By Leon Gettler >>

BEN REVELL has made a big difference to e-commerce wine retailing in the UK – and, more recently, around the world.

His company,, is a wine club that offers consumers the chance to buy wine at the same price direct from the supplier. It lists more than 50,000 wines and spirits. 

Working on a completely transparent model, Winebuyers does not mark up prices or charge commission on any item sold, enabling customers to buy wines at exactly the same price as they would from the supplier direct.   

Winebuyers makes its revenue from charging suppliers a subscription fee. It has custom built application programming interfaces (APIs) that automate the entire process with artificial intelligence (AI).

Mr Revell said the idea to set up the company came to him about 10 years ago when he turned up a wine auction and put in a cheeky bid for a 1959 Chateaux Margaux. The auctioneer was selling it for £7200 and Revell put in a bid of £3700, never thinking he would win it, nor particularly wanting to win it.

But lo and behold, he did. He sold it three days later and almost doubled his money.


Three months later, he had amassed 500 bottles. He wanted to sell it but there was no real viable route to do that. It was almost impossible to sell on Amazon, illegal to sell on eBay. It then dawned on him to set up the business.

“Why not connect the people making the wine to the people actually buying it?” Mr Revell told Talking Business. “After a lot of research, it blew my mind that nobody seemed to me be doing that, or doing that correctly.”

He said the company gets its wines from suppliers from 40 different countries. Mr Revell said the primary focus was on the UK but there was a lot of appetite from Western Europe and Eastern Europe.

Customers also come “from all over the place,” he said.


The wine is delivered from the vineyard straight to the consumer. 

“That’s the beauty of the platform. The reality is a model like ours couldn’t have existed 10 or 15 years ago. There’s been massive developments with the three major shipping companies, UPS, FedEx and DHL.

“They’ve come on in leaps and bounds and not only made it possible for vineyards to ship to the end customer, it’s their most economic route,” he said.

Mr Revell  said producers were happy to pay the subscription fee, which works off a sliding scale based on how much wine they want to list.

The result is it being mutually beneficial for everyone involved with the customer getting it for the best price, leaving them with the warm fuzzy feeling that they’re helping the producer and not lining the pockets of the supermarket, and the producers maximising their margins selling direct to the customers.

“With us in the middle with us, if we have 1000 suppliers paying us £100 a month, why do we need to be greedy and take margin on the sale of items?” Mr Revell said.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


A HIGH-RESOLUTION RADAR named GroundProbe that predicts mine site collapses; a food delivery service, Food Connect, that links local farmers with consumers; and Law on Earth, an online platform helping people access legal services, are among 56 finalists in this year’s Brisbane Lord Mayor’s Business Awards.

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the 2019 finalists represent the wide breadth of talent and ingenuity within Brisbane’s business community.

“The 2019 finalists demonstrate why Brisbane is one of Australia’s most progressive and business-friendly cities – a place where collaboration is a genuine part of business,” Cr Schrinner said.

“Every year, the Lord Mayor’s Business Awards unearth stories of world-leading innovations, best-practice environmental and sustainable initiatives, and inspiring business leaders and entrepreneurs. 

“These businesses and individuals make a positive impact on our local economy and community, but also internationally with ground-breaking research, products and services,” he said.

“As a finalist for the Queensland Urban Utilities Award for Product Innovation, GroundProbe’s SSR-OMNI is the highest resolution radar on the market and is used around the world to predict mine collapses with 100 percent accuracy, delivering enormous safety and productivity benefits,” Cr Schrinner said.

“In the new ISPT Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise category, Food Connect is supporting local farmers and bringing healthy communities closer together through its fresh food hub and delivery service. 

“The new Brisbane City Council Award for Outstanding Micro Business recognises companies including Law on Earth, which offers an easy and affordable way for people to access legal documents and information – a process many find daunting,” he said.

“It’s also pleasing to see an inspiring group of finalists vying for Young Business Person and Business Person of the Year – people who exemplify why Brisbane is Australia’s New World City,” Cr Schrinner said.

“These are just a few examples among the group of outstanding finalists that all contribute to our vibrant community and fuel our city with the confidence that anything is possible.

“Many successful and innovation businesses call Brisbane home and I’m pleased to see an incredibly strong group of finalists this year,” Cr Schrinner said.

“I look forward to joining Brisbane’s business community at the 2019 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards Gala Dinner on October 18, where the winners of the 11 categories will be announced.”

2019 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards finalists

Queensland Urban Utilities Award for Product Innovation finalists:

  • GroundProbe for SSR-Omni
  • Microba
  • Seipel Group Pty Ltd for Urox Bladder Control
  • Superloop for ClearView Behavioural Analytics
  • Watkins Steel

Brisbane City Council Award for Outstanding Micro Business finalists:

  • Charlton Innovation
  • Law on Earth
  • Mizzie the Kangaroo
  • Signs Australia
  • Solaire Properties
  • World’s Biggest Garage Sale

Australia Pacific LNG Award for Business Innovation finalists:

  • MTA Queensland
  • Nightlife Music
  • PeopleBench
  • Seipel Group Pty Ltd
  • Surgical Performance

ANZ Award for High-Growth Business Start-up finalists:

  • AssetOn Group Pty Ltd
  • Citrus International
  • Clipchamp Pty Ltd
  • MOVUS Australia Pty Ltd

HSBC Award for Doing Business in Asia finalists:

  • HART Sport
  • Palladium
  • Superloop
  • Tritium
  • Urbis

Yurika Award for Environmental Sustainability in Business finalists:

  • Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Sekisui House Australia
  • Solaire Properties
  • TyreStock Pty Ltd
  • University of Queensland

ISPT Award for Outstanding Social Enterprise finalists:

  • Food Connect
  • Juiced TV
  • Leap in!
  • Stronger Smarter Institute
  • World’s Biggest Garage Sale

CCIQ Award for Outstanding Small Business finalists:

  • Aremdeco Pty Ltd
  • CrossFit Torian
  • Liquid State
  • New Farm Confectionery
  • Nourish’d
  • Universal Field Robots

Port of Brisbane Pty Ltd Award for New Investment in Brisbane finalists:

  • Brisbane Airport Corporation
  • Consolidated Properties Group
  • Hilton Foods Australia
  • The Fortitude Music Hall
  • Student One

Singapore Airlines Award for Young Business Person of the Year finalists:

  • Abbey Crompton – Nourish’d
  • Ally Kelly – Mind Blank Ltd
  • Harrison Black – Foster & Black
  • Jonathon Runge - VostroNet
  • Matthew McHutchison - IVAA

The Courier-Mail Award for Business Person of the Year finalists:

  • Dr Chris Jeffery – Field Orthopaedics
  • Jano Kotzas – The Prop House
  • Maxine Horne – Vita Group
  • Scott Hutchinson – Hutchinson Builders
  • Simon Kirkpatrick – Gateway Motorways

Optus Business Platinum Award:  This category recognizes the outstanding overall winner.

Other LMBA sponsors include:  BDO, Channel 7, Epicure and Sirromet.

FOLLOWING the completion of the Barayamal Accelerator program, five Indigenous entrepreneurs will present their businesses at an investor pitch event – the Barayamal Demo Day and Awards – at the Victorian Innovation Hub in Melbourne on October 25.

Assisted by LaunchVic – the state’s startup agency – this national event will bring together Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians to showcase some of the best Indigenous entrepreneurs in Australia. Organisers said the event would show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist – like the black swans described by the Indigenous Barayamal name – and they can also build successful businesses.

Five innovative Indigenous businesses were selected for the Barayamal Accelerator, which provided free co-working space at the Victorian Innovation Hub, mentoring and training from industry experts, along with financial support for the growth of their companies.

“The Indigenous entrepreneurs have grown their businesses and will now showcase their successes at the culminating demo pitch night, which is now open to the general public to register to attend with over 100 attendees  including investors, professionals, community and government representatives expected to attend,” Barayamal CEO Dean Foley said. 

One of those successful businesses featured is Binary Security, which has already received enquiries for partnerships from Australasian and South East Asian countries.

“I feel that indigenous business in Australia is set to explode onto the world stage and being part of it is both incredibly exciting and humbling,” Binary Security director Stewart Stacey said.

Mr Stacey said through the Barayamal Accelerator program the participants had learned the importance of embedding Indigenous culture into their businesses. One of the outcomes for Binary Security was the opportunity to engage with a second national enterprise customer for cyber consulting services.

As part of the Accelerator program, the business had also deployed its first proof of concept (POC) for digital product into an enterprise customer of 1,100 users.

“We have received enquiries for partnerships in Fiji, New Zealand, China, Indonesia and the Philippines,” Mr Stacey said. And the company has now opened a new office.

Other participant in the Barayamal Accelerator program were Pawa Catering and Events owner and operator, Niyoka Bundle; Pearlii CEO Kyle Turner; Our Songlines director and CEO, Kayla Cartledge; and Ngali founder, Denni Francisco.


Barayamal CEO Dean Foley said an accelerator program typically helps startups to gain access to business networks, knowledge, expertise and early-stage funding they need to build successful businesses. 

Mr Foley said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander entrepreneurs can make a valuable contribution to this momentum towards innovation if they build and grow companies with a global impact.

“The Barayamal Accelerator wants to help Indigenous entrepreneurs achieve just that,” Mr Foley said.

“At Barayamal, we believe that entrepreneurship and technology can change the world for the better. We do this by building technology solutions, running business accelerator programs, free events, the Indigipreneur podcast, school-based education and by investing time and funding Indigenous startups, which are the high-growth economic and employment solution.”

Mr Foley also acknowledged the support Barayamal receives from LaunchVic.

This program is an initiative of Tharamba Bugheen, the Victorian Aboriginal Business Strategy 2017-2021, released by the Victorian Government in March 2017. Tharamba Bugheen recognises that economic advancement of Aboriginal Victorians is critical for self-determination and is making significant investments to support this agenda.

“LaunchVic is thrilled to be supporting indigenous entrepreneurs through the Barayamal Accelerator Program,” LaunchVic  CEO Kate Dornick said.

“We wish the five startups who participated in the inaugural cohort the all very best at their upcoming Demo Day and are looking forward to watching them succeed, as we follow their startup journeys.”

Mr Foley said Barayamal means ‘Black Swan’ in the Gamilaraay language. Its significance is that black swans were first seen by Europeans in 1697 but, before that, Europeans had only known of a white swan.

“In this instance, the black swan represents Indigenous entrepreneurs who have not been noticed in the world for their innovation,” Mr Foley said. “Barayamal plans to show the world that Indigenous entrepreneurs exist and they can also build global businesses.”


By Leon Gettler >>

AFTER starting business just 10 years ago, Fred Schebesta is now in charge of a $1 billion global enterprise. is a global phenomenon as a comparison website.

“We’re obsessed about helping customers make better decisions,” Finder co-founder Mr Schebesta told Talking Business.

“We help people learn and solve their problems on the site and go on to make great decisions because decisions at the end of the day help you better your life and get you into a better situation so that you can go on and do the things you want to do.”

At its core, offers lots of tables and comparisons on the website. This means customers can compare credit cards, mortgages, insurance, personal loans, broadband offerings and mobile phone plans. 

The site offers hundreds of different things people can compare to get the best possible deal and it’s all free.


The company has now turned itself into a global business.

“We started here in Sydney Australia and we’ve slowly but surely grown,’’ Mr Schebesta said. “We now have offices in the US and the UK. We also market to the rest of the world – Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, New Zealand, and we’re really pushing on our vision bettering all the world’s decisions.”

Mr Schebesta has also set up a venture capital arm for the business, Finder Ventures, which invests in new businesses.

One of these new businesses is the crypto currency brokerage Hive X. It is also moving into the ‘fin-tech’ space.

His advice for other start-ups wanting to expand is to think global.

“I think that it’s really important if you want to build a global business that you need to get out of Australia,” Mr Schebesta said.

“Australia doesn’t have the same dynamics as the rest of the world. It’s actually a bit of an island, it’s a small place on the earth. And it has similar systems to the UK.

“When you go to other countries and you realise the state of things and the innovations that are taking place and the cadence of the majority of the population, you’ll find it’s very different to what’s happening in Australia.

“The second thing I would do is ensure your business is robust and scalable and tested in a small way. So do it small first and start to build on it and then once you find some success, you go from there,” he said. 

“A lot of people go for a big bang but that’s not really my style. My style is a consistent, considered approach and hen when we find success, we invest big. 

“That’s what we did in the US and the UK. We put a lot of money into those businesses.

“We want to make the first global comparison service.”

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


By Leon Gettler >>

LIVESMILES, brought to you by independent software vendor LiveTiles, is an intelligent corporate wellness solution, kicked off in collaboration with global launch partner Microsoft.

Available on a freemium model, LiveSmiles incorporates key features. These include an artificial intelligence-powered Bot Assistant, data analytics and insights. It also provides real-time recommendations to managers on how to improve engagement and understanding of wellness of employees.

Peter Nguyen-Brown, LiveTiles co-founder and executive director, said wellness is a growth area.

“Our aim is to make wellness part of the workplace as opposed to an after-thought which it often is today,” Mr Nguyen-Brown told Talking Business

He said it offered the complete range of technologies from LiveTiles which is listed on the ASX.

“What we’re effectively doing is taking all the technology that we’ve built over these four years, tailor it to a wellness activity, a wellness solution for the workplace and we’re giving it away for free globally so we think that combining all our technology and doing something with it in a global viral sense it can have a big impact,” Mr Nguyen-Brown said.

“Effectively what it’s doing is providing organisations with the ability to build and tailor their own wellness portal, their own wellness solution that suits them.”

He said about 70 percent of companies were trying to do something with wellness but modelling it as an add-on to employees’ workplace experience.

“What we’re finding is that most wellness strategies with organisations are actually overwhelming employees so what we’re doing is helping companies by providing the technology behind it,” Mr Nguyen-Brown said. “We see a lot of companies trying hard but they don’t have the technology to support it.”


Mr Nguyen-Brown said wellness was a broad area. For some it was physical health, for others it was mental health. Some saw it as a matter of mindfulness, while for others it was about spirituality.

The key here was to allow employers and employees use the technology to develop a wellness solution that suited them.

He said the wellness industry was growing massively.

“By connecting really good wellness experts with employers, it’s up to them to forge relationships and engage employees,” Mr Nguyen-Brown said.

At the same time, different companies and employees had their own take on wellness. For some it could be about mental health, for others it could be physical health starting with the basics of yoga classes to getting people on their bikes. 

“If we can connect the wellness industry with some of the best employers in Australia, we can accelerate those outcomes,” he said.

Mr Nguyen-Brown said it also worked as a platform to help employers and employees collaborate on their existing initiatives.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


By Leon Gettler >>

STRUGGLING businesses looking for assistance can expect to get some ‘sweat equity’ from Tamara Loehr.

Ms Loehr has delved into the world of investment with a current focus on her online beauty-disrupter, Dollar Beauty Tribe, designed to promote cruelty-free, vegan indie brands. Ms Loehr has become globally known as a leading wellness entrepreneur.

What she does is she goes out into the world looking for businesses need what she calls ‘sweat equity’.

Her businesses include hair care, a health range, and vitamins. She also looks for businesses she can invest in and grow through her ‘sweat equity’ model, which sees her investing her marketing services, instead of money.

“There’s a real gap in the market, there’s a lot of small businesses that need help with their business,” Ms Loehr told Talking Business.

“They’re not going to get access to capital unless they have a business that’s usually over $10 million, preferably around the $20 million mark because that’s less risky for investors. 

“But before that, they often need a lot of help so that’s where I come in, I fill that gap. I come in where they might be struggling.”


Ms Loehr said for a lot of small business, capital was not the best thing they need from angel investors – it’s business ‘smarts’ – as many of them spend that money figuring out the lessons more experienced businesses have already learned.

This is where Ms Loehr, who had an agency for 20 years before she turned investor, comes in and – if she sees the business has a great product but is really struggling with the market and struggling with the dollars to create marketing campaigns – she will take equity in exchange for marketing.

This is something a new business would not ordinarily be able to afford with her agency, and she gets them to their key milestones – which is, primarily, how much revenue they want to achieve.

The businesses she chooses are usually product-based operations in the wellness sector. Her mandate is vegan, organic and cruelty-free.


The business is valued with due diligence, assessed, and priced as if it was being sold in the real market or raising capital. Ms Loehr provides her equity to the business in services.

So if, for example, the business is valued at $200,000 and she takes 50 percent, she will give that business $100,000 worth of marketing. Ms Loehr then has to get them to a certain agreed target to take that 50 percent. If they don’t reach that target, she gives them back their equity.

A timeline is put in place, and that is critical.

“That’s really good for me because if, in 12 months, I have given them four or five hundred thousand dollars of free marketing time and agency time, and a little bit of capital, if that doesn’t work in 12 months, and I’m not hitting those targets, I believe in failing quickly, I’ll pull out,” Ms Loehr said. 

“Because at the end of the day, if that business isn’t reaching those targets, that business isn’t one I would want to be on the bus of. So fail quickly, give them back their equity and move on to the next project.”

Then again, as she says, that hasn’t happened too often.

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at  


A DOUBLE US acquisition by Australian telecommunications company Pivotel has dialled up business into North America, Latin America and Europe for the group. 

Australia’s fourth largest mobile carrier, Pivotel this week acquired two US-based mobile satellite solution businesses, MVS USA Inc. and Explorer Satellite Communications Inc., through its US based subsidiary Pivotel America Inc. This has the immediate effect of significantly increasing Pivotel’s scale in North America and opening new markets in Latin America and Europe.

The double acquisition is expected to see Pivotel’s annual revenue jump to more than US$85 million (A$120m) in 2019/20.

Pivotel has now acquired four international companies within two years with the two new businesses joining North American maritime solutions provider Global Marine Networks LLC, acquired in 2017, and Wellington, NZ based mobile satellite communications provider Wright Satellite Connections Limited, acquired in 2018.

Pivotel chief executive officer Peter Bolger said he was motivated to continue the search for further Pivotel acquisitions that bring in essentials skill sets and capabilities, access to new markets and an expanded pool of customers. 

“Through acquisitions such as these we are able to access new technology capabilities as well as new markets,” Mr Bolger said.

“In the telecommunications business, scale is always important. We expect to achieve synergies at the network level which will drive improved margins across our now expanded customer base and increase the opportunity to sell our existing solutions to new customers and new markets.

“We have historically invested up to 10 percent of revenue on R&D, developing new and better solutions that simplify the use of satellite communications, improve its affordability and deliver the effective outcomes our customers are seeking,” he said. “By having access to more markets and a larger customer base we can get better returns on our R&D investments.”

Pivotel America Inc. president Robert Sakker saw the acquisitions as highly complementary to Pivotel’s existing operations and to each other, important factors in Pivotel’s broader growth strategy.
“With a significant base of retail customers across the Americas, a strong network of reseller partners around the world, and a talented team of professionals, MVS not only provides an immediate revenue lift but also provides enormous potential to accelerate our organic growth,” Mr Sakker said.

“In addition, the MVS FLEXX service management platform is world class and will further enhance Pivotel’s existing service management capabilities.

“Explorer Satellite Communications has a unique and strong presence in the American and international adventure market, with an established customer base and sales channel. Explorer has had amazing sales success despite its relatively small size, and we think they will do great things with the resources of Pivotel behind them and access to a stronger portfolio of products and services.”

The acquisitions also open up new markets in Latin America and Europe, truly globalising the company to now represent over 105,000 current services spread across its Australian, New Zealand, Indonesian, Americas and European operations.

The catalyst for the deal according to Deborah Deffaa, CEO of MVS USA, was Pivotel’s innovation led, customer first strategy to running its business.

“Pivotel is known for its innovative approach to service delivery and its investment in network and application services to improve the customer experience,” Ms Deffaa said. “The allure of connecting our North American, Latin American and European network to Pivotel’s Asia-Pac network is irresistible.

“We will literally span the globe with a satellite data super-highway that allows us to bring our intelligent solutions to customers everywhere,” she said.

“There is no doubt that joining forces with Pivotel will strengthen, heighten and broaden our capabilities as a business. Their impressive history, awards and innovative thinking is well matched with our premium partnerships and personalised approach to communication solutions.”

Explorer Satellite’s principal Andy Cool reflected that “Pivotel America Inc. and Explorer Satellite are a great fit, and we are very excited to be a part of a growing and innovative organisation”.

Today, Pivotel Group has more than 250 dealers and partners across its Asia-Pacific and Americas operations and employs more than 125 staff spanning Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Europe and Indonesia.

Mr Bolger said the group’s goal was to achieve further strong revenue growth over the coming years via focused organic growth within existing operations and through further acquisitions.


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