In the strongest year ever for the Melburnian contingent in the Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards, as founders from the Victorian capital took home 11 of the 21 accolades on the night, Dr May Chan and Dr Reuben Sim of Dental Boutique won the top prize for the second year in a row at a gala ceremony on the Gold Coast.
The husband-and-wife duo's accomplishment equals the record made in 2020 by Fung Lam, founder of e-commerce and dropshipping powerhouse New Aim, who incidentally just recently took home top honours at the 2023 Ethnic Business Awards.
Cultural diversity has always been par for the course in the Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards, not by design but based entirely on the merit of the successful ventures whose founders are shaping the way business is done in Australia and the world.
Finalists in the 2023 initiative clocked up almost $2 billion in revenue in FY23 and recorded $142 million in profit. That overall profitability for the cohort comes despite a prevalence of blitzscaling companies that are purposefully yet to break even as they reinvest aggressively to capture market share.
Companies in the 2023 awards have raised $820 million in external capital since founding, but that funding is highly concentrated and only pertains to a quarter of the finalists. The remaining three-quarters have funded organically, showing that bootstrapping is alive and well, including for Chan and Sim who also won the Health & Medicine category - their third time doing so.
In contrast, the Trailblazer winner - also from Melbourne - turned to public markets to raise capital at the start of this year. For Alexander Jannink, who co-founded AI-driven road safety technology company Acusensus (ASX: ACE), growth cannot come fast enough as every contract the company signs will hopefully mean fewer deaths in Australia and worldwide caused by distracted drivers on their smartphones.
The Young Entrepreneurs of the Year and the Trailblazer edged out exciting and competitive founders who won those same prizes in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast, as well as impressive contenders from all over the country, from Broome to Hobart, Wangaratta to Perth, Adelaide to Coolum Beach, and everything in between.
Jannink also won the Technology award which itself was a tightly contested category with finalists including Simplyai founder Johan Misquitta who was the 2023 Trailblazer in Sydney, as well as Hinney Lo from Pixelforce in Adelaide, James Gilmour of Gilmour Space on the Gold Coast, Aamir Qutub of Enterprise Monkey in Geelong, and Lachlan Feeney of Labrys in Brisbane.
This is just one example of the incredible talent on display in every segment of the awards, not just from a business performance perspective, but in the creativity of founders and the missions driving them.
Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards founder Camilla Jansen highlights how the initiative searches the country far and wide for the most innovative, tenacious, and successful talent making an impact on business and society.
"Since creating this event in 2008, we’re proud of the role the awards have played in unearthing and showcasing game-changers in ways that inspire others, while sharing invaluable lessons from the myriad paths that a founder’s journey can take," she says.
"I am excited that the community forged through the Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards continues to grow as a nexus for collaboration between like-minded, forward-thinking peers, sharing moments of celebration as you reflect on both your own success, as well as the experiences and achievements of others.
"These awards are the culmination of a deeply engaged process involving our editorial team with entrepreneurs across Australia and rigorous judging. We appreciate the time and effort you have invested in sharing your stories, and hope that the recognition you have gained helps propel you towards even greater horizons."
The City of Gold Coast is a longstanding partner for the awards.
"The Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards has brought together the smartest talent in our country," says Gold Coast Lord Mayor Tom Tate.
"We can all feel a great sense of pride in these young people who are driving change in their chosen industry sectors from technology to health, media, hospitality, tourism and more.
"As mayor, I enjoy meeting our young entrepreneurs and know they will carry the hopes and dreams of our city on the national stage. To be a finalist is a huge honour and in my eyes, you are already a winner when it comes to driving greater economic opportunities for your enterprise."
Nominees, finalists and winners who have taken part in the initiative in 2023 are all at different stages of business, but over the course of the years we have seen how with grit and determination many have been able to rise from humble origins - boutique origins one might say - to making a major impact, whatever their specialty or talents may be.
All of the winners from the 2023 Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards:
- Australian Young Entrepreneur of the Year: Dr May Chan and Dr Reuben Sim - Dental Boutique
- Trailblazer: Alexander Jannink - Acusensus
- Arts & Culture: Nicholas Greco, Filippo Palermo, Michael Christidis and Christian Serrao - Untitled Group
- Digital Disruptor: Fergus Creese - My Careers
- Fashion & Design: Argylica Conditsis and William Conditsis - BABYBOO
- Finance: Daniel Wessels - Jacaranda Finance
- Fitness: Michael Ramsey - Strong Pilates
- Food & Beverage: Alex Bottomley - Ampersand Projects
- Health & Medicine: Dr May Chan and Dr Reuben Sim - Dental Boutique
- Hospitality & Tourism: Ross Ledingham - Potentia Solutions Leisure
- Legal: Dominic Woolrych and Tom Willis - Lawpath
- Manufacturing, Wholesale & Distribution: Neil Fabry - FAB Industrial Logistics, FAB Bloodstock, FAB Industrial
- Marketing: Harry Sanders - StudioHawk
- PR, Media & Events: Thomas Fu and Tom Mcpherson - Motor Culture Australia
- Professional Services: Micky Ahuja - MA Services Group
- Property & Construction: Chris Baptista - HOMES by CMA
- Retail & Services: Argylica Conditsis and William Conditsis - BABYBOO
- Specialist Services: Luke Tadich - Dreamcourts
- Startup: Declan Kluver and Blake Thompson (XRecruiter)
- Sustainability & Social Responsibility: Razia Ansari - RAIS Industries
- Technology: Alexander Jannink - Acusensus
A full list of finalists in the 2023 Australian Young Entrepreneur Awards can be found here.
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