Meet the 2012 Future Makers

featrue-future-200It appears not only are barriers such as technology and start-up capital coming crashing down for young Australian entrepreneurs, but also attitudes.

In compiling this year’s Future Makers – our annual selection of the most promising Aussie entrepreneurs aged under 25-years-old – one message came through time and again: Investors, business partners and customers just aren’t that bothered about age any more.

Maybe it’s the ‘Facebook effect’ of continual publicity of the fresh faced billionaires in Silicon Valley. Or maybe we are just ditching unnecessary prejudices regarding age. Maybe both.

Whatever the reason, it’s clear that it’s not startlingly unusual for someone to start a business while at university, gain a legion of customers via social media and raise seven-figure sums in investment before they are out of their teenage years.

So which tyros are at the vanguard of Australia’s young entrepreneurs? We’ve picked out 10 start-ups we believe are destined for great things based on their innovation, passion and success to date.

Here are the five of the top entries (for the full list, click here):

1. Whitney Komor

Conventional wisdom suggests that you need a solid set of figures and serious runs on the board before investors will even look sideways at your start-up.

But Komor’s business tale is far from conventional. The 24-year-old has raised serious investor cash – the figure is large but publicly undisclosed – using nothing else but “passion, energy and vision.”

“I think my age helped really, because the investors probably thought ‘she’s a generation Y entrepreneur – she must see something we can’t’,” she explains.

The Best Day was conceived by Komor after a frustrating experience organizing a social get-together.

Rather than an endless stream of emails, the website and app offering allows groups of friends to easily vote on an agreed plan. An upcoming feature will even enable groups to pay online collectively for venues or experiences, rather than one person having to cover the cost and be paid back afterwards.

Komor is in discussion with a number of big-name brands to install a widget on their websites to allow people to plan events with them directly. A percentage of the resulting income will go to Komor, acting as the business’ revenue stream.

Komor initially worked on The Best Day on the side while working for Coca-Cola. It wasn’t until a surge in interest, after some handy media coverage, that she realised she was onto a winner, getting seed funding off friends and family and completely overhauling the site to improve the offering.

“I want The Best Day to be the global platform for making plans,” she says. “It provides businesses with a really interesting way to connect with customers. I started the fundraising process as an exercise, really, but realised that there was great interest in the vision I had.”

2. Lachy Groom

  • 2-Lachy-GroomBusiness name: Cardnap
  • Age: 18
  • State: WA

Despite being just 18 years old, Lachy Groom has launched and sold three businesses. His fourth start-up, Cardnap, allows users to search for discounted gift cards and resell their own.

Groom also runs a consulting company called TheWP.Co, which uses WordPress to provide clients with a hands-on development process.

In addition, Groom has been handling all the PR, marketing and rebranding efforts of Dev Bootcamp, a nine-week apprenticeship program held in San Francisco.

Dev Bootcamp isn’t Groom’s only gig in the United States. He also works at Stripe, an online payments processor.

Earlier this year, Groom told StartupSmart Cardnap will not remain his main project, saying he’ll probably sell it off and turn his focus to “something in education or something else”.

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