Home Startup & Entrepreneurship Mark Ross-Smith, 2010 Anthill 30under30 Winner

Mark Ross-Smith, 2010 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. More.

Mark Ross-Smith, QLD (b. 1982)

Name: Mark Ross-Smith
Age: 28 (Born: January 1982)
Gender: Male
State: QLD

The Interwebs have been a treasure trove for Mark Ross-Smith.

At the still-tender age of 28, the Queenslander has spent 10 years as a mostly self-employed entrepreneur, rolling out a series of online-based ventures. His biggest, by far, is SMSfun, which he describes as the first Australia-based social network. The four-year-old service, which offers a multitude of text-messaging plans while providing a home for chat rooms, user profiles and addictive contests, now has more than 1.2 million members linked by mobile and web.

“SMSFun also solves the No. 1 problem for our clients (telcos) by helping them acquire new customers and reducing churn,” Ross-Smith says. ” To date, SMSFun has helped mobile operators generate an additional $35 million in revenue.”

SMSFun wasn’t a champ right out of the box. A rough-around-the-edges business model  meant few advertising dollars and no solid revenue streams. The business was bleeding six figures a year. Ross-Smith says he put his reputation, and savings, on the line and dramatically altered the business model. “Through hard work and determination, this turned a series of setbacks into a massive win,” he says.

In addition to SMSFun, Ross-Smith’s online ventures included telemarketing; web design and hosting; property text-message alerts; and an SMS gateway. His latest trick, adoota.com,  offers a way for website publishers to boost the value of their ad-network inventory (he has used the tech on SMSFun for the last year).

“Internet and mobile are my babies,” Ross-Smith says, “and finding blue ocean opportunities within this space is something I can spot a mile away.”

He says SMSFun’s greatest sales achievement was landing a contract with a major telco the company had been working on for 12 months. After countless dead ends, “our persistence and never-say-die attitude proved successful and a deal was finally brokered.”

Ross-Smith says he’s driven by a desire “to prove wrong everyone who ever doubted my abilities, vision and passion. That, and working for someone else would drive me nuts.”

SMSfun company profile


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