THE team at Business News Australia has compiled a list of some of the Gold Coast's brightest young business minds, highlighting the achievements of 40 of the city's most bold and innovative business founders under the age of 40. 

The next generation of leaders have demonstrated tenacity, contributed to economic prosperity and proudly call the Gold Coast home.

The top 10 provides an insight into the Gold Coast's inventive and thriving manufacturing and wholesale industry, from skateboards to super-foods. Along with advancements in the technology sector.


1. Dwayne Martens, 31

Amazonia, 2008

IF EVER an entrepreneur embodied the definition of perseverance it would be Dwayne Martens, founder and CEO of health and nutrition company Amazonia.

Amazonia is among the most recognisable brands on the Australian health food scene, selling more than 40 tonnes of frozen Acai product under its signature purple flag each month.

Having pushed through major setbacks in the early days including a full closure, loss of product and diminished workforce due to the 2011 Brisbane floods, today Martens is proud to sit at the helm of his exotic-fruit empire.

"The biggest issue with a lot of entrepreneurs is that they just don't get in the game at all - those weird and wonderful fruits, all they did was get me into the game," says Martens.

"I'm so grateful for the amount of support we've had; we have a strong purpose behind our brand and I love that a lot of people feel that."

Following Amazonia's recent expansion into the European market, Martens is looking forward to the year ahead with a number of significant business developments in the pipeline.


2. Bradley Carr, 31

Ry.com.au, 2005

BRADLEY Carr founded Ry.com.au with business partner James Patten in 2005, latching onto the online shopping boom during its biggest spike.

With no starting capital to speak of, Carr's sharp eye for consumer trends alongside Patten's knowledge of the beauty industry transformed the business into a retail force.

Carr says his decision to break into the beauty industry was simply a matter of spotting the right demand and creating the supply, in defiance of the sceptics.

"In 2005 James owned a hair salon in Burleigh Heads, and at the time it was difficulty for the Australian consumer and others around the world to have direct access to professional haircare products," says Carr.

"Online shopping was booming internationally and we jumped at the chance to beat the trend in Australia by becoming the first online retailer to sell big brands GHD and Redken.

"While most companies thought people wouldn't buy their shampoo online, James and I knew that haircare and skincare were essentials that many won't live without."

Today, Ry stocks more than 9000 different products from about 400 brands.


3. Nik Mirkovic, 21, & Alex Tomic, 22

HiSmile, 2014

NIK Mirkovic and Alex Tomic are friends that share an intuitive understanding of social media, a passion for marketing and a desire to make their name in business.

Passionate about sport, the pair see business as an unlimited playing field.

After one year developing their teeth whitening product from scratch, the pair targeted the world's top beauty influencers, who duly spoke glowingly of the product.

Soon their devoted audiences were sinking their teeth into the product and, in only 18 months, the business has grown turnover to $10 million.

"We are big on Instagram and social media and we see influencers on there as very similar to the old model, where you saw brands such as Nike and Adidas leverage the profile of the world's biggest athletes," says Mirkovic.

"This is not something that is new, as there are social media stars who are hugely influential and brands are coming around to this."

Despite their global footprint, Mirkovic and Tomic see it as a priority to hire locals and will soon expand its staff to 50 on the Gold Coast alone.

4. Jeff Anning, 40

Evolve Skateboards, 2013

THE 2015 Trailblazer of the Year Jeff Anning is gliding all over the globe with his range of bamboo and carbon electric skateboards.

Evolve Skateboards is starting to make its mark in the lucrative US market, particularly with the release of its advanced GT series in May which sold out internationally in less than a day.

"It's been such a vast difference from what we've been selling with all the prototyping, production, making new moulds and finally bringing the marketing into play," Anning says.

"We've also been working closely with our network of distributors in the US to grow the brand in the market. It's growing big time over there.

"We're trying to move from online into the retail and wholesale game over there as well. The market is massive. We have the potential to sell so much in the US."

Anning and his wife Fleur are gearing up for a new phase of growth by strengthening partnerships with distributors and perfecting the production process.


5. Damien Stone, 40

water3, 2012

WHILE working in the beverage industry, Damien Stone was struck by the damaging effects of plastic waste to the environment.

He decided to become a part of the solution instead of the problem and launched water3, a social enterprise which has designed a high-tech water vending machine.

The system dispenses chilled spring water into reusable bottles using radio-frequency identification and an app to process payments. Plastic bottle waste is not only reduced, but the money is used to fund conservation projects across Australia.

"I've always wanted to do my own thing and I'm extremely passionate about innovation, the environment and our ocean," Stone says.

"While I don't think we are the complete 100 per cent answer to destroying the plastic bottled water market, we're a massive step in the right direction.

"Idealistically I hope we inspire a bunch more people to think about ways to make the world a better place."

The business has also secured capital investment to drive Stone's goal of eradicating single-use plastic.


6. Mark Foote, 32

LE Gear, 2013

FORMER insurance broker Mark Foote used his know-how in commerce to build a business around a government contract to supply equipment.

"I started trading as One Source Solutions in 2013, which is a specialised business designed to go after government contracts for police, military, specialist and offshore work," Foote says.

"Starting with a website and a very small government contract division, my previous business partner and I built it to where it is today."

LE Gear is now the leading online supplier of law enforcement, military, public safety and outdoor products in Australia, backed by three retail showrooms along the east coast. About 70 per cent of revenue comes from government contracts.

Foote has also developed a proprietary system to manage online orders and keep pace with growing demand from government bodies.


7. Shannon Overs, 37

onPlatinum ICT, 2012

A TECHNOLOGY lover with experience as a CIO of a listed company, Shannon Overs recognised an opportunity to create a full-service IT and marketing agency on the Gold Coast.

With a focus on solutions, rather than products, onPlatinum ICT helps businesses communicate internally, and with its clients.

"Over the past three years, onPlatinum ICT has grown from a simple idea to a company constantly growing and adding on new services with no signs of slowing down," Overs says.

"If the past three years are anything to go by, then keep an eye on us as we find new and innovative ways to help our clients transform, diversify and achieve business growth."

In this quickly moving space, Overs writes his own report card and only passes if he has developed two new services each year.

With its own IT infrastructure and staff based on the Gold Coast, onPlatinum ICT is well placed for further growth.


8. James Greig, 33

iVvy, 2009

JAMES Greig's online events marketplace, iVvy, has reached a critical point in its development.

This year, the portal took 10,000 bookings and that number will grow with the addition of more businesses using iVvy's software.

Already used by some of Australia's most well-known brands, including Wyndham and Flight Centre, the addition of 16 new sales staff in the coming year will bring the platform to many more users.

"Unlike travel, accommodation or most other industries, the events industry is one of the few in the world that hasn't been digitised," Greig says.

"There is nowhere you can search for a venue or another events supplier, check availability and make an instant booking.

"We solved that by creating the software venues use to manage their space, and thereby allowing us to publish their availability online and take instant bookings."

To further its service beyond simply booking, iVvy has also created a drag-and-drop website builder for events, and digital walkthroughs for venues.

Greig, who also founded web developer Bloomtools, is on the cusp of something big.


9. Ben Crawley, 34

R Marine Crawley, 2009


AN avid boatie, Ben Crawley has built a business anchored by his passion.

Taking a leap of faith from the real estate game and diving straight into the marine industry, he returned a struggling boat dealership to its former glory.

R Marine Crawley specialises in Riviera vessels, with the dealership managing new and pre-loved sales, servicing, warranties, maintenance and client functions.

"The difference between my dealership and others is a lot of them are mechanics or detailers who have found their way into owning a business, whereas I have always had a passion for boats," Crawley says.

"The driving force for us and the difference we've made is that we've brought back the old ethos of Riviera - it was all about the clients, the support, the experience and the trips that give clients the confidence to use their vessels."

Crawley has also established a 'floating office' at Airlie Beach to tackle a wider leisure market.


10. Cameron Bray, 37

Bray Management, 2012


CAMERON Bray's professional approach to superyacht management has his business sailing.

Informed by years of working on superyachts internationally, Bray saw that the Gold Coast was primed for a new business servicing these luxury vessels.

Bray Management takes over the day-to-day running of a superyacht on behalf of its owners, including the option of chartering the vessel to bolster returns on the asset.

"The first couple of years were slow, but I felt in the last couple of years there has been a lot of clarity around what I'm doing," Bray says.

"You become a lot more positive about your strategy and I think over time you start proving yourself. Your marketing strategy and energy starts paying off, your relationships come back to benefit you and your trust and integrity grows."

In its four years, Bray Management has grown exponentially. That is set to continue as the company has partnered with Northrop and Johnson, which extends its reach through the global network of these brands.

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