Tech-driven, people-first companies dominate the Smart50 class of 2017

Smart50 Awards

Smart50 finalist CK Recruitment.

The fast-growing SMEs in this year’s Smart50 Awards come from a variety of walks of life. But the majority have two things in common: their growth is being driven by technology and the people they employ.

This is the 11th year of the Smart50 Awards, which recognise Australia’s top 50 fastest growing SMEs. The awards, which were presented in Melbourne on Thursday night at the RMIT Media Portal, were supported by premium sponsor Mastercard, along with Austrade, Your Brand Unleashed, We Make Online Video and RMIT.  

Sydney-based Insurance-tech startup Cover Genius has taken out first position in this year’s awards, thanks to a massive three-year revenue growth rate of 2606%.

Founded in 2012 with a global outlook from day one, Cover Genius generated $13.6 million in revenue in the last financial year and and founders Angus McDonald and Christopher Bayley have their eyes on further expansion.

In second place this year is recruitment company CK Recruitment, with an overall growth rate of 933%, followed by human resource data specialist Xref in third place with a three-year growth rate of 510%.

CK Recruitment co-founder Kylie Hayes shared a sentiment held by many of this year’s Smart50 finalists when she explained how her company “value[s] the clients and employees equally and focus on their satisfaction rather than the bottom line.”

The Smart50 finalist with the largest revenue this year is TorFX, with a whopping $888 million recorded in 2016-17.

Combined, this year’s 50 finalists booked more than $1.57 billion in revenue for the 2016-17 financial year, which is similar to $1.56 billion in 2015-16 and more than $737 million in 2014-15.

As was the case last year, this year’s finalists were ranked according to overall growth over a three-year period, which differs from previous years in which an average annual growth rate was calculated for a three-year period.

To make the Smart50 list, companies must have recorded revenue of more than $500,000, and achieved revenue growth, during the past three financial years.

The industries most well represented on this year’s list are retail and technology, with the list also featuring a number of companies from the sport, marketing, financial services and human resources sectors.

Once again, there are a number of familiar faces on this year’s list, including National Crime Check, which has now made the Smart50 for four consecutive years, and is this year’s winner of the Smart and Lasting hall of fame award. Other returning finalists include for kids, MyDeal, Hunter Mason, Mountain Bikes Direct and Hipages.

The majority of businesses on this year’s list were established in or before 2010, with 28 of the businesses on this list at least seven years old. Twenty-two of the businesses were established after 2010.

The east coast has once again dominated the Smart50 list, with 27 of this year’s finalists hailing from New South Wales. Twelve of the 2017 finalists are based in Victoria, and eight are based in Queensland. The list features two South Australian businesses and one from Western Australia. for kids has once again been named Top Exporter, taking out the award for the second year running.

Super Easy Storage scooped up the award for Top Franchise, and Tentworld was named Top Retailer.

This year’s Top Innovator award went to Easy Signs, while Empower Wealth won the new award for Top Marketer. Superdraft was named Top Regional business, in another one of this year’s new award categories.

The Community Hero Award was shared by Booktopia and Hipages.

The 2017 Smart50 Awards were presented at RMIT’s Media Portal in Melbourne’s CBD, with attendees at the event hearing from Small Business Minister Michael McCormack via a video presentation, as well as Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Kate Carnell and chief executive of the Council of Small Business of Australia, Peter Strong.

To see the full Smart50 list, click here.

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