SmartCompany awards 2008: The billion dollar list

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Australia’s top small and medium businesses have shrugged off the downturn to reveal spectacular growth rates at this year’s SmartCompany.com.au awards held on Friday night in Melbourne, hosted by NAB.

Australia’s top small and medium businesses have shrugged off the downturn to reveal spectacular growth rates at this year’s SmartCompany.com.au awards held on Friday night in Melbourne, hosted by NAB.

The awards reveal those companies that have had the fastest growth in the 2007-08 year and uncover the entrepreneurs who are driving the growth and changing their industries.

The winner of the fast growth award, sponsored by HP, was Provident Cashflow, a Sydney-based company that helps small and medium business finance their inventory. This company grew from $865,000 to $5.7 million revenue in two years, an overall growth rate of 184% at a time when other credit companies were hitting the wall.

The winner of the overall SmartCompany Award for fast growth and innovation, sponsored by NAB, was Intrepid Travel, started by two university mates who came up with an idea to make travel fun by combining the excitement of back-packing adventure tourism with the security of organised tours. Intrepid Travel has grown from $68 million two years ago to $115 million in 2007-08 and is changing the travel industry not just in Australia but tourism internationally.

The awards also reveal the huge contribution these companies make to the economy. Combined revenue for these 50 companies in 2007-08 was $1 billion. Just two years ago (2005-2006), combined revenue for these companies was $555 million. This is a remarkable achievement, especially as confidence in the small and medium business sector, according to a slew of surveys, is at its lowest point in 15 years.

But it has not all been easy. Many of these companies reported near death experiences ranging from running out of money, suppliers pulling out, and being wiped off Google.

Major new trends uncovered this year. Trends include a growing use of the internet, gourmet food, the trend towards eco design, and the use of software to manage processes.

Highlights:

  • The class of 2008 with its $1 billion revenue beat the class of 2007, which had $831 million revenue.
  • Back in 2005-06, the Smart50 of 2008 had revenue of $555 million, so it has doubled to more than $1 billion in 2007-08.
  • Technology companies dominated the list, followed by property and business services, finance and insurance and retail trade.
  • Most of the companies are located in Sydney and Melbourne.
  • Most of the companies started with less than $100,000.
  • Less than half the companies started from home.
  • Female entrepreneurs are still under-represented (13 on the list, but slightly higher than last year’s 11).
  • The internet is causing huge changes in their costs and processes.

Other award winners:

The Top 10 fastest-growing companies in the Smart50 were:

Stories coming up from our award winners:

16 October: Online trends.

23 October: Near death experiences.

30 October: Start-up secrets.

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