Top 20 Famous Young Australian Entrepreneurs
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Young Australian Entrepreneurs have shown the same tenacity and resourcefulness that entrepreneurs worldwide typically possess.
We are in 2023 and tenacity and perseverance have helped these famous young Australian entrepreneurs pull through some tough COVID times in 2020, 2021 and 2022.
It’s a mindset – When others see adversity, entrepreneurs often spot an opportunity.
This is what has prompted us to publish the list of the twenty 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
- Young Indian Entrepreneurs
- Young Entrepreneurs in Singapore
- Young and Famous German Entrepreneurs
recently updated by us.
Let’s get started with the list of Young Australian Entrepreneurs:
Nick Molnar, AfterPay
Founder of the company: Afterpay
Company Established – 2015
Estimated wealth – $1.10 billion as of 2021
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.
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
Company Established – 2013
Estimated wealth – $7.98 billion as of May 2021
Perkins is a famous australian female entrepreneur, who is the founder of the world famous company – Canva.
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.
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
Co-Founder of the company: Canva
Company Established – 2013
Estimated wealth – $7.98 billion as of May 2021
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
Founder of the company: Atlassian
Company Established – 2002
Estimated wealth – U.S. $13.7 billion as of 2021
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
Co-Founder of the company: Atlassian
Company Established – 2002
Estimated wealth – US$13.7 billion as of 2021
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
Founder of the company: kogan.com
Company Established – 2006
Estimated wealth – $575 million as of 2020
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
Founder of the company: Sweat App
Company Established – 2015
Estimated wealth – $486 million as of 2019
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
Founder of the company: Gilmour Space Technologies
Company Established – 2013
Estimated wealth – $12 billion
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
Founder of the company: Boost Juice
Company Established – 2000
Estimated wealth – $66 Million
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
Founder of the company: Vita group
Company Established – 1995
Estimated wealth – $450 Million
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.
Sam Prince, Zambrero
Founder of the Restaurant: Zambrero
Company Established: 2005
Estimated wealth: $1.2 billion
A medical doctor by profession but an innovator by passion, Sam Prince is an inspiration for many.
Known for founding the Mexican franchise chain, Zambrero, Sam Prince is a Scottish-born Australian medical doctor and restauranteur of Sri-Lankan descent.
His restaurant began in Canberra in 2005 and has now spread to 220 locations worldwide, making Prince a billionaire.
But the restaurant’s success is not the only thing that makes him a superhero. Prince has devoted much of his life’s energies to aid work and is a renowned Australian philanthropist.
Prince was nominated “Australian of the Year” for ACT in 2012 for his restaurant-supported philanthropy efforts. (Source: Wikipedia)
As a selfless humanitarian, Dr. Prince uses his restaurant’s profits to fund programs educating remote communities and local health services on the prevention and diagnosis of crusted scabies – a disease affecting 70% of Aboriginal children.
As an innovator, he has to his name multiple initiatives including, Zambrero, Next Practice, One Disease, Sam Prince Hospitality Group, Shine, and Zapid Hire.
“There’s a quote by Steven Spielberg, who said that ‘intuition whispers in your ear it rarely yells.’ And indeed in my life, intuition was whispering in my ear that Mexican food was just not done well for a long period of time in Australia. And at some point, it started to yell.”
Ed Craven, Stake.com
Co-founder of the Company: Stake.com
Company Established: 2017
Estimated wealth: $1.1 billion
Co-founder of an online casino and multiple online games linked with it, Ed Craven is a young Australian billionaire. Stake.com is a global company with offices in many countries.
The roots of Stake.com came from another company, Easygo, that was established in 2016 by Ed Craven and Bijan Tehrani.
Easygo was a platform of online casino games which prompted both the co-founders to create Stake.com in 2017.
Stake.com provided online versions of traditional casino games like slots, blackjack, and roulette, etc. The game however dealt with payments only in cryptocurrency.
Ed Craven came into the media spotlight when he bought an $80 million home in Toorak, Melbourne. One of the media spotlight on the young billionaire was also due to a lawsuit on the company by a former associate who claimed $580 million in damages on charges that he was misled and kept out of the highly successful betting company – Stake.com.
“Stake casino holds an official Curaçao eGaming License, which is the standard amongst gambling sites that specialize in cryptocurrency gaming, like Stake.com.”
Jack Zhang, Airwallex
Co-founder of the Company: Airwallex
Company Established: 2015
Estimated wealth: $957 million
Born in China, Jack Zhang co-founded a real-time payment platform that has revolutionized businesses’ financial operations.
His company, Airwallex, became a unicorn startup after it received over US$1 billion in funding. It allows businesses to operate internationally without the challenges of the current global system.
Surprisingly enough, it is one of the only three unicorns in Australia. (Source: unimelb)
And to top it off, owing to its rapidly expanding business, it is considered one of the fastest-growing unicorns in the country.
The idea of the app came from their struggles with the financial system of running a coffee shop. The supplies from China had to undergo a frustrating process of cross-border payment complications.
Zhang has proven his mettle as an innovator and engineer by winning multiple awards, including Outstanding Leader of the Year by Fintech Australia (2019) and one of Ernst & Young Entrepreneurs of the Year (2018).
“We are very interested in hiring Melbourne Uni alumni and grads. We have 300 people now, we look to be 500 by the end of the year, and we’re looking to be about 1000 next year. So we’re hiring a massive amount of people.”
Tim Gurner, GURNER Group
Founder of the Company: Gurner Group
Company Established: 2013
Estimated wealth: $788 million
Sector: Property Development
Priding itself on a curated and focused approach to every project, the Gurner group is a property development business created by Australian millionaire Tim Gurner in 2013.
Carrying the last name of Tim, Gurner is not his first venture.
In his blooming youth, Tim got a loan of $140,000 from NAB to buy a gym and start his first business. Meanwhile, he spent a lot of time training to acquire his training accreditation.
Earlier, he co-founded a successful property development business, Urban Inc. During his involvement in Urban Inc, Tim took on many development sites, dozens of apartments, and several townhouses for development under his supervision.
Even before Urban Inc, he acted as a director and carried shares in a property development company, Pan Urban. Under his leadership, Pan Urban delivered iconic projects such as 401 St Kilda Road and A’Beckett Tower.
Attention to detail and a laser-focus approach for every project is Tim’s mantra.
Gurner Group claims to own a $10 billion portfolio focused on developments providing an elevated lifestyle, ensuring wellness, hospitality, and superior design.
“I was just 24 years old with next to no experience in the industry, convincing Morry to hire me. I offered to work for free just to get my foot in the door.”
Robert Chamberlain, Huno Group
Founder of the Company: Huno Group
Company Established: 2003
Estimated wealth: $741 million
Sector: Fintech, Travel
What started as a web platform for travel agents to facilitate them in their business and provide a space for fair competition, Huno Group has evolved into a leading travel site and a brand name.
Robert Chamberlain founded the business in 2003 as a marketplace for airfares and travel products. In four years, the site had occupied a Hitwise top 10 travel position in the country.
The business has grown to serve millions of online customers and reports $1 billion in annual transaction value. (Source: LinkedIn)
And all this started during Chamberlain’s university days while studying IT at the University of Sydney.
“Huno Group also holds residential property assets in Australia and a portfolio of listed and unlisted equities, primarily in the travel and technology sectors.”
Owen Kerr, Pepperstone
Co-founder of the Company: Pepperstone
Company Established: 2008
Estimated wealth: $542 million
Sector: Financial Services
Another bright star of the financial services industry, Owen Kerr, is a founder of a solution connecting multiple currencies and trade exchanges.
Owen Kerr founded Pepperstone in 2010 with Jow Davenport.
A graduate of Monash University, Kerr studied IT from 2002-2005 under a scholarship from the university.
His startup, Pepperstone, developed an interbank trading network that could link investment banks on Wall Street, NY, USA, via an optical fibre cables network. The network then became an easy route for the companies to bandwagon due to its cheaper costs and speed of the connection.
It may sound surprising, but Pepperstone’s solution has been termed a “disruptor” in the economy and was able to secure clients from over 70 countries worldwide.
“Highly analytical with an outstanding ability to identify underpriced and overpriced securities with an extensive asset- and market-specific knowledge.”
Max Li, Airwallex
Co-founder of the Company: Airwallex
Company Established: 2015
Estimated wealth: $453 million
Another one of the Airwallex co-founders (there are a total of 5 co-founders!), Max Li has made it to the AFR’s Young Rich list at number 14, with an estimated wealth of $453 million.
Max Li has been a key founding member of Airwallex.
Li Max was Jack Zhang’s university fellow, who both started a cafe in 2014.
The pair were frustrated with the exorbitant fees associated with international transactions, which prompted them to create a platform for such transactions.
Max Li and Jack Zhang called on the help of their friends (another one of them, Jacob Dai, has also made it to the AFR’s Young Rich List) to build an app that could solve this issue.
Currently, Li is the head of product design at Airwallex.
As a leader in product design, Li provides a creative vision for his company and is responsible for managing Airwallex’s product design initiative by leading a global team of designers.
“I am more of a person who looks at the future as a set of likely scenarios and attaches them to probabilities. As a businessman, you need to attach your commitment and resources to these highly likely events so that you give it all your heart and they, hopefully, turn out how you want them to be.”
Stephen Dash, Credible Labs
Founder of the Company: Credible Labs
Company Established: 2012
Estimated wealth: $400 million
In the world of innovation and tech automation, the financial sector has a lot to offer.
Since money is at the core of not only our businesses but almost all of our daily pursuits, finding innovative solutions with modern AI and tech solutions is likely to be the focus of entrepreneurs for the foreseeable future.
Stephen Dash is one such innovator who saw the space for innovation in the financial services industry and provided a solution that has met huge success.
His company, Credible Labs, provides a platform for consumers to compare various loan options and also refinance their loans, mortgages, and other financial services from lenders.
Dash was an investment banker at J.P. Morgan and a founder even before the creation of Credible Labs.
He has also been an investment director at MHC & Co.
The idea to launch his company struck from his sheer disbelief at the burden of debt that American students had to bear to undergo higher studies. Being from Australia, Dash wasn’t familiar with this issue.
After founding the company in 2012, he has seen it prosper by great margins ever since.
“We think that if Credible keeps delivering it could easily reach a billion-dollar valuation in one to two years, which would make today’s offer price look like a bargain.”
Mitchell Harper, BigCommerce
Co-founder of the Company: BigCommerce
Company Established: 2009
Estimated wealth: $394 million
Mitchel Harper grew up in the era of floppy disks and 486 computers, starting his coding journey at age 12.
Despite not having any great influences at the time, Harper had a natural gift for tech. He reverse-engineered (or reverse-coded for that matter) games for their source codes.
His childhood journey sounds more like that of tech giants from the USA – Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, etc.
Instead of pursuing a college degree, he embarked on an entrepreneurial journey right from a young age.
Harper had already tried eight startups by the time he founded his multimillion-dollar company, BigCommerce.
The first was a content-driven website that aimed to provide coding education. Only 19 years old, he created a website to teach others coding.
In 2009, he co-founded BigCommerce in Sydney – a SaaS company – offering services to retailers.
BigCommerce helps businesses set up and manage online and mobile stores by providing software solutions. It covers all the aspects of online business operations, including payments and currency conversions.
The company has spread to more than 120 countries and serves 60,000 online stores.
“Hire the best people, regardless of where they are and incentivize them heavily with equity.”
Paul Stovell, Octopus Deploy
Co-founder of the Company: Octopus Deploy
Company Established: 2012
Estimated wealth: $384 million
Sector: Deployment Software
The aspiring young tech millionaires of Australia are in no short supply. The next tech entrepreneur on the list is also a self-taught software developer.
Paul Stovell is an Australian tech entrepreneur who built Octopus Deploy in 2011.
Octopus Deploy is a software development solution that allows companies to deploy their software across multiple platforms – cloud-based platforms, Amazon stores, VM Ware, etc. – including releases and subsequent iterations.
Before building Octopus Deploy, Stovell worked for an investment bank to develop its .NET applications and for Microsoft and other tech companies.
The tech genius claims that he created his most successful software business as a “nights and weekend project”.
An impressive feat!
As a young man, he is passionate about building even bigger projects in the future.
“I love to build things – both detailed carpentry and construction jobs (amazing what you can learn on YouTube)…We have an old “Queenslander” house that we’ve been working on for the past 5 years. I love bigger carpentry projects, like enclosing this carport, building a fence/sliding gates, building a ramp, and building this shed.”
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