61. Mike Kellett (32)
Macro Mike, Macro Manufacturing, Macro Gym
Mike Kellett is the entrepreneur behind health and supplements giant Macro Mike whose products can be found on the shelves of almost every Coles supermarket in the country, among other prominent outlets.
Macro Mike has cornered the plant-based, gluten and dairy-free niche on products that “taste naughty” while containing the balance of carbs, proteins and fats, or ‘macros’, that are considered conducive to a healthy diet.
Star products in Macro Mike’s range include brownie, pancake and muffin mixes, protein powders, nut butters, coffee and a variety of ready-to-eat treats such as cookies and protein bars.
Macro Mike has reached a point where Kellet says it has sufficiently saturated the Australian and New Zealand markets and is now focused on its expansion within the United States and the United Kingdom in 2023.
He adds that influencer marketing has been key for creating brand awareness over the past year in these emerging markets.
“We had to think outside the box this year in terms of marketing and double down on product development to help with growth… we went hard on partnerships and collaborations with key influencers to bring new markets,”
“For example, we did a collab with an influencer called Bree Lenehan who has more than 700 thousand Instagram followers, and that product range sold out within 24 hours.”
Macro Mike is currently in the process of expanding into a new 1,500 square metre production facility with the ability to churn out more than 10,000 kilograms of product per week, adding a third production line specifically for contract manufacturing clients.
This is a far cry from the humble beginnings within Kellet’s own kitchen and a few die-hard friends and fans that helped launch the brand into the spotlight in late 2017.
“It’s pretty crazy to think I was making brownies at Circle on Cavill six years ago in what was basically a glorified cement mixer,” he jokes.
62. Paul Carney (34), Alec Carey (30) and James Carney (30)
There’s a saying in Italy, ‘la famiglia e tutto’ – family is everything.
For Alec, James and Paul Carney, the brothers behind restaurant empire Gemelli Group, this statement is as true in business as it is in life.
The word ‘gemelli’ in Italian translates to ‘twins’ and James and Alec, the brothers behind the reference, lead the operations and kitchen sides of the business respectively while Paul, the eldest, is the brains behind the bar.
Together the brothers have built a hospitality giant that satiates thousands of customers a week across five venues in South East Queensland.
Their flagship venue Gemelli Broadbeach opened on the Gold Coast in 2013 and more recently the brothers have added two Brisbane locations, Gemelli James Street and Bar Tano, to the burgeoning portfolio.
The popular family restaurant Roy’s by Gemelli at Sorrento reopened in December following a major renovation which has opened the door to the manufacture and sale of handmade gelato.
“We make all our own gelato, not currently at a mass scale, but we want to create our own gelato brand in the future once we perfect what we’re doing,” says Paul Carney.
The fifth boutique restaurant Gemellini continues to be a cornerstone of the growing nightlife scene in Nobby Beach.
While Gemelli Group faced the same hurdles that forced many other hospitality businesses to permanently close, during the peak of COVID and a horrific flood season, the business has consistently seen its customers return.
The group has emerged from 2022 with not only an enviable growth margin at each of its locations, but also a string of industry accolades including a spot on the Delicious 100 list for the best restaurants in Queensland.
“We’ve always had it in our blood,” says Carney. “Growing up we would always make our own salami, sauce and other food with mum and dad with that hands-on approach – and we really hit the right market at the right time with that.”
63. George Papura (32)
After selling his half stake in laser hair removal brand Happy Skin Co, George Papura turned to follicles instead of fuzz by starting his latest venture Georgiemane in 2020.
The hair care company quickly grew a cult following thanks to its hero product, the 10-minute hair mask, which claims it can repair dry, dull hair after just one treatment.
Since then, the Georgiemane range has expanded, and so has the group’s customer base as they keep coming back for the brand’s cruelty-free, vegan products including a shampoo, hair growth spray, anti-frizz hair serum and scalp scrub.
In just two years, the entrepreneur’s e-commerce nous has propelled the brand forward, and now boasts nearly 200,000 Instagram followers who primarily get their fix via the brand’s direct-to-consumer (D2C) channels.
However, that’s set to change somewhat now that Georgiemane has signed a 12-month exclusive deal with Priceline that has landed its range on the pharmacy chain’s shelves nationwide.
Announced in December 2022, the deal means Papura’s brand will receive major exposure to a wealth of potential new customers.
“We’re a D2C e-commerce brand, and 99 per cent of our sales are through that channel, so having a retail partner like Priceline is going to expand our reach,” he says.
“It’s basically building bricks and mortar infrastructure for the brand, and will do so much for brand awareness and make it a lot more reputable.”
In the meantime, Georgiemane is continuing to work on growing out its lineup of hair care products, supported by the company’s relocation into a new warehouse that’s five times the size of the old one.
64. Emilly Hankin (36)
Emilly Hadrill Hair, J’Adore Hair Supplies
Emilly Hankin was 20 years old the first time she got hair extensions.
After falling in love with her new look, she immediately began working on a concept for a hair salon that could help others achieve a similar confidence boost.
Hankin completed a business certificate at TAFE and in 2017 raised the capital for a small salon that specialised in hair extensions, a service that she found to be relatively scarce at the time.
The entrepreneur now owns and operates four luxury salons across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast under the Emilly Hadrill Hair umbrella, while a joint venture is in the works in Maroochydoore on the Sunshine Coast.
While the salons have grown into full-service boutiques including cut and colour, Hankin’s bread and butter product remains high quality hair extensions.
Emilly Hadrill Hair’s ever-growing client base now includes many of Australia’s most recognisable celebrities and influencers.
Hankin says investing in the training and education of her team has been a top priority as the business has developed.
In early 2022, Hankin organised a three-day conference on the Gold Coast where her team of over 30 hairstylists, apprentices, head office staff and concierge were invited to participate in sales training, team building exercises, technical skills and social media content creation workshops.
Once COVID-related closures or restrictions had abated, clients who were desperate to update their lockdown looks led a surge of sales that continued well into 2022, with the company recently posting its highest sales figures to date.
Hankin says the problem now is finding skilled hairdressers to fill such high demand, not just in her own salons but across the entire market.
“The hairdressing industry has had a big shift with COVID as it has turned a lot of employees into sole traders - they have moved out of salons and into working for themselves,” she explains.
Despite this challenge, Hankin is looking forward to exploring opportunities in new salons soon and executing a remodel for the existing four salons.
In July last year she also launched her second company J’Adore Hair Supplies – a wholesale hair care, hair extension brand that is supplying salons in Australia and internationally, with a strong e-commerce presence as well.
65. Regan Lethbridge (39) and David Morgan (39)
Lemon Tree Music
For the founders of artist management company Lemon Tree Music, Regan Lethbridge and David Morgan, 2022 was a return to a semblance of normality.
The pair, which manage some of Australia’s biggest musical exports like Tones & I, Tash Sultana and The Cat Empire, described the return of gigs as ‘gratifying’.
As COVID-19 restrictions eased, the confidence of the music sector grew. As such, it’s been a big year for Lemon Tree’s roster; Tash Sultana and Tones & I both toured internationally, while Budjerah picked up the Michael Gudinski Breakthrough Artist Award at the 2021 ARIA Awards.
“Going out into the world again after so long of not playing live music, and having our artists go out there and see the reaction from crowds on the other side of the world was hugely reassuring and just a big shot of gratification,” co-founder Morgan says.
“It makes them feel relevant again - like they haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth - which is so great to see.”
The duo also signed new talent to the roster this year, including self-taught multi-instrumentalist Little Green and young-gun indie rocker Mitch Santiago - also a multi-instrumentalist, which is a ‘bit of a theme’ with Lemon Tree’s roster according to Morgan.
Going into 2023, the group’s roster is gearing up for another big year with The Cat Empire preparing for a UK and Europe tour, while Tones & I is aiming for the top of the charts yet again following the release of her latest single ‘Charlie’.
66. Tom Blinksell (34) and Jonathan Salgo (33)
“We exist to help people create and live the life they want” is the slogan of T-Shirt Ventures, a health-tech company founded by Tom Blinksell and Jonathan Salgo to provide accessible solutions for people living with a disability and long-term health needs.
The founders were driven by their own experiences with the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to make it work better for participants, including their own family
Founded in 2018, T-Shirt Ventures is the parent company of two brands - NDIS plan management software Provider Choice which has a national presence helping 15,000-plus families to date, and NDIS-related online marketplace HeyHubble.
The latter was launched in September 2021 to link up NDIS participants with their service providers, and currently has 250 participants involved in a trial across Perth.
Plans are underway for further development of HeyHubble’s product development with a national service expansion expected this year, utilising part of the funds raised from a $11 million Series A round in October 2022.
The raise was led by sole investors HEAL Partners, whose advisor and former Ramsay Health Care (ASX: RHC) CEO Chris Rex joined the T-Shirt Ventures board as chairman.
“We’ll use this latest round of funding to further develop our technology platform so that we can continue to deliver world-class technology to our customers as we scale,” said Blinksell, who is also CEO, at the time.
“Today it’s the NDIS, but choice and control through technology solutions is universal for disabilities. Scale to us means developing technology solutions that can support every child born with a disability in this world, and any person who acquires a disability.”
67. Brodie Haupt (36) and Drew Haupt (38)
WLTH, Inception Finance, Inception Wealth Group, Bayside Home Loans, Moneymgmt, Properlytics
Fintech WLTH is a lending platform that’s aiming to take the hassle out of residential and commercial loan applications and management for a new generation of home and business owners.
Founded by brothers Brodie and Drew Haupt, the platform has settled more than $100 million in loans since its inception in 2019, and there’s ‘plenty more in the pipeline’ according to the co-founders.
While solution-based lending is currently WLTH’s bread and butter, the brothers are primed to move into the payments sector with a new product called WLTH Pay.
Though still in its development stage, the product is promising a new way for business owners to make payments to suppliers and employees, complete with tools to optimise and track cash flow and be rewarded in partnership with Qantas Business Rewards and Velocity Frequent Flyer.
At the heart of this next-gen fintech is a deep commitment to the environment. Having partnered with Parley for the Ocean, WLTH facilitates the clean-ups of 50sqm of coastline for every loan it settles.
In addition, Parley and WLTH recently tapped Visa to create a debit card made entirely out of recycled plastic from the ocean.
“For us, this card is not only the solution, but it’s also a symbolic strategy,” says WLTH CEO and co-founder Brodie Haupt.
“We have a 100 per cent eco and sustainable card - from the packaging, to the envelope, to even the glues being plastic-free, and of course to the card itself and the design.
“Our customers are becoming more socially conscious and we are empowering them to be more involved in protecting the environment.”
68. Sam Jamsheedi (35)
Trademark Global, Trademark Group
While working alongside construction giants such as Lendlease (ASX: LLC) and Multiplex over the last 13 years, Sam Jamsheedi’s end-to-end logistics player Trademark Global has helped deliver materials for iconic projects such as Sydney’s Crown Casino.
Trademark Global also managed the logistics for the Greenland Centre, which became one of Sydney’s tallest residential towers – standing at 236m tall - upon completion in 2021.
However, Jamsheedi notes the company has also been dealing with problems currently impacting the wider construction sector.
“Obviously, the price of freight gone through the roof. Unfortunately, it's not something that we control. So, we just have to pass the costs on,” Jamsheedi says.
“The other challenge at the moment is with labour shortages - it's hard to find drivers, warehouse staff and office staff.”
But even with those challenges, Trademark Global has been able to retain more than 150 employees across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
It is also the same number of clients involved in Jamsheedi’s latest venture - Trademark Group, which was established as a way to help Australian businesses network with companies from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia.
The group recently hosted one of the largest Saudi Arabian delegations – headed by the Minister of Industry and Mineral Resources Bandar Al-Khorayef – in Australia, seeing roughly 100 members attend to scope out opportunities that Saudi Vision 2030 presents.
“What we want to do is build a bridge for businesses to be able to expand their horizons. It helps businesses that are in Australia to expand into the UAE and the greater Gulf region,” Jamsheedi adds.
“[It] also helps businesses that are there that want to come here. We'll help them establish and have a platform for them to be able to come on board and have a network.”
69. Cale Donovan (39) and Sam McConkey (38)
Founded on empathy and with a desire to make funerals easier to arrange for grieving families, Bare was created by Sam McConkey and Cale Donovan with a direct-to-consumer model.
Unlike most companies in the industry, McConkey says around 50 per cent of Bare’s customers fall under the term “pre-need” – essentially pre-paid funerals that help take the strain out of an already difficult time for a person’s next of kin.
The scope of the pre-need offering is constantly changing as the entrepreneurs build out the technology to provide more services within a digital platform to help with a range of administrative tasks from end-of-life wishes to funeral plans.
This digital development was bolstered by a $10 million Series A raise in mid-2021 led by Perennial Partners and Ord Minnett Private Capital, both joining previous backers such as OIF Ventures, Athletic Ventures, Who Gives A Crap founder Simon Griffiths and former NBA basketballer Andrew Bogut.
The injection of capital, which lifted the total raised to $15 million, also helped fund a mortuary facility in southeast Queensland.
He says the company would be close to if not the largest pre-needs funeral company in Australia.
“The reason for that is the purchase experience. If you’re a traditional funeral home, there's a lot of friction involved in you pre-paying – you must go to the funeral parlour, pick out your own coffin, your own parlour, lots of paperwork,” he says.
“Ours is almost e-commerce like by nature, so 10 minutes online, much cheaper. So where the traditional industry is something like for every 10 families there’ll be one pre-need sale, ours is more like 50-50.”
He adds that there tends to be less religion in the services purchased than with the traditional funeral director.
“We sort of sought empathy; we’ve got a bunch of senior funeral directors who can train the specifics. We’ve got in our funeral director team ex-tech recruiters, ex-nurses, ex-journalists, who have for the most part come to the industry through personal experience and wanted to solve the customer problem that they’ve felt,” he says.
“It’s given us a much broader, more diverse pool to choose from.”
70. Matthew Holloway (37)
Originally a sole business specialising in plastics manufacturing, Holloway Group now spans seven brands that are looking to tackle the world of construction and design with a sustainable twist.
At the helm of this transition is Matthew Holloway, who led A Plus Plastics for the past decade as it acquired stormwater management brand Ausdrain, as well as 100 per cent recycled plastic residential slab company Biax.
“Biax is really hot and heavy at the moment,” Holloway says.
“We're doing some deals with the actual builders - we just signed up JG King down in Melbourne. They do 2,000 slabs a year.
“Creation Homes up in Queensland transitioned over from foam. I could probably rattle off another 20 clients that have come on board. It's exciting because it's making positive change in a really archaic industry.
Other brands under the group include sustainable fence post company Plasmar, injection mould manufacturer Group Tooling, 3D printing service Pulse 3D, and turf stabiliser GEOHEX, which recently secured a licensee agreement with UAE-based landscaping solutions provider Tanseeq.
Secured five months ago, the deal will see GEOHEX supply a construction giant that employs over five thousand trained personnel, including 700 engineers, architects and technical staff.
“They’re basically the go-to company for all things infrastructure throughout UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman - so that's a really exciting client that's been signed on,” Holloway says.
Holloway also notes that longstanding plastics injection mould specialist A Plus Plastics has outgrown its current facility as the brand looks to set up a second site interstate.
“We've got our eyes on Melbourne facility that we're looking at getting into help facilitate growth,” he says.
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