The past 12 months have proved to be a coming of age for Australian tech.
While Australia has always produced a steady stream of entrepreneurs and innovators with a global profile, the Nasdaq listing last December of Atlassian – now a $US6 billion company having been founded 14 years ago in Sydney on a $10,000 credit card – has redefined the limits of what’s possible for domestic tech companies. Innovation and technology have shifted to the heart of the economic policy agenda, and there is a clear recognition among policymakers and investors that Australia needs a strong technology ecosystem to compete in the modern global economy.
We’ve sorted through Australia’s leading technology figures to bring you this list of the coolest people working in the sector.
We looked at who’s done cool and interesting things over the past year, whether it be raising money, being acquired, setting a vision, leading an investment round, building or reaching a new market, or delivering on a strategy.
This list includes startup CEOs, entrepreneurs, industry leaders, and venture capitalists.
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the comments — we want to know about them.
Now scroll through to see the 100!
Ballard has ridden the drone revolution from the start. By 2013, he was working with John Middendorf in designing, manufacturing and selling Middendorf's Porta-Quad platform internationally out of Tasmania, to this day the smallest fully autonomous capable folding drone.
Within a year, Ballard was leading the push to take drone racing mainstream both nationally and internationally as founder and owner of QAROP, organising Australia's first high-level championship series in 2014. It helped take drone racing from underground hobby scene to a sport where pilots aged 12 can challenge national champions.
Freedom Class Giant Drone Racing is a championship platform aiming to take giant drones capable of 200km/h+ speeds all over the world. They've already built and tested a monster prototype and are deeply involved with CASA in developing drone racing guidelines for a sport already being called 'the new Formula 1'.
Ballard and his team have also developed iLearnDrones, a schools program teaching students the science, safety and skills they need to operate and develop drones and robotic technologies to fill upcoming market requirements.
In earlier times, David Rohrsheim would have been the general you put in charge of laying siege to cities with impenetrable fortifications.
His success with Uber over the 12 months to crack the nation’s taxi monopoly and go from illegal to legit will likely become a business school disruption case study for generations to come.
Using a mix of soft and hard diplomacy, from a grassroots PR campaign using Uber’s customer base, to lobbying politicians and staring down an angry taxi industry, and legal funding for UberX drivers prosecuted by transport authorities the transformation has been nothing short of stunning.
It began last year with the ACT and NSW legalising the service first, and the remainder of the nation falling into line in 2016, amid more than $800 million in compensation offered to the industry incumbents as Uber tore down the barriers to entry in the process.
Rohrsheim also found time to launch the food delivery service UberEats in Australia too.
It's been dubbed "TripAdvisor for real estate agents" and this Sydney-based real estate industry comparison website is hoping to improve sales agent transparency to help people choose the best person to sell their home.
After opening in 2013, Pointon and co-founder and co-CEO Marta Higuera, claim they've helped 10,000 people choose real estate agents in the last 12 months.
It's been a good year for the former McKinsey & Co. analysts, who added another $12 million in funding to a total of $20m, thanks to Simon Cant’s ReInventure, with Breakthrough Labs and Singapore-based Qualgro also tipping in.
"We figured out that comparing agents was very important, but there are a lot more things that come into the process that technology can help with still," Pointon said.
Data61 is the CSIRO's data innovation group - and Australia's biggest - which strives to bring industry and research together to commercialise those ideas.
After launching in 2002, it had a near-death experience when former PM Tony Abbott canned its $42 million in annual funding. The clock was ticking to July 1 this year when, in November 2015, new PM Malcolm Turnbull launched his innovation statement and delivered $20 million in life support to Data61.
The team has a Sydney HQ but is spread out across 14 locations around the nation and can lay claim to being midwife to 15 successful start-up companies.
Turner is a highly successful and influential Australian tech entrepreneur who spent 18 years in Silicon Valley.
Most recently he was MD and co-founder of Borondi Group and previously co-founder and CEO of smart phone and IoT security company Mocana Corporation. He now has Turnbull's innovation dreams as his raison d'etre.
Three years ago, NYSE-listed Travelport took a 49% stake in the Melbourne-based corporate travel tech company, Locomote. In December last year, it was so impressed, it raised the investment to 55%.
It was vindication for Fastuca, who founded the business with his brother Ross, because he couldn't understand why it was so hard and took so long to book corporate travel in the internet era.
The vision is to become the world's best global travel platform, and they've focused on integration to manage the key issue business faces in booking corporate travel, delivering a single gateway to thousands of travel providers.
As Travelport Locomote the business is now focussed on global scale, launching in the UK this year.
Envato is creative eco-system, encompassing one of the largest digital marketplaces in the world.
The platform has 7 million members who buy and sell digital stock and services, and it has delivered over $US400 million of earnings back to sellers. Ta'eed started Envato in 2006 and the company now has 170 employees in its Melbourne headquarters.
She also founded New Day Box.
Last year Ta’eed was awarded Telstra Victorian Business Woman of the Year and EY Entrepreneur of the Year Australia (Services).
Spacer is a peer-to-peer and B2C marketplace for storage space.
After co-founding Deals Direct in 2004, and growing it to the largest e-commerce group in the country, Rosenbaum launched Spacer in October 2015 with an initial seed capital of $1.2 million.
In April the business had 750 active listings experiencing more than 15,000 site visits every month. With this success, it is also expanding into Asia’s $4 billion market, with Singapore, Hong Kong, and Tokyo first on its hit list.
Seb is a former weapons engineer. He launched his Sydney-based startup accelerator in 2011 and now has a team of more than 35 people in three states and two countries.
In July, Eckersley-Maslin was invited to share a stage with Barack Obama in Washington DC for the Select USA Conference on Innovation.
This month, the business unveiled a $1 million early-stage startup fund, SheStarts, to back the most promising female founders in Australia.
BlueChilli’s vision is to be a $1 billion portfolio by 2020.
Strange sold his software development house Readify for an undisclosed sum to Telstra in July, topping off a successful year in which he created IP Factory -- a million-dollar annual revenue stream from just commercialising solutions the company had already developed.
The industry veteran honed his business and tech skills at Dimension Data and National Australia Bank before becoming Readify COO, then taking the company through its most successful era as MD.
Few people had heard of this Sydney-based software company before the Panama Papers scandal.
Nuix software was used to “process, index, and analyse” the 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, which broke globally in April sending shockwaves around the world.
Nuix was launched in 2000 and now has more than 1500 customers in at least 60 countries, including regulatory agencies, security and law enforcement agencies and tier-one advisory firms and litigation support vendors.
Sheehy has built the customer base and guided the software’s functionality from digital forensics to legal discovery, investigation, cybersecurity, information governance, email migration, and privacy.
The company is expected to list on the ASX next year.
The co-founder of this two-year-old B2B web-based ordering and payments platform for the food and beverage industry scored $2.5 million in series A funding in June.
Big names such as Nudie Juices co-founder and Ten Network chairman David Gordon, Westpac and IAG director Alison Deans, and Radiata co-founder David Skellern lined up to invest in the booming business, with Gordon chairing the board.
Low is a former MD of Toby’s Estate Coffee, while his co-founder, Adam Theobald started the coffee ordering app, Beat the Q, now rebranded as Hey You.
The startup already has 3,000 businesses on board, and impressively, drinks giant Lion was the platform’s second customer.
Claire Mula and Michael Gethen founded Sprooki in Singapore in 2011. The company helps retailers make offers via smartphones to passing potential customers and the technology has rolled out across South East Asia in 70 major shopping malls and more than 3500 retailers.
They signed on banking heavyweight Bob McKinnon, Westpac's former CIO, as the startup’s new chairman, and the client list includes Forever 21, Marks & Spencer, Pie Face, Gap and GNC.
Mula's business teamed up with the Invigor Group earlier this year to harness extra incentives such as vouchers, mobile loyalty and rewards, targeted messaging and predictive product recommendations.
The company also launched at Sydney’s Manly Wharf precinct two months ago in its first Australian use.
Sprooki is preparing to float on the ASX in late 2016, hoping to raise up to $7.5 million for further expansion in Asia.
Marchiori wants to make it simple to search and apply for jobs from a mobile phone. The startup’s app, aimed at peopled aged 15 to 30, makes it fun and addictive process to look for and apply for a job.
Marchiori was 23 when he and co-founder Andrew Joyce started Found in 2014. It is already his 5th business. The pair had a previous venture together, Rifurb, which hit $25 million in turnover in its first year.
Since launching in February, the app has been downloaded 30,000 times, had 2500 jobs posted and entered talks with five of the top 10 retailers in the country.
Gavel is one of the most active angel investors in Australia and has already built up an impressive investment portfolio since launching the Brisbane-based VC firm in 2014.
The portfolio includes Bluechilli’s cyber security startup TokenOne, Bluechilli itself, Sendle (see No. 83), Airtasker (see No. 51) and the work health and safety risk management tool Safety Compass.
It a bold move for the former financial planner who sold his business in late 2013 to team up with property investor Paul Osborne and pick winners in the volatile and competitive startup world under the Queensland sunshine.
Imagine making the fight over the cause behind South Australia’s energy grid collapse academic within the next decade.
That's Myatt's plan as Mojo banks on batteries changing the game fundamentally and he can see a tipping point in the next 2-3 years. Mojo, which he launched with Darren Miller, and former News Corp boss Kim Williams as chairman, sells households power at wholesale rates via subscriptions. It’s a data analytics firm that hopes to become a distributed generation company, creating a network of homes with batteries that feed into that grid.
"The industry in 2026 will be fundamentally different," says Myatt. "It’s going to be data, it’s going to be technology, it’s not going to be about coal-fired plants. The grid might become a shadow of itself in a decade."
If his dream comes true, Adelaide's lights may well stay on.
Matt Bullock is a serial Australian entrepreneur and after a successful exit this year which netted him $70 million he launched his next venture immediately.
He told Business Insider he set up Centify, a smartphone app that uses games to motivate sales teams, the very next day. Last week he opened the company's new HQ in San Francisco and is about to embark on a hiring spree.
Bullock explains the app as "a gaming platform for salesforce.com to help motivate sales and service staff do better".
The launch was a hit, delivering "thousands of leads", while he's also "in talks with many very large firms" about the product.
Bullock says Centify gives sales staff "a very personal view of what they need to do to succeed".
"People really excited by our games".
Mon Purse is a design-your-own handbag and leather goods start-up.
In June 2016, Hopkins secured $A3.1 million in a series A capital raise, following an angel round in July 2015, and seed round in mid-2014 to kick-start the business. She is now aiming to launch into the US market in late-2016.
Over the past year Hopkins also focused on working with in-house developers to create a 3D bag builder to aid customers as they design their handbags.
Sendle is Australia's first 100% carbon neutral delivery service and the country's only B-Corp certified logistics company.
Chin Mooney launched it in 2015 as a challenger brand in the parcel delivery industry and raised $5 million in Series A funding last August. The logistics service has now scored $8 million, including $1 million from the NRMA.
This year Sendle won the 2016 NSW Telstra Business Awards new business category.
Chin Mooney is a member of the World Economic Forum's global agenda council on the future of software and society, and has a PhD in innovation theory from ANU.
Hurps is a passionate advocate for Australian tech startups, also sharing his time out as a board member for the Australian Information Industry Association, the Digital Finance Advisory Committee and the Data Analytics Centre.
Fishburners is a not-for-profit charity he started in 2011 to create highly scalable tech startups and host startup-based events.
The organisation recently opened its first office in China, affording Australian startups some opportunity for growth. "I have to be really clear. I don't want Australian companies leaving," Hurps said. "However, there are amazing things happening here. Australians, we are reluctant to boast about what we do, but sometimes you just need to get that in front of the right people and that's what we are trying to do."
Starting in 2004, SafetyCulture focuses on software designed with worker engagement in mind, offering low-cost, mobile products in the name of safe and efficient workplaces.
In 2011, Anear developed the smartphone app iAuditor, which has now been downloaded nearly 1 million times and is the world's most used safety audit app.
SafetyCulture opened a new office in Silicon Valley this year - thanks in part to $1.5 million from Atlassian co-founder Scott Farquhar in two tranches, including a $6.1 million series A round in late 2015 - to focus on marketing, as well tap into US venture capital.
In a world where security flaws are found daily in computer systems, Danhieux's Sydney-based startup intervenes at the root source -- software developers.
Secure Code Warrior trains developers, with gamified exercises, to write security-aware code and find vulnerabilities before they become public. According to CRN, it has quietly scored a big four bank, SportsBet and household finance and retail companies as customers, with one deal this year topping $1 million.
Xero Australia is the western outpost of a New Zealand cloud-based accounting software company for SMEs.
Innes took the helm from Chris Ridd earlier this year and in the last six months has restructured the team to set it up for the next stage of growth. He personally interviews every hire - and the business announced plans to take on an extra 50 people.
In 2016, Xero signed a technology integration deal with US banking giant Wells Fargo, and launched the Hey Xero chatbot, powered by Amazon Web Services, in Facebook Messenger.
The company is also working on similar messaging capabilities on Slack and Apple iOS.
McEvoy became the boss of industry lobby group TechSydney upon its launch in May. The not-for-profit wants to propel Sydney up the list of 'most desirable' city rankings for startups and technology talent.
He fears Sydney will be left behind in the new global economy, telling Business Insider: "If you look at it objectively through the eyes of the economy and business, 22% of our GDP is about to be disrupted by these high-growth technology companies."
After initial plans to raise $2 million to fund TechSydney's work fell well short, McEvoy was forced to rethink the strategy and instead turned to crowdfunding, which netted the organisation its $500,000 goal in days. As a result, Sydney now has the central point of co-ordination that many in the tech industry have long argued was necessary.
Sydney-based digital animation studio Animal Logic is best known for its work on Happy Feet, the Lego movies and The Matrix.
Late last year, the company opened a new animation studio in Vancouver, Canada, where 300 people are working on The Lego Movie sequel, joining the Hollywood and Sydney offices.
In 2016 CEO Zareh Nalbandian added academic rigour to the studio’s work, collaborating with the University of Technology Sydney to launch the UTS Animal Logic Academy, the first postgraduate degree of its kind - a Master of Animation and Visualisation.
Nalbandian is hoping the 50 students will help develop the pool of talent for Australia’s film industry.
ASX-listed Covata is an Australian data security company that's become a key player in cloud-based security. Telford's stewardship has secured the business of major listed companies, and this year it announced a 10-year deal with Cisco for cloud encryption technology called 'Keys as a Service'. It enables encryption in cloud computing for Cisco customers worldwide.
Though its share price has struggled this year, Covata has essentially positioned itself for the coming transformation as the Internet of Everything rolls out across personal devices and public infrastructure into the future.
Telford also founded one of Australia’s first mobile marketing technology companies with STW Group. He sold it to a digital venture within STW's parent company, WPP, the world’s largest advertising agency.
Austin is the founder and CEO of Divvy, a mobile enabled off-street parking technology.
Austin founded the business in 2011 to give drivers the opportunity to search and book parking spaces in commercial buildings at a fixed daily or monthly rate.
The digital startup currently has around 3,000 parking spaces in its portfolio across the Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane CBDs, with another 10,000 in the pipeline.
Last year, Divvy secured a $2.5 million Series A funding round, adding to its initial $300,000 in seed funding.
Marketplacer is an Australian online marketplace that this year raised $10 million to fund acquisitions and accelerate its international growth, bringing total amount raised to $21 million.
Marketplacer has now has founded 11 marketplaces including: BikeExchange, House of Home and Tixstar.
Wyatt started the business with co-founder Sam Salter back in 2006. The business now has offices in Melbourne, the USA, New Zealand and Germany, employing more than 100 people. It’s valued at around $70 million.
Senzaki joined Slack in September 2014 as the company's first HR hire and she has been instrumental in getting the company started in Australia.
She worked with hiring managers to accelerate headcount growth from under 50 to over 100 in just four months and expanded Slack's customer experience department into the APAC region. As the only recruiter Senzaki then turned her focus to recruiting and people teams to set the foundations to build out onboarding and orientation programs for new hires.
Slack is known for its killer company culture and most recently Senzaki orchestrated bringing 'Dan from Optus' to the team.
As well as her work in the APAC region, Senzaki led internal and external recruiters on hiring for the launch of the Dublin office in Ireland. She's currently part of the landing team in Melbourne where the company launched its APAC HQ in April.
Di Marco founded TechnologyOne, now Australia's largest enterprise software company, in 1987. He is now one of the longest-serving heads of an ASX-listed company.
After listing in 1999, the company now has annual revenue of more than $100 million and a market capitalisation of $1.9 billion.
Its products include HR and Payroll, supply chain and business intelligence. The company also has custom software development services for large scale, purpose built applications. TechnologyOne is pushing hard into the US market after establishing itself in the UK.
Fintech Australia is Australia’s national industry association, which aims to unify and support the local fintech community.
A creative designer who later become industry head (banking and finance) for Fairfax Media, Szetho became Fintech Australia's inaugural CEO in June. "My vision is to make Australia one of the world’s leading markets for fintech innovation," Szetho said at the time.
Fintech Australia has also received $300,000 from the LaunchVIC innovation fund to run Australia's first national fintech conference in November. The two-day conference aims to highlight Australia's importance in the international fintech community and will bring together fintech founders with industry leaders from around the globe.
When Strode first started working on Invoice2go in 2002, most software was bought in a store and came on CDs.
Since then it has grown and adapted, becoming one of Australia’s most successful technological exports.
Last year the business raised $15 million, bringing total funding to $50m. By April the business was valued at more than $133 million.
This year it opened a new office in Sydney, and started integrating with Apple Pay for Web.
The times will suit Kath McConnell, who left her management job at Macquarie Bank last year, to become Brighte’s CEO and founder. Surprisingly, she’s first female founder of a lending business in Australia, and self-funded her start-up.
As Australia comes to terms with renewables, the challenge for home users is paying for an investment of around $20,000. Enter McConnell, who’s essentially set herself up as a micro-banker for home improvements, with a focus on energy efficiency.
Brighte uses a mobile phone app to finance everything from solar panels to home batteries, and even roofing from approved vendors via unsecured zero interest finance agreements. Tesla battery seller Natural Solar is among the first vendors to get on board.
It's been a good start for McConnell whose $3.5 million seed funding round was oversubscribed, while she also signed on former KPMG boss Trevor Allen as chairman.
HashChing is Australia's first online marketplace allowing consumers to access home loan deals without having to shop around.
The fintech company got $1 million from Sapien Ventures, a venture capital fund started to attract cash from Chinese migrant investors who need to make mandatory investments and who themselves tend to be entrepreneurs.
Former banker Sodhi and Atul Narang started HashChing in August 2015 after finding they had home loans from the same bank but each got a different deal.
Their startup has been described by Victor Jiang of Sapien Ventures as making the 'mortgage broking market more consumer friendly and more efficient'.
George is the founder of OneShift, an online job marketplace.
She started the business in 2012 at the age of 21, and has since secured more than $5 million worth of funding, and grown the site's user base to 520,000 job seekers and 35,000 employers.
As a branch off from OneShift, George has also launched Skilld.com, an online marketplace that instantly connects local talent to local businesses.
She is heavily involved in the start-up and business community in Australia. She mentors for MURRU Indigenous Business School, Springboard Enterprises and is on the panel for Macleay College’s Industry Panel for Diploma of Business (Entrepreneurship). George leads several women in business and tech initiatives, including 'Women In Tech Australia' and 'Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine' which built over 3300 members in a matter of months.
Hackwood is one of the best-connected Australian technology executives in the Asia-Pacific.
He previously helped build out the PayPal business in Australia and recently moved to Singapore to lead the expansion of Braintree in the region.
He puts a friendly Australian face on a global company’s presence, and is also fiercely capable and detail-oriented.
Curious about the economics and fundamental value offerings of innovative businesses, Hackwood is a great store of knowledge on global technology and innovation.
The first thing James Spenceley did when he started telco Vocus Communications in 2007 was to make sure his sales people got the time to sell and not be bogged down in administration.
He simplified the sales agreement to one page, which immediately improved the hit rate for closing deals. Vocus now has a market capitalisation of $3.6 billion.
Spenceley, a BRW young rich-lister, has now launched another business, MHOR Asset Management, a diverse portfolio of high-growth smaller companies listed, or soon to list, on the ASX.
He wants to bring his knack of buying value companies to a managed fund and this week stepped down from the Vocus board.
Schebesta is the co-founder and director of finder.com.au, a comparison website.
Following its success in Australia, Schebesta and his team of more than 70 launched finder.com in the US in July last year. Since then Schebesta has been shuttling back and forth between New York and Sydney to grow finder.com’s international presence.
The site receives more than 1.2 million visits each month, and has seen 56% revenue growth for FY16, and has built an aggressive content operation designed to help consumers with their purchasing choices.
This year the brand also launched its first Innovation Awards, and revealed the first independently-owned free credit score check and a comprehensive NBN tracker.
In December, Vitek and co-founder Roby Sharon-Zipser scored a huge coup when media giant News Corp Australia took a 25% stake in their company, valuing the startup at more than $100 million.
The platform assists homeowners to find tradies, and since its start in a small garage in 2004, has grown to employ 200 people.
"We’re thrilled with the vote of confidence from News Corp Australia and look forward to working with our new strategic investors to continue to develop the platform, grow the hipages team, and accelerate marketing," Vitek said after signing the deal.
With a Masters in web science and BA in IT, you’d think Nirary Dacho would be top of Australia’s skilled migration list. Instead, he found himself unable to find work after applying for more than 100 jobs, having arrived here as a Syrian refugee.
So when he met Anna Robson (who’d worked at the Nauru detention centre), the future CEO and co-founder of Refugee Talent, at the Sydney Techfugee Hackathon in November last year, they decided to create their digital platform to connect skilled refugees with companies offering short and long term jobs.
Their business – which they see as a social service – is a welcome antidote to complaints about the taxpayer burden of refugees and takes the time to discover the skills they can contribute to nation-building.
The company is based in Sydney in inner-city Surry Hills but recently branched out to Melbourne and now plans to become national.
The genius and appeal of Tran's leather goods label is customisation. In less than two years, business is expected to net $15 million by the end of 2016 as people flock to get their initials stamped on wallets, handbags, phone cases and stationery.
That's a trebling of last year's $5 million, no doubt helped by an in-store partnership deal with David Jones, and Tran is currently in negotiations with US companies in the hopes of lining up a similar deal.
This year the brand made its debut on the runway at New York Fashion Week in a collaboration with US label TOME.
Unlockd is Berriman's hybrid telco with an advertising business. Mobile phone customers of the startup earn credit when they watch advertisements. The company is now pushing into international markets, including the UK and US.
The impressive investor register includes Lachlan Murdoch, Seven West Media board member Peter Gammell, Virgin Australia board member Sam Mostyn, Swisse Wellness CEO Radek Sali and Carsales.com.au CEO and founder Greg Roebuck.
Former Telstra chief executive Sol Trujillo is on the board and Ashley Conn, a former executive director at Goldman Sachs, is the chief financial officer.
As the head of technology at the National Blood Authority, O'Halloran built a single, real-time view of the nation's critical blood stores.
Once hospitals around the nation are hooked up to the system, the NBA will have a real-time view of the national blood supply, allowing it to respond quickly to emergencies. And save lives.
After nine years at the NBA, O'Halloran quit to join ACT Health as its CIO. The national capital will be expecting similarly big things from its new recruit.
Rybicki is leading the charge for Optus in content production, bidding $US150 million ($A200m) over three years on the Australian rights to the English Premier League, a move that shocked the sports, cable TV and telco industries. Optus is betting that content will rule customer choice for its mobile and broadband offerings.
His corporate courage on the strategy has been well-documented, with Optus having been massively burnt on its previous foray into content 20 years ago -- through the Super League rugby league war, C7 cable sports court case and the shutdown of the Optus Vision cable network.
And while there were initial teething issues with the 24/7 live app Optus specifically built for the EPL, it looks like die-hard soccer fans have happily settled into the new mobile venture, as observers wait to see whether such a bold gamble has paid off.
Hosking co-founded this online marketplace to provide artists with a way to monetise designs by printing them on clothing and homewares.
This year the business floated on the ASX, raising $30 million, along with an additional $9.8 million from the sale of shares owned by existing investors. Redbubble now has a market value of more than $268 million.
It was third time Hosking was involved in leading a tech co. IPO, having previously been chairman of Aconex (see No. 49), as well as playing an instrumental role in the float of search engine company LookSmart in 1999.
Hosking is the largest shareholder in Redbubble with a 24.15% stake.
Simson founded Redballoon back in 2001, and since then it has served more than 3.5 million customers. After more than a decade as CEO, she is now an executive director on the company’s board.
Last year she also become a director of global software platform Redii.com.
She is a ‘shark’ on Channel Ten’s Shark Tank and this year invested $100,000 into KISA, an easy-to-use phone aimed at the elderly and young children, plus another $100,000 into NewAgeStore.
One of the best-known faces in the Australian entrepreneurial community, Simson released the best seller ‘Live What You Love’, and this year released another book ‘Ready To Soar’.
Ross took over from long-serving CIO, Stephen Lawrie, at Australia’s largest gaming, lotteries and wagering business in January, following a year as head of technology transformation and process improvement.
At Tatts she leads a team of more than 400 technology and operations staff, and is charged with developing long-term strategic and digital roadmaps to prepare the company for transformative growth.
Prior to Tatts, Ross was CIO at online travel services provider, Wotif. In 2015, she was named Boss Young Executive of the Year, and CEO Magazine runner-up CIO of the Year.
Petrie developed the idea for Ingogo after having too many frustrating experiences trying to get a taxi. Since its launch, Ingogo has disrupted the traditional taxi monopoly, putting drivers and passengers in direct contact with one another through mobile technology.
In mid-2016, Ingogo challenged government-mandated taxi pricing by doing away with traditional meter-based charges in favour of fixed rate fares. Customers are now able to enter their destination and view the fare cost drivers have bid before taking a booking.
The new system calculates the distance and also takes the estimated time into account. There are no additional costs due to unprecedented traffic conditions and unlike Uber, there is no surge pricing.
Coder Factory is Siepen's Sydney-based coding school, aiming to make Australia more competitive on the global technology stage. It launched three years ago and offers the country's only accredited coding bootcamp.
The client base ranges from teachers, to children and businesspeople and counts Refugee Talent co-founder Anna Robson (her sidekick, Nirary Dacho, is at No. 62) among its interns.
In the past 12 months Coder Factory, with Melbourne's Academy of Information Technology, launched the first nationally accredited coding bootcamp for executives, giving them the chance to learn the basics so they can deploy new technologies more effectively and minimise company disruption. Siepen says it also helps to draw connections between coding, critical thinking and problem solving.
Bowers co-founded Melbourne-based Kloud in 2010, then pulled off a massive deal in January -- selling her cloud integration company to Telstra for a reported $40 million.
The Microsoft partner continues to operate under its own name, reportedly scooping a deal recently to migrate Qantas' 30,000 employees to Office 365 in one of the biggest projects of its kind in Australia.
Bowers was a long-time Microsoft employee with an engineering background before breaking out on her own. A Telstra executive told CRN at the time of the acquisition that Kloud was 'the missing piece of the puzzle' in its technology capabilities.
Fung is responsible for strategy and business development at Airtasker and also a founder and director of Tank Stream Labs – a co-working space in Sydney.
Airtasker is a community marketplace for anyone to outsource tasks, find local services or take on work that can range from graphic design to ironing, walking the dog or picking up parcels. There's a mobile app as well as the website.
Airtasker has more than 600,000 members across Australia, with $40 million-plus in task transaction volumes and more than 250,000 community-verified user reviews.
In June the business raised $22 million in a Series B round led by Seven West Media. This follows a $6.5 million raise in May last year.
A stem-cell biologist turned venture capitalist, Stead heads one of Australia's largest tech startup funds, Blue Sky.
In 2016, the company invested a record-breaking $25 million into online wine seller Vinomofo -- it was the sole investor and the first time Vinomofo took on venture funds.
Blue Sky also invested $13.6 million in Thailand-based aCommerce, its first investment in the south-east Asian market and first international bet outside of US-based companies.
A former McKinsey & Co. business analyst, Jasper co-founded the global construction industry’s most popular cloud collaboration with Rob Phillpot, raising $86 million in private equity before they floated Aconex on the ASX in December 2014.
This year they went on a buying spree, snapping up European rival Conject Holding, for €65 million ($96m) funded from a $120m capital raise. The acquisition was a handy boost, with revenue up 50% yoy (and 36% in ANZ) to a total of $123.4 million in FY16, delivering a net operating profit of $9.9m, having been $2.5m in the red for FY15.
The deal also pushed Aconex’s valuation past the $A1 billion, landing them in the ASX200 in the process. The business also subsequently signed a data integration collaboration deal with Dropbox.
Jasper is also a director of the NFP Burnet Institute, which aims to improve health outcomes in poor and vulnerable Australian communities.
Equiem’s motto, ‘changing the world, one square metre at a time’, is the modern high-rise tech solution to the conversations people once had over the back fence.
It’s a wry happenstance that someone who grew up in regional Victoria’s dairy country is now helping city people talk to each other thanks to an app first designed for the iconic Melbourne skyscraper Rialto.
McMillan came on board as CEO when Equiem launched in 2011. The business created the digital community app, Rialto Portal, following a conversation with the building’s owners, the Grollo Group, five years ago. The company says its apps bring a building’s users together, opening communication between owners, managers, retailers and the people who work there.
Those who live and work there can use it to do everything from skip the queue for lunch, to buy tickets, find exclusive events or enlist the concierge team to cater for specific whims.
As cities around the world increasingly point skywards, it’s an idea that will become increasingly critical to how everyone interacts as a community. Since launching, McMillan’s created another 95 online portal apps in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.
In April, the Perth-based Fastbrick Robotics became the first company in the world to demonstrate a fully-automated construction of a full-scale brick room from a 3D CAD model: The Hadrian 105 prototype, or the so-called one-armed robot bricklayer.
The company, which listed on the ASX in November 2015, has started building the next prototype, Hadrian X, which will have a capacity of up to 1,000 standard brick equivalents an hour via a 30-metre boom, with everything being delivered to a building site on the back of a truck.
It’s the next big step for Pivac in a journey which started in 2005. Already, the company is getting enquiries from around the world.
It’s one thing to have a great idea. It takes an even better idea to find the funds to bring it to fruition and when father and son Australian inventors Stuart and Cedar Anderson decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign for their revolutionary beehive system on Indiegogo last year, they rewrote the record books.
The pair, from Byron Bay on the NSW North Coast, were a little surprised when their $US70,000 target was reached in eight minutes. A day later, they had $US2.18 million ($AU2.8M), setting a record for the most funds raised in a day. It changed how people think about crowdfunding.
Their beehive design is clever technology in its own right, but making it happen was another clever use of technology. Just as orders began shipping on their global phenomenon last month, they opened the Indiegogo campaign one more time. It closed with a staggering $US13.24 million – just under $A20m – raised from 35,000 orders in 100 countries.
Hackett is well known in the IT and telco sector as the founder of Internode and a former NBN Co. director, a role he gave up in April this year to focus on his latest investment, ASX-listed Redflow, an energy storage (aka battery) company.
The serial entrepreneur is CEO and executive chairman of the 15-year-old business, which specialises in industrial zinc-bromide flow batteries for outdoor environments, but this year became an Australian rival to Elon Musk’s Tesla launching the Australian-designed ZCell home battery. It’s priced higher than Tesla’s product – at around $17,500-$19,500 for 10 kWh system.
If you’re looking for proof of how much he believes, Hackett is now the largest single shareholder with a 14% stake in Redflow, a company which is valued at more than $160 million on the ASX.
He recently declared that the home battery market ‘feels like the start of the internet boom’ 25 years ago. Redflow is using its unique technology to target the European market. Expect big things from a man who has a history of delivering them.
Ben Chong is a busy guy. He has a reputation for razor-sharp analytical skills which he brings to Right Click Capital, which invests in and supports online and tech related businesses in Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia.
In August 2016 it was announced that Right Click would be the first Australian firm to join the Draper Venture Network, the $2.1 billion global investor alliance headed by Tim Draper. The groundwork for the partnership was laid at this years' South By South West conference in Austin, Texas. The organisation spans over 60 countries and offers Right Click's portfolio companies international funding options without having to necessarily move offshore.
Chong uses a psychometric test for founders seeking funding from Right Click Capital. "Fluid intelligence measures the ability of a founder to adapt to change," he explains. "Given the high likelihood of ongoing change in a startup, whether it’s a change of business model, customers, or staff, we believe this is a critical characteristic of successful founders."
Parker co-founded muru-D, a startup accelerator-sponsored program in Sydney and Singapore, and a partner program in Brisbane, with Telstra executive Charlotte Yarkoni. Founded three years ago, the Telstra-owned incubator is a model for other corporates looking to tackle innovation. Parker is one of Australia's most prominent tech evangelists and director and chairman of Code Club Australia, a network of coding clubs for children aged 9–11.
Liubinskas is a veteran of Sydney’s startup community, building his own companies and mentoring others (he worked on Spreets and co-founded Pollenizer, an early accelerator), before moving to San Francisco this year, hoping to build bridges between here and the US tech ecosystem. He is vocal about gaps he sees in the Australian tech industry – including on organisation - and will continue involvement with muru-D from afar.
muru-D invests in up to 10 startups every six months, giving advice to entrepreneurs to help scale ideas and leverage the experience and networks that Telstra brings. Thus far it has invested in 44 start-ups - 41 still operate - generating over $14 million in funding and $7.8 million in revenue, as well as 269 jobs.
The brothers created H2 Ventures last year with the mission to invest in 100 fintech startups in four years. The pair pulled off a multimillion-dollar coup in March in securing Investec Australia as a shareholder.
H2 puts $100,000 into each startup in return for 10% equity. The startup then goes into accelerator mode for six months. The company aims for 80% success rate in getting the venture to a seed funding round.
The Heaps are well-known figures in the fintech community and act as advisers and mentors to the growing fintech community.
Imagine Kim Kardashian meeting fans in virtual reality and you have some idea of the potential behind Scott O’Brien’s person-to-person VR system.
Just a year after the Sydney startup launched, O’Brien, who previously co-founded the augmented reality business Explore Engage, and Humense co-founder Amber Cordeaux managed to score funding from CRCM/Youku, the JV between Alibaba and San Francisco’s CRCM Venture Capital.
While messenger services are preoccupied embedding video chat in their apps, the duo plan to use the Alibaba investment to scale up and go global with their tech, which if you’re not a reality TV star, could be used to stay in touch with family and friends. O’Brien’s goal is to make everyone able to co-exist in a VR sense the same space with another person via their eyewear.
Richardson and Greiner are the founders of Campaign Monitor, an email marketing firm which shot to prominence in 2014 when it sold a $348 million stake in the business to prominent US venture capital firms.
The deal valued their business at about $600 million, catapulting the duo into the ranks of the richest Australians. The pair have an estimated combined wealth of $543 million.
The business now has offices in Sydney, San Francisco and recently announced it was setting up a European HQ in London, initially to support its more than 25,000 British customers.
Campaign Monitor has two million customers in 151,000 businesses across 186 countries -- including tech giant, Facebook.
Alex Scandurra finds himself at the eye of an innovation storm. There are a range of co-working and collaboration hubs in Sydney, but Stone & Chalk is the undisputed centre of gravity for the Sydney fintech scene. The not-for-profit organisation opened its Sydney branch late last year and aims to improve innovation and help to bring the corporate sector and startups closer together.
In February, it was announced that the federal government would provide $150,000 for Stone & Chalk's FinTech Asia program -- which aims to attract corporate partners and investors for their startups from Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo.
The company has also partnered with CSIRO’s Data61 to promote the importance of cyber security in the financial sector -- for both large corporations and startups.
White started WiseTech, a software solutions provider for logistics companies, in his basement in the 1990s with only four staff and a credit card. Its core product is CargoWise One, which lets freight and shipping companies companies keep track of their goods.
White says people told him when he was building the company that it wouldn’t work. When he wanted to take it global, people said the same thing. In April the company successfully floated on the ASX, smashing expectations on its valuation which currently is around $1.6 billion.
The IPO catapulted White onto the BRW Rich List. 'The stock price is moving very well... so now we can get on to the work of running the business,' he said on the day. All class.
Hango-Zada and On are the co-founders and joint CEOs of Shippit, a rapidly-growing logistics startup which partners with retailers to 'Uber-like' experience for their customers.
Since launching in February 2015, Shippit has signed deals with delivery and courier companies such as Australia Post, TNT, and Mail Call Courier. It also has more than 300 merchants using its platform, including Harvey Norman, which it teamed up with this year to enable same-day and scheduled deliveries.
Hango-Zada and his team is working to release new tech delivery solutions, as well as escalate customer acquisition and partnerships. It's an interesting position to be in as traditional postal services find themselves increasingly redundant but e-commerce grows demand for smart delivery solutions. Shippit is a company to watch.
Bassat co-founded Seek with his brother Paul (see No. 21) in 1997 and this since then it has grown into a business that serves the job market across the globe.
Seek recently reported a full year profit of $348.9 million, up 27%. Much of the growth is attributable to re-investment in new technology-based products and services such as scheduling, rostering and time tracking software Ximble and Sidekicker, a way of hiring temporary staff. The company is also always looking for new opportunities, particularly in the technology sphere.
"Seek believes that via technology and data, its experience in building online marketplaces and relationships with hirers and candidates positions the business to solve large and complex problems for hirers and candidates," says Bassat, who has proved himself a dogged CEO who is always thinking about the big picture.
Brycki is a former trader and portfolio manager at UBS, and one of the sharpest CEOs in the burgeoning fintech category.
He created Stockspot, an automated investment adviser, in 2013 to disrupt the traditional world of investment and wealth management. It was the first online investment adviser and fund manager, providing a digital and technologically based business model.
The company aims to make investment management more accessible to Australians who have been locked out of the market.
In August Stockpot announced a partner program, allowing financial professionals to use the robo-adviser platform and services for their own clients.
Enlisting in the army at the age of 15, Baxter completed an apprenticeship in electronics, telecoms and guided weapon systems. By 23 he had launched his first internet-based startup and since then has established a long history with tech companies both at home and with large scale data networks abroad.
He is also one of the judges of Shark Tank Australia, specialising in tech, and he's one of the rare vocal opponents of the NBN project in the tech community.
In 2012, Baxter founded River City Labs, a co-working community that promotes and develops startups and early stage businesses within the Queensland and wider Australian tech sphere. In addition to moving to Fortitude Valley, which is quickly becoming a Brisbane tech hub, and doubling in size, River City Labs has spent 2016 hosting initiatives such as Hackathons and pitching events.
Fox is the co-founder and COO at Shoes of Prey.
Fox has been at the forefront of the fashion industry's relentless march towards customisation. Shoes of Prey started as a platform that allows you to customise footwear, but it has become a strong brand in its own right, having a physical presence in Nordstrom stores in the US, a market which now makes up 50% of sales. Fox has relocated to the US to drive that growth. Nordstrom was a key investor in a $US15.5 million funding round last December.
This year, Fox sparked a thought-provoking discussion around the treatment of female entrepreneurs through her YouTube video, 'Can he say that?'.
In the past 12 months the business has shipped to more than 100 countries, introduced 11 new products, and has started experimenting with 3D printing. Fox has also been asked to speak at a number of conferences including Mastercard Global Innovation Forum in Budapest, the World Retail Congress in Rome and South By Southwest in Austin.
2016 has been a huge year for Australia’s financial technology sector and Simon Cant has played a leading role in ensuring its place on the agenda for policy, business, and investors.
The former solicitor is co-founder and MD of Reinventure Group, a new $50 million Westpac-backed venture fund.
He is also president of Fintech Australia, which has been central to the formation of the federal government’s ‘Backing Australian Fintech’ policy agenda and the formation of the Treasurer’s Fintech Advisory Group.
All of this has been central to building a supportive environment for Australian fintech startups on matters like blockchain, VC, and robo-advice.
Catapult Sports produces wearable solutions for elite sports. Clients include the New York Giants, Golden State Warriors, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and AC Milan, Collingwood FC and the Wallabies.
Jealous? So are we.
The electronics collect nearly 1000 data points per second per athlete, streaming information wirelessly to the coach's computer and then up into the cloud, where proprietary analytics create insights into performance and injury prevention.
Holthouse has been responsible for creating and developing the business plan, sourcing seed funding, negotiating the technology licence and the subsequent purchase of Catapult’s foundation technology from the Commonwealth Co-operative Research Centre.
Since launching in 2006, the team now has 220 people across four offices worldwide, with Holthouse overseeing Catapult’s senior management team and its Australian, US and European operations, as well as the integration of GPSports.
Catapult listed on the ASX in 2014 and this year secured a $100 million capital raising to acquire two sports analytics companies.
Cooper has spent nearly three decades fostering technology and innovation within the business sector, mainly in finance, through various ventures.
In 2013 he founded The Start Society, which helps tech entrepreneurs create and scale businesses globally, and has helped 300 businesses in that Cooper himself has been involved in companies that have seen $120 million worth of exits in his career, which has also included time at Macquarie Bank and Standard Chartered. He is an active angel investor with 65 angel investments in his portfolio, helped establish the Fishburners co-working space, and also mentors companies through the Founder Institute and Telstra's incubator muru-D.
In late 2015, Cooper was one of the only major players in the industry to say Malcolm Turnbull's Innovation Statement was nowhere near as ambitious as it should be.
"It should be 10 times larger, and faster and simpler to get world recognition for Australia. A $1 billion announcement (of which much was already pre-committed like wi-fi revenues from Aussie inventions) meanwhile a new $1 billion company is being created every four days in the USA and we should have $150 billion of our $2 trillion in superannuation into startups. We should be adding a zero or two and building the tech startup hub for Asia with 50 new incubators and a startup stock exchange," he told Business Insider.
As the managing director of Blackbird, Niki Scevak has made it his business to invest in Australian startups, particularly within the tech realm.
In late 2015 Blackbird's Australian startup program, Startmate, raised $200 million to invest exclusively in local businesses. It also increased the amount it can invest in startups from $50,000 to $150,000.
"Startups should be valued higher than they have been in the last five or 10 years. It is a global financing market at the seed level," says Scevak. He also believes the tech industry needs to be taken more seriously in the business world. "Technology isn’t (sitting in) the corner of the world, this is the business world."
Beyond the seed phase, Blackbird aims to continue supporting these businesses over a longer period. One of the primary aims of this is to keep Australian startups in the country so they wouldn't have to move overseas to access capital.
Stollmann leads Australia's newest bank. The payments platform provider has had a massive 12 months that started with becoming the first technology company to obtain a banking licence, then raising $100 million from Tiger Global Management in the US, TDM Asset Management in Australia, and Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes.
The former German shadow minister for economy and technology is determined to challenge the Australian banking orthodoxy. He criticises the Big Four for their conservatism towards small to medium businesses, and calls Tyro's offerings 'frictionless banking'.
As far as career moves go, Maile Carnegie’s jump from Google Australia managing director to the ANZ earlier this year was the tech equivalent of Buddy Franklin leaving Hawthorn for the Swans.
No doubt ANZ is hoping Carnegie’s move will deliver similar success. The bank's new digital boss argues her new workplace isn’t that different to Google when it comes to risk and innovation, citing blockchain, big data, and artificial intelligence as the three key areas that will transform banking in the coming years.
Operating in a sector ripe for disruption and already attracting a swarm of fintech startups gives Carnegie the fascinating dual roles of both inviting the competition in to collaborate while protecting a traditional incumbent at the same. It’s the sort of challenge someone who believes the digital revolution has only just begun will relish.
Serial tech entrepreneur Slattery pulled off a $205 million acquisition, with his dark fibre company Superloop snapping up fixed wireless provider BigAir in September. The company is building networks around the Asia-Pacific to allow private connection networks between corporates, a valuable offering in an age when network speed and security are critical business considerations.
The move attracted some fierce backing, with $65 million capital raising closing in just one hour. Shortly after the deal RBC Capital Markets called out Superloop as a "a compelling investment opportunity", citing Slattery's past experience with scaling out Pipe Networks and NextDC.
Slattery is also heavily involved in the swimming community, holding a non-executive directorship with Swimming Australia and recruiting Olympic gold medallist Libby Trickett into his other company, Megaport.
Seek co-founder Paul Bassat knows a thing or two about turning a startup into one of the biggest and most successful companies in the country. He's done it himself and is now turning his hand to making it happen for other founders.
After leaving Seek five years ago he started Square Peg Capital, a venture capital company that aims to invest in and support promising, tech-driven startups.
In the last 12 months Bassat launched a new $200 million venture capital fund, with James Packer as one of the major investors. His interests reach far beyond tech now, as he is an AFL commissioner and a member of the Wesfarmers board.
20. Stuart Richardson, founder and managing partner, Adventure Capital; co-founder, York Butter Factory
Richardson has spent a decade building Adventure Capital, where he has helped grow founding teams and startups with seed and series A investment. The fund's board includes Chris Fry, a former senior vice president at Salesforce and Twitter and now a researcher at Berkeley.
In 2011, Richardson co-founded York Butter Factory, a co-working space for startups that resides in an 1850s heritage listed building in the heart of Melbourne. His venture funding activity and work at York Butter have made him an influential figure in Melbourne's tech community. A former Army engineer who later attended Stanford, he was an early investor in fintech company Clover and is a founder of property management disruptor Equiem.
In late 2015 York Butter Factory formed a partnership with Salesforce, which now has a permanent home in the space. It also recently partnered with ANZ to help foster growth within the fintech community.
Australia tends to rank poorly on international ratings tables for collaboration between industry and academia. Sally-Ann Williams is on a mission to change that. She is responsible for a portfolio of programs including Computer Science and STEM education & outreach (K-12), as well as research collaborations with universities and entrepreneurship and startup engagement.
In her role leading Google’s education engagement she manages over 55 partnerships & programs designed to inspire students, equip teachers, and connect the community. Most recently this work has included national implementation strategies to support ACARA’s Digital Technology curriculum and help position Australia as a nation of innovators.
In her role with the startup community she manages partnerships and collaborates with co-working spaces, incubators and accelerators, universities and the public sector to build and grow the ecosystem.
Folsom and his longtime business partner Price have been well-established names in the Australian entrepreneurial community for at least a decade, but they are showing no signs of slowing down.
Together they have a formidable network. They built Blueprint Management Group from an initial $10,000 investment into a company which sold to private equity in 2006 for $109 million. Folsom's Elevation Capital counts Canva, Posse, and Shoes of Prey among its portfolio.
They are both highly active investors and mentors. In February, they launched Club Investible, an investors' network based around a unit trust that backs promising startups. In September, a $25,000-per-year "crash course" for potential angel investors, First Angel, got underway.
Bridget Loudon's Expert360 aims to meet the demand for highly specialised advisers in a world where companies are tackling ever-more-complex problems. The company has been busy building its presence in Asia and this year also opened an office in the US, because its client base includes companies like Mastercard and Virgin which want the service available in their various markets.
Expert360 allows companies to find short-term help by matching consultants for freelance work. The company closed a $4.1 million funding round this year with backers including former Macquarie Bank boss and now RBA board member Allan Moss, and ex-CBA and Westpac CIO Bob McKinnon.
Expert360 is built on the idea that companies regularly face small problems which would benefit from expert oversight or input, but budgets and timeframes don't stretch to the cost and time requirements of traditional consultancy firms. Building a critical mass of experts also allows for extremely high levels of specialisation, creating a powerful and disruptive alternative to the global consulting giants.
The ability of fintech startups to really inflict damage on established banking models depends on interest from people like Yetton, a former Westpac Banking Group senior executive who this year joined peer-to-peer lender SocietyOne as CEO.
He has more than two decades’ experience in financial services having worked in senior leadership roles in banking, funds management and wealth management.
This year he was also announced as a member of the federal government's fintech advisory group.
Since the beginning of the year, SocietyOne has arranged $50 million of personal loans on its online platform. This was nearly double the $26 million of new lending in the December half of last year, and 10 times the $5 million from the corresponding period of 2015.
At a Business Insider event earlier this year, McKnight outlined the typical service customers find at established law firms: you call them, and maybe two or three days later, you'll hear from someone. 'That's not hard to disrupt,' McKnight said.
McKnight joined LegalVision as CEO having worked at top-tier law firms internationally. The company is both a startup and a law firm, with its online platform offering clients access to an entire network of lawyers.
The firm's lower overheads allow it to offer convenient as well as fixed-fee services to corporate and commercial clients. Earlier this year the firm raised $4.2 million in series B funding, led by top-tier law firm, Gilbert + Tobin. The funds will go towards further developing its tech offering, such as integrated machine learning and self-executing smart contracts.
The company also intends to increase their presence in under-served regional communities, as well as international cities with Australian trade flows.
AirTree Ventures announced in September it had completed raising a $250 million venture fund for Australian startups. The pot is claimed to be the country's largest startup fund.
"If there’s a bigger (Australian) fund, we’d love to know!" Blair told Business Insider, adding that the $250 million was raised in a "matter of months", courtesy of support from previous investors.
"The fundraising journey didn’t take too long... we were very lucky," said Blair. "Almost all of the investors from previous funds came back in."
The company claims two big-name superannuation funds among its new investors and it has investments include Canva, Prospa, and Design Crowd.
Stevanja is the co-founder and CEO Stylerunner, a pureplay activewear aggregator that's the first of its kind.
Since launching the business in 2012, it has since shipped to more than 100 countries, built a cult social media community of more than half a million followers, and has a top tier offering from more than 70 curated sportswear brands including iconic major labels Nike, adidas, Reebok, and Puma.
In 2016, Julie launched Stylerunner's publishing arm, Triple White, to further inspire and inform their social media following of over 500,000 fans.
Julie won the Young Retail Entrepreneur of the Year at the World Retail Awards in 2016. She was also a finalist in CEO Magazine's Startup Executive of the Year and Veuve Clicquot's New Generation Award.
Starting the company from his parent's garage, Ruslan Kogan has spent the last decade transforming kogan.com.au into Australia's largest online retailer.
"The internet shatters barriers to entry in industries," Kogan told Business Insider. "To start the business that I had in mind — cut out the middle man, get a private label that uses the same or similar components to the big brands, and sell it direct to consumer in a way that is more price efficient, is actually possible online."
Kogan.com's mid-2016 IPO was the first time its founder took on equity partners, a somewhat unique situation, which means Kogan still retains 50.5% of the company and his shares are worth roughly $85 million. With his reputation for unexpected decisions - such as this year buying the online component of the dying Dick Smith electronics retail business - he is worth keeping an eye on.
Delivering market-leading innovation is an immense challenge for long-established, heritage businesses. While CBA has an edge in the sector in terms of its digital customer offering, it has also been working on some remarkable innovations, including building a working blockchain, the distributed ledger technology which many believe will transform institutional finance. David Whiteing leads all that activity as the bank's CIO.
The bank has been rolling out a payments platform, Albert, which has seen rapid uptake by small businesses. As an executive at a blue-chip listed company, Whiteing is an unusual inclusion on the list but the category-leading evolution of CBA’s technology platform is acknowledged even by rivals.
Eikmeier is the co-founder of Vinomofo, an Australian boutique wine e-retailer, which launched in 2011.
In April the business raised $25 million from Blue Sky Venture Capital, the single biggest funding round raised by an Australian tech start-up that did not have the assistance of an overseas investor.
In June Vinomofo officially launched in New Zealand with a 48 hour pop-up sale showcasing world-class New Zealand, Australian and European wines.
In the 12 months to April, Vinomofo had also doubled its turnover, and was on track to surpass $50 million in annual revenue for the financial year.
Following the huge success of the launch and more than 14,000 new New Zealand members, Vinomofo opened its virtual doors in New Zealand for good.
The launch is part of the broader roll-out a ‘lite’ version of its business model. It plans a launch into Singapore as its second international market before the end of the year, followed by Hong Kong, China, the US and UK. The company has hit an annual run rate of $60 million.
Lu's brainchild is Showpo, a Sydney-based online fashion retailer. It's still relatively small operation but is growing quickly and into new markets. In September the business hit a $25 million run rate with 35% of sales now to customers outside Australia. It has also launched a business-oriented channel called Executive Ponies, perhaps recognising that its loyal customers are starting to advance in their careers.
Lu, an indefatigable character who once quit a corporate career and spent six months hiding it from her family, aims to build Showpo into a $100 million business by 2020 with no external funding.
As a core part of its growth strategy, Showpo built a social media community of more than 2.2 million followers and plans on expanding its team to 20 permanent staff members. Showpo crossed a million followers on Instagram and has more than 722,017 fans on Facebook, while its online store is now dispatching over 20,000 orders per month.
She is also a founding member of the social club for female entrepreneurs, 'Like-minded b***ches drinking wine'.
It’s been a milestone year for the world's largest online freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace, Freelancer, and its bellicose CEO and founder Matt Barrie. The business hit 20 million registered users and 10 million projects, while making the top 10 in the Stevie Awards, one of the world’s premier business awards competitions. Barrie heads to Rome next week to collect his accolades.
Freelancer, which now has more than 20 million users worldwide, posted a 56% increase in net revenue to $26.2 million in the first half of this year. It had more than $35 million in cash on hand to fund further expansion.
As his business thrived, Barrie also found time to take on NSW premier Mike Baird over Sydney’s controversial lockout laws in a vociferous campaign that attracted a strong following, as well as running StartCon 2016, Australia's largest startup and growth conference.
Meanwhile, recognising that one-fifth of the online world is in China, Freelancer added the yuan to its roster of supported currencies, as well as Chinese payment gateways Alipay and UnionPay. Last year, it also acquired the California-based online escrow service company Escrow.com, which counts eBay, GoDaddy and AutoTrader.com among its partners.
Back in 1987, Meij was a pizza delivery driver who was studying to be a teacher. Over the following three decades he climbed the career ladder to not only become the CEO of one of the biggest pizza chains in the world, but to ensure that one of the constant toppings was innovation.
Domino's has transformed, however, into a tech company. It has a suite of consumer tech products that is constantly in a state of evolution - like one-touch app ordering and real-time GPS pizza tracking - but the company's shares are priced like a tech company too, trading at an eye-watering P/E ratio of more than 70 while the broader market is trading in the mid-teens.
The huge development this year was Domino's announcing a partnership with drone specialists Flirtey to debut the first commercial model for drone pizza delivery. This could revolutionise the concept of fast food delivery. Regular deliveries are expected to start in New Zealand next year and if it works, it's the kind of thing that could change an industry around the world.
It is not missed on Meij that what he's doing could make entirely redundant his first job at Domino's as a pizza delivery guy. But he believes the vast infrastructure required to support automated delivery of pizzas would create an entire new wave of better jobs to replace them.
Canva is a cloud-based answer to Adobe Photoshop, offering online tools to make it easy for anyone to do advanced graphic design work.
In the past 12 months, users have jumped from 1.5 million to over 10 million. Its iPhone app was downloaded around 500,000 times in the first month it was available. The company this year closed a $21 million funding round that included money from Hollywood stars Woody Harrelson and Owen Wilson.
Canva has been positioned to take advantage of the explosive growth in visual content on digital platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, and its customers span all sorts of users from marketing managers and social media marketers to small business owners and senior executives.
Perkins thought of the idea at the age of 19, after being frustrated by how time consuming and difficult traditional graphic design programs were to use. She has already founded her first startup at this point, Fusion Books, which helped schools custom design their year books. Nine years later, this Sydney-based company has revolutionised the world of graphic design.
Like a 21st Century Lennon and McCartney, Jobs and Wozniak, or Rogers and Astaire, it's impossible to separate Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes as one heart and mind at the core of Atlassian's success. The $US4.4 billion float of the Sydney-based collaboration software group on Wall Street was the most successful tech IPO of 2015. The company’s currently valued at more than $US6 billion.
Atlassian sets a bar for other Australian businesses to aspire to, from sharing the internal insight for running the 300 teams Atlassian has working on the company’s collaboration tools, to its pledge to invest 1% of the company in philanthropic ventures, and its five values, which include “Open company: no bullshit”, and “Don’t #@!% the customer”.
As founders of Australia’s most successful tech company, Farquhar and Cannon-Brookes have become spokespeople for their industry and generation, and fought hard, but ultimately unsuccessfully, to retain the Australian Technology Park as a tech hub before the NSW government sold the 14 hectare site to a consortium led by developer Mirvac and the Commonwealth Bank.
Now, 14 years after the pair began, they have 1400 staff in six locations and this year, beat rival Slack to one-tap video conferencing on its workplace messaging app, Hipchat.
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