The winning formula that goes into creating a business that not only succeeds but prospers financially isn’t easy to replicate. Otherwise everyone would be doing it.
But sometimes startups go on to change lives, making their founders millions in the process. Here are the stories of five Australian business ideas that grew into multi-million dollar business ventures.
An ambition to travel overseas for an extended period of time was what initially drove an Australian couple to build an online business that last year turned over in excess of $50 million.
Collis Ta’eed and his wife, Cyan, wanted a business that would allow them to quit their successful freelance life and run a business from their laptops while enjoying some overseas travel, so they launched Envato with their best mate Jun Rung in 2006.
Envato’s earnings have skyrocketed since making just $10 on the first day of business. Today, the business launches, promotes and operates multiple online marketplaces which facilitate the exchange of digital goods from thousands of independent sellers and digital authors to both amateur and professional web designers, creative agencies and digital web properties.
It’s also the creator of several online marketplaces, including ThemeForest, CodeCanyon, Videohive and GraphicRiver – all market leaders.
Chris Strode was fired from his six-figure salary job as a software developer with Macquarie Bank after getting drunk at a Christmas party.
He’d enjoyed the security of the role so mentally buried his desire to quit on a daily basis, but admits he hadn’t been able to give his business idea any oxygen.
But after being fired and thrown out of the building, he was able to get cracking on his business idea – a more cost-effective invoicing system for small business owners.
Even in those early days, he knew his idea was going to change the way people do business, launching the desktop version of Invoice2Go within a matter of weeks of losing his job. The mobile app version followed, which propelled the business to new heights.
Today, more than a million small businesses have used Invoice2Go as a way to invoice their customers. The company has been valued at $US100 million ($A125m) after $US35 million in funding, and is one of the highest grossing apps in the app store.
Australian tech startup Airtasker has made a name for itself online by offering users the chance to outsource menial tasks like picking up dry cleaning or performing household chores.
The site has been used for tasks as diverse as paying someone to stand in a six hour queue for the Game of Thrones exhibition, to a Sydney surgeon who used Airtasker to find someone to fly to the US and pick up an engagement ring.
Airtasker says that businesses could use Airtasker to scale quickly by accessing a huge army of people all over the country for tasks ranging from market research, promotions to deliveries. The business last year acquired Melbourne-based odd jobs outsourcing rival Occasional Butler
Founders Tim Fung and Jonathan Lui say they intend to expand the focus of the business to take a share of the $20 billion corporate temporary recruitment sector.
4. Carman’s Muesli
Carolyn Cresswell bought Carman’s Fine Foods for $1000 more than two decades ago and moved it into her Melbourne kitchen.
She’s worked hard since then and successfully beat the multinationals, with retail sales of Carman’s products topping the muesli category across Coles and Woolworths.
The brand is now exported to more than 32 countries and Cresswell has won a string of accolades, including being named one of BRW’s Fastest Growing Companies and taking out the 2012 Telstra Australian Business Woman of the Year Award. Cresswell would like to see 30% of Carman’s revenue sourced offshore in the next two years.
Creswell’s ability to respond to trends has kept her at the top of her game. She introduced Blueberry Seed Nut Bars last year and sales were lower than expected, but by changing the word ‘Seed’ with ‘Superfood’, she managed to double sales, for example.
Australian company Canva is an online graphic design platform that shook the scene by replacing the expensive, complicated software that put design out of reach for most people. The design platform makes it simple to create social media graphics, presentations, posters, blog graphics, invitations and more.
Canva was launched by Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht after the pair firstly took out a loan and brought in a tech team to build Fusion Books, which is now the largest school yearbook publisher in Australia and has expanded into France and New Zealand.
Canva, which recently raised an additional $3.6 million in funding, has grown to 600,000 users who have created more than 3.5 million designs, and enabled other websites to integrate Canva’s design capabilities.
It also recently unveiled its Canva Button, a new plug-in for third party websites which allows their users to create their own graphics.