Meet Australia’s top 30 entrepreneurs under 30
* The following profiles are not ranked.
Company/Role: Faraday Media
At 26, Chris Saad is one of Australia’s most impressive young web entrepreneurs. His theory and practice around web standards – specifically “DataPortability” and “Attention Management” – have gained significant traction and are set to have a profound impact on the evolution of media in the digital age. Saad has co-founded several web-related companies and organisations, most prominently Faraday Media in 2006, of which he is CEO. Faraday Media is developing Particls, a technology that learns user habit and taste and delivers relevant information to them via news crawler, SMS, email, flash visualisations, etc. He also co-founded the Media 2.0 Workgroup with 14 industry “commentators, agitators and innovators”. There’s no shortage of ideas or energy in this digitally-minded entrepreneur. One to watch in the years to come.
Location: New South Wales
Company/Role: Corporate Bodies International
Leanne Scanes registered her business, Corporate Bodies International (CBI), within 30 minutes of finishing university, with just $1,000 to her name. She has owned and run it ever since, though she made sure that her job title always reflected the evolution of her company and her role within it. She’s gone from Sole Trader to Employer, Program Developer, Program Deliverer, Sales Manager, HR Manager, Performance Manager, Strategic Manager and, now, CEO.
CBI conducts health and wellness programmes for workers across the spectrum from blue to white collar, promising benefits to employers in the form of increased staff safety, productivity and morale. The business has come a long way in eight years, now with eight office locations around Australia turning over $1.4 million. Scanes is testament to what can be achieved by a young entrepreneur, fresh out of school, with single-minded vision and passion to make a difference.
Location: New South Wales
Company/Role: Founder Freestyle Media
“While my mates were having a good time, I spent all of my time coding websites and learning new techniques for online marketing and business skills,” says Fred Schebesta of his university days.
Schebesta started Freestyle Media, an online marketing agency, while still a student in 2001. Over the next few years he built up a portfolio of high-profile clients, including McDonald’s, Virgin Mobile, Sanitarium, NRMA and more. He sold to a publicly-listed company for $2 million at the age of 26, having had only one job – Director, Freestyle Media. Who’s laughing now?
Company/Role: SMART/CommQuest, Aussie Farmers Direct
It’s a sad reality that many Australian entrepreneurs are ineffective marketers. There is certainly no shortage of marketing companies willing to help them get the word out there, but few can claim to have enjoyed the kind of growth experienced by William Scott. In 2000, he founded SMART (Sales, Marketing and Real Technologies), offering a complete range of sales and marketing services for business owners who would rather focus on what they are good at. He was on to something. After phenomenal year-on-year growth, SMART became CommQuest in 2007, which is now a publicly-listed group generating annual revenue of over $80m (and EBIT of $13m).
Scott is also the founder of Aussie Farmers Direct (www.aussiefarmers.com.au), a website enabling farmers to sell their produce direct to the public at reduced cost. He plans to list the company at the end of 2008.
The numbers speak for themselves. Scott is the major shareholder in both companies, which have a combined capitalisation of $100m. And he doesn’t turn 30 until April 2009.
Company/Role: Keep Left PR
Caroline Siler knows the power of the pitch (see Tunnel Talk, issue 26). She was 22 and working in communications for IT consulting firm Ingena when she pitched her boss the idea of going it alone. Her ‘offer’ involved operating a fledgling PR business from her current office space, on lease, and taking on Ingena as her first client. It worked, and Keep Left PR was born.
Now with six staff and a business doubling in size, Siler is putting in place structures to extract herself from the day-to-day client work and focus even more on developing the business. She is proud of Keep Left PR’s reputation of developing long-term, strategic relationships with clients and the media, backed by the claim that 95 percent of new business comes from recommendations and former clients moving to new organisations. Siler may have used the power of the perfect pitch to get things started, but her mantra to “aim high, and don’t accept mediocrity” has kept business rolling along nicely.