Startup News & Analysis

Meet SmartCompany’s top women entrepreneurs for 2017

Dinushi Dias /

By Emma Koehn, Dominic Powell and Dinushi Dias

In celebration of International Women’s Day, SmartCompany has put together a list of Australia’s most powerful, successful and inspiring entrepreneurs.

Doors may have slammed in their faces and fear may have called their names many times, but the 30 leaders on the list have built empires with revenue exceeding $11 billion.

Here are just three of them.

Cyan Ta’eed

Envato co-founder Cyan Taeed

Company: Envato
Founded: 2006
Revenue: $94 million* (with Collis Ta’eed)

Cyan Ta’eed and husband Collis Ta’eed debuted on the BRW Young Rich List last year with an estimated net worth of $184 million, having rapidly expanded digital marketplace Envato over the past decade to more than six million members.

Envato’s community of users have earned close to $US500 million through the platform, and in 2015 the company turned over $US73 million ($94 million at June 30, 2015).

Ta’eed is also founder of New Day Box, a project to create boxes of treats and essentials to deliver to women in crisis. New Day Box is facilitated by 10 colleagues that work together at Envato, and was launched after Ta’eed read about a similar project in Canada and was inspired by the simplicity of the idea.

Naomi Simson

Naomi Simson holding balloons - Red Balloon founder Shark Tank investor

Company: RedBalloon
Established: 2001
Revenue: $60 million

Naomi Simson founded experience and rewards company RedBalloon in 2001, and in the time since has become one of the most recognisable Australian entrepreneurs.

RedBalloon isn’t Simson’s only love these days, with the entrepreneur having founded employee reward business Redii and invested in multiple businesses on Shark Tank including the KISA phone and a spiritual guidance website. Simson is a regular motivational speaker, and was one of SmartCompany’s first contributors 10 years ago. She also an entrepreneur-in-residence at Gravity Coworking.

Simson has no shortage of helpful advice for entrepreneurs and business owners, regularly sharing her thoughts via her blog and LinkedIn page. Recently, Simson revealed the one thing she wished she had told her 22-year-old self.

“I wish I had told my younger self that it is okay to take your time and do a job properly,” Simson said in a LinkedIn video.

“I’d also say to keep learning. I always thought I knew everything, and now as I get older I realise how little I know.”

Jo Burston

Jo Burston new profile photo

Company: Job Capital
Established: 2006
Revenue: $37 million

Before embarking on a mission to build a global community of one million entrepreneurial women by 2020, Rare Birds founder and chief executive Jo Burston founded Job Capital, a successful recruitment agency that is turning over $37 million a year.

Burston is a renown advocate for inspiring young and girls and women to pursue entrepreneurship and has launched a range of initiatives to drive this effort, including Rare Birds’ digital funding platform.

In 2016 Burston launched an online program with innovation expert Dr Richard Seymour to teach young children the values of entrepreneurship, telling StartupSmart it’s important that young people across the world get the chance to build the skills and knowledge needed to pursue things they cared about.

“If you’ve got a mobile phone and access to the internet, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in Bangladesh, Perth or Chicago, you should be able to learn entrepreneurship,” she said at the time.

Read the full list on SmartCompany.

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Dinushi Dias

Dinushi Dias is a journalist at StartupSmart and multimedia content producer. When she’s out of the office, she works on social projects with her We Love It Productions family and buddying filmmakers.

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