These Victorians Are In The Running To Be Australian Entrepreneur Of The Year

Last year’s winner Seek CEO Andrew Bassat video / Vimeo

Hot bread, software, foreign exchange trading and cosmetics are winning products for Victorian entrepreneurs.

These took out top honours at last night’s 2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Southern Region awards ceremony in Melbourne:

  • Emerging – Sam Chandler, Nitro Software Pty Ltd
  • Industry – Michael O’Keeffe, Aesop
  • Services – Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr, Pepperstone
  • Technology – Chris Dance and Matt Doran, PaperCut Software International

Also recognised in the non-competitive regional award categories is Tim Conolan of TLC for kids who was named Social entrepreneur.

And Lesley Gillespie and Roger Gillespie of Bakers Delight were named Champions of Entrepreneurship.

The Southern Region winners and Social entrepreneur will go on to represent the state at the national awards in November where they will compete for the title of 2014 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year.

EY’s Melbourne Managing Partner Gerard Dalbosco says:

“Successful entrepreneurs have an extraordinary passion, self-belief and drive that keeps them going when others might give up.”

Winners by category:

Emerging: Sam Chandler, Nitro Software Pty Ltd.

Sam Chandler of Nitro Software. Contributed.

Inspired by his parents, both small business owners, Sam Chandler started his first company aged 16. In 2005, Sam founded Nitro, a software company providing businesses with powerful yet cost-efficient solutions for document sharing and collaboration. Today, more than 450,000 businesses worldwide, including over 50% of the Fortune 500, run Nitro and over 8 million people from almost 200 countries use Nitro products every month. Founded in Melbourne but headquartered in San Francisco, Nitro has more than 150 employees across five countries. With a NASDAQ or NYSE IPO on the horizon and a growth-target of 200 employees by year-end, Sam is planning to continue Nitro’s rapid expansion. What the judges said: “Nitro is an exciting business with enormous potential. Sam Chandler has already achieved significant wins, taking market share from more dominant and established global competitors. Sam leads the business with a clear vision and strong execution. He has also been able to attract top talent to Nitro, despite competition from some of the world’s leading technology companies.”

Industry: Michael O’Keeffe, Aesop.

Michael O’Keeffe of Aesop. Contributed.

Michael O’Keeffe is the CEO of Aesop, an Australian cosmetics line founded in Melbourne in 1987. Michael joined the business in 2003 after a diverse career that even included a short stint as a professional cyclist. Right from the start, Michael was convinced that Aesop had a global opportunity if he transformed the company from a wholesaler into a retailer. Today Aesop has a presence in 12 countries and a strong, creative and innovative brand. Over the next five years, Michael is planning expand Aesop to 20 countries while still manufacturing all their products locally. What the judges said: “Michael O’Keeffe’s flair for executing the grandest of visions has seen him successfully transform Aesop into a global, vertically integrated business. Michael has achieved tremendous growth since taking the reins of this distinctive Australian brand in 2005. His ability to achieve this in a competitive segment, while remaining true to Aesop’s core beliefs, is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit and integrity.”

Services: Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr, Pepperstone.

Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr of Pepperstone. Contributed.

Owen Kerr and Joe Davenport founded the online forex broker, Pepperstone, at the end of 2010. The Melbourne-based business has quickly grown into a global company, with offices in China and the US. Today, Pepperstone services more than 20,000 retail investors in more than 150 countries with an average trading volume of over $3.3 billion per day. This positions Pepperstone in the top 15 retail FX brokers globally. Going forward, Owen and Joe plan to introduce new products to feed an even bigger market and are exploring the possibility of a public listing. What the judges said: “From a standing start, Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr have achieved exceptional financial results with Pepperstone within a very short time frame. Joe and Owen have overcome significant challenges to build a dynamic and profitable business. Through clever use of technology, they are providing a superior offering to their clients and positioning Pepperstone as a serious challenger to more established firms.”

Technology: Chris Dance and Matt Doran, PaperCut Software International

Chris Dance and Matt Doran of PaperCut. Contributed

Chris Dance and Matt Doran founded PaperCut Software International in 1998 after noticing careless students dumping volumes of paper after printing documents they did not even look at. Frustrated by the lack of thought around wasting paper, the founders developed a “little piece of software” to provide schools the control over who printed what and when. That simple concept quickly spread to universities, prestigious schools, government departments and scores of businesses. With passion and time it evolved into an award-winning print management solution used in 116 countries and in 27 languages. What the judges said: “From a simple idea to reduce printing, Chris Dance and Matt Doran have built a successful and highly profitable business. Chris and Matt have an irrepressible enthusiasm for PaperCut which shows in their strong focus on innovation and on doing the right thing by their customers and staff. Their ‘vendor neutral’ strategy has allowed them to achieve significant growth worldwide, with the PaperCut product now sold in 116 countries and in 27 languages. “

2014 EY Entrepreneur Of The Year non-competitive award recipients, Southern Region:

Social entrepreneur: Tim Conolan, TLC for kids.

Tim Conolan of TLC. Contributed.

Tim Conolan established TLC for kids with his long-term partner in 1998. TLC for kids is a not-for-profit organisation that provides immediate distraction and practical or emotional support to sick children and their families, during critical times of crisis and hardship, regardless of their illness, condition or background. Since its inception the charity has assisted more than four million sick children and their families. With passion and infectious positivity, Tim has spearheaded TLC for kids’ remarkable growth and his mission remains clear: to ensure every child in every hospital in Australia has the emotional and practical support they need.

Champions of Entrepreneurship: Lesley Gillespie and Roger Gillespie, Bakers Delight.

Roger and Lesley Gillespie of Baker Delight. Contributed.

The Champion of Entrepreneurship award is a lifetime achievement award that recognises individuals who: have a long-term record of outstanding entrepreneurial achievement; have driven the growth of an Australian company, or companies, over a sustained period of time; and have made a significant contribution to their community.
Lesley Gillespie is Co-Founder, Executive Director and Joint CEO of Bakers Delight as well as a Director and co-owner of the grocery outlet chain NQR. Her achievements include being a finalist in the 2004 Prime Minister’s Award for Community Partnerships, receiving the 2002 Boroondara Citizen of the Year (shared with her husband Roger), an Order of Australia Medal in 2006 and a Fellowship from Monash University in 2013 where she gained an Honours Degree in Science and a Diploma of Education
Roger Gillespie is Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Bakers Delight, the largest national chain of bakeries in Australia with more than 700 bakeries operating throughout Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Roger has been inducted into the Hall of Fame for both the Swinburne University of Technology’s Australian Graduate School of Entrepreneurship (AGSE) and the Franchising Council of Australia. Roger has been named Citizen of the Year for the City of Boroondara (shared with his wife Lesley) and was granted an Order of Australia for his tireless work within the community.

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