BRISBANE DISTILLERY Company has not only performed a highly useful community service in turning its manufacturing capabilities over to producing hand sanitiser, it has also consequently boosted local employment.

While thousands of businesses have been repurposing their capabilities to create valuable services to their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, Brisbane Distillery Company joined other distillers in pausing production of their alcoholic goods to add in a new product line: alcohol-based hand sanitiser.

Brisbane Distillery Company founder, Jon Atherton was nevertheless astonished to see sales grow exponentially.  

Mr Atherton not only chose to temporarily change the whole operation of his business, but also took on the challenge of establishing a new supply chain for hand sanitiser amidst national shortages of bottles, pumps and even raw ingredients.  

To be able to meet the local demand, Brisbane Distillery hired more employees and grew the business workforce from six to 34 in a single month. Additionally, in this past month, the factory fulfilled 15,000 hand sanitiser orders – a production total of 165,000 litres. 


Having served in the Australian Army and worked across various industries over the last 30 years, Mr Atherton said he had been fortunate to have had diverse experience in running multiple businesses, establishing new networks and scaling teams. That varied knowledge has allowed him to pivot quickly, he said, and transform the distillery into a hand sanitiser factory – in turn becoming one of the largest producers in the region. 

“There is a little bit to making a really good gin that, if you focus on the details with gin, you can focus on the details with hand sanitiser as well,” Mr Atherton said. 

The sanitiser Brisbane Distillery sells is suitable for use in medical and health services, has 80 percent alcohol content that is said to kill 99.99 percent of viruses and bacteria. It is also a non-gel formula, so does not leave residue.

The product can be utilised in health care facilities – such as hospitals, aged care and other residential facilities – as well as for general consumer use. 

Supplying to federal and state police, ambulance and fire services, the team at Brisbane Distillery has been working harder than ever to keep the stock ahead of demand.

Prices for the hand sanitiser start from $10.50 per 600ml bottle with pump and from $57.50 per 5 litre bottle.


By Leon Gettler >>

LONGTAIL UX, an Australian start-up that improves website ranking and ad performance on Google, has just secured $5 million in new funding from Investec Emerging Companies Fund to expand into the US and UK markets.

The big question, is how did they do it when businesses are finding it hard to raise cash when the economy is contracting because of COVID-19?

According to the company’s co-founder and co-CEO Andreas Dzumla, it didn’t happen overnight. It followed extensive negotiations with Investec before the outbreak of the pandemic. 

“It had been a process of almost three years, of us knowing each other, they know about our business. There was a long relationship,” Mr Dzumla told Talking Business.

He said serious discussions about the funding started in August and got serious in November.

Mr Dzumla said the COVID-19 situation at the beginning of this year changed everything.

“I think everyone in February still saw this as a Chinese problem and even in early March, and then from one week to the other, things changed dramatically,” he said.


The onset of the pandemic  meant Investec had to look at what it meant for them and Longtail had to assess what it meant for its own business.

Mr Dzumla said there was a period of two weeks where no-one really knew what the impact would be. However, in the end both sides had done sufficient due diligence to go ahead with the deal.

Longtail has an extensive client base including Woolworths Group’s Dan Murphy’s, Adore Beauty, Kogan, Booktopia and Yellow Pages. 

It’s broad and, as Dzumla says, it’s a good thing it’s not limited to the travel industry.

“It’s so broad, which is why we both felt confident that while it was uncertain times, we could go forward,” Mr Dzumla said.

He said Longtail UX was already expanding overseas with teams in the US and Europe.

The company’s overseas teams had given the company good insights into the impacts of the pandemic as they were more acutely felt in markets such as Spain and the US.


Longtail’s software helps companies profit from their landing pages. Its software makes websites more relevant and creates a better user experience.

The software uses artificial intelligence, machine learning and focuses in on key words and search intentions. The company also hosts the systems on its own,

He said Longtail UX had also been at the forefront of remote work and, with its plans to expand overseas, remote working in sales and account management in different time zones would become a key part of its business strategy.

The headquarters, however, will remain in Sydney.

Sales, for example, would be done with video calls and client service is done remotely

The company also had a remote work policy right from the start.

“We are quite well-prepared comparably for the situation” Mr Dzumla said. 

“Before this, everyone in the team, every two weeks, could work from home.”

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 >>

GREG MCLARDIE runs a company, Two Hands, that exports hundreds of millions of lobsters into China. He is in a very challenging situation.

Mr McLardie runs the risk of the Chinese wet markets, which notoriously helped create the coronavirus through unhygienic conditions.

However, the business will now be supplying Chinese restaurants, by-passing the wet market system. The lobsters go straight to the restaurant.

The Two Hands business model tags each lobster and uses blockchain. 

Two Hands hasn’t been supplying restaurants in China since January 27, since they have been closed. The restaurants opened three weeks ago but haven’t yet started buying lobsters because things in China are still slow.

People aren’t yet going to restaurants because they need to keep their social distance and they have to wear face masks. Mr McLardie said the chefs are telling him they won’t start ordering until May.

“I’m in constant contact with the executive chefs in Shanghai and the executive chef for the Waldorf Astoria said to me last week the whole world knows that coronavirus started in a fish market. He thinks that makes the Two Hands model very compelling because we avoid the fish market,” Mr McLardie told Talking Business.

His company was now being encouraged to bring in even more lobsters, when the restaurants start trading again.

“We connect fishers and farmers directly with the restaurant, with the chef. And with that direct connection, we have been able to reinvent the supply gain and eliminate middle men,” Mr McLardie said..


The way the Two Hands system works is that the fisher or farmer puts a smart tag on the product which cannot be removed until it gets to the chef. The product is weighed and the quality information is assessed.

That information, together with the fisher and farmer information, along with the pricing, is uploaded into the marketplace and made available to the chef in the restaurant. They place the order and the order is aggregated in Australia.

The lobster is packed in Australia, it arrives in customs in China and goes straight to the restaurant, avoiding the importer, the wholesaler and last mile distributor.

“So we avoid the fish market and because we’re using smart tagging with blockchain technology, we can guarantee the provenance of the product and we can guarantee the ethics of the journey the product went on,” Mr McLardie said. 

The critical part, he said, was to have all the information provided on the blockchain.

“Every time there is a change in the custody of the product, that change in custody, or any activity that affects the product, needs to be uploaded to the blockchain,” he said.

“We have spent an inordinate amount of time and effort making sure there are no gaps.”

Mr McLardie said there can no longer be any case for ‘business as usual’ with coronavirus.

He said what Two Hands is doing resonates with restaurants in China. People want to know they’re eating safe food.

Mr McLardie said the model has the potential to expand into other Asian markets.

“That’s what we’re pursuing. That blockchain is of great beauty that can expand globally at a very rapid pace,” he said.

“With a public curated register, you can expand globally very rapidly. This is the first time we have a technology that can ensure all the participants operate ethically.

“I think we can move quickly to that world, thanks to blockchain.” 

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 >>

TIFFANI BOVA, global customer growth and innovation evangelist at Salesforce, has written extensively about the Growth IQ for companies. She talks to many businesses about it.

Ms Bova travels around the world helping companies grow in the face of stiff competition and a fast-changing business environment.

As she describes it, a company’s Growth IQ comes down to simple steps. But it’s also about being honest about where the company is heading.

“The one thing about growth is it’s not one thing and starting with the context that a business is in – what  industry, what region, what sector, whether other things are going on around them and within their own business – you need to know that first,” Ms Bova told Talking Business.

She said if companies did not know the context of their business, they might end up just replicating what their competition was doing. 

“If you just go for replicating what someone else is doing, that’s their context, that’s their culture, that’s their capabilities, not yours. That’s always super dangerous,” she said.

“You have to know your business, you have to know your employees, their capabilities, you have to know you customers.

“You have to know your ability to absorb change internally. You can’t throw a bunch of ideas out to your employees and expect them to respond accordingly and everything to be executed perfectly. There’s a lot that goes behind those things that need to be done.”


Ms Bova said the key question that businesses needed to ask was what kind of growth rate they wanted to have.

“Is it 2 percent, 5 percent., 10 percent, 50 percent? Each would have a different context for that business.”

One of the things Ms Bova does when she gives keynote speeches around the world is ask people how many want to grow their businesses? How many want to double their business in the next 12 months? How many want to grow at 50 percent? Or 25 percent? While everyone wants to grow, they want to grow at different paces.

“Then it goes back to that context. What can you handle as a business when it comes to growth?” Ms Bova said.


Tiffani Bova said when she talked to executive teams, there could be differing views within the company about how much growth they wanted, who their main competitors were and whether their company could handle innovation at a rapid pace.

Until everyone has a common starting ground, which is not easy to do, but at least the leadership teams need to have it, they can tackle the important issues facing the business, she said

Ms Bova cited a Bain study which found that 95 percent of businesses turning over more than $5 billion a year felt that internal inertia, not external forces, was what kept the business from growing profitably.

She said companies wanting to develop their Growth IQ needed to accept that growth is a thinking game. How much growth does the company want? Are their leaders aligned?

“It isn’t necessarily about having the best products, or the best strategy or the best execution,” Ms Bova said. “It’s about, did we come up with the right plan to begin with?”

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

AN OLD African saying – 'It takes a village to raise a child' – is being applied successfully in Brisbane to help foster small businesses.

For local Brisbane businesses – such as unique and interactive catering solutions business Gathering Events – the challenges of running and growing a business are about to get easier with Brisbane City Council’s mission to create Australia’s most small business friendly city.

With three new council initiatives on the way to help small business flourish – including free small business networking events, workshops to enhance skills and empty space activations in suburban retail precincts – Gathering Events managing director Jen MacMillan said it was an exciting time to be in business in Brisbane. 

“We’ve been able to directly benefit from the support of council initiatives, including mentoring when we first launched our business, which gave me advice that has shaped where we are today, and more recently 50 percent off a food licence application fee,” Ms MacMillan said.

“Even after five years in business, a saving like that is huge and gives us additional funds to invest into other areas of our business.”


The Gathering Events business, which has grown organically year-on-year from a mobile caravan bar service to now offering clients food carts, gelato carts and cocktail bars, relies on local suppliers.

“All of our suppliers, from our printer to our gelato maker, are local,” Ms MacMillan said. “We have come to consider them friends and these initiatives provide a way to create an even richer small business community in Brisbane.

“It is exciting to think that more businesses will have opportunities to develop with additional support and somewhere to talk about the challenges and wins – we’re really all in it together.”

With Brisbane as the base, Gathering Events has found its innovatie services in demand and now travels ‘far and wide’ servicing Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Byron Bay, Ipswich and Toowoomba. Gathering Events can also now  service Adelaide city and the greater Adelaide region in South Australia, by arrangement.


With more than 124,000 small businesses operating across Brisbane – and accounting for 97 percent of all registered businesses in Brisbane – the new support offered by Brisbane City Council will allow additional businesses to grow and start across the city.

Brisbane’s Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the new initiatives were in addition to existing small business support services and were a direct response to feedback from business owners.

“We know our small business owners are battling, and want to feel more connected to the local business community, have more life in the suburbs and access training that is focused on their needs,” Cr Schrinner said.

“With the right support, small businesses can thrive in Brisbane and we want to ensure we are doing all we can to give these businesses the opportunities necessary to grow and stay in Brisbane.” 

When thinking of anyone waiting to launch their idea or businesses in their startup phase, Gathering Events’ Jen MacMillan said, “Brisbane is constantly changing and it is incredibly positive to see how our city is growing. Suburbs are being activated and Brisbane is now seen as a legitimate player by big brands. What better time to start something?”

Brisbane City Council also offers local business owners a 24-hour business information hotline and dedicated small business liaison officers who provide one-on-one support.

New small-business initiatives to be introduced in the coming months by the Brisbane City Council include free monthly small business networking events – to be held across Brisbane suburbs each month to help build regular local business connections – in addition to the existing Lord Mayor’s Small Business Forums.

Also planned are free skills workshops, a series of free intensive business training sessions aimed to help small business owners enhance their skills and build capability. These are in addition to the Lord Mayor’s Business Excellence Workshops.

Council is also developing a set of ‘empty space activation’ guidelines, for a pilot program to encourage property owners with vacant space in suburban retail precincts to allow temporary pop-up usage between long-term tenancies.

For more information on Brisbane City Council’s small business support programs, visit


By Leon Gettler >>

NEOS is an insurance company with a difference – a technological difference.

Apart from policies, the UK insurance firm also offers customers smart home technology to protect against burglaries, fires and water damage. Neos is also planning to add a smart door bell and an outdoor camera in the near future

The technology includes smart cameras, motion sensors, door-window sensors, leak detectors and fire detectors.

That is all managed through the app and if an issue is detected at the home, the customer can contact Neos through the app or on the phone and Neos will send someone out to put the situation right. 

And of course, technology can’t protect against everything so the customer still has good old insurance.

The technology is in essence offered free of charge and Neos is competitive with traditional insurance companies.

Neos was started up two and a half years ago and the firm is expanding globally, expecting to double its sales over the next year.

CEO and company founder, Matt Poll said the aim was to provide customers with something different.

He had spent many years working in the insurance and noticed customers all had a common gripe.

“Customers would come and say ‘You know what, I pay you all this money every year, I’m a great customer, I never claim, I get nothing in return and then at the end of the year, you go and put my price up,’’ Mr Poll told Talking Business.

“I thought customers deserved more and I had seen how smart technology can add value in terms of engagement to customers and help prevent claims.”


Mr Poll said it was a win-win situation. The customer wins because they are able to protect their home better and get something of value and even if they don’t make a claim, they can check in on their home whenever they want.

And Neos wins as well because if they detect a problem early, it can save on the claims payouts. 

He said Neos also has a B2B offer for other insurers.

Aviva, the largest insurer in the UK, uses Neos technology as does a large insurer in the Netherlands and another one in the US.

Neos white labels the technology and the service around it and licenses the offer to other insurers so that they can offer it around their brand.

“When we looked hard at the market, we saw the easiest way to increase our distribution internationally was through partnerships rather than trying to sell insurance in multiple different territories which is tough for a start-up like us,” Mr Poll said.

While the company is planning to expand further into the US and Europe, Mr Poll said Australia was also an attractive market (however, there is an Australian insurance company with a similar name which has been operating nationally for several years).

“We have had some interest from Australia,” he said. “It’s certainly a market if we found the right partner we would look at because there’s a lot of similarities, apart from the weather, to the UK and obviously being an English speaking country, it makes things a lot easier for us.” 

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

BRISBANE boutique fitness studio, Raw by Bek is giving the fitness industry itself a ‘workout’. Raw by Bek has developed unique, pre-choreographed ‘to-the-beat’ classes, changing the way Australians view what is now known as ‘high-interval-intensity-training’ (HIIT).

Raw by Bek’s director and head trainer, Bek Strachan said Raw by Bek is Australia’s first and only ‘HIIT-to-the-beat’ studio that features music-synced interval training designed to push members to work harder and see results faster.

Each playlist and song is carefully selected and used as the foundation for the routine, designed to engage the entire body to move to the rhythm of the music, leaving muscles burning for hours after. 

Ms Strachan said her trainers each spend 2000 hours a year choreographing routines to ensure every burpee, lunge, squat, plank and tuck jump is strategically and rhythmically matched to the music.

“Music allows us to create routines that are fresh, unique and fun. There’s nothing better than seeing everyone training, in unison, to the beat of the music,” Ms Strachan said.

“You get the biggest results in the shortest period of time. There’s something special that happens when you combine blood-pumping beats, revolutionary functional exercises, and a team of trainers who shift your mindset to a place that frees you, empowers you, and ensures you leave feeling on top of the world.

*A study conducted on the effect of music tempo on exercise performance and heart rate indicates the combination of music and exercise increases the exerciser’s effort output and heart rate without them noticing,” Ms Strachan said.

“My classes are different to the usual HIIT workout because we create our routines using music as the inspiration for movement. The music is carefully selected for an optimal full body workout, each lyric, beat and rhythm targeting specific areas of the body.

“As the beat of the music fluctuates, so do our movements, ultimately encouraging short bursts of extremely high physical intensity with rest periods to boost fitness levels and burn fat. 

“Raw by Bek capitalises on the instinct to synchronize movements with music and channels this into a fast-paced, fun and effective workout that lifts our members’ moods and persuades them to ride out waves of exhaustion.”
Ms Strachan said Raw by Bek takes a holistic approach to health and fitness, giving people access to all the required steps in their fitness journey.

“When members sign up, they receive a Raw by Bek shirt or towel, booty bands and online access to weekly updated meal plans crafted by an accredited dietitian, at no additional cost to their monthly membership,” she said.  

“We believe in an inclusive and open community environment and strive to help our members become the best version of themselves. This really sets us apart from other gyms and allows us to be the change we want to see in the fitness industry.”  

Raw by Bek is celebrating three years in business on December 14, 2019.


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