40 UNDER 40: TOP YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS BRISBANE 21-30
21 November 2016, Written by Laura Daquino, Paris Faint, James Perkins & Karen Rickert
THE team at Business News Australia has compiled a list of some of Brisbane's brightest young business minds, highlighting the achievements of the city's most bold and innovative business founders.
The next generation of leaders have demonstrated tenacity, contributed to economic prosperity and proudly call the Brisbane home.
Building strong relationships with clients and customers has been key to success for the next group of entrepreneurs.
21. CRAIG SAMSON, 39
LOOK AND LISTEN, 2006
His passion for technology puts Craig on the cutting edge of this quickly moving space, where audio visual, appliances, communications and energy are all linked and able to be controlled by a single device.
Look and Listen won Best Integrated Home at the 2016 Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association Asia Pacific awards at Integrate in August, and went on win the Global CEDIA award in the same category at Dallas, Texas.
"It is a significant achievement for a small Queensland business to deliver a home that is recognised for the best work when compared against its worldwide peers," says Samson.
The business targets high end clients, but also those with disabilities, who require assistive technology to live independent lives.
22. LUKEUS POVIS, 36
CARTEL COFFEE, 2009
He stored it in his garage for a few years while brewing the branding and in 2009 Cartel Coffee was born. The espresso bar now has three locations across the CBD, combining good quality coffee with good service.
Drawing on his IT background, Povis says he 'outsources' the business model with a team of baristas managing each cart and purchasing his own blend of coffee beans from a supplier.
"I developed a secret four-bean mix with varying quantities from different origins around the world, including south and central Americas and Indonesia to add an edge," he says.
Povis is on the hunt to add a fourth location to his coffee kingdom.
23. GIOVANNA SHAKHOVSKOY, 29, & PAUL SHAKHOVSKOY, 27
ESCAPE HUNT BRISBANE, 2014 & DIRECTORS OF THE EXTRAORDINARY, 2016
They operate Escape Hunt Brisbane, an immersive entertainment concept that 'locks' small teams in highly themed rooms.
The brother-and-sister team are also behind Directors of the Extraordinary - a company which encourages people to dive into their own fantasy worlds.
"Through running Escape Hunt we loved the concepts of immersive entertainment and how it was applicable to different markets, for example education, corporate team building and social activities," says Paul Shakhovskoy.
"We saw a strong potential to expand this outside of four walls - where people could be involved in their own adventures."
Giovanna adds, "through Directors of the Extraordinary we can now draw on multiple disciplines in creative industries, incorporating theatre, technology, gaming principles, world creation and set design with an objective or element of competition for teams."
Both businesses were borne from the Shakhovskoy passion for creating things that haven't existed before.
24. KATIE RICHARDS, 36
VIRTUAL LEGAL, 2013
Purely through word of mouth, Richards' online law hub Virtual Legal has attracted more than 1500 clients and grown at 400 per cent a year since starting in 2013.
Richards' small-town upbringing inspired her create a firm that wasn't bound by geographical or financial constraints.
"I grew up in a small sugar cane town in North Queensland where it was only the wealthy cane farmers who had lawyers to help them, and there was only one in town so if the other person was using the lawyer there was no other alternative," says Richards.
"I decided to test the concept of whether we could provide lawyers into those regional areas of Australia using this mobile method, so that we could start addressing the inequality of access issue - and it worked."
PWC estimates Virtual Legal will have a $40 million valuation by 2019.
25. DAVID BOBIS, 30, FIL CRISTALDI, 30 & JOE FOX, 28
STUDIO CULTURE, 2013
David Bobis, Fil Cristaldi and Joe Fox complement each other with different personalities and skill sets, to have grown their turnover by more than 90 per cent this past year.
The founders encourage their employees to spend two years learning new techniques each day, fostering a culture of autonomy and self-improvement in the workforce.
The trio say they are excited to continue shaking up the industry in Brisbane and beyond.
"I think there is so many exciting things happening in Brisbane and I believe that the city hasn't truly reached its ceiling," says Fox.
"I feel there is a lot of opportunity here for our business to grow as the city does."
Even though their love for the river city market is strong, the Studio Culture team is keen to test the waters of Sydney and Melbourne in the coming years.
26. RONSLEY VAZ, 36
RONSLEY Vaz has created Australia's first audio marketing agency.
With podcasts growing like crazy - everything from Tim Ferris to Hamish and Andy - Vaz knew he had to capitalise on the trend.
"Every business is first a media agency, before they are a law firm or a mechanic or an accountant," he says.
Amplify will either train a business owner and their staff to be their own best promoters, or it will come on board and offer a marketing agency service - focused on audio, of course.
Vaz, who has found podcast fame himself, through his Bond Appetit recordings, says he chooses his clients carefully after getting to know their story through conversation.
"We believe that ever conversion, every idea, is better understood when it comes through conversation," he explains.
"We have conversations and find those bits of gold - there hasn't been a single conversation where we haven't found a number of valuable ideas."
Vaz also runs the We Are Podcast virtual conference.
27. LISA CARTER, 39
CLEAR INSURANCE, 2010
LISA Carter was recently named insurance adviser of the year by one of the biggest industry bodies, the first female in the awards' 20-year history.
She's worked in the insurance industry for over 20 years and left corporate life keen on getting back to what she calls 'true broking', putting clients first and creating a family business for her daughters with Clear Insurance.
"I was frustrated by the corporate way of doing business and was keen to get back to true broking and putting my client's needs first," she says.
Carter's personal style and professionalism refined over 20 years as a broker meant that Clear Insurance quickly found a solid customer base.
The business is rebranding with a stronger digital presence, which will help build on the company's solid growth to date.
28. VERONIKA BILEK, 35
EFTlab has developed a suite of products targeting banks, merchants and financial institutions to process payments securely and more efficiently.
A mechanical engineer by trade, Bilek reverse engineers old-school technology to deliver a modern take and says Australia's fintech scene is primed for disruption.
"It's more conservative because you have just a few banks here, but they spend more on legacy platforms rather than going with new and more flexible solutions," she says.
"We're working with local banks and processors and have a lot of interesting prospects. We have more contacts in the industry now since our investors joined us."
The Queensland Government awarded EFTlab funding to commercialise its payment gateway last year, as part of the Business Development Fund.
29. PEDRO ALCOBIO, 34
HEALTH PLACE, 2012
Alcobio ran away to the circus and worked as a massage therapist for Cirque Du Soleil's troupe of acrobats and performers, before eventually relocating to Brisbane.
He built up a client base operating out of other massage businesses before deciding to take the leap.
Health Place now has two locations across Brisbane, offering massage, acupuncture, podiatry, sport psychology and nutrition. The team of dedicated specialists treat everyone from the elderly to elite athletes.
"Health Place has grown far bigger and quicker than we could have ever imagined, largely due to the reputation we established very early on in the specialisation of remedial massage," Alcobio says.
"In the past two years, we've worked relentlessly to provide a natural health service unrivalled by any other provider in Australia."
30. SAMUEL VAGGS, 26
SUBCULTURE FOODS, 2015
The chef had scored a job at Singaporean restaurant Kwan Brothers to hone his craft and early passion of making bao - a steamed Asian bun filled with different ingredients.
Vaggs launched Subculture Foods with a friend last year and took over the reins of flagship restaurant Bao Down Now in Fortitude Valley soon after.
"When I first qualified as a chef, my mum was in New York and she ate at David Chang's restaurant Momofuku while over there," Vaggs says.
"He made bao famous about 10 years ago. She brought me back a signed cookbook and it has been a recurring theme.
"I went to his restaurant in Sydney on my birthday three years ago and ate one there. I started practicing making them at a pub in NT but hadn't thought about doing anything with it as a special next to the chicken parmigiana."
Bao Down Now has recently reopened in Teneriffe, with Vaggs planning to explore wholesale opportunities with Subculture Foods in the future.
Author: Laura Daquino, Paris Faint, James Perkins & Karen Rickert