Business

Eastern Region Entrepreneur Of The Year™ finalists revealed

The top NSW entrepreneurs have taken home honors from the 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year™ Eastern Region awards ceremony held in Sydney.

Seven finalists were chosen from an outstanding field of entrepreneurs to go through to the next round of the 2017 program. These are:

  • Eddy Sheehy – Nuix
  • Christian Beck – InfoTrack
  • Fred Schebesta – finder.com.au
  • Norm Black – TripADeal
  • Sarah Wilson – I Quit Sugar Pty Ltd
  • Peter Winkle and Nicholas Perry – Bailey Nelson

Also recognised in non-competitive regional award categories were:

  • Social Entrepreneur – Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, Top Blokes Foundation
  • Champion of Entrepreneurship – Mr Henry Ngai, ABC Tissue

The finalists from Australia’s Eastern Region will join talented entrepreneurs from across the country nominated for 2017’s awards.

EY Sydney Managing Partner, Andrew Price, said this year’s national finalists are an outstanding group of NSW entrepreneurs who should be very proud of their achievements.

“Our entrepreneurs are taking advantage of digital disruption and challenging orthodox methods to deliver innovation with customers firmly front of mind. They inspire others by creating new markets, jobs and products.”

“Entrepreneurs create jobs and push the economy forward. They are a vital part of the business environment. That’s why EY has a long-standing commitment to fostering entrepreneurship and continuing to grow this vibrant community year on year.”

“At a time when many Australian companies are seeking to be pioneering and innovative, it is businesses like these with a true entrepreneurial spark that set themselves apart from the competition,” he concluded.

The finalists will go on to compete at a national level in Melbourne in November 2017. The overall Australian winner will then continue onto the global program, travelling to Monte Carlo in June 2018 to compete for title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year™. They will follow in the footsteps of 2015 Australian EY Entrepreneur Of The Year winner, Manny Stul, Moose Enterprises, who was the first-ever Australian to be crowned World Entrepreneur Of The Year in 2016.

EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ is considered one of the world’s most prestigious business awards and is the only truly global program of its kind with entrepreneurs participating in 145 cities in more than 60 countries. More than 1,500 outstanding entrepreneurs have been recognised through the EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ program in Australia since 2001.

EY Entrepreneur of the Year™ National finalists, Eastern Region

Eddie Sheehy – Nuix

Eddie Sheehy joined Nuix in 2006 and gave the company a new direction. He immediately saw the right target for the company’s information processing tool – digital investigations, which was a growing industry.

As litigation has proliferated and threats to corporate security have intensified, Nuix has become a world leader in data processing, able to index, search and analyse large amounts of both unstructured and semi-structured data at an extremely fast rate.

The business has since grown through corporate demand for investigation and litigation software. Nuix has been self-funding since 2008 and has enjoyed burgeoning revenues for the past three years, reaching $98 million in fiscal 2016.

Judges’ Comments – Has performed phenomenally well from and earnings perspective, has potential to be a global leader in its market. Eddie has grown the business from nothing.

Christian Beck – InfoTrack

Christian Beck was developing software for legal firms before the search engine concept was an internet byword. His company, InfoTrack, now offers data analytics visualisation which simplifies complex search information, verification of identification and electronic contracts for sale on NSW properties.

In 20 years he has devised platforms which make the information search easier not just for law firms but for all manner of business and financial professionals. InfoTrack now has a large market share of the information search market in Australia and has made inroads in the UK and the US.

The business has enjoyed three years of strong growth, with revenues growing from around $123 million in fiscal 2015 to $186 million estimated this year.

Judges’ Comments – Incredible P&L and achievement, with significant market share. Christian grew the business from nothing.

Fred Schebesta – finder

Fred Schebesta is the co-founder and director of finder, an entrepreneur, award-winning digital marketer and active member of the Australian start-up community.

His started his entrepreneurial journey at just 22. Together with his business partner and friend Frank Restuccia, they created Freestyle Media, while at university. In 2009, they launched finder.com.au which exploded into the comparison market – one of the most competitive internet categories.

Today, finder is a free service which compares virtually everything from credit cards, home loans and insurance to savings, travel and technology. finder has since launched in the United States and the United Kingdom, employing more than 117 people globally.

Judges’ Comments – Faced and overcame adversity, succeeds in a space that it is hard to differentiate in. Fred is a unique and spirited entrepreneur and a real competitor.

Norm Black – TripADeal

Norm Black’s TripADeal travel company has come off the blocks at a great pace and is now one of the country’s leading purveyors of packaged travel.

The Byron Bay-based company will record revenues of $100 million in fiscal 2017. In 2016 it was ranked number one on the BRW Fast 100.

By building unique travel packages from scratch, cutting out the middle man and selling high volume, TripAdeal is able to offer bucket-list trips at prices that everyday Australians can afford. Norm believes that providing a complete end-to-end service with a strong focus on the customer experience makes TripADeal a true market leader.

Norm’s company is the biggest employer in the Northern Rivers region of NSW and sponsors the Byron Bay to Ballina coastal charity walk.

Judges’ Comments – Norm is a serial entrepreneur who didn’t give up. He knows his demographic, grew from humble beginnings and found a niche.

Sarah Wilson – I Quit Sugar Pty Ltd

In four years, Sarah Wilson has built the I Quit Sugar empire into one of the country’s best known e-commerce health platforms which employs 20 people and turns over $4 million a year. A former editor, Sarah’s revolution started when she began explaining the health problems surrounding sugar, wrote a bestselling book and built a ‘wellness’ ecommerce platform offering products, advice and counselling.

Her ten-product range is now selling at local supermarkets and gaining traction in the UK and the US. Sarah was one of the big movers behind the sugar tax push and has been behind several sustainable food projects.

Judges’ Comments – This is a globally established brand. Sarah took a personal adversity and turned it into an opportunity to create a platform for wellness.

Peter Winkle and Nicholas Perry – Bailey Nelson

Peter Winkle turned down a scholarship to Oxford University to focus on building disrupter eyewear business Bailey Nelson. At the same time, his co-founder Nicholas Perry left an exciting role at The Iconic.

The pair launched Bailey Nelson, Australia’s only national, omni-channel optometry provider and started spending each Sunday running a stall at Sydney’s Bondi Markets to learn about eyewear.

The business has built a global supply chain and now ships hundreds of pairs of glasses per day from Hong Kong directly to Australia, the fastest turnaround time in the industry. They now have operations in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. It has 257 staff across 28 stores and has sold more than half a million glasses.

Bailey Nelson earned revenues of $15.7 million in the 2015/2016 financial year.

Judges’ Comments – These entrepreneurs know where they are going, are disrupting an established market by finding and serving an unserved customer base. They took a personal risk by testing their product at the Bondi markets.

Social Entrepreneur – Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, Top Blokes Foundation

Melissa Abu-Gazaleh developed a desire to improve mental health outcomes and wellbeing for young men after noticing their high suicide and crime rates. In 2006 at the age of 19 she established Top Blokes Foundation.

Melissa faced two challenges when she started the foundation: lack of recognition about the importance of young men’s health and minimal business experience. She has more than overcome these challenges.

Top Blokes Foundation has delivered social education and mental wellbeing programs to 10,000 young males aged 14 to 24. Melissa now earns a full-time salary through the business and by July 2017 expects to employ 7.5 full-time employees.

Champion of Entrepreneurship – Henry Ngai, ABC Tissue

Henry Ngai started his entrepreneurial journey at the age of 15, helping his dad to run their family business in Hong Kong. He has been involved in the tissue paper business ever since. In 1985, Henry founded ABC Tissue Products from the garage of his home in Western Sydney. From a turnover of $250,000, today ABC Tissue Products has an annual turnover of $500 million; production facilities in Sydney, Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand; market share of 50% and about 700 staff. Future plans for the business include building more paper mills and production facilities in Sydney and Brisbane, and expanding to Melbourne.

Giving back to the community is also very important to Henry. In 2009 Henry formally established his charitable ventures ABC Tissue Vision Express, ABC Tissue Hearing Express and ABC Tissue Charity Express which have helped over 2.5 million people in need.

Source: EY

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