Top Ten Young Australian Entrepreneurs

by Jasmeet Singh
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Young Australian entrepreneurs have shown the same kind of tenacity and resourcefulness that entrepreneurs around the world typically possess. This has helped them pull through some tough times in 2020 and 2021.

It’s a mindset – When others see adversity, entrepreneurs often spot an opportunity.

This is what has prompted us to publish the list of ten most famous young Australian entrepreneurs. 

Some of these entrepreneurs are already well-known, whilst others have a bright and promising future ahead of them.

In between, if you are interested – do visit the list of Young Canadian Entrepreneurs and Young Indian Entrepreneurs recently updated by us.

List of Famous Young Australian Entrepreneurs

Nick Molnar, AfterPay

nick molnar, after pay
 

Founder of the company: Afterpay

Company Established – 2015

Estimated wealth – $1.10 billion as of 2021

Sector:  Fintech

Worldwide, Fintech is a field that has innovation in its DNA, and it’s no different in Australia. 

For example, Nick Molnar’s startup Afterpay (one of the top tech startups in Australia) is the leading player in Australia’s Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) business. 

Squarepay recently acquired the company for $ 39 billion, a US-based company backed by Twitter’s founder Jack Dorsey (Source: AFR)

What led to Afterpay being acquired for such a heft price tag is a dream Australian startup story.

The company had sales of 11.1 billion Australian dollars in 2020, which resulted in its share price crossing 100 Australian dollars for the first time. This rise has seen the name AfterPay becoming synonymous with the BNPL sector.

By November 2020, the stock had risen to105 Australian dollars. (Source: CNBC.)

Not bad for a company that had a stock value of just 8 Australian dollars in March 2020.  This meteoric rise saw Molnar becoming Australia’s youngest self-made billionaire. (Source: Business Insider.)

Molnar saw an opportunity in the changing habits of millennials who did not want to be saddled with credit card debt. So the company set up partnerships with retailers to offer consumers products in easy installments to cater to this.

Among those who have vouched for the company is Kim Kardashian. But, of course, in our celebrity-obsessed culture, that counts for a lot!

To further validate Afterpay’s potential, Chinese tech giant Tencent bought a 5 percent stake in Afterpay for $251 million. (Source: Reuters.)

And rest, as they say, is history! Square’s acquisition of the company has validated all the trust investors had put in this fantastic startup.

The future looks bright for both Molnar and the co-founder of the company, Anthony Eisen.

Melanie Perkins, Canva

Melanie Perkins Canva
Founder of the company: Canva

Company Established – 2013

Estimated wealth – $7.98 billion as of May  2021

Sector: Fintech

Perkins pursued her passion for simplifying graphic design and founded two companies to capitalize on the business opportunities she spotted: Fusion Books and Canva.

Canva is a globally known graphic design tool that has grown from strength to strength — particularly during the 2020 pandemic, an event that accelerated the rising shift towards remote, collaborative work.

Canva is valued at 15 billion USD today. (Source: Bloomberg Quint. Australian Computer Society.)

Perkins and her husband Cliff Obrecht are worth a combined 8 billion Australian dollars, per the Australian Financial Review. (Source: Wikipedia.)

This wealth means the couple is jointly listed in 10th place in Australia’s wealthiest people list. The only Australian woman richer than Perkins is Rinehart. (Source: Channel 9 News.)

Perkins has also featured on the cover of Forbes and has been a part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 list. (Source: Forbes.)

It hasn’t been an easy ride for Canva to become one of the famous brands in a space that involves heavyweights such as Adobe. But through sheer tenacity and belief in her vision, Perkins has accomplished the unachievable.

Cliff Obrecht, Canva

Canva CEO Cliff Obrecht

Co-Founder of the company: Canva

Company Established – 2013

Estimated wealth – $7.98 billion as of May  2021

Sector: Fintech

Source: Wikipedia

Canva’s co-founder Cliff Obrecht has seen the company grow from humble beginnings in a room in Perkin’s mum’s house to a multinational company.  The company is that rarest of things – a profitable startup.

This has given Canva an edge in raising capital, but Obrecht is on record as saying it isn’t about the money. Speaking to Forbes, he said – “It’s not our vibe to hoard money. What motivates us is building a product that people love. And the wealth that produces, we want to give back to the world.” (Source: Forbes.)

This quirky attitude overflows into their personal life. While Perkins and Obrecht have been business partners for more than a decade, they recently tied the knot in their relationship. They are considered as being offbeat couples with hobbies, including kitesurfing.

Canva has offices in Australia, the Philippines, and the U.S. with marquee customers such as American Airlines and McKinsey.

As Canva innovates, with new offerings such as presentation templates, established players are playing catch up, and Canva will need to continue innovating and battling. (Source: Canva.)

Each of the two co-founders has about a 15 percent stake in the company making their combined wealth 8 billion Australian dollars.

Mike Cannon-Brookes, Atlassian

Mike Cannon Brookes Atlassian

Founder of the company: Atlassian

Company Established – 2002

Estimated wealth – U.S. $13.7 billion as of 2021

Sector: Fintech

If becoming a tech billionaire before the age of 40 is used as the yardstick of success, then Mike Cannon-Brookes has been successful. The 2015 NASDAQ IPO of the ‘very boring software company’ (as The New York Times put it), Atlassian, made him a billionaire. (Source: The New York Times.)

Since then, things have only moved northwards, and Cannon-Brooks is now married with four kids and ranks as the 3rd richest Australian in some lists. Along the way, he managed to acquire the most expensive home in Australia for “only” 100 million Australian dollars.

It has been quite a journey from when he was a student at the University of New South Wales. Then, he got together with his friend to start a company to earn 40,000 Australian dollars per annum without working for anyone.

It worked and how!

He and his buddy earned a first for Australian billionaires — they are the first tech billionaires in a land where mining or banking usually leads to wealth.

Scott Farquhar, Atlassian

Scott Farquha Atlassian

Co-Founder of the company: Atlassian

Company Established  – 2002

Estimated wealth – US$13.7 billion as of 2021

Sector: Fintech

Scott Farquhar is the co-founder of Atlassian. Both he and co-founder Cannon-Brookes are worth about 20 billion Australian dollars or 13.7 USD.

However, unlike his business partner, Scott Farquhar comes from decidedly working-class roots.

In parallel with his entrepreneurial journey, Farquhar has become a father to three kids and bought a house next to the one accepted by Cannon-Brookes. 

The house, at 75 million Australian dollars, Farquhar’s home is “cheaper” than Cannon-Brookes’s.

Atlassian’s products such as Jira and Confluence are targeted towards software developers and project managers. The products are wildly popular among Fortune 500 companies — 83 percent of Fortune 500 companies use them. (Source: Atlassian.)

The customer base is widespread. For example, Atlassian has a presence in more than 190 countries and focuses on offering cloud-based services.

Atlassian operates in a volatile marketplace, but it seems well prepared to cope with the challenges ahead. The complexity of technology is unpredictable. The development of self-driving cars is a case in point. (Source: The New York Times.)

Atlassian’s revenue of more than 1.61 billion USD shows that the company has a solid foundation and is run by steady hands.

Ruslan Kogan, kogan.com

Ruslan Kogan, kogan.com

Founder of the company: kogan.com

Company Established – 2006

Estimated wealth – $575 million as of 2020

Sector: eCommerce

Source: Wikipedia

Ecommerce has enabled many restless and innovative entrepreneurs to put their energy to good use. In Australia, Ruslan Kogan is a name that jumps out. He is one of the leading innovators who made the online marketplace concept work.  This, despite fierce competition from industry heavyweights such as Amazon.

His kogan.com was begun in his parents’ garage in Melbourne in 2006 when Kogan was  23 years old. Within seven years, he had become the wealthiest Australian under the age of 30.

He has courted some controversies along the way, but his achievements probably outweigh the smattering of missteps. He has been featured in lists of the ‘most influential people and ’30 under 30 entrepreneurs’ in different years.

While the pandemic of 2020 was a good year for him, competition from Amazon means that Kogan will always have to be at the top of his game.

Considering Kogan’s business practices often copy Amazon’s, it’s fair to wonder if and when Kogan might follow Bezos’ announced footsteps into space.

Kogan.com company is ASX listed, and Mr. Kogan’s net worth is estimated to be about half a billion Australian dollars.

Kayla Itsines, Sweat App

Kayla Itsines, Sweet App

Founder of the company: Sweat App

Company Established – 2015

Estimated wealth – $486 million as of 2019

Sector: Fitness

Food, fitness, even ‘wellness’ is a business niche that is open to endless creativity and possibilities.

Entrepreneurs are always trying out new things or doing old things in new ways.

This is where Kayla Itsines shines; her fitness app stands out among thousands of competitors.

Itsines began with a “Bikini Body Guide” fitness ebook in 2014.

The first version of her App, “Sweat with Kayla,” became the Apple Watch App of The Year in December 2016.

By the following year, the Sweat brand had diversified with a range of fitness and training programs to cater to a broader audience.

But Kayla isn’t one for resting on her laurels. So in 2019, she started the “Kayla Itsines Post-Pregnancy” program to cater to postpartum women.

Home exercise is another niche that saw interest soar in the course of lockdowns and restrictions.  Taking advantage of the opportunity, she launched her Zero-Equipment Program on ‘Sweat with Kayla’ in August 2020.  Within three months, more than a million had completed the workout.

In November 2020, she added yoga and barre to the App.

Kayla has built a multi-million dollar business with her Sweat app and has become a multi-millionaire herself.

James Gilmour, Gilmour Space Technologies

James Gilmour, Gilmour Space Technologies

Founder of the company: Gilmour Space Technologies

Company Established – 2013

Estimated wealth – $12 billion

Sector: Space Technology

Space has become the new frontier where billionaires and others are exploring new opportunities. 

Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson have both recently completed high-profile flights to the edge of space.

James Gilmour is another name associated with the fledgling industry.

Gilmour has always had a primal fascination with space and grew up wanting to be an astronaut. Now he is a member of an elite club of individuals at the leading edge of the privatized space industry.

Jeff Bezos has spent billions of his wealth to take Blue Origin to the point he was a passenger on the maiden manned flight of his spacecraft.

Elon Musk took a big bet with his SpaceX. After teetering on the brink of failure, SpaceX has become a spectacularly successful rocket launching company with contracts from NASA to send both cargo and crew to the International Space Station.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic has had a chequered history full of delays and tragedy. But it is now looking like it is ready to begin commercial space tourism flights.

Unlike these billionaires who made their money in other business ventures and then decided to enter the space business, James Gilmour has always been in the space industry.

Backed by VCs Gilmour Space Technologies has gone from strength to strength and plans to launch its first commercial orbital vehicle around the middle of 2022. 

Janine Allis, Boost Juice

Janine Allis, Boost

Founder of the company: Boost Juice

Company Established – 2000

Estimated wealth – $66 Million

Sector: F & B

In Australia, you are more likely to spot a Boost juice bar than a kangaroo.

Janine Allis started selling juice from her home in the year 2000.

Twenty years later, she has managed to build an empire of 550 Boost juice stores worldwide.

Janine has always been outspoken about the importance of leadership and proved the point by leading her company from her kitchen to Prahran’s Chapel Street to a worldwide phenomenon.

She is also the part-owner of Retail Zoo, the parent company of Boost Juice, Salsa’s Fresh Mex Grill, and Cibo Espresso.

Janine Allis has authored The Accidental Entrepreneur – The Juicy Bits, which signifies the importance of resilience to achieve success.

Janine had worked with Village Roadshow and United International Pictures before starting on her entrepreneurial path.

Maxine Horne, Vita group

Maxine Horne, Vita Group

Founder of the company: Vita group

Company Established – 1995

Estimated wealth – $450 Million

Sector: Retail

If accolades and awards are a measure of success, then Maxine Horne is at the top of her game.

Awards against her name include – 2006 QBR Businesswoman of the Year, 2014 EY Entrepreneur of the Year (northern region), and Courier Mail Business Person of the Year in 2019.

Maxine Horne is a woman who has faced failure but still picked herself up to achieve success like never before.

Horne’s Vita Group employs more than 1700 people and records more than 30% growth in its yearly revenue.

Being the CEO of a $600 million annual revenue business is undoubtedly something aspiring female entrepreneurs can find inspiring!

She came from the U.K. to settle in Australia.

Her entrepreneurial journey began with a single retail store on the Gold Coast – and now she oversees 123 locations all across the Australian continent.

Thriving in a fast-growth but hyper-competitive telecom industry has made Maxine Horne one of the most inspiring Australian entrepreneurs.

2 comments

Luna November 4, 2021 - 2:57 am

This is grate this will help younger people

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Jasmeet Singh November 7, 2021 - 11:00 am

Thanks Luna.

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