Finance

Rich List: Meet 14 entrepreneurs who have climbed into the ranks of Australia’s wealthiest people

Emma Koehn /

The annual list of Australia’s richest individuals always includes a couple of surprises, and the serial entrepreneurs that manage to climb their way up the ranks have a shockingly diverse range of skills under their belts.

Whether they’ve founded multibillion-dollar technology platforms or built brands into household names, each year there’s a cohort of rich-listers that have generated wealth while founding and steering strong businesses.

Here are 14 entrepreneurs who cracked this year’s list of Australia’s 200 richest people — and the ideas that netted them billions.

Mike Cannon-Brookes ($2.5 billion) and Scott Farquhar ($2.5 billion), Atlassian — #17 and #18

The Atlassian founders have cracked the Rich List top 20 as they continue to grow their multibillion-dollar tech company and advise the Australia government on national innovation policy. The duo have had a big 2017 so far, starting with a $577 million acquisition of productivity app Trello. 

Nigel Austin ($1.89 billion), Cotton On Group — #28

Retail analysts have previously told SmartCompany Austin’s Cotton On Group has developed a winning model for capturing the local consumer across a range of categories, from activewear to his Typo stationery business.

The business now has outlets in 18 countries and is on the edge of $2 billion in sales, according to Fairfax.

Patrick Grove ($801 million), Catcha Group — #80

The founder of Catcha Group is currently leading the growth of Asian Netflix equivalent iFlix. Grove has previously told SmartCompany he’d workshop business ideas based off rich lists when he was just a child. Now at the age of 42 he’s cemented a place in the top 100 richest Australians after forming a number of businesses, including iProperty, the real estate platform he sold to REA Group last year.

Jina Chen and Alex Wu ($686 million), Nature’s Care — #93 and #94

Nature’s Care is the third biggest vitamin player in the Australian market behind Blackmores and Swisse, and it generates $230 million in annual revenue. The company had planned to list on the Australian Securities Exchange at the end of 2016, but has since ditched those plans.

According to the company’s website, Chen founded the business in 1990 shortly after creating a garlic-based treatment to help her father’s persistent cough.

Ben Richardson and David Grenier ($593 million), Campaign Monitor — #114 and #115

The founders of email marketing startup Campaighn Monitor have their eyes on expansion, having recently acquired Canadian customer data platform Tagga. Fairfax reports the pair have stepped away from day-to-day operations of the business, which currently has Alex Bard at the wheel as chief executive.

Naomi Milgrom ($585 million), Sussan Group — #117

Since buying the Sussan Group from her father in 2003, Milgrom has accelerated the growth of the Sussan, Suzanne Grae and Sportsirl brands across Australia and New Zealand, generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. Milgrom has also started a number of philanthropic ventures around arts and culture, and has regularly featured on SmartCompany’s annual list of top female entrepreneurs.

Timothy Kentley-Klay ($470 million), Zoox — #160

What is Zoox? That was the question the local startup community was pondering when it received $1 billion dollar valuation last year, after reports Kentley-Klay’s self-driving car startup was operating in “stealth mode”.

The rich list estimates his net worth to be $470 million, but not a great deal is known about the robotics company Kentley-Klay co-founded in 2014 with engineer Jesse Levinson — the company’s website even remains a holding page.

Tony and Christina Quinn ($463 million), VIP Petfoods, Darrell Lea — #162 and #163

The Quinns sold their V.I.P Petfoods business for more than $400 million in 2015, but that was by no means the end of their entrepreneurial journey. The pair are focused on rebuilding troubled chocolate retailer Darrell Lea, which Tony Quinn told AAP at the time he was excited to do: “Let’s have some fun. Let’s fix this thing”, he told media when he bought the business.

Quinn also owns two race tracks in New Zealand.

Ori Allon ($364 million), Compass — #193

Ori Allon became an Australian citizen during his university studies in Melbourne, and is currently based in New York. The real estate app he co-founded in 2013, Compass, has hit a $US 1 billion valuation and promises to be “a revolution” in US real estate brokerage.

Owen Kerr ($342 million), Pepperstone — #200

Rounding out this year’s 200 is 33-year-old debutante Owen Kerr, whose foreign exchange brokerage platform Pepperstone was founded in 2010, when he was just 26.

Based in Melbourne, the platform has offices in Shanghai, Dallas, London and Bangkok. Kerr has previously told SmartCompany “perseverance is key” when building up any business, and credited his partnership with Pepperstone co-founder Joe Davenport as a key part of the company’s success.

“I don’t think we each could have done this by ourselves,” he told SmartCompany in 2014. “We play to each other’s strengths, we both have areas we do well in [and] we definitely share the responsibilities.”

Read an overview of the Australian Financial Review‘s 2017 Rich List here.

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Emma Koehn

Emma Koehn is a former senior journalist at SmartCompany.

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