Entrepreneur John Ilhan, the founder of mobile phone dealership Crazy John’s, has died at just 42 years old. Ilhan, one of Australia’s most prominent entrepreneurs and worth $310 million, died suddenly of a heart attack this morning while jogging.
Ilhan started Crazy John’s with no stock, one shop and $1000. He was the first in the business to offer mobile phones for $1 each at a time when mobile phones were very expensive.
He used himself as a marketing tool and generated great loyalty with staff taking them to Queensland. He also held media stunts such as inviting customers to midnight barbeques.
Ilhan, whose fourth child was born this year, loved to keep fit.
But for several years has been in a fierce battle with Telstra, which cost his company $70 million. The battle had just ended after he terminated his reseller agreement with Telstra in July and jumped straight into bed with Vodaphone.
Ilhan recently sold 25% of Crazy Johns to investors including NAB, which took a 8.5% stake. The business is valued at $300 million. Other investors include the Smorgan family and Selpan group.