Julie and Sali Stevanja of Stylerunner
Which home-grown business success stories will make the headlines in 2015?
This year was a whirlwind of a year for Australian small businesses, with a number of high profile collapses but also many wins – from floats to entrepreneurs scaling their businesses nationally and launching overseas.
Here is SmartCompany’s list of five growing businesses to keep an eye on in the new year.
Online activewear retailer Stylerunner scored a deal with US giant Lululemon Athletica last month, outrunning its competitors to reach a global audience.
The Sydney-based e-retailer ships products to 65 countries and turns over more than $2 million. It is one to watch as it continues to grow its reach both domestically and abroad by staying ahead of the pack.
Co-founder Julie Stevanja told SmartCompany the collaboration between Stylerunner and Lululemon occurred because her business was the first to market and is the “most advanced” in terms of a focus on premium, fashion-conscious activewear.
“Brands know their customers want to see their products in new ways, to show them how to style in cool and on-trend ways,” Stevanja said.
Online meal delivery service EatNow makes it onto the list for also knowing what their customers want: convenience and a delicious meal.
Matt Dyer founded EatNow in 2008 and in the time since, the company has become one of the largest online booking and delivery services in Australia. EatNow has more than 2500 restaurants onboard across the country and customers can get a meal delivered to their door in two clicks.
Watch this space, because the company is expecting its turnover to break the $100 million mark next year.
Social media is critical to scaling a business and engaging with customers, with more than 12 million Aussies logging onto Facebook regularly.
Online fashion retailer Showpo picked up the best use of social media award at this year’s SmartCompany Web Awards for not only its impressive amount of Facebook followers – 451,643 to be precise – but also the way it genuinely connects with users across multiple platforms.
Founded by Jane Lu in 2010, Showpo had a turnover of $7.5 million last year. The company’s rapid growth and policy of providing quality online content makes it one to watch in the new year.
Lu advises SmartCompany readers to “live and breathe” social media.
“Don’t palm it off to an intern, you need to understand it for yourself. Use it to give your company a voice and make it personable,” she says.
Danny Gorog started Melbourne-based app development company Outware with his co-founders while working part-time in a corporate job, and now the company turns over more than $9 million and counts ANZ, Seek and the AFL among its clients.
The company is rapidly growing and constantly hiring new team members. Outware is making waves with its ability to stay on top of digital trends and successful collaborate with large, established corporates.
Gorog told SmartCompany entrepreneurs should be aware of major developments in the tech sphere – particularly with new payment systems and wearable technology.
“In general, mobile is getting more important and more relevant,” he says.
“The platforms keep changing the hardware, it’s a very exciting time. I think Apple Pay, in terms of the payment space, is going to be insanely powerful … I think the watch will be as significant as the phone. The wearable stuff is coming like a big steam train.”
5. Hard To Find
Combining irresistible products with a beautiful, easy-to-use website is paying off for Erica Stewart and Trudi Jenkins – their online marketplace Hard To Find brings in $10.2 million in revenue.
Hard To Find came in at number seven in this year’s Smart50 Awards for tackling the changes in the retail space head-on. Co-founder Erica Stewart previously told SmartCompany the biggest challenge for the business is managing the IT process.
“We’ve learnt to iterate fast and frequently, analysing as we go and making those small, incremental changes that make all the difference to conversion rate and sales,” Stewart said.
The business is looking at tapping into the increase in mobile shopping by launching an app and focusing on responsive design in the near future, so watch this space.