Successful entrepreneurs under 40
From start-ups to established, growing businesses, be inspired by the success stories of 15 businesspeople in Australia under the age of 40.
1. Malan Dimopoulos, 22
Native Oz Cuisine Pty Ltd
Melbourne-based Native Oz Cuisine is the only indigenous-owned company producing food products using indigenous ingredients, combined with innovative recipes and packaging. Specialising in manufacturing Australian meals and sauces—including Kangaroo Lasagne and Melbournian Pasta Sauce– all its products are free from anything artificial.
Set up in 2006, the company received support from the Koori Business Network and the Victorian government and finance through BankWest.
Dimopoulos, 22, director of Native Oz Cuisine, is a proud Aboriginal woman whose heritage is Gunditjmara and Wemba Wemba and who has identified the high demand for foods incorporating flavoursome indigenous Australian ingredients.
One of Native Oz Cuisine’s biggest achievements so far has been getting its products into the Safeway/Woolworths supermarkets nationally.
2. Natasha Wells, 33
Victoria-based Wells launched Blu Moose in 2006 after discovering feather and down doona boots through her Swedish sister-in-law. She did her own research and discovered the product was unique to Australia. Not only that but it filled a gaping hole in the market for stylish at-home footwear. Through her background in marketing and advertising, Wells knew the importance of branding and with the help of a local art director, went about developing the Blu Moose brand.
She secured a factory in China to produce the boots and, with a strong PR campaign, sale started flooding in. she now has a contract with David Jones and the product is also sold online and through independent retailers.
“I took a chance, even though I was scared of failure,” she says. “I quit my job, booked a ticket to China and the rest, as they say, is history.
“Passion, hard work and identifying a great product can turn a great brand into an even greater business. I did what many people dream of doing but don’t have the courage to do. I would love to inspire other young people to follow their dream of running their own business”
3. Mac Forbes, 33
Mac Forbes Wines
Mac Forbes is a Yarra Valley-based boutique winery that makes small volume wines based on old-fashioned values with a nod to the European winemaking style. Established in 2004, the winery distributes its wines to specialist stores and high-end restaurants across Australia and internationally.
Forbes, 33, was born and raised in Victoria’s Yarra Valley as its modern winemaking history was commencing with Mount Mary and Yeringberg reinvigorating its reputation.
Since the first vintage in 2005 for Mac Forbes Wines, Forbes has gradually explored and focused his direction. Today he focuses mainly on Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Cabernets from the Yarra Valley as well as German-inspired Rieslings from the Strathbogie Ranges.
He was recently named a finalist in the 2008 Telstra Victorian Business Awards in the micro-business category. The winery was given five stars by leading wine writer James Halliday in his 2008 companion and its wines have been recommended by Gordon Ramsay’s Hospital Road restaurant in London.
4. Margarita and Louie Synathis, 27 and 33
Sydney Ute Hire
Sydney Ute Hire is a motor vehicle rental company leasing utes, vans and trailers through Sydney service stations. It has more than 30 vehicles available though Sydney’s northern Beaches, inner west and the Sutherland Shire. Its main clientele are labourers, courier companies and the general public.
The business has three points of difference from its competitors: 24-hour service, rental as short as two hours available and the fact it doesn’t rely on tourism-based trade.
After many years working for rental companies, Louie saw a gap in the market and he and his wife decided to launch their venture in 2005 with a logo designed by Margarita. They started the business in 2006 with help from Commonwealth Bank Local Business Banking.
“We’re proud that so many people contact us because they recognise our logo or have been recommended by a friend,” says Louie. He and his wife are now enjoying a very prosperous business just two years on and, with the success of her logo for Sydney Ute Hire, Margarita has been able to start her own graphic design business, Lasting Logos (www.lastinglogos.com.au).
5. Bec Brideson, 37
Brideson worked for some of the country’s leading ad agencies, including Richard Branson’s launch of Virgin Blue, before launching Venus four years ago at the age of 32. It has grown from strength to strength, doubling turnover in her second year and tripling it in the third, expanding her team from just one to 20.
Suggesting that many Australian companies were missing out on good opportunities through lack of commitment to the right kind of communication with women, she set up her full service agency to with specialist skills in marketing to women. Her clients now include Dotti fashion, Contours women’s gyms, Roses Only and Bortoli Wines.
Brideson is passionate about improving the profile of women in advertising with only 14 out of 112 creative director positions in advertising agencies being held by women in Australia. A self-confessed workaholic, she has received numerous awards nationally and overseas for excellence in creativity.