Smart 30 Under 30 2019
Friday, May 24, 2019/
From vegan bakers to multinational startup unicorns, the founders on this year’s Smart 30 Under 30 are some of the brightest sparks in Australian business.
Each year, SmartCompany compiles a list of entrepreneurial superstars who are 30 or younger, each who we think are the future of business in Australia. They’re innovative, they’re socially conscious, they’re smart as hell, and we’re confident it won’t be the last time you hear about them.
The entrepreneurs on this year’s list were selected by the SmartCompany editorial team, with some being nominated by the business community, and some being familiar faces readers might have seen featured in articles, or even on last year’s list.
While lists in previous years have been ranked from one through to 30, we’re changing it up this year, with these entrepreneurs and the 30 companies they represent unranked and in no particular order.
So grab a cuppa and prepare to feel inspired (and maybe a little insignificant). Here is SmartCompany’s Smart 30 Under 30 for 2019.
Company: Sked Social
Hugh Stephens has come a long way from his first “idiotic” product.
The mastermind behind what was once known as Schedugram has built a successful business after coming up with a convoluted (yet effective) way to circumvent Instagram’s closed API: strapping 200 phones to a board and using them to semi-manually create and post ‘grams for his clients.
Today the business is known as Sked Social, and has expanded its remit beyond just Instagram scheduling, offering Facebook scheduling as well. Despite the company’s growth and apparent success in its niche, Stephens is a staunch supporter of the ‘indie’ way of growing companies, preferring to take things slow and steady rather than scaling like crazy.
“Growth of 40% overnight would be a nightmare for us, as with our post-delivery aspect it would be very challenging. We’re here for slow organic growth, and that suits everyone in the business. Plus, it makes it much easier to hire.
“It’s definitely a different model to what founders might usually be used to. The bottom line is a very important aspect, and you have to cover payroll and cashflow and all those fun things you don’t really have to worry about with a VC-funded startup.
“It was clear from early on what sort of business I wanted to run. I could have poured a tonne of VC into it and it might have accelerated the business, or it might have killed it,” he said.
However, the business has run into trouble in recent times, with Instagram and Facebook suddenly cutting access to its product, leading to Stephens fighting the giants in court.
As director of communications at HR and payroll startup Flare, marketing mentor at the Microsoft accelerator, and former number one Medium blogger in the Asia Pacific region, Joan Westenberg has long been a thought leader and respected voice in the Aussie startup scene.
She may have closed the door on her long-running marketing advice blog, but she’s still a champion of early-stage startups, an industry influencer and — perhaps most importantly — a fierce proponent for diversity in the tech space.
In February this year, Westenberg penned a blog for StartupSmart, detailing her experience coming out as a transgender woman while working at Flare, and telling an emotional story of the acceptance and support she found there.
On the other hand, however, she’s not afraid to call out startups getting it wrong. When Up co-founder Grant ‘Thomo’ Thomas appeared in a transphobic video, Westenberg publicly pointed out the error of his ways, and questioned “the distinction between a startup and its founders”.
“Can I reach a point at which I am able to separate what the founder is building from what the founder believes?” she wrote.
“Even if I can, why should I?”
Somewhat of a “silent achiever” in Australia’s tech scene, Tyroola is a fast-growing business servicing the largely unenticing tyre industry, offering a tech solution for customers looking to buy and install new car tyres.
Launched in 2015 and founded by Zed Klingenberg alongside Andi Voss and Matt Bokhorst, Tyroola has grown to be sizeable and thriving business, helped in part by a partnership with retail heavyweight SuperCheap Auto back in 2017.
Since then, the company has also started expansion internationally, including automotive-heavy markets such as Indonesia, and continued to roll out its services locally through over 600 vetted independent fitting centres through Australia.
The company has done much of this growth off its own steam, having received no VC investment, and Klingenberg puts some of this growth down to the company’s streamlined online tyre shopping model.
“The online business model allows us to be leaner in the cost structure than the brick and mortars businesses, not having costs such as rent, sales staff, building maintenance, warehousing, stock management and devaluation, etc., therefore allowing us to pass our efficiencies directly to the consumers,” he told SmartCompany in 2017.
Company: Emergent and s p a c e
By now, most people in Australia’s business ecosystem would have heard of Holly Ransom. A Smart 30 regular, Ransom has been praised by Richard Branson, interviewed Barack Obama, established a successful corporate consulting firm, and launched a brand new festival-esque conference called space.
Ransom told SmartCompany earlier this year her time interviewing Obama was “the most daunting thing”, but resulted in her finding strengths she didn’t know she had.
“I found that this was something I could be doing at this level, this is what the top of my game looks like,” she said at the time.
But in recent months, Ransom has been pouring her time and effort into space, a new kind-of-festival, kind-of-startup conference, which ran this week in Australia’s idyllic Byron Bay. Ransom said the idea behind the conference was to “change up the conversation”, with speakers deciding on their schedule and topics on arrival, rather than preparing beforehand.
“We want to break down the echo chambers in industry and create a dialogue about future-proofing Australia. We need to have a conversation about the questions no-one is asking,” she says.
Ransom has made much of her success from working closely with local and international corporates, and advises businesses to follow suit, saying the opportunities are plentiful, given you know how to find them.
“Find ways to be introduced to them informally, and don’t just think about it once a year. Make it a habit to get a coffee every week and do a bit of networking.”
Company: Bray Marketing
Last year, serial entrepreneur Ronan Bray wrote in SmartCompany: “Starting your own business is a huge sacrifice.”
But, looking at Bray’s journey, you’d barely know it. The founder has managed to launch three separate businesses and then exit two of them, all before the age of 30.
Plus, this was all done while holding down a full-time marketing job.
The secret, according to Bray, is in part due to who you know and what you know, saying constant networking and personal development were key parts in making his side-hustles work.
“Your startup will become more and more expensive as you develop, and more so if you’re outsourcing everything. Learn as much as you can about the areas you’re looking to outsource so you don’t have to,” Bray wrote.
“Network as much as possible. This was my biggest area of weakness and it’s taken me far too long to appreciate its value. Attend meetings, seminars, workshops, and where possible, see if you can be the presenter.”
Bray is also a big supporter of more ‘traditional’ marketing methods, saying persistent cold-calling helped his (since sold) company Jobs and Services in its early days.
Company: Academic Transcription
Landing at number 46 on 2018’s Smart50 list, founder of Academic Transcription Laura Meldon says she never expected to be running a business with 20 employees at the age of 27.
“Going from freelancing to actually running a small business, then suddenly a really big business, has been learning curves every step of the way — more like a learning slippery slide really,” she says.
“It is such a privilege to grow and expand.”
Meldon’s company provides transcription services to the disability support units of Australian universities, and has seen a 69% growth in revenue over the past three years, pulling in $1.56 million in the most recent financial year.
The company is used in more than 28 universities across the country, including leaders such as the University of Melbourne and the University of Sydney. The company even received a $300,000 investment from investor Glen Richards on the most recent season of Shark Tank.
Academic Transcription also boasts a team of 94% women, including a number of mums and carers, with one-third affected by disabilities.
“It is our passion and goal to provide working opportunities to these Aussie professionals who just need a company willing to work with them to meet their flexible working needs, and it’s our privilege to have them on our team.”
A woman who needs little introduction, Lucy Liu is co-founder of Australia’s most recently-crowned unicorn, Airwallex.
Liu founded the cross-border payments startup alongside co-founders Jack Zhang, Xijing Dai and Max Li in Melbourne in 2015.
Just four years later, Airwallex has raised more than $US200 million ($291 million) in funding, and secured a valuation of more than $1 billion.
The startup may have grown very big, very fast, but “startup years are like dog years”, Liu told StartupSmart earlier this year.
“You have seven years’ worth of stuff in one year.”
Liu herself spent a couple of years working in the corporate environment before founding Airwallex, and encourages other aspiring founders to do the same, “so you see it from another perspective”.
However, she also encourages young people who feel they have an entrepreneurial spirit to take a leap and give it a go.
“Especially when you’re young, you can afford to make mistakes,” she said.
Company: She’s a Crowd
Making her second appearance in the Smart 30 Under 30 list, 28-year-old Zoe Condliffe is the founder of She’s a Crowd, a platform using storytelling to harness data that can influence the gender inequality debate.
She’s a Crowd allows survivors of sexual assault and victims of harassment to share their stories and experiences. At the same time, it builds up a bank of statistical data to help map public spaces, such as universities, to help combat crimes targeting women.
Condliffe participated in the SheStarts accelerator, appearing in a mini documentary series about the program last year. Now, women can share their stories from anywhere in the world, and the startup is working on implementing additional language capabilities.
Just this week, Condliffe pitched at the Melbourne Knowledge Week Open Innovation Challenge, a competition looking for ways to improve safety in the city.
She’s a Crowd took home the international prize for her application of She’s a Crowd technology, specifically to improve safety for women cyclists. Now, she will be jetting off to the Bundung Institute of Technology in Indonesia, to work on expanding the solution outside of Australia.
After spending time in San Francisco with SheStarts, Condliffe says she was at times “questioning the validity of my business”.
“But coming back, I was like ‘no’, I’m on to something. I’m doing the right thing and I’m on the right path,” she said in SheStarts’ mini-documentary.
“I feel like, more than I ever have in my life, I’ve found my thing. Every day I wake up and I feel like I know what I’m out in the world to do, and I’m doing it.”
The app-development industry has been plagued with issues in the past few years, with big-name players such as Appster and Buzinga crashing and burning amidst broken promises and stretched business models.
This hasn’t been the case for Michael MacRae, who founded Appetiser with business partner Jamie Shostak in 2016, entering a mature market with the goal of “revolutionising and modernising the app-development process” by putting more control back into the hands of the client.
The company has tripled in size and revenue over the past two years, with a team of 65 developers and designers, including ex-Apple and Samsung employees.
MacRae has also locked in contracts with a number of big-name clients, including Youfoodz, Roamni and Accent Group.
Disability support provider Hireup has had its fair share of successes.
The company’s three-year revenue growth at the end of 2017 was up over 7,700%. It won Deloitte’s Technology Fast 50 in the same year, and Westpac’s Businesses of Tomorrow award last year.
It’s even won a $1 million grant from Google through the tech giant’s Impact Challenge.
Now Hireup, and its brother and sister founding duo Laura and Jordan O’Reilly, can add another accolade to their belt, landing a spot in this year’s Smart 30 list.
Jordan told SmartCompany at the end of last year the goal of his peer-to-peer disability support platform was to eventually be the “number one provider of homecare and support in Australia”, and is in the process of slowly rolling out to more states and territories as it expands.
Despite the company’s gig economy-esque model of hiring and sourcing carers for people living with disabilities, O’Reilly was adamant his company wasn’t the ‘Uber of’ anything.
“Emerging models don’t have a sophisticated vocabulary for describing them, and its comparison to other companies often doesn’t help people understand how we work,” O’Reilly said at the time.
“I know that the vocab is still evolving, but we’re worlds away from being just another Uber of the world.”
In the hotly contested world of women’s fashion retail, standing out from the pack can be a struggle.
However, Tram Tran, founder of Koogal, has managed to do just that through the savvy use of lesser-known social network Pinterest, which drives a massive 70% of the company’s revenue
“We were utilising all forms of social media, but I noticed most of our social traffic was coming from Pinterest,” she said.
“As we grew, I saw that traffic from a pin lasts much longer than traffic from a Facebook or Instagram post. For example, a pin with 500 repins could generate 10 times the amount of traffic from an Instagram post with 500 likes.”
The founder started Koogal as an eBay business side-job at the age of 16, but after finishing uni and holding down a few part-time jobs, Tran decided to launch Koogal properly in 2013.
The business has grown over 500% from 2015 to 2018 and boasts more than 60,000 followers between Facebook and Instagram, with the founder encouraging SMEs to get creative with the social channels they use.
Company: Alissa Dinallo Design
After years working in-house as a book designer for Allen and Unwin and Penguin Random House, award-winning designer Alissa Dinallo set out on her own, starting an independent design studio in 2015.
Since then, the designer has continued to make a name for herself, creating covers for authors such as Dr Karl, Nakkiah Lui and even controversial The Bachelor contestant Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins.
Dinallo won the Australian Book Designer’s Association (which she is now vice-president of) award for Young Designer of the Year in 2015, and last year landed herself on the 2018 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the arts category.
In an interview with Writers Edit, Dinallo said the hardest part of her work was finding harmony between her creative work and the commercial side of book designing.
“This is purely because this is when the ‘creativity’ and ‘artistic’ aspects of being a book designer are usually reigned in. This is definitely where you learn to put your own ego/design-self aside and do what’s best for the book. I.e. what is going to sell the most copies. Even if it means making the type red when it really does look better blue,” she said.
“At the end of the day, this is what makes my job such a great challenge — trying to find that harmony between my own creativity and the commercial world.”
Company: Lonely Kids Club
Purveyor of fresh threads Warwick Levy has come a long way from his early days of selling clothes out of tupperware containers.
The founder of cult-followed ethical fashion brand Lonely Kids Club has seen his business grow over 50% year-on-year, turning from a side-hustle into a full-time job, and thriving through a focus on mental health, quality, and the occasional Danny Devito meme.
The business has succeeded through a mix of viral marketing and word-of-mouth, along with collaborations with up-and-coming Australian and international designers.
However, Levy told SmartCompany his dedication to the business had led to some mental health struggles of his own, and prompted him to try and separate his personal life from his business life.
“Mental health has been a tough one for me, and that’s probably why it’s reflected so strongly in the brand. It’s really challenging working for yourself with no boss telling you what to do, and what you’re doing right and wrong,” he says.
“I get very bogged down in monitoring sales, so it’s been a tough journey for me recently to take a step back from that and enjoy life a bit more. I want to look back on my 20s and say I enjoyed it, rather than think about that time I missed out on $1,000 of sales.”
Company: BOP Industries
Scott Millar started his entrepreneurial journey selling 3D-printed hashtag keyrings at his local market, under the appropriately named company Buy Our Products (BOP) Industries.
Today, while the name may not have changed, the product has, with Millar undertaking the pivot to end all pivots and beginning to sell displays which facilitate Star Wars-like holographic projections for education, marketing and corporate purposes.
At the ripe age of just 19, Millar told SmartCompany his journey has, at times, left him feeling a bit in over his head.
“I was sitting with one of the biggest marketing companies in Brisbane and they were asking me for 200,000 of the devices for an event next week,” Millar said last year.
“It was at that point, being grilled on my supply chain, I realised there was serious demand for this new and exciting tech in a simple and easy to use way.”
BOP has fielded requests from Europe and US for its products, and the founder recently completed a run through the Queensland University of Technology’s creative tech Collider accelerator, something he said he hoped would help him scale his business.
“It’s my and my team’s first startup, so we’re still learning as we’re going. While we still had processes and systems in place to help us scale, I’m hoping Collider will teach us how to scale a lot more smoothly, and build a really scalable business,” he said at the time.
Serena Lee is co-founder and director of Farmwall, a vertical farming startup using aquaponic principles to bring greenery to city spaces, such as offices, workplaces and schools, as well as allowing cafes to grow the freshest of fresh produce on site.
Alongside co-founder Geert Hendrix, Lee heads up the social enterprise agtech, focusing on turning cities into food-producing ecosystems, in the most sustainable way.
Last year, Farmwall partnered with portfolio management group Mirvac to launch the Cultivate project, a venture creating pop-up urban farming experiences and bringing plant energy to city spaces.
Cultivate has now installed urban farms in two office spaces, including in Westpac’s Sydney HQ, and also has its systems in a number of well-known Sydney and Melbourne cafes, including Higher Ground and Top Paddock.
The partnership has seen Lee uproot from Melbourne to Sydney, and has ultimately led to Mirvac becoming an investor in the startup.
Company: Microsoft for Startups and M8 Ventures
Having already co-founded AI computer vision business Jemsoft, Emily Rich is now not only managing director at Microsoft for Startups and a partner at Startmate, but also partner at early-stage venture fund M8 Ventures.
Jemsoft was acquired in 2017, and since then, Rich has been an angel investor, a mentor and an advisor for other startups.
M8 Ventures, launched with fellow startup guru Alan Jones, strives to take a personal approach to investing, getting to know the founders and the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of their vision. The aim is for Rich and Jones to utilise their product and technical expertise to invest in promising startup at the earliest, pre-seed stage, before anyone else gets there.
Rich joined Microsoft in June last year, to lead its startup initiative in Australia. In a Medium post at the time, Rich said she will be advocating for collaboration between the tech giant and startups.
“But, most importantly my focus will be on building partnerships with Australia’s wider community to support and grow fantastic startup companies,” she wrote.
Serial entrepreneur Jaryd Koenigsmann was inspired to create myNewPet after his own puppy, Jerry, almost died due to neglect from his breeder and the vet who gave him the all-clear him to travel at three weeks old.
Previously, Koenigsmann founded cryptocurrency exchange myCryptoWallet. Having already secured access to government-level know-your-customer certification, he was able to verify the identity of buyers and sellers.
Buyers can purchase a dog and get an instant price for delivery, and the money goes into escrow until the pup is delivered safe, sound and healthy.
The service is also available free of charge for organisations and individuals offering re-homing for pets.
The startup is still in beta mode, but Koenigsmann has secured partnerships with The International Pet and Animal Transportation Association and dog transport business Dogtainers.
He’s also currently raising $2 million to support growth in the UK and New Zealand.
“The end goal is to create an international pet purchase and transfer network, so you could be in Australia and buy a pet from the UK, and have confidence it will reach your home safely,” he said.
Moses Huf-Tirfe and Hamish Drummond
Age: Both 16
Company: Eutropia Aerospace
These 16-year-olds are running a pretty successful side-hustle, considering they haven’t finished high school yet.
Moses Huf-Tirfe and Hamish Drummond founded Eutropia Aerospace off the back of a school project, when they realised no one in the industry was building reusable rockets powered by hybrid fuel.
They’re already running test flights and developing refined versions of their prototype rockets, and in February this year, the pair won Startup Victoria’s spacetech-themed pitch night, taking home a raft of prizes including a spot in an Austrade Landing Pads program.
At the pitch night, Troy McCann, founder of spacetech network Moonshot, said the judges were “absolutely gobsmacked” by the teenage founders.
“These are 16-year-old kids, building rockets in their garage — there’s not much more startup-y you can get than that,” McCann said.
“These guys, keep an eye on them, because they are going to do something amazing one day,” he added.
Simon Harman is co-founder of blockchain startup Loki, which earlier this year became the first Australian blockchain digital-privacy platform to become registered as a charity.
Loki provides privacy tools for blockchain communications, using decentralised protocols to remove most messaging data. Users are rewarded for using the platform with the LOKI token, the startup’s own cryptocurrency.
Speaking to StartupSmart in April, Harman said the team started considering the possibility of applying for charity status before embarking on it’s $9 million ICO in early-2018, which left it facing a huge capital gains tax bill.
The founders wanted to use as much of the funds as possible to develop their product, Harman explained.
“We realised that the mission of Loki was quite clearly oriented towards advancing privacy for human rights and educational reasons,” he said.
Now, Loki is rolling out beta tests, with the aim to launch its full product towards the end of the year.
“Once that comes to bear, we’ll be changing from a full product mindset to a full go-to-market strategy,” Harman said.
Pegged to become one of the next superstars of Australian VC, Tip Piumsomboon joined Blackbird Ventures as an analyst last year.
The move followed a stint working in equities investment analysis in New Zealand, and a year heading up analysis at Sydney startup Simply Wall St.
Back in 2015, Piumsomboon also founded Young Women in Finance, a networking, learning and events network that now has more than 700 registered members across the world.
Now, she’s an advocate for founders building their own path and trying to add value to the world, and, if we’ve heard right, she’s one to keep an eye on.
Company: Lumi Interactive
Lauren Clinnick is one of three co-founders of Lumi Interactive, a women-founded developer that takes a data-driven, community-focused approach to mobile gaming.
Clinnick and co-founder Katie Stegs previously headed up a marketing and PR consultancy in the games industry, but partnered up with Christina Chen to fill what they saw as a gap in the market, even though none of them had any traditional games development or computer science training.
“We have collected that excellence around us,” Clinnick told StartupSmart at the time.
Before the official launch of Lumi’s first game, Critter Clash, the startup secured half a million pre-registered players, all without any spend on advertising.
And Lumi already has more games in the pipeline, with the team looking into the opportunities in Facebook Instant Games, and considering partnering with other games with a focus on wellbeing.
“There will definitely be a lot more you will see from us this year,” Clinnick said.
“This is us before we explode.”
It’s been a big 12 months for Nexba founders Troy Douglas and Drew Bilbe, who both featured on our Smart 30 list last year.
Since then, the duo who founded the sugar-free soft drink business back in 2011 has launched in the United Kingdom and is even considering a move into the United States.
Going global may be their next step, but Nexba is still kicking goals at home, booking solid sales in the aisles of Coles and Woolworths nationwide.
The business delivered a 156% increase in revenue year-on-year for the 2017-18 financial year and is seeking to top that in 2019-20, taking advantage of a recently announced sugar tax in the UK.
Riding the healthy drinking wave, Douglas and Bilbe have most recently begun releasing a new 1L Kombucha range into Woolworths supermarkets nationally, opting for flavours like mixed berry, elderflower lemon and strawberry & peach.
The company also recently locked in a multi-million dollar investment from LGBTQ-focused investor Gaingels.
“Having groups like Gaingels which exist to break down these barriers gives founders a lot more confidence in who they are, I think it’s a really positive avenue for investors and businesses,” Douglas told SmartCompany.
“It needs to become a non-issue. No one in business should ever have to care about their sexual preference.”
Company: Hello Molly
Echo Liu founded online fashion retailer Hello Molly back in 2012, riding the e-commerce wave from $50,000 in initial investment to $20 million in annual revenue within just a few years.
E-commerce isn’t the same game as it was back then, with established retail players catching up and international brands putting downward pressure on margins.
But with a strong brand, loyal social media following and unique value proposition, Hello Molly remains one of the most prominent online retail businesses in Australia.
“We knew early on there was no point in stocking too many basics and casual clothes when the likes of big players such as Cotton On and Sportsgirl already had that market covered,” she told SmartCompany.
“If you want a basic pair of jeans or a t-shirt, go elsewhere, but if you need something for a wedding, the races, or even just a night out with the girls, we have you covered.”
Liu has responded to shifting market trends as late by investing in swimwear, launching a line in November last year that exposed her business to a $28 billion market.
Meanwhile, innovative marketing strategies that have seen university students in NSW participate in spin and win giveaways have helped keep the brand fresh on the ground.
Twenty-five-year-old entrepreneur Jessica Koncz’s company might have only recently launched, but the founder is already pitching it as a “unicorn-sized” business.
Her ‘Tinder for food’ restaurant app Eatsee had its global growth kickstarted after it won a spot in Uber investor Jason Calcanis’ LAUNCH accelerator, giving the founder the opportunity to pitch to hungry US venture capitalists, which is a bigger sell than Koncz was used to.
“You have to take whatever your current goal is, and multiply it by 10. You also have to be super forward-thinking about how big your company can get, and then sell them on that vision,” she told StartupSmart.
An example of that vision is global restaurant rating platform Yelp, worth nearly one billion dollars, which Koncz believes Eatsee could be as valuable as one day.
The startup is hoping to close a $2 million round while it’s on the ground in San Francisco, along with signing up a number of restaurants as launch partners.
The founder is confident customers will be keen to swipe right on her startup idea.
“I’ve done a lot of market research, and no one’s doing the same platform as us. Every other food platform is focused on delivery, and we’re trying to do the polar opposite.”
Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett
Company: Orange Sky Laundry
Age: Both 25
So far this week, Orange Sky Laundry has washed 984 loads of washing for the over 115,000 people in Australia experiencing homelessness.
Now stalwarts of Australia’s for-purpose sector, Nicholas Marchesi and Lucas Patchett founded Orange Sky in late-2014, installing watching machines and dryers in the back of an old van and visiting parks around Brisbane.
Five years later, Orange sky has almost 30 vehicles in Australia and operates 240 shifts across the country every week, hitting 22 cities. The company has also won $1 million in funding from tech giant Google as part of its Impact Challenge.
So far they’ve washed 101,917 loads and counting, and have also provided almost 9,000 warm showers.
It doesn’t just stop at Australia either, in recent years the operation has expanded into New Zealand and the United States, helping homeless people across the world.
Crucially, however, Orange Sky does much more than just wash clothes, it also engages with people experiencing homelessness, and in the last week, has clocked up more than a thousand hours of conversation with those it’s helping.
“Homelessness shouldn’t be as big of a problem as it is. There’s a disconnect and inefficiency in not-for-profits generally in how they operate,” Patchett told SmartCompany last year.
Company: Koala Mattresses
Dany Milham managed to upstage every retail competitor in the country when he launched Koala Mattresses back in 2015, and he did so while funnelling money into conservation efforts.
Together with co-founder Mitch Taylor, Milham worked sleepless nights on an in-house technology platform that enabled them to say something very special to customers. That being a mattress, delivered from their warehouse to your house within three hours in most Australian capital cities.
Ultra-fast delivery is becoming more common now, but back in 2015, three-hour turnarounds were exceptionally rare, expensive and weren’t even on the radar of bulky goods retailers.
As a standout success of matress-in-a-box retailing Down Under, Milham has built on the success of his business, branching out into new verticals like furniture by leveraging the essentials of his existing offer with new products.
And it gets better: the arguably best pound-for-pound batsman in the world, Steve Smith, is a backer of the business.
In a code where players have made some historically questionable business decisions, Smith and Koala stand out.
Everyone loves doughnuts.
And Sina Klug’s achievement has been, in the words of her customers, creating a doughnut that people with Coeliac disease — about 1 in 70 Aussies — can eat that also doesn’t taste like wall filler.
Started in Balmain in Sydney, before expanding into Melbourne, Nutie has carved a sizable niche out for itself, harnessing the full power of social media platforms such as Instagram.
So much so, the company’s website is actually just a picture of their logo and a few doughnuts. Instagram is where it’s all happening for this company.
Klug, a self-taught baker, works in the business actively, developing allergy-friendly vegan products for customers with business partner Jacques Dumont.
“Gluten-free baking can be incredibly complicated until you find out which nuts, flours and starches react which way,” Klug told Broadsheet.
“We used to stay up all night trying to create our doughnut recipe. So many batches ended up in the bin.”
They don’t just do doughnuts though. From cakes to cookies and gnocchi scrolls with kale pesto, there’s something for everyone.
In for lunch? You can expect everything from cauliflower pizza and buddha bowls to soups and sandwiches.
Founded in 2016, Catalysr has grown to prominence as a pre-accelerator for early-stage startups, focusing specifically on migrant entrepreneurs.
Describing itself as a community of hackers, engineers, hustlers, scientists and business moguls, the company has helped more than 100 migrant entrepreneurs create 30 businesses.
Individuals or small teams with startup ideas apply to the pre-accelerator, which helps them build their business until it’s ready to embark on its next stage, including getting investment.
As recently as this week, Iftikhar took the lead in supporting the Foundation for Young Australians at the G20 Young Entrepreneurs Alliance summit in Japan.
“There is so much we can do both globally and locally to improve conditions for young entrepreneurs, and we’re excited to champion it,” Iftikhar said. Leading a delegation of 11 entrepreneurs, Catalysr met with the Australian Trade and Investment Commission in Tokyo and Fukuoka before the summit.
Iftikhar has also rubbed shoulders with royalty, being presented the Commonwealth Young Person of the Year last year by Prince Harry. The entrepreneur also runs Space is Easy, a spacetech company focusing on the democratisation of outer space.
Company: Share with Oscar
Along with co-founder Lisa Qi, Louise Chen founded and heads up Share with Oscar, a startup striving to curb parking problems in busy cities by letting people loan out their driveways and garages. This is the second time the duo has made the Smart 30 list, snagging a spot last year too.
The startup is focused on making use of the sharing economy to create smarter, more sustainable and less congested cities, with a focus on community engagement.
Drivers can search for spaces and book online, be it for an hour or two, or for a longer-term park. For users, it provides an Airbnb-style income, without the effort of changing the sheets.
Born out of the founders’ frustration when trying to park at Bondi Beach, Share with Oscar is now available in suburbs all over Sydney, and took home the award for Best Mobile App startup at StartCon last year.
As for the name ‘Share with Oscar’, Chen told Dynamic Business the reason behind it is more simple than you’d think.
“Lisa and I are big advocates of the sharing economy and sharing assets that are under-utilised to create smarter, greener cities, and that’s where the ‘Share’ comes in,” she said.
“We also wanted to imbue the app with a friendly, reliable, trustworthy persona that looks after the community of sharers. We both thought the name ‘Oscar’ fit the bill.”
Company: The Linq
Since founding her personalised advisory business, Taylor Hawkins has helped entrepreneurs across the country realise growth potential in their companies.
Also the global vice head of business development for 180 Degrees Consulting, Hawkins founded The Linq in 2016 with a focus on one-to-one sessions with other founders and entrepreneurs.
Hawkins also offers pro bono advisory for founders focusing on social impact who would otherwise not be able to afford a business consultant.
An advocate for female entrepreneurs, Hawkins has worked with a myriad of female business leaders in recent years, including Dermal Diary owner Isabella Loneragan, Sqr One owner Ale Wiecek and Indah Day Spa owner Tessa Turner.
A founder herself, Hawkins has previously built businesses like Be Well Co. and Inclusion First, and now serves as head of growth and innovation for The Dream Collective.
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