Over the last decade or so, Australia has seen some famous homegrown businesses and startups that have put Australia on the world map.
Australia has made substantial progress in building a thriving entrepreneurial culture.
A culture which reflects in two of the famous Australian cities – Melbourne and Sydney, featuring in the list of ‘Top 50 best startup cities in the world’, (Sydney is ranked 32 and Melbourne ranks 11 in the list).
As per an article published on Medium, “Just in the last several years, there has been a six-fold increase in accelerators and 900% growth in co-working spaces: there are now around 170 just in Victoria. As a result, there is one accelerator for every 41 tech startups in the region, and 15 co-working spaces for every 100 tech startups.”
The Australian startup scene is buzzing with startups working on fields like Artificial Intelligence, SAAS based solutions, Online learning platforms, and whatnot.
The startup factory in Australia has given us famous unicorn startups like Canva and Atlassian (the brand behind Jira and Confluence).
Then, there are notable Australian businesses like Woolworths, to name a few.
In the blog, we look at some of the famous and profitable Businesses and Startups in Australia from different verticals.
(note : if you are interested, we have recently published a list of successful young entrepreneurs in India that includes all unicorn startups and a story of their founder)
We will start our list with famous startups and then eventually shift to well-known businesses in the oz land.
Let’s get started!
List of Successful Businesses and Startups in Australia
Enough about me – let’s move to the Canva story :).
The tool forms the part of every digital marketing career training I give it to students.
I use Canva for designing presentations, social media posts, and if I remember correctly – my son’s birthday e-invite :).
I will start with Canva – the company that has revolutionised designing. For a person like me who has no clue of web designing, Canva is a god sent.
They allow me to design stuff that is as good as being ‘designed by a professional designer.’
In 2008, Melanie Perkins was teaching design at the University of Western Australia, watching her students struggle with the programs.
Like entrepreneurs who look for solutions to day to day problems, she realised that the answer to the programming struggle with design tools lies in ‘simplification.’
It was one of those ‘Eureka’ moments, which would lead to the launch of one of the best known Australian Startups around the globe – Canva.
She started and took the concept to reality with the help of her boyfriend at her mother’s house.
Initially, it started with a trial-run business designing school yearbooks. The business took off after the brand landed funding from Lars Rasmussen, the creator of Google Maps.
Canva’s Growth Story
Officially the product was launched in 2012 by Co-founders Melanie Perkins, Cliff Obrecht, and Cameron Adams. Canva soon gained popularity for its ease of use and simplifying graphic designing.
By the end of 2014, Canva was home to 1 million users. By the mid of 2015, the number swelled to 4 million users.
In 2018, Canva became Australia’s latest “unicorn” company with an estimated value of over a billion dollars – and it’s still growing.
By rough estimates, Canva today has 10 million + users spread across the globe. The company’s current target is to reach 3.2 billion (according to techcrunch.com).
We understand - What it takes to be an ?
The next name on the list is freelancer.com.
Well! I know freelancer.com from the times when they were – get a freelancer and then, acquired scriptlance and other brand names like EUFreelance.com LimeExchange, Freelancer.de Booking Center, Freelancer.co.uk (United Kingdom), Webmaster-talk.com (USA), Rent-A-Coder and vWorker to become one of the biggest names in freelancing space – Freelancer.
When they were on an acquisition spree, I was at the infancy stage of entrepreneurial process – finding projects on these platforms. They bought all the places where I looked for projects, and I ended on their platform 🙂
I have personally used their platform as a vendor and as a Client. The platform is on par with some of the best freelancing platforms across the globe.
The company established in 2009, is headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and has offices across Canada, England, Philippines and Indonesia
The company makes money by charging a commission on the projects that are allocated to companies from the platform.
By the way, you must be wondering – how come a freelancing platform is so big?
Let me bombard you with a few exciting stats (go for cover 🙂 ):
– According to a survey done by Payoneer (year – 2015), a platform to help send and receive money (think of it as a cousin of PayPal ;)), an average freelancer worked 36 hours/week @ $21 per hour, making roughly > $39,000 per annum.
Having spent a lifetime in India, I can tell you mate – that is a bloody lot of money for someone staying in a country like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh or Indonesia.
– Another interesting stat to get your head around to freelancing world is a recent one. As per a study conducted by Ziprecruiter (year – 2019), if the average Freelancer works 36 hours a week at $31 per hour, they earn $58,032.
Now let’s go relative and compare both the stats, and you get a market where earnings have grown substantially over the years.
Thus there has been enormous growth in the freelancing industry. With the growth in the freelance sector across the globe, it is no doubt that Freelancer, the world’s largest freelancing and crowdsourcing marketplace, has seen enormous success.
Freelancer’s Growth Story:
Freelancer connects employers globally from over 247 countries, regions, and territories. Freelancer a present has over 16 million registered users.
Envato is my go-to place to look for creative assets, including wordpress themes, animation videos, and plugins. As a matter of fact, the theme on which our website was designed is from a vendor on Envato.
They also introduced me to one of the best wordpress DIY editor – Elementor.
If it were not for Envato, I would have spent thousands of dollars on getting my work done through freelancers.
Again! I think I am going a bit off-topic. Let me give you more information about Envato.
Envato, at present, has a community of more than ten million people who use the platform to buy and sell creative assets on Envato Market.
Envato (the brand) comprises of Envato Market, Envato Studio, Envato Tuts+ and Envato Elements.
– Envato Tuts+ is an education network.
– Envato Studio is a platform to connect hand-picked freelancers to clients to finish projects in creative space.
– Envato Elements – a subscription service that provides millions of ready-to-use graphic templates, fonts, and assets available for unlimited download.
I have not used any of the above platforms. However, I have used ThemeForest to buy wordpress themes. Now, if you do not know what ThemeForest is?
Here is interesting information for you – the ThemeForest is one of the top 300 visited websites in the world.
Envato’s growth Story:
Envato was started by husband and wife Cyan and Collis Ta’eed, and a long-time family friend, Jun Rung, in Collis’s Bondi garage in 2006. The company has bootstrapped since then without any external funding.
Vahid Ta’eed, brother of Collis, joined the company in 2008 as an executive director.
Envato’s growth story in terms of financial growth is mind-blowing (consider this)-
– Envato’s 2014 financial year pre-tax profit was the U.S. $33 million.
– This doubled in the financial year 2015 to US$73 million.
– By the year 2017, Envato Market reached total community earnings exceeding $750 million.
In 2019, Envato co-founders Cyan and Collis Ta’eed featured at fourth position on AFR Young Rich List.
The couple’s estimated fortune has almost doubled from $428 million to nearly $799 million in the last year.
Airtasker is another famous Australian startup. The company is a marketplace connecting skilled workers with people who want to get a task done using the website or mobile apps.
I have personally used Airtasker’s services quite a few times, and trust me, the vendors on their portal have always been excellent with their work.
In fact, when we recently moved to our new house – all the renovation work we got in our place was done through contractors hired through Airtasker, and luckily enough, none of them disappointed.
The company was founded by Tim Fung & Jonathan Lui in Sydney in the year 2012.
The company started on a simple concept (problem): busy people will pay someone else to run their errands.
Quoting Fung (one of the founders of the company), “Why do we ask our friends and family to do all these kind of jobs when there are so many people out there who are looking for extra work and extra ways to make money?”.
Airtasker’ Growth Story:
- Within two months of its launch, The company successfully raised AUD 1.5 million and began expanding its offering to cater businesses as well as individuals.
- The raised additional AUD 2 million for a total of $3.5 million by Nove 2013 – thereby valuing the company at AUD 10 million.
- The company acquired rival company TaskBox for an undisclosed sum in February 2013, and the Melbourne-based Occasional Butler in 2014.
- In February 2013, Airtasker acquired competitor TaskBox.
- In July 2014, Airtasker acquired Melbourne-based odd jobs outsourcing business Occasional Butler and claimed to have 130,000 community members and an annual task run rate of over $4 million.
- In May 2015, Airtasker raised $6.5 million in a round led by Shanghai-based Morning Crest Capital and the NRMA. Airtasker claimed to have 250,000 users and to process $15 million worth of tasks a year.
- Last year, Airtasker raised $33 million from existing and new investors, including Seven West Media, Skyfield Capital, Exto Partners, Morning Crest Capital, and Black Sheep Capital.
In 2018, total revenue for Airtasker was $11,424,440 versus $5,468,341 in 2017. The operating loss in 2018 was $23,536,669 compared to $12,846,493 in 2017.
In June 2018, there were about 2,000,000 users.
As of today, Airtasker has over 1.7 million community members Australia-wide, with more than 800,000 community-verified reviews and earnings over $85 million.
One company or startup that actually brought Australia on the world startup map was ‘Atlassian.’
Atlassian is the brand behind one of the best Project Management Solutions – Jira & Confluence.
Like all the brands listed above, I have used Jira for years and can vouch for its utility. It is a Project Management solution that has got “agile” back in the world of Agile Project Management.
Atlassian’s growth Story:
Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar started Atlassian. Today, the company boasts of clients like ANZ and NASA.
Atlassian raised 462 million $ by going public at the end of 2015 @ 21 per share.
Later the company acquired Trello and its project management app for $425 million in early 2017.
In the year 2019, Atlassian reached a revenue of 1.2 billion dollars, with more than 150,000 customers on board.
Also, Atlassian’s market value had risen to fresh highs at $US25 billion ($35 billion).
Quoting Mike Cannon-Brookes, “We are a cloud-first company, with more than 125,000 of our customers using our cloud products and more than 90% of our net new customers each quarter choosing a cloud product,” said Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian’s co-founder and co-CEO. “
99designs was found in 2008 by Matt Mickiewicz and Mark Harbottle. The company is based out of Melbourne and runs a freelancing platform to connect graphic designers and clients.
If you have a design on your mind, 99designs is the place to be.
Logo design, business card, web page design, brand guide, packaging design, T-shirt design, book cover design, they’ve got it all covered.
What makes them unique?
Ease of use, no border limitations, quick service, and a 100% money-back guarantee are some of the reasons that make 99designs a success.
99designs growth story:
The company opened it’s USA office at the San Francisco office. Later, 99designs moved its U.S. headquarters to Oakland, California.
By 2016, 99designs had around one million registered designers.
99designs acquired a European competitor based out of Germany called as 12designer and later acquired LogoChef, a Brazilian competitor.
In 2011, the company received US$35 million in financing from Accel Partners and other investors. It subsequently raised another $10 million in 2015.
A USD$10 million Series B round led by Recruit Strategic Partners last year fuelled the company’s expansion into Asia, Japan becoming the fastest growing market to date.
As of 2016, 99Designs was achieving 50 percent year-over-year growth in its 1-to-1 Projects service, which accounted for 15 percent of all its revenue.
The company became profitable in 2017, and in February 2018, reported $60 million a year in revenue.
Waddle, a Sydney based startup, is an accounting platform that provides easy and fast access to working capital for Australian businesses through their software.
Lenders like Waddle have started to gain a massive advantage since banks tightened their lending restrictions, particularly in the wake of the banks’ regulations set by the royal banking commission.
The software integrates into small business accounting packages like Xero, Intuit, and MYOB and allows clients to look at overdue invoices.
Based on this information, money can be instantly lent by Waddle at the click of a button.
The startup simplified various complexities like factor pricing, contracts, and book-keeping requirements witnessed in the genre.
Waddle is the only 100 percent automated accounting add on across Australia and New Zealand and is one of the fastest-growing cloud-based invoice financing providers.
Waddle’s growth Story:
In the year 2017, Waddle secured a $50 million debt funding round.
The startup saw a spike of 84% in lending volume for the financial year, which exceeded the initially expected volume of $30 million.
Waddle reported that it has a client base in hundreds and has loaned over $200 million to date.
And how do you find whether a customer is satisfied or not?
The obvious answer is – by gathering customer’s reviews and feedback.
But gathering customer data could be a wholesome task. This is where Appbot simplifies the process.
How does it do that?
Imagine you are an app developer. You create an app and distribute it through various app stores.
Now you access each distribution channel to view customer feedback, and in case your app is used globally, you receive numerous reports from each channel as they segment app stores by region.
This is where Appbot comes in. The Perth startup gathers all the reviews and feedback, including comments from different app stores and presents everything in a friendly-looking dashboard.
Within two years of its launch, Appbot attracted 40,000 users through word of mouth publicity.
The startup founded in Australia in the year 2015 by T.V. and radio host, managed to raise $7.5 million in series A funding.
The startup operates a platform where brands can post a campaign brief which the listed influencers can then apply on.
The startup now has 2000 active influencers and more than 200 businesses on board, including the likes of Disney, Subway, and Vodafone.
Users then submit their work and get paid if the brand decides to use it.
“Brands are desperate for content,” Lund said. “When you have a hundred customer profiles and the ability to be hyper-personalised and targeted and social, you now need 100 beautiful pieces of content. Creative agencies can’t supply that at the right cost and the right turnaround, and stock images are the antithesis of personalisation because they don’t feature your brand.”
He says the company is enjoying double-digit revenue growth monthly and has “surpassed a $1 million annualised run rate”.
Tribe is monetised by taking a 20% cut from participating businesses.
About The Iconic:
Since its launch in 2011 in Sydney, The Iconic has become Australia’s leading online fashion and sports retailer.
Jacobs, along with Andreas Otto, Cameron Votan, and Finn Age Haensel, all left lucrative day jobs to launch one of Australia’s most successful online shopping sites that employ about 350 people.
The Iconic has a three-hour delivery and free returns policy and has 500 brands under the one roof; The Iconic has seen unprecedented growth over time.
However, it was not always ‘success’ for the Sydney startup, and the startup did have a few rough patches.
The Iconic Growth Story:
The business reported revenue of $370.5 million as of December 2018, which was double the revenue reported in 2016.
As per a recent survey, 15 percent of households shop on The Iconic site. Today, the startup is a multi-million-dollar fashion empire.
HealthEngine was established in the year 2006 by Dr. Marcus Tan and Adam Yap in Perth.
The online platform is an online booking platform that helps patients schedule appointments with qualified doctors – 24 X 7.
Health Engine aimed to provide a better experience to patients by including specialists from a wide array of disciplines.
The platform at present helps patients make appointments in general practice, dentistry, psychology, and physiotherapy.
The startup initially was a business directory of health professionals and later evolved into a booking website.
HealthEngine Growth Story:
In 2013, a series A company involving Telstra and Seven West scored HealthEngine $10.4 million in 2013. It further raised a whopping $26 million in series C funding.
The online platform is one of the largest consumer healthcare sites in Australia.
The company’s platform has facilitated over 8 million bookings since 2012 and had over 500k mobile app downloads. In 2010, the platform started with two developers, and over the years has grown to 100 staff.
HeathEngine has witnessed triple digit year on year revenue growth.
Moving from startups to successful conventional businesses. The first and the prominent name on the list is Wesfarmers. Wesfarmers Limited is an Australian business house, headquartered in Perth, Western Australia.
The company has interests in Australian and New Zealand retail comprising of fertilisers, chemicals, coal mining, retail, industrial & safety products.
Wesfarmers also happens to be one of the largest private employers in Australia.
Divisions of Wesfarmers
-Home improvement and office supplies
The home improvement and office supplies division of Wesfarmers comprises of Bunnings Warehouse and Officeworks – both of them are renowned names in Australia and Newzealand.
While Bunnings Warehouse caters to Home improvement and renovation space, Officeworks is known as a supplier of office products for home and businesses.
There are more than 250 Bunnings stores (under different formats as warehouse, small stores, and trade centers) and around 150 Officeworks stores across Australia and Newzealand.
Kmart, the go-to discount department store for every Australian, is a famous brand name that is owned by Wesfarmers.
Wesfarmers operates more than 200 Kmart stores and around 250+ Kmart Tyre & Auto Service centers.
Kmart employs more than 31,000 staff.
Target is another famous retail chain comprising of 300+ stories in Australia that are run by the Wesfarmers Group. Recently, Wesfarmers wrote-down the value of Target by $680 million because of a fall in the company’s profits.
Wesfarmers has interest in industrial businesses, Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF); Resources; and Industrial and Safety divisions.
Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers
Wesfarmers Chemicals, Energy & Fertilisers (WesCEF) produces and markets chemicals, fertilisers and gas products.
Wesfarmers Resources runs open-cut coal producing resources in Australia.
Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety
Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety provides industrial and safety products and services in Australia and New Zealand.
Wesfarmers Industrial and Safety businesses include Blackwoods, N.Z. Safety, Greencap, Bullivants, Coregas, Blackwoods Protector, Safety Source, Total Fasteners, Packaging House, King Gee, Hard Yakka, Stubbies, and GotStock.
Wesfarmers has a 50% interest in investment house Gresham Partners plus interests in Gresham Private Equity Funds, 50% interest in Wespine, a plantation softwood sawmill in Dardanup, and a 24% interest in BWP Trust which mainly owns Bunnings Warehouses tenanted by Bunnings Group Limited.
Wesfarmers has an interest in many other subsidiaries across Australia, New Zealand, India, New Caledonia, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Bermuda, and Singapore.
These include BBC Hardware, Coles Ansett Travel, Coles Group Superannuation Fund, Coles Property Management, Comnet, Fosseys, Grocery Holdings Pty Ltd, Harris Technology, Howard Smith, Katies Fashions, Loyalty Pacific, Masters Home Improvement New Zealand, Morley Shopping Centre, now.com.au, Theo’s Liquor, Tooronga Shopping Centre, Tyremaster, Viking Direct, and World 4 Kids.
Wesfarmers has been ranked among the top 5 companies in the world in the food and staples retail sector.
Woolworths Group Limited, the second-largest company by revenue in Australia, has a presence throughout Australia and New Zealand in the retail space.
Furthermore, Woolworths Group also holds the distinction of being the largest takeaway liquor retailer in Australia and it is also the largest hotel and gaming poker machine operator in Australia
The revenue of Woolworth’s groups stands at A$59.98 billion as of the year 2019.
The divisions of Woolworth are Supermarkets, Liquor, General merchandise, Finance, and Hotels & Gambling.
Founded in 1924, Woolworths, along with Coles, forms a near-duopoly of Australian supermarkets, accounting for about 80% of the Australian market.
Woolworths specialises in groceries (vegetables, fruit, meat, packaged foods, etc.), but also sells magazines, DVDs, health and beauty products, household products, pet and baby supplies, and stationery.
As of August 2019, there were 981 Woolworths supermarkets and 43 Woolworths Metro convenience stores.
Woolworths Online (formerly HomeShop) is a “click and collect” and home delivery service for Woolworths supermarkets.
In 1924, Woolworth opened doors in one of Sydney’s busiest shopping strips and was an instant and a huge success.