Company: Ready Steady Print
Poor service at a printing company turned into an entrepreneurial opportunity for Joshua Kamil and saved him from what he feared might be a dreary career.
When the 20-something started Ready Steady Print in 2006 fresh from a corporate finance degree, he had been stirred by the potential to work with SMEs and bring them printing services at below market prices.
The online business, which has revenue of more than $1 million, allows customers of all sizes to print at the same rates as larger clients.
Rely on your contacts and don't be afraid to give things away free of charge, are the top tips from young entrepreneur Nicole Kersh.
Inspired to start 4Cabling while working at her parent's electrical cabling company, Kersh set about to supply voice, data, fibre, electrical and server rack equipment to customers – without the hassles associated with pricier and more established players.
While learning the industry was hard work, Kersh says 4Cabling's willingness to ask tech people their thoughts won them loyal customers. It seems to have worked: 4Cabling is bringing in more than $3 million in revenue a year after starting up in 2006.
Jodie Fox, Michael Fox and Mike Knapp
Company: Shoes of Prey
Ages: 28, 29 and 30
Selling shoes to women is one of the oldest – and most successful – retail endeavours on the planet. But letting women custom-design their own shoes is a revolution in itself, and has helped Jodie Fox become one of Australia's most successful young female entrepreneurs.
After a short stint as a lawyer Jodie Fox moved into advertising with The Campaign Palace, where she learnt the skills of brand building. Together with her husband Michael and friend Mike Knapp, both former Google employees, they formed Shoes of Prey, effectively marrying Fox's interest in shoes with Mike and Michael's interest in eCommerce in a business where women can design and order their own shoes.
Today Shoes of Prey has eight staff scattered from Sydney to China, Japan, Russia and the Netherlands. Revenue has doubled every quarter since the company's formation in October 2009, thanks to some clever marketing strategies, and today the company turnover is in the millions.
Company: Kogan Technologies
Few young entrepreneurs have gained the levels of exposure that Ruslan Kogan has. By picking some very public fights with much bigger competitors such as Gerry Harvey and JB Hi-Fi chief executive officer Terry Smart he has garnered publicity that money just can't buy.
Kogan is also the first Australian to register as a passenger on Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic sub-orbital spaceflight. He started Kogan Technologies in 2006 and grew its revenue to $17 million for 2009/10, and his business has been reportedly valued at more than $200 million.
The company has also expanded into the UK, and has innovated through the introduction of Live Price, which rewards buyers with lower prices when they place orders well in advance of receiving their goods.
Kogan is also a co-founder and part-owner of the online designer furniture eCommerce company Milan Direct. It's a long way from the kid who started out selling second-hand golf balls at Elsternwick Golf Course at the age of 10.
Company: Store DJ
Jeremy Leitch was studying computer science at university and working as a DJ at night when he launched his first business venture, an online store called Vinyl Warning in 2003. Two years later, fearing that the vinyl craze wouldn't last forever, he took a punt and branched out to buy another online business called Store DJ, which sold DJ equipment.
But unusually for a recently-created retail business, the breakthrough came not from online retail, but from physical retail. When the company opened its first store in the Melbourne suburb of Richmond, growth really started to accelerate.
A Sydney store was opened in 2007 through the acquisition of an existing record and equipment store and a third store in Fortitude Valley followed in 2009.
The business, which turned over just under $8 million in 2009-10 and is targeting $9 million in fiscal 2011, is aiming at Perth in 2012 and has recently launched a new division called Sound Supply to distribute music technology to other companies.
"Our success has come down to staying ahead of the curve and shifting our focus from selling 100% vinyl to now 100% hardware and equipment," Leitch says.
Online outsourcing and design contests have become a massive area of growth on the internet. The desire of more and more businesses to post work contracts to be bid for by the population of the internet has helped Alec Lynch turn his business DesignCrowd into a thriving concern.
DesignCrowd has handed out more than $1 million in work to its freelance community since its launch in 2008, with a 78% increase in the last six months alone.
The largest contract has been worth $8,000, and DesignCrowd has also paid $200,000 in participation payments for unsuccessful bidders. Clients have included the Harvard Business School, Fair Trade Australia and Hi Tech shoes, while among DesignCrowd's 10,000 freelance designers are Udaya Kumar, the designer of the Indian rupee symbol.
The company raised $300,000 in 2010 and is currently talking to investors about funding its next expansion round.