$11.3 million




Rhys Hayes, 34, and James Turle

Head office


Year founded





Information and communication technology


From their early days starting out in a garage during the dotcom boom of the early 2000s, the founders of digital consulting company IE were passionate about the possibilities and potential of the digital platform for commerce.

IE founders Rhys Hayes and James Turle have since seen the many waves of digital disruption that have swept through the world of business, and grown their own company to the point of becoming one of Australia’s largest independent digital agencies, with an annual turnover of more than $11 million.

The initial impetus for starting up a digital agency was clear, according to Hayes.

“Simply put, a burning desire to create something of our own. There was no masterful plans for multi-million dollar exits, no VCs to call and no tech industry as we know it today. We loved the creative process and loved the fact that the internet provided the opportunity to rewrite the rules,” Hayes says.

And those rules have been well and truly rewritten, say Hayes. So much so that even the descriptor used to label what they do has almost become redundant.

“Drop the ‘digital’. We now live in a world where digital technology is the backbone of every industry and many ‘innovative services’ are becoming standard commodities that consumers expect,” he says.

Hayes says IE underwent a major overhaul in the past three years as it sought to redefine its focus and streamline the business for the sake of sustainability and longer term profitability.

The renewed focus on retail clients quickly paid off, with IE picking up big accounts such as Nike, Sass and Bide, and Sussan Group. The company is now looking at consolidating its position in retail while cherry picking suitable clients in other sectors.

“Having established the brand as a leader in retail, we are now focused on extending our services to other sectors to provide for additional growth in our core Melbourne marketplace,” Hayes says.

As founders Hayes and Turle have seen over the past 15 or so years, there is no place to hide from the changes brought about by technology – something the pair are heeding as they take their agency forward.

“The internet of things, machine learning, 3D printing and new forms of augmented reality are all building as new waves of disruption head towards today’s business leaders,” Hayes says.

“With that as a backdrop, the consultancy sector has had to adjust to an operating model of continuous research, analysis and adoption in order to stay relevant to our clients. These are indeed exciting times.”