From Humble Beginnings to Impressive Triumphs: 5 Inspiring Aussie Success Stories

What do Google Maps, Wi-Fi technology and the electric drill all have in common? They’re the products of Aussie ingenuity. Australia’s population might be small, but we’re feisty, and aren’t afraid to punch above our weight.

Every success story starts somewhere. In this article, we look at five Australian companies that started small and went on to achieve national or global recognition, plus explore the lessons aspiring entrepreneurs can learn from their experience.

If you’re passionate about starting a business or becoming your own boss, we hope these stories will inspire and guide you on your entrepreneurial path.

Kayla Itsines, SweatApp: Revolutionising fitness through digital media

Kayla Itsines is an Australian personal trainer and arguably started the Fitfluencer movement in Oz. She was an early adopter of digital and social media and used it to maximum advantage, gaining significant popularity through her downloadable PDF Bikini Body Guide (BBG) workout program. However, she gained even greater success through converting many of her devotees across to her subscription based app – SweatApp that she co-founded with her partner, Tobi Pearce in 2015. The app enabled them to expand their fitness brand and provided a comprehensive fitness solution for women worldwide.

Today, Kayla is still one of the world’s biggest fitness influencers, with over 13 million Instagram followers. The SweatApp offers workout programs, nutrition guides, and community support, making it a one-stop platform for women seeking to improve their fitness and overall well-being. The brand has a vibrant community, with the app reaching over 30 million downloads.

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Kayla says…

For anyone who is looking to start a business, create a concept based on something you are passionate about. If you focus on vanity metrics like money, chances are you aren’t going to enjoy the process and may find it challenging to stay motivated on the hard days.

Lesson learned

Working on a business that you believe in will help you keep you satisfied and motivated in the long run.

What you can do:

✔️  Combine your passion and knowledge with a plan of action.

✔️  Use this to create a roadmap for success.

✔️  Put in the hard work to make your plan a reality.

Anna Podolsky, Lyka Pet Food: Prioritising the wellbeing and health of dogs

This fresh dog food company started as a passion project to help restore Anna’s dog Lyka’s health. When she saw positive results in her dog’s health, Anna approached her co-founder, vet Dr Matthew Muir and Lyka Pet Food was officially born. The subscription-based business has served more than 10 million freshly cooked, human-grade meals to date and has improved the health of countless doggies.

Customers get a personalised meal plan via an algorithm that considers a dog’s breed, age, activity level, weight. and sensitivities. The service has been a massive hit with puppy parents across Australia, and Lyka recently secured funding and acquired two rival companies.

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Anna says…

Hearing feedback from our customers and by customers, I mean dogs – helps my team and I to keep focusing on creating the best possible nutrition so that they can live their best, healthiest lives.

Lesson learned

Actively listen to your customer and use their feedback to iterate and refine your product.

What you can do:

✔️ Do regular user-testing.

✔️ Give your customers plenty of opportunities to provide feedback.

✔️ Tweak your product or offer to help build a trusted community of loyal customers.

Simon Griffiths, Jehan Ratnatunga, and Danny Alexander, Who Gives A Crap: Achieving global impact through eco-friendly toilet paper

Who Gives a Crap produces environmentally friendly toilet paper, tissues, and other paper products. It started when Simon learned about the lack of access to proper sanitation facilities and its negative impact on health and hygiene. He wanted to create a business with a social mission at its core. So, in 2012, Simon found himself sitting on a toilet in a draughty warehouse, refusing to move until their crowdfunding campaign had raised $50,000. It took just 50 hours.

Today, it is a global B Corp™ certified company serving over half a million customers. They donate 50% of their profits to help build toilets in developing countries, and to date, it has directed over $10 million to charity. In 2021, they secured further investment to further expand their social mission.


Jehan says…

“Every entrepreneur must have that gut feeling that says, “Is this really a thing??” And then some people will tell you it’s a bad idea. Eventually you realise nobody really knows what they’re talking about (including you). You just have to go and do it.

Lesson learned

It’s better to give something a go than regret never trying in the first place.

What you can do:

✔️ Pitch your idea to as many people as possible.

✔️ Allow your idea to evolve based on their feedback.

✔️ Create a business plan to get your idea off the ground.

Abdul Razak and Samira Razak, Maple Community Services: Disrupting disability services with innovation

Brother and sister team Abdul and Samira Razak created Maple Community Services after Abdul saw an opportunity to provide better disability services and disrupt the industry through technology, innovation and agility.

Originally providing independent living and speciality support to people registered with the NDIS in Western Sydney, the last 12 months have seen exponential growth. Maple now serves over 600 clients and employs 300 people all over Australia.

They recently spent $1 million with a leading global software company to develop a digital services ecosystem and created a new vertical – Maple Youth Services. This division will focus solely on supporting children in crisis situations. This separate revenue stream is expected to take the company to the next level and open opportunities outside of the NDIS.

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Samira says…

“Success isn’t easy. There will be many setbacks, and being a woman makes it that much harder. Every day there are hurdles to jump, and you must keep pushing through it all. But, if you persevere, that’s what makes you truly ‘unstoppable’”

Lesson learned

Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing your dreams.

What you can do:

✔️ Use your experience and knowledge to spot where you can do things better and more effectively.

✔️ Build and maintain self-confidence and belief in yourself.

✔️ Keep a steady focus on your vision and end goals.

Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht, Canva: Democratising design for all

Canva’s vision is to democratise design and make it accessible to everyone, regardless of location or income. Founders Melanie Perkins and Cliff Obrecht started the company from Melanie’s mum’s spare room and grew it into a global design powerhouse that is worth around $39 billion. It took three years and 100 rejections before they secured their first investment.

Along the way, Melanie and Cliff sought and received support and advice from investors, successful entrepreneurs and experts, using this to grow the business. Today the Canva platform, which empowers individuals, businesses and organisations of all sizes to create visually appealing content, has 100 million users, has created 13 billion designs and is available in 190 countries and 100 languages.

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Melanie says…

“Asking for advice and support is another very quick way to learn

Lesson learned

Having the right guidance is key to long-term business success.

What you can do:

✔️ Identify your strengths and where you need additional help.

✔️ Find a mentor who can provide advice along the way.

✔️ Where it makes sense, invest in external experts to bring your business idea to life.

5 Business tips from Australia’s best entrepreneurs

  1. Working on a business that you believe in will help you keep you satisfied and motivated.
  2. Actively listen to your customer and use their feedback to iterate and refine your product.
  3. It’s better to give something a go than regret never trying in the first place.
  4. Don’t let anyone or anything stop you from pursuing your dreams.
  5. Having the right guidance is key to long-term business success.

Every idea deserves a chance to become the next big success story

We support small businesses and entrepreneurs to give it a go by removing the accounting and paperwork headaches involved with setting up and running a company. That means you can focus your time and energy on launching the next big thing.

Interested in bringing your vision to life? Find out more about how Sleek can help by filling out the contact form below.

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