Joe Davenport and Owen Kerr, the founders of online foreign exchange platform Pepperstone, have been named 2014 EY Australian Entrepreneurs Of The Year.
They started Pepperstone at the end of 2010 and the Melbourne-based business has grown into a global company with offices in China and the USs.
Pepperstone now services more 20,000 retail investors in more than 150 countries with an average trading volume of over US $3.3 billion per day.
This positions Pepperstone in the top 15 retail FX brokers globally.
Owen, a former trader, and Joe, a former foreign exchange broker, plan to introduce new products to feed an even bigger market and are exploring the possibility of a public listing.
Here they explain how hard they worked to make Pepperstone a success:
Joe: “I believe that the spirit of entrepreneurism is being opportunistic and identifying new ways to sell products and build businesses. So that was my inspiration – seeking out those opportunities and then creating a business around them.”
Owen: “I knew I didn’t want to work in a big corporate organisation. I wanted to create something – to have that entrepreneurial journey and have the challenge of building something from the ground up.”
Owen: “Joe and I met through a mutual friend. We were both interested in foreign exchange trading. At the time, Joe was a foreign exchange broker and I was a trader. We looked at the foreign exchange landscape and had some ideas on how we could create a better broker experience through automation and technology. So that’s really how the idea for Pepperstone came about.”
Joe: “We looked at the market of online foreign exchange and realised that there was a lot of cost involved and it wasn’t really accessible to the average person. We saw that as an opportunity, so we developed a product, brought it to market and it’s been very successful.”
Joe: “I think the key to our success has been a lot of hard work, drive, focus and not being afraid to make mistakes. We’ve made some mistakes along the way, but you have to just try and try again. That’s a big part of being an entrepreneur.”
Owen: “It hasn’t always been easy. We’ve faced quite a few obstacles but, through sheer hard work, we were able to overcome those obstacles and I think that’s ultimately what drives success.”
Owen: “We didn’t really have much money when we were setting up the business. We were living on tuna and beans and scraping together everything we could to put into the business. We had to overcome financial obstacles and regulatory obstacles and really just start making relationships and knock down doors.”
Joe: “Pepperstone is the thirteenth largest foreign exchange broker globally at the moment. The obvious goal for us is to become number one and we’ve got a clear path to get there. We’re expanding into Europe and other regions and we believe we can deliver that within a short time frame. We’re well on track with our expansion plans.”
Owen: “We’re also looking at an IPO this year which will take the business to the next level, so we’re working towards that too. We’re excited about the future of the business.”
Owen: “I think the Australian entrepreneurial landscape can be challenging. It’s quite different from some other places in the world; there’s not a lot of bank financing or venture capital options when you’re at an early stage in the start-up process. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing though as you end up with the higher quality businesses being strong enough to make it through. I liken it to evolution: only the strongest start-ups will end up surviving.”
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