Australia’s Top 5 Female Entrepreneurs under 40
This impressive collection of women demonstrates the very nature of entrepreneurial spirit. No matter the sector, these five have brought innovative thinking and passion to their businesses, working from the ground up to create industry-topping companies. Business Review Australia shares what led them to found their businesses, and what motivates them daily (hint: family has a lot to do with it!).
Tammy May founded MyBudget in 1999 when she was just 22 years old. The goal of the company is to help people gain control of their personal finances and debt, and May started it all from her kitchen table. She discovered her purpose while working at a legal firm and seeing firsthand how devastating and overwhelming debt can be, especially when the clients did not have any real idea how to take control of their money and spending.
MyBudget currently processes over 2.5 million transactions manages over $550 million in salaries on behalf of thousands of clients every year – and they’ve helped nearly 40,000 people since the company was founded.
May and the business have won several awards, including Telstra South Australian Business Woman of the Year, the Yellow Business Owner Award and the Australian Government Business Innovation Award in 2007 and Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2008. She’s also been listed on several successful women lists, including SmartCompany’s 2010 Top Female Entrepreneur list. High on her list of personal achievements are her two children.
Sheryl Thai’s story begins with a cupcake. Before the IT consulting company she worked for went under during the global recession, she was inspired by the fervour around a cupcake shop she visited while in New York City. She began baking at home; requests turned into orders, and orders turned into catering large events with delicious cupcakes.
She founded Cupcake Central in 2010 with Thin Neu, just 9 months after she started baking from home. One of the things she is most proud of is the culture in the workplace, where the company is growing a team of young, passionate, dedicated staff.
Cupcake Central has expanded to three stores in 3 years, and Thai has since put out a cookbook titled Hatch That Dream, which references the bakery’s motto. Thai won Young Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013, and credits her whole team with the honour.
She has also co-founded the League of Extraordinary Women, a young female entrepreneur initiative, with the vision to create a community focused on connecting young female entrepreneurs to form and create real relationships and friendships in the workplace.
Karen Cariss founded PageUp People, a single-platform, integrated talent management technology provider, with her husband Simon at the end of the dotcom era. The company has grown to over 60 employees on their software and consulting services, with clients like Coles, Origin, the National Australia Bank and BHP Billiton.
The company’s reputation as a leading brand in talent management is buoyed by the company’s financial stability in a less-than-stable business climate – PageUp People has never had to raise capital. Cariss made this a priority, which has since helped them acquire investments to expand to Asia and other emerging markets.
In 2014, Cariss’ company won the Australian Achiever Award for Excellence in Customer Service for the ninth year in a row.
"We are all about people,” Cariss said.” it's not just in our name, it's in our DNA. That's why we strive year after year to earn the much sought after ‘Highly Recommended’ seal of approval from the Australian Achiever Awards.”
She’s won the Ernst & Young’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year award (in 2008) and the Victorian Telstra Women’s Business Award in 2009. Her family, as well as the growth and success of this now-global company, rate high on the list of things of which she is most proud.
Miranda Kerr is known best as the first Australian Victoria Secret Angel, and as one of the highest paid models of this generation. But she’s also a savvy businesswoman - in 2009, she launched her own brand of organic skincare products (with George Moskos) called KORA Organics, and became the face of the company.
Kerr is not just the pretty face of the ad campaigns though. Before starting her modelling career, Kerr studied nutrition and health psychology, which influenced her to developing the line with organic chemists, aroma therapists and formulators, a process that took 4 years. Her work as a model, and seeing the unpronounceable chemicals in the products that were constantly used on her skin, had a big impact on her decision to found the line.
The skincare products are a unique blend of essential oils and natural and certified organic ingredients; all products in the KORA line are 100 percent produced and manufactured in Melbourne.
Her self-help book Treasure Yourself: Power Thoughts for My Generation, was released in August of 2010, and her second book Empower Yourself was announced in October of 2013.
Like many young female entrepreneurs, Kerr balances her day job (or several day jobs, in this case) with her full-time job as mother, and like May, says that motherhood has been the biggest and best achievement in her life.
For most businesses, a brick-and-mortar store comes first. This wasn’t the case for 4Cabling, Nicole Kersh’s one-stop-shop for all cabling needs. She founded the company with the knowledge that her family’s electrical cabling business was missing a large chunk of the market by only being open during tradies’ hours.
Kersh taught herself HTML coding, built a website and began selling cables, server racks and other data and communication equipment online directly to companies, all while managing the business in between her university classes at age 21.
Currently, the company does $6.5 million in business a year. And although she and her 20-plus employees joke about the talk that 4Cabling will “dominate the cable market,” she’s already got a 15 percent share of the industry in Australia.
Her online store has eventually led to a storefront in Sydney, and Kersh is looking to open another location in Melbourne. Like many on this list, she was the winner of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2013.
Seo JungJin: Who is EY’s World Entrepreneur of 2021?
Seo JungJin, founder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which most recently developed an antibody treatment for COVID-19, has been named the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, becoming the first South Korean in the award’s 21-year history.
Regarded as one of the world’s most prestigious business awards program for entrepreneurs, the EY Entrepreneur of the Year celebrates visionary and innovative leaders from across 60 countries who are transforming the world and fostering growth.
JungJin, who is now honoroary chairman of Celltrion Group, was up against a worthy cast of entrepreneurial competitors, taking the crown from among 45 award winners across 38 countries and territories.
Speaking during the virtual event, JungJin described his own interpretation of entrepreneurship as something that brings together “a group of people toward a common vision, embracing challenges as opportunities and committing oneself to contribute to the greater good”.
Why was JungJin crowned King Entrepreneur?
A South Korean native and now 63 years of age, JungJin founded biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion in 2003. In the nearly two decades since its founding, Celltrion has lived up to its goal of advancing health and welfare for all by developing ground-breaking drugs to treat autoimmune disease, various forms of cancer and, most recently, COVID-19.
The company, which JungJin started with just US$45,000 and five of his colleagues, has since growth to more than 2,1000 employees with sales permits in more than 90 countries and revenues exceeding US$1.69bn.
According to the panel, JungJin’s story is a shining example of the power of an unstoppable entrepreneur to change the world with the pandel moved by both his incredible story and his purpose-driven leadership, innovative mindset and entrepreneurial spirit.
Described by the chair of the EY judging panel Rosaleen Blair as “representing everything an unstoppable should be” from taking on the world’s biggest health care challenges to consistently creating long-term value for his company, JungJin’s story is one of incredible tenacity and perseverance that the judging panel felt most represented the entrepreneurial spirit.
“He’s taken breathtaking risks, both personal and professional, to found Celltrion and grow it into one of the world’s leading biopharmaceutical companies,” says Stasia Mitchell, EY Global Entrepreneurship Leader. “His passion for creating affordable, life-saving health care and flair for tackling global problems has led to many treatments that have helped millions of people worldwide and was especially evident this past year through the creation of a COVID-19 antibody treatment.”
How did JungJin get there?
JungJin's entrepreneurial journey started at an early age when he worked as a taxi driver to get himself through Konkuk University in Seoul, South Korea. After studying industrial engineering, he rose through the ranks of Daewoo Motor Co. before losing his job amid the carmaker’s financial troubles following the 1997 Asian economic crisis.
Following this, JungJin started collaborating with colleagues to explore business opportunities in different industries, though none delivered lasting success. The turning point came after he attended a talk hosted by renowned scholars, which inspired him to focus on the biopharmaceutical sector.
And so he founded Celltrion with just US$45,000 of his savings. The launch of Remsima, credited with being the world's first antibody biosimilar, quickly moved Celltrion up the ranks of the country's fairly underdeveloped pharmaceutical sector. Celltrion followed this success with the launch of drugs for breast cancer and lymphoma that today are being used worldwide.
With ambitions to be the world’s first in different areas, Celltrion has pioneered numerous uncharted areas to great success over the past two decades, most recently responding to the global pandemic by successfully developing an antibody treatment for COVID-19 and working to ensure a timely supply of the safe and effective treatment.
“When I first started, my vision was to help patients gain access to safe, effective and affordable medicines and thereby enhance the quality of people’s lives,” explains JungJin. “The success of Celltrion has enabled me to expand on this while finding new ways to fuel my entrepreneurial drive.”