Influencers & Profiles

Defying the downturn: Smart50 revenue grows as economy stumbles

Patrick Stafford /

They’re young, they’re nimble and they’re thriving even during the toughest conditions in recent history. The latest breed of the Smart50 has defied the economy, and managed to record revenue growth of 22% to $595 million during the past year.

The 7th annual Smart50 awards, announced last night in Melbourne, and sponsored by accounting and financial services firm Crowe Horwath, recognise and reward Australia’s top 50 fastest growing small and medium businesses.

Plan B, a technology company formed as an alternative to using travel agents, has rocketed to the top of the list with $28 million in revenue in the last financial year. Founders Philip Weinman – a veteran of the Smart50 list – and Clive Sher are only three years into their company, but already are delivering impressive returns.

It only took Plan B six months to reach $1 million in revenue.

To place on the list, businesses must have revenue of more than $500,000 and have achieved revenue growth during the past three financial years. Rankings are based on average annual growth during that time.

A roundup of key business lessons from the Smart50 is available here.

Wine deals site Vinomofo took second place – the founders have achieved massive success with their online venture, reaching $11 million and 460% growth in the three-year period.

And in yet another confirmation the app economy has transitioned into a mainstream industry, development studio Outware Mobile took out third place on the list with $5.3 million revenue and growth of 198%.

The company is responsible for successful apps including the official AFL app, SEEK and the Herald Sun.

The majority of businesses appearing on the list are newcomers, having established themselves during or just after the global financial crisis.

The average age of the companies on the list is just seven years old, which while slightly older than last year, is still relatively young. Twenty-four of the 50 businesses on the list were founded in 2008, after and during the financial crisis.

Average growth over the past three years is 92%, which is only slightly down from last year’s 93%. The growth rate remains an impressive indicator of how well the Smart50 have managed to thrive.

The average age of the founders is 40, up from last year’s 37. Only one founder reached the list in their 20s – Bill Huynh of Interior Secrets.

Together, the 50 companies employ 1750 Australians. A massive 589 of those jobs were added in the past year.

The acting editor of SmartCompany, Melinda Oliver, said about the awards, “Our objective is to champion and celebrate the small to medium businesses of Australia who are making a difference.”

“Whether it’s job creation, innovation, revenue generated or contributions to the community, we cover it all. The awards are an extension of this.”

Several other companies won category awards, including First Click Consulting, which won the Smart and Lasting award for being on the Smart50 three years in a row.

Plus Fitness took out the Top Franchise Award, while Nimble won the Top Digital Innovator award.

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Patrick Stafford

Patrick Stafford is a freelance journalist and a former deputy editor of SmartCompany.

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