THE 2010 Gold Coast Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards are sparked by a new breed of brash business owners united by a common goal to explore and exploit opportunities across diverse industries.
Consistently creating and challenging the notion of entrepreneurship, this enterprising group combine risk and initiative to not just create wealth, but also legacies that inspire and cultivate a similar ethos among peers and future trailblazers.
Gold Coast Business News was inundated with candidates this year, all inspirational in their own right and exceeding expectations in a tumultuous economic landscape. Each has prevailed despite adversity.
The 2010 young entrepreneur finalists and those ‘ones to watch’ have excelled when the odds were stacked and when others told them it could not be done.
This year, another category was added to the winner and highly commended accolades. The trailblazer award was created to recognise the person who has launched innovation on the world stage and is on the cusp of achieving big results.
The judges this year were unanimous in their decisions. With a background in entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial finance, assistant professor of entrepreneurship at Bond University’s Faculty of Business Dr Baden U’Ren, noted the spread of sectors represented, but was not surprised by the calibre of entrants.
U’Ren has varied experience in industry, having progressed through NAB’s graduate development program, run his own fashion wholesale business in the US, performed capital raising for acquisitions, managed a pooled investment fund and worked at the inception of QIC’s Private Equity program.
“The Gold Coast is home to many diverse businesses and people often discard it, but it’s a hotbed of innovative activity,” he says.
“While retail and fashion has represented the sub culture of the Gold Coast with major surfing brands, there are also high tech start-ups and established businesses everywhere. It does not surprise me the breadth of candidates for this year’s awards.”
Winner of the inaugural young entrepreneur award in 2008 Kenton Campbell, also joined the judging panel this year. Campbell has built the successful coffee franchise Zarraffa’s to 43 stores and understands the tenacious attitude and self belief required to crack the big time.
“All of the finalists have shown how determination and innovation has set them apart,” says Campbell.
This year’s winner was chosen for having the ability to not just build marketshare, but to do so against major players with a product created in a Benowa garage.
This financial year, the action sports apparel company that started with $600 in capital, will turn over more than $20 million. For brothers Paul and Ian Everest, Unit is much more than a clothing brand; it’s a voice for a new generation.
“I believed I could create the best action sports brand in the world,” says co-director Paul Everest.
U’Ren, says the Everest brothers were winners in what was a hotly contested initiative.
“The company is resource constrained, they’re doing things through willpower,” says U’Ren.
“They have taken their passion and made a success out of it. Incredibly they have hit a niche and had the guts to follow it. Following passion rather than just doing something to make money out of it and then turning over big profit is a bonus.
“A lot of businesses make the mistake of going out of the core space from which they originated, but Unit has stuck to what it knows and the results are impressive. They have built an acquisition target if they ever choose to exit and left the door open for potential growth in other areas should the right investor come along.”
Campbell concurs that passion and ‘true entrepreneurial spirit’ also played a role in team Everest receiving the coveted award.
“Starting with $600 in a family garage and having all that attitude that they could do it – rock on,” he says.
“They came up against the big boys who dominate that space, made inroads and substantial revenues. It’s an inspiring entrepreneurial story for anybody to aspire to.”
Steven Adams of Moo Moo fame was given the Highly Commended prize for building a quality restaurant brand in a tough economy and not just surviving, but flourishing.
Four restaurants now operate under the Moo Moo umbrella – Pizza Hut Broadbeach; Moo Moo Bar & Grill Broadbeach; Moo Moo Brisbane and Moo Moo Fiji located in the Westin hotel on Denarau Island.
“Moo Moo is now a substantial brand name and for the restaurants to be doing that well means the product and the service is second to none. To achieve that in one location is impressive, but across three locations is amazing,” commented Campbell during the selection process.
The Trailblazer Award also created plenty of attention and while Theodore Vairaktaris from Usher & Sons painting contractors; organic skincare developer Narelle Chenery and Jason Ganis of Smartprint Fleet Management and ifish Finance were banging on the door, the judges could not go past Guvera CEO Claes Loberg.
Loberg helms Guvera – the publicly unlisted tech company that is set to give iTunes a run for its money. A capital raising of $50 million is underway in the US by venture capitalists GLP, the same equity company that has valued Guvera at $200 million.
With the help of some famous rock n roll friends, including Alice Cooper and Staind lead singer Aaron Lewis and hip hop star Tech N9ne, more than 130,000 members now access their favourite music via Guvera’s branded entertainment channels. While still in its infancy (the company was launched in February 2010), it has the potential to alter music, film and TV access as we know it – and the artists get paid.
“To get that VC funding in this day and age and in that space in incredible,” says U’Ren.
“It’s a change in the business model, a slant on the way things are done. It’s a true entrepreneurial start-up, no question.”
For a full profile list on the Gold Coast's 2010 Young Entrepreneurs, including interviews with all of the finalists, get a copy of the special annual edition of Gold Coast Business News – out now in more than 450 Gold Coast newsagents.
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