81. Chris Parker (38)
A combination of creativity and KPIs create some serious cut-through for clients of Chris Parker’s full-service independent media agency Awaken, after its founder cottoned on to the fact that marketing stats may impress but the emotional connection of film does so much more.
The agency was founded in 2014 but it is only over the last few years that it has been on a steep growth trajectory, buoyed by buy-in from major global brands like Panasonic, Energizer, Jose Cuervo and more.
Parker says around half the company’s growth is coming from new clients, with the other half generated from existing clients reinvesting into digital channels and content.
“About four years ago I realised as a marketing agency no one really cared about Facebook campaigns and how well you ran them, but to be seeing that the creative you do is visually appealing and is something people really see, respond to, and connect with, that for us has been a pivotal moment to grow,” Parker says.
“We’ve really grown our creative and film arm of the business, and now we’re creating ads and TVCs (television commercials) and films - a lot of content - for a number of brands that are coming to us.
“Now many brands just come to us and ask us to do everything for them. They’ll give us a brief, and we will create all of the films, the creative, we’ll work with media strategy, buy placements, and help them reach their awareness or sales targets.”
He compares this realisation of the need for an emotional hook with exactly what an ad aims to achieve; Parker’s just doing the same with his agency.
“If you show people a great emotional ad, then people will buy the product, and it’s so true with agencies,” he says.
“Nobody really cared about our media results apart from certain marketers, but we never got the cut-through. As soon as we really started creating ads and were winning awards for it, it just has allowed our business to flourish.”
That said, for the web and social media marketing geeks the numbers are still enviable. Awaken’s activity on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube led to a 1,717 per cent increase in conversions in FY22, coupled with a 91 per cent decrease in the cost per ad, while continuing to secure new customers and recruit new hires including at the executive level.
82. Shannah Bradshaw (38)
Disrupt Digital, SponsoredLinx, Get More Traffic, Search Marketing Experts, Disrupt Music Group, Deep Future
Shannah Bradshaw and her husband Ben, a former corporate magician, have put a spell on the marketing industry in Australia with their disruptive ventures that range from digital marketing to social media management and even artist management services.
Their first venture, Disrupt Digital, was founded in 2006 when the duo realised a magician’s income was not going to be enough to support their young family.
17 years later and the two have become embedded in the Australian digital marketing space, giving clients the resources they need to grow their internet presence, close more sales and keep customers.
“Whether it's Google Ads, SEO, web creation, or social media management, we give our clients the tools they need to make informed marketing choices,” Shannah says.
In the time since launching Disrupt Digital, the co-founders claim to have helped more than 15,000 businesses advance their marketing strategies. This is supported by improvements made to their multiple platforms, including recently adding a video reporting tool which gives clients updates on how their products are performing.
Via Disrupt Music Group, Shannah and Ben are putting their best foot forward into the world of music.
Their diverse artist roster includes new and exciting artists like Micci, St. James and HUTCH who now use the company’s tech tools to boost streams and find a following on platforms like Spotify and Apple Music.
83. Bianca Tarrant (30) and David McGiveron (36)
Instead of shutting down operations after two years of bushfires, drought and floods, farmers Bianca Tarrant and David McGiveron pivoted towards offering a subscription service that would see meat lovers get premium quality cuts delivered directly to their door.
Founded in 2019, Our Cow’s subscription base has grown to more than 5,000 people across Australia who choose from a selection of premium beef, pork, lamb, and chicken grown by around 200 farmers in New South Wales and Queensland.
“We pay our farmers well above market rates. In the livestock industry, you never know what you're going to get for your animals when you're a farmer. We set our model around paying farmers based on quality and environmental practices in their animal welfare,” McGiveron says.
This model allowed them to turn away from the unfairness of fluctuating prices at cattle markets, instead helping farmers secure a fair price for their livestock.
It’s a business model thousands of Australians have been willing to subscribe to, as well as directly invest in via VentureCrowd’s crowdfunding platform.
“We closed out our $2.6 million raise in June 2022. We knew that we had a lot of people that wanted to put the money towards making the change in the farming and the food industry in Australia,” McGiveron says.
With a subscription retention rate above 90 per cent, the duo has set their sights on raising more capital in early 2023 to keep up with demand.
“The business is growing quite substantially and we want to be able to offer people the chance to be involved in the future of food and farming,” the co-founder adds.
“The next raise will probably be very much the same - it'll be used for marketing and continue the growth trajectory that we're on now.”
84. Kristie Baird (33)
Kristie Baird began her entrepreneurial journey as an owner and operator of skin, laser and injectables clinics in Sydney and Canberra before discovering the world of commercial intravenous (IV) vitamin therapy while visiting the United States.
As a long-time sufferer of chronic fatigue syndrome, Baird opted to try the alternative wellness solution for herself given its popularity and availability there.
After receiving several treatments and noticing a significant improvement in her condition, she sought out a place to continue her treatment in Australia but couldn’t find anything in the vein of readily accessible IV care.
Baird sold all her existing clinics with a view to creating Australia’s first flexible and mobile IV vitamin therapy service, delivered by registered nurses in patients’ homes.
Thus Drip IV was born, and within four years since its foundation the company had expanded nationwide with more than 110 locations and clientele spanning Australia and New Zealand.
Drip IV has seen a 330 per cent growth in the past 12 months and has doubled its number of serviced locations across both major cities and remote areas.
Baird says consumers have become significantly more health conscious since the emergence of COVID and many sufferers of the virus, and other similarly debilitating chronic illnesses, have turned to Drip IV to support their general health and recovery regimes.
“It just goes to show when you close the country down, how our immune systems have really taken a toll by not being exposed to things,” she says.
“We have a lot of doctors now referring their patients to us… and they're seeing quick recovery rates with the services we're providing.”
Drip IV has recently moved its headquarters to a new 1,280-square metre warehouse that doubles as a compounding facility to meet staggering manufacturing needs of more than 1,000 vials of personalised vitamin formulations per week.
The company has also transitioned to a franchise model with plans to expand its total number of franchisees to 50 by mid-2023.
85. Jamal Elamsy (26), Dylan Johnstone (27), Burak Kamit (27) and Omar De Guise (26)
Founded in 2020, fortuitously two months before an international health crisis would cause major shortages of medical supplies, Platinum Health Supply Group found itself well-positioned to serve the needs of the Australian healthcare sector.
The four founders initially began to fill the gap in the market of critical personal protective equipment (PPE), and built up a solid reputation in the space during the pandemic.
This enabled Platinum Health Supply to be at the forefront of rapid antigen test (RAT) distribution in early 2021 when demand sky-rocketed, supplying the critical products to aged care facilities and hospitals first.
With the chaos of early-2022 in the rear-view mirror, Platinum Health Supply has maintained its position as a key supplier of PPE and other medical equipment, and has grown out its warehouse capabilities to satisfy demand.
At the core of ongoing success for Platinum Health Supply is the good relationships it established over the course of the past three years, setting the company up to scale into new products.
“We started this company knowing that COVID wasn’t going to be around forever,” De Guise says.
“At the moment we’re growing our range with new products - we’ve got wound care, mobility, rehabilitation equipment, skincare, incontinence products, personal protective equipment, safety gear.
“What we’re trying to achieve is be that one-stop-shop for all things medical.”
86. Justin Ashley (39) and Serra Burmin (35)
One Playground, Fitness Playground Academy
More than just a gym membership, One Playground is designed to provide an escape for its 15,000-plus members – offering an oasis of studios, equipment, hangout spaces and luxe bathrooms.
Behind this experience is duo Serra Burmin and Justin Ashley, who notes all five gyms have been busier than ever as members move away from at-home regimes to working up a sweat in-person.
“It’s been amazing. [With] most of our clubs in a mature place, it's the best 12 months of growth that we've had,” Ashley says.
“We've rebounded from COVID really strongly and our Marrickville club has grown into about 6,000 members, which is pretty phenomenal and past our wildest expectations.
“The large majority of our usage is in person. But what we are finding is better uptake in our hybrid use - where technology supports those in person workouts. Technology solutions that help people with things like programming, tracking, and assessing are being used with better compliance than in the past.”
Ashley also notes that a large portion of gym junkies have started to embrace low-impact exercise routines, as well as training designed to meet specific fitness goals.
“We've noticed that people have a greater desire to have a more balanced regime - so things like Pilates and yoga. We're also seeing really big growth in personal training and anything that's performance based,” Ashley says.
“Pilates is a huge area of growth for us. We launched our first performance studio in November 2021. Today, that houses 87 classes every single week.”
Embracing the boost in momentum, Ashley notes he is open to expanding One Playground’s footprint interstate further down the line.
“We definitely have some plans to grow over the next 12 to 24 months - we'll centre initially for the next year in Sydney,” Ashley says.
“We've explored different opportunities within Victoria and Queensland at this point.”
87. Nick Hill (37), Lana Hill (33) and Andrew Walker (38)
The founders of multi-disciplinary professional services firm Walker Hill celebrated their 10-year business anniversary in 2022 - a major milestone for the company that prides itself on helping other firms grow.
While the firm’s priority is its clients when it comes to seeing businesses flourish, the founding group - which also counts James Walker as a co-founder - took some time in early 2022 to take up some of their own advice.
This involved a restructure of the firm that provides accounting, finance and digital marketing services to clients - one that resulted in a new leadership structure and significant growth across its verticals.
Of note, Nick Hill says the company’s bookkeeping division doubled in size as a result. This growth was also assisted by bookkeeping services ‘making a bit of a comeback’ in the eyes of customers.
“It’s a bit of a weird thing to say as an accountant, but it’s a bit of a sexy industry at the moment,” Hill says.
Walker Hill’s finance division also hit some goals this year, doubling settlements year on year, plus the co-founder claims the firm’s brokers are now in the top 20 per cent nationally.
88. Peter Dodeja (34)
SAI Security Group, SAI Investments Group
Since moving to Australia at the age of 18, Peter Dodeja has followed in the entrepreneurial footsteps of his father and built a loyal client base through his company SAI Security Group.
“I stumbled upon security and I really liked the industry. I knew there could be some innovations done because it was quite old school,” Dodeja says.
“I thought: Why not? If I get into it and combine my background of IT and software in security and try to come up with something - it's going to make a difference.”
Using his background, Dodeja came up with the concept of "virtual patrols" - an on-site camera system that sends through a series of photos from footage to the police when a client is being burgled.
“It was a huge hit because less money was paid by the client and they actually get more protection,” Dodeja says.
In a bid to reach the international market, he recently bought out a security company in San Diego, California where he has taken ownership of an 18-strong patrol car fleet.
“I'm very close to buying another company in Phoenix, Arizona and we're going do the same over there. It's already a huge success in San Diego,” Dodeja says.
The entrepreneur is also passionate about the property sector, and has built a sizeable portfolio of residential and commercial shopping plaza assets across Australia via SAI Investments Group.
To date, Dodeja has settled on seven shopping centre deals, with the latest being in the coastal city of Gladstone, Queensland.
89. Nicholas Chapman (33)
Chapcon DC, Newstart Homes
While the building industry has been plagued with rising construction costs, extreme weather and labour shortages, Nicholas Chapman has managed to steer his Chapcon DC and Newstart Home businesses through a crisis impacting companies worldwide.
“We're not immune to it by any measure, but we're less affected,” Chapman says.
“We've had a really good year. The jobs are profitable, it was a continuity of work. We’re a good size now. We're small, but very capable – that seems to be a bit of a winning formula at the moment.”
Initially taking on hospitality, office and school fit-outs, commercial building company Chapcon DC has capitalised on the demand for childcare centres in Brisbane, which now make up majority of projects in the pipeline.
A string of completed projects includes Kangaroo Point Early Learning Centre, which is valued at $3.5 million, as well as Carseldine Early Learning Centre and Corinda Early Learning.
“The big requirement for it is now subsidised pretty heavily by the government. It's pretty attractive for operators because of the need for it as well,” Chapman says.
“They're not cheap, but people keep building them. With all the material increases, it’s been pretty challenging.”
Meanwhile, Newstart Homes - which was purchased from liquidators in 2016 - has been focused on servicing customers across Southeast Queensland to deliver custom acreage builds, as well as smaller houses, first homes and investment properties.
“Newstart’s really proactive - we have all our pricing set so we can forecast quite well. We have our own designs, although we do custom plans it’ll typically be an iteration of an existing plan,” Chapman says.
“Generally speaking, we're staying in our lane for the next 12 months or so - however long we need to weather this storm. There's a lot of opportunity out there at the moment which we’re saying no to.”
90. Dwayne Martens (38)
Dwayne Martens has grown health food company Amazonia from a market stall hustle to a multi-million-dollar empire in organic wholefoods, supplements and plant-based products through no small amount of determination.
Since its foundation in 2008, Amazonia has weathered all manner of unprecedented hurdles including a complete factory decimation during the Brisbane floods in 2011, and of course COVID-19.
But the forces of mother nature have never suppressed Martens’ hunger for success.
Within just a few short years of rebuilding from scratch following the floods, Martens grew Amazonia to become the largest supplier of its key frozen acai product in Australia, the United Arab Emirates and Europe.
In August 2022, Martens celebrated one of his company’s most significant milestones to date with the launch of the Amazonia Innovation Hub on the Gold Coast.
The 1,450sqm site has become Amazonia’s worldwide headquarters, housing a workforce of more than 50 staff who facilitate research, development, manufacturing and sale of products.
It marks the first time that all of Amazonia’s executive operations in both the corporate and wholesale spheres are consolidated at the one location.
The Hub is a prime location from which Martens and his team can work closely with organisations including Trade and Investment Queensland and Austrade to focus on expanding global partnership deals in the Middle East, South Korea and Europe.
According to Martens, 2022 turned out to be the optimal year to launch the Innovation Hub given the post-pandemic climate, the growing appetite of health-conscious consumers and economic change.
He says that any businesses hoping to continue in the years ahead, including Amazonia, will need to adjust price points and strategies to address the rising cost of ingredients, while maintaining appeal to a consumer base that will have less discretionary income.
“There’s going to be a lot of food price rises, we noticed that from our side at the source of a lot of our ingredients,” he says.
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