Over the last 12 months, SmartCompany and StartupSmart have published thousands of articles aimed at providing Australia’s smallest and fastest-growing businesses with the all the essential information and advice they need to make their ventures succeed.
And while we’re not ones to blow our own horn (at least not publically), we think some of those articles were pretty damn good.
So with that in mind, here’s a short list of some of the articles the SmartCompany team enjoyed the most this year. We’ll be shutting down over the Christmas break, but we’ll see you all again in the New Year for what we’re sure will be a jam-packed and exciting 2019.
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1. International Women’s Day
For 48 hours on March 8, all advertising on the SmartCompany website was replaced by advertising of a different sort — advertising which showcased some of the inspirational Australian women in business and the stories of how they were creating change in their communities.
Not only was the entire site dedicated to the promotion of women in business, but our showcase also featured quotes from over 400 Australian women in business, nominated by their colleagues, employees, mentees and families. It was coupled with a commitment from SmartCompany’s editorial team to continue our regular coverage of the country’s most outstanding businesswomen.
“How can the achievements and successes of women in business be celebrated if their stories are not being told?” SmartCompany editor Eloise Keating asked at the time.
2. Australia’s ‘next Bose’
Though we run into a lot of ambitious business owners here at SmartCompany, few compare to the ambition and success seen so far by Melbourne-based startup nura.
With the bold plan of being “up there with companies like Bose and Sony” in less than 10 years, the company is providing headphones with personalised sound that SmartCompany got the chance to try in early-August.
“We’ve demoed this for thousands of people, and maybe 5% of people cry on their first listen. Seeing people react like that, and how people appreciated that, really drove us to push the idea forward,” nura co-founder Luke Campbell said at the time
3. Duelling pistols at
Unfair dismissal cases can often be a fairly wild time, however, one specific one that surfaced earlier this month was one of the most explosive we’ve seen — literally.
A long-serving public servant lost his bid to be reinstated at his workplace after allegedly bringing explosives and a pair of duelling pistols to work.
The case included a claim the worker rolled an inert explosive device towards a colleague and claimed “it would blow a car in two”.
4. Robot chickens
Along with ambitious business owners, we see a number of businesses and startups which are thinking so far outside of the box they’re almost in a box of their own. One such company was Eleanor Toulmin and Sarah Last’s robot chicken startup Mimictec.
Yes, you read that right. The founding duo’s company creates robot chickens to help rear chicks on poultry farms, which increases productivity and reduces the chickens’ stress.
Toulmin spoke to StartupSmart about the difficulties she’s had breaking into the poultry industry, and the success she eventually found despite her “hairbrained ideas about robot chickens”.
5. The most wholesome couple in #startupaus
In October, we ran a feature on startupland stalwarts Ian and Andrea Gardiner after Ian announced he was stepping down from his role running the Aussie startup division of Amazon Web Services to join his wife’s venture capital fund.
If that sentence didn’t give you an indication of how much of a power couple these two are, reading through the interview will. But at the same time, the two were infallibly wholesome, with Ian telling StartupSmart he was looking forward to “getting back to my entrepreneurial roots”.
I love building things from nothing and supporting founders who are doing that,” he said.
“I’m the swashbuckling entrepreneur and Andrea is the more meticulous, thorough CEO. It’s a balance.”
6. What do business owners really pay themselves?
A question SME owners long ponder over was finally semi-answered earlier this year after a number of business owners opened up to SmartCompany about their salaries in the early days, and their salaries now.
Some came in at as low as $50 a week, and some as high as $250,000 year. Where do you fit in?
7. The downfall of Musk
It’s been a bad year for ol’ Musky, starting off with some fiery and plain weird Twitter tirades, and ending with a $55 million settlement with the SEC, him stepping down as chairman, and a pending defamation lawsuit from a cave rescuer he baselessly accused of being a paedophile.
This tumultuous year for one of tech’s most revered and idolised entrepreneurs prompted a number of founders to question if their idols were really all they’re cracked up to be.
“I think there’s too much blind faith with Musk. You just need to look on Twitter and see who’s responded to anything Musk says — there’s a legion of fanboys who live off his every word, and that’s dangerous,” founder Kunal Kalro told StartupSmart in September.
8. Business websites whitewashed
Imagine waking up one day to find out the website you’ve owned for 20 years was suddenly ripped from your grasp, being told by the regulators it’s unable to be renewed due to infringing on dubiously enforced pieces of legislation.
That’s exactly what happened to numerous business owners late last month, after Australia’s domain name regulator auDA began to crack down on the use of various acronyms and phrases on its reserve list, which relate to government services.
“I spent three weeks having to change my entire life with new email addresses everywhere … I’ve lost credibility in the business marketplace with the things I’ve been doing,” Craig Lennard, the former owner of australia.net.au, told SmartCompany.
9. Kakadu’s hottest startup
If you were to pick a place in the country to build your augmented reality startup, I’d bet the remote national park of Kakadu in the Northern Territory wouldn’t feature highly on the list. However, for founder Mikaela Jade, it was the perfect location.
Her startup Indigital aims to bring augmented and mixed reality to Australia’s Indigenous communities, helping them tell their stories on country through new technologies.
“We didn’t have the innovation community, we didn’t have other startups to provide that support. I was in the Sydney startup hub [recently] where there’s such camaraderie, and we didn’t have that; I had to invent it by stalking people on LinkedIn and building those networks online,” Jade said at the time.
“We’re still focused on how to push tech for the betterment of the Indigenous community across Australia, and I feel so lucky to be part of this community.”
10. What it’s like to finally make money in business
For the owners of Nimble Activewear, their first-ever online order the company received was for $158. And while this might not sound like a lot, the two founders immediately got on the phone to each other in excitement.
This feeling prevailed among business owners, who told SmartCompany earlier this year what it felt like to make their first buck, and how important it was to keep the momentum flowing afterwards.
“Getting to your first million isn’t so hard; what is hard is making it get from $1 million to $5 million,” Diva Works founder Fiona Jefferies said at the time.