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Michael Cohen, 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.

Michael Cohen, VIC (b. 1984)

Name: Michael Cohen
Age: 27 (Born: September 1984)
Gender: Male
State: VIC

They call him The Smiling Assassin. Whatever the problem, good news or bad, Michael Cohen can’t seem to stop grinning from ear to ear.

“I’m never in a bad mood,” he admits. “No one, including my partners, can figure out how this is possible. I guess I don’t have the answer either.”

If Cohen is an assassin, cynicism and fear are his only targets. And imagine, he works in the security business, one whose personnel can be perceived as brutal and thuggish.

Cohen wishes to create a new perception. As the director of Executive Security Solutions (ESS), he presents security options that are more personal and less confrontational.

“I wanted to steer clear of the fear tactics and only offer safety and peace of mind,” he says about marketing the ESS image. “All of our marketing and advertising is designed in this manner. It has been a very strong focal point of our business.”

When he began ESS in 2006, the company only provided static guards and crowd controllers such as nightclub bouncers. Today, ESS has a comprehensive package of services that include mobile patrol, alarm response and electronic counter surveillance (aka “debugging”), as well as risk management and consultancy.

Earnings have risen accordingly. The company’s first-year turnover was $50,000; last year, it was $3.5 million.

What keeps Cohen ticking after five years in the driver’s seat? For one, his employees. Numbering close to a hundred, they propel his business along and, yes, he enjoys the opportunity to bring smiles to their faces.

“Providing them with a young and energetic outlook makes me want to continue growing this business,” he says. “I believe that surrounding yourself with the right people is what makes you successful and I can say that we have many that have helped us do just that.”

Being fearless is also key to growth. Cohen is willing to knock on the doors of prestigious firms, and isn’t afraid of the risk of getting “bounced” by mightier competitors.

“If we follow our business model we have nothing to lose,” he says, “so no matter how big or small the clientele we target, we are never afraid.”

Anthill asks Michael Cohen: Have you ever been lucky, punk?

“Well I can’t say I believe in luck as I am a strong believer that if you work hard, set your expectations high, do the right thing and never be afraid to take a chance good things will come your way. Luck is created by those means not given away for free.”


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