Mark Livings (37), Mick Hall (41)
- Head office
New South Wales
Manufacturing, transport and logistics
Both the founders of BrandLink were working with multinational companies before catching the entrepreneurial bug, with Mark Livings at Coca-Cola and Mick Hall with Pernod Ricard. But like so many business owners, the two marketing professionals could see a gap in the market, and decided to have a crack.
That gap was in the logistics space, and in 2012, the two founders decided to put their marketing smarts to use in an unusual fashion, starting up Australia’s first third-party logistics company with a heavy marketing and software focus.
However, it wasn’t all bells and whistles for the two founders in the early days of BrandLink, with the two running without revenue and without clients for an entire year, subsisting off only the earnings the two had from another business.
“Much of this business we got off the ground after hours and on weekends. We would run our marketing agency during the day, then whiteboard software, workflows and systems long into the night,” the two say.
“Our first employee (a coder) would work late into the night, sleep for most of the day, then meet us in the evening to continue building the software.”
The two say keeping their end-goal in sight while they wantonly burnt through cash in the business’ formative days was very hard, but they found their partnership with each other “priceless”, as they were able to share concerns and reassure each other the business would succeed.
And their persistence paid off, with BrandLink posting a $10 million turnover for the past financial year and a three-year growth figure of 453%. The two founders now manage a team of 28 staff, but note they are highly selective in who they hire, having been burnt before on “weak links” in their business structure.
“We’ve found one weak link in the chain can untie months of work, so we carefully select those we employ, and do business with,” they say.
BrandLink was also recognised in last year’s Smart50 awards, where the business came in eighth, and the founders say their placement in the list was a great boon to the business in terms of press coverage and promotion.
“It validates that you’re running a thriving, scaling, successful business and I have no doubt it’s assisted us in winning more business,” they say.