Smallbiz Week kicked off in Melbourne last night at the Young Hero Awards dinner, with Benjemen Elengovan taking out the Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Elengovan is the founder of MyGigsters, a financial services platform for gig workers that aims to make the gig economy financially secure.
Upon accepting the award, Elengovan said that seven years ago, he himself was one of the waitstaff at events like Young Hero Awards, serving food and drinks to the guests.
He was fortunate, he said, to migrate to Australia and have the mentors and resources available to eventually start his own business.
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But there’s more that can be done with the visa process to make it easier for other migrants, too, he said, and more education is required in schools to encourage young individuals in the nation to take on a career in entrepreneurship.
“We can be the next Silicon Valley!” Elengovan said.
Other winners of the evening included:
- Startup of the Year: Emily Bobis of Compass IoT;
- Business Innovation Award: Dr Sam Donegan of Ally Assist;
- Best Marketing Award: Chrstie Ding of Brand Catalyser;
- Blockchain Award: Tristan Cole of Sempo;
- Innovator of the Year: Martin Karafilis of Tiliter;
- Fintech Founder Award: Saski Albers of Unhedged; and
- Tech Star Award: Emily Rich of Microsoft.
Recognising and celebrating the achievements of business leaders and entrepreneurs 35 years old and younger, the dinner featured a high-profile judging panel from major Australian companies including Blackmagic Design founder and CEO Grant Petty.
Previous award recipient and Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Harry Sanders, founder and CEO of Studio Hawk, also presented the opening keynote.
Naming sponsor Commonwealth Bank is presenting the Smallbiz Week, which is a three-day function consisting of 10 separate events.
On May 18-19, Smallbiz Week will open Australia’s largest small business expo at Marvel Stadium, with more than 100 exhibitors and 3000 delegates expected to attend.
Full list of Young Hero Awards nominees
Entrepreneur of the Year:
Julia Truong, creative director of JT. Production Management
Benjemen Elengovan, CEO and founder of MyGigsters
Camille Socquet-Clerc, CEO and founder of Bloom Impact Investing
Startup of the Year:
Bec Connolly, founder and director of Botanicals by Luxe
Aayushi Khillan, founder and managing director of Body Buddies
Thomas Fu, director and co-founder of Motor Culture Australia
Emily Bobis, founder of Compass IoT
Business Innovation Award:
Adel Shahin, head of marketing of Novatti
Alicia Holmquest, co-founder of WIRL
Dr Sam Donegan, CEO and director of Ally Assist
Best Marketing Award:
Judy Sahay, CEO of Crowd Media Group
Ellen Weigall, founder and director of BABY Pink Gin
Christie Ding, co-founder and head of client solutions of Brand Catalyser
Samira Tollo, chief technology officer of Elbaite
Danielle Marie, founder of She’s Blockchain Savvy
Tristan Cole, co-founder of Sempo
Innovator of the Year:
Sophia Hamblin Wang, chief operating officer of Mineral Carbonation International
Dominic Woolrych, CEO of Lawpath
Martin Karafilis, co-founder and chief operating officer of Tiliter
Fintech Founder Award:
Saskia Albers, chief operating officer and co-founder of Unhedged
Sam Brown, founder and CEO of Pelikin
Vincy Wong, head of ChinaPayments of Novatti
Jonathan Despinidic, co-founder of Sipora Pty Ltd
Aamir Qutub, Enterprise Monkey
Anthony Kwok, ZILIO
Emily Rich, Microsoft