at night, after commercial flights had finished. Rather than foot the (enormous) bill for a private jet, Maslin chartered the flight then offered several ‘double-packs’ on eBay, consisting of tickets to see both shows, seats on the flight, limo transfer between airports and events plus return bus fares to the winner’s home town. Needless to say, proceeds more than covered the charter flight and some lucky punters got the experience of a lifetime.
Now, Maslin holds down a full-time job as a Deputy Weapons Engineering Officer in the Navy while running two businesses: 199QUERY, providing human answers to customer queries sent via SMS; and Blue Chilli Technology, enabling live information to be streamed over existing video footage on plasma televisions in pubs, clubs and outdoor venues. Maslin’s businesses employ 40 people and are growing at an extreme 200 percent a quarter. 199QUERY answers over 1,000 questions a day, at $2.50 a question and operates 24/7. So, he’s kind of busy, but not so busy he can’t find time to finish his post-grad thesis on a patented laser scanning system for landing unmanned aircraft on ships. And, yes, that’s his patent, by the way.
Location: New South Wales
Company/Role: Expect A Star Education Services
Ryan Meldrum’s resume features some big names like Deutsche Asset Management, Commsec and JP Morgan (and Sizzler, but we all have to start somewhere). Driven by the need to create his own concept, however, Meldrum dropped out of the banking sector to develop Expect A Star Education Services, a business servicing the staff requirements for childcare centres with recruitment and professional development training, as well as offering a nanny and babysitting service and education resources.
Starting out in 2004, the business now runs Melbourne and Sydney offices, with 22 staff, a database of 650 childcare centres and 5,500 job candidates. Meldrum says his business has “become a key player in an important industry” and cites his main motivation as a desire to be better than the competition. Childcare is big business and, with the 2007 My Business ‘Best Young Gun’ award-winner at the helm, we expect to see Expect A Star continue it’s stellar growth.