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Dean Ramler, 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.

Dean Ramler, VIC (b. 1982)

Name: Dean Ramler
Age: 29 (Born: May 1982)
Gender: Male
State: VIC

Dean Ramler probably can’t wait for the end of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Because, when the flame is snuffed out, his already hot company, Milan Direct, will go supernova.

The online retailer of replica designer furniture that Ramler co-founded in 2007 has a contract to sell off all of the furniture used in the Games — 800,000 pieces in all. That’s not just a big number, it’s yet another media-grabbing coup for a business that now considers IKEA a head-to-head competitor.

Ramler developed the idea for Milan Direct after touring the Italian city several years ago. His company co-founder was Ruslan Kogan, another online-retail pioneer of no small repute. Milan Direct ships replica designer home and office furniture to customers in Australia, New Zealand, the UK and other points in Europe.

“We’re a pioneer of online e-commerce. We started selling furniture online five years ago when everyone said we were crazy,” Ramler says. “Today everybody has caught on, but five years ago we jumped in head-first.”

Milan Direct, with its staff of 11, has sold more than 400,000 pieces to more than 100,000 customers. That’s over $20 million in turnover to date. And Ramler, not one to hold back his competitive zeal, feels he’s just getting started.

“I want to absolutely smash my competition in every aspect of business,” says Ramler, a two-time Anthill 30under30 winner. “I view business as one big game, of who can provide the best value to customers. As a result, I can sit at my desk from dusk til dawn, all weekends, public holidays and all because I absolutely LOVE what I do!”

Recent awards bear out his passion. Milan Direct was No. 26 on this year’s BRW Fast Starter list and No. 39 in 2010. The company was third in the StartupSmart 2011 top 50.

Ramler is a regular writer on the StartUpSmart Mentor blog, and has struck up online conversations with several budding entrepreneurs. Another buzz-builder: Milan Direct has started to place billboards around Melbourne and Sydney, including several near competitors’ showrooms (“A tad cheeky,” he admits.)

That competitive fervor apparently runs in the family. Ramler gives credit to his father (“the utter professional, teaching me modern-day business”) and his late grandfather (“he came from the school of hard knocks and taught me the fundamentals of business”).

Anthill asks: Dean Ramler, what’s your superpower?

“My work ethic! I know I am not the smartest or naturally gifted, but I have always been the one to work the hardest. I thrive on 6 a.m. starts, midnight finishes. But it’s easy when you are passionate and love what you do! Also, I thrive on paying attention to the smallest details. Everything counts, no matter how minor it may seem.”

Milan Direct promotion

Barcelona chair replica from Milan Direct


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