Brisbane's business innovators line up for Lord Mayor's awards

TONIGHT, at a gala dinner at Brisbane City Hall, winners of the 2021 Lord Mayor’s Business Awards will be announced from a field of 32 companies and eight individual Brisbane-based business leaders.

They will be named in 11 different business categories in an awards series which has grown in prestige every year for more than a decade and has gained its finalists and winners national and international recognition.

Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner said the awards highlight business excellence, success, and “those who think outside the square – all trademarks of Brisbane’s business community”. 

“Our city’s economic recovery and revitalisation is dependent on sectors that can navigate change, adopt and embrace new opportunities, and these awards recognise some of the city’s most outstanding businesses,” Cr Schrinner said.

“The 2021 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.

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

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

 

 2021 LMBA Finalists

 ACCENTURE AUSTRALIA AWARD FOR PRODUCT INNOVATION

EGR Group

Ellume Limited

Immersive Robotics Research Pty Ltd

Wagners EFC

ANZ AWARD FOR HIGH-GROWTH BUSINESS

Emesent Pty Ltd

Firstmac

Leap in! Australia Ltd

Swyftx Pty Ltd

AUSTRALIA PACIFIC LNG AWARD FOR BUSINESS INNOVATION

Bigmate

Codafication

Microba Life Sciences

Watkins Steel

CCIQ AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING SMALL BUSINESS

ATech

Ecoflo Wastewater Management Pty Ltd

Nourish'd Meal Co

Mizzie The Kangaroo

HSBC AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS

Aremdeco Pty Ltd

Emesent Pty Ltd

Field Orthopaedics

Icon Group

HUTCHINSON BUILDERS AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING SOCIAL ENTERPRISE

Australian Spatial Analytics Ltd

Jigsaw Australia

Leap in! Australia Ltd

Multhana Property Services Pty Ltd

ISPT AWARD FOR INVESTMENT IN BRISBANE

Aria Property Group

Brisbane Airport Corporation

The Coffee Commune

Watkins Steel

URBAN UTILITIES AWARD FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY IN BUSINESS

Helios Brewing

Howard Smith Wharves

Save Our Supplies Ltd

Wagners EFC

XERO AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING MICRO BUSINESS

Future Anything

Resource Hub

SensaWeb

The Little Red Company

PORT OF BRISBANE AWARD FOR YOUNG BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

Abbey Cameron – Nourish’d

Alex Harper - Swyftx

Alexander Bell – Milton Rum Distillery

Nina Nguyen - Pakko

THE COURIER-MAIL AWARD FOR BUSINESS PERSON OF THE YEAR

Elena Gosse – AIS Water

Marie Mortimer – loans.com.au

Phillip Di Bella – The Coffee Commune

Scott Power – BMD Group

 

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Geezy Go gets going in Australia

By Leon Gettler >>

IMAGINE a supermarket which is completely digital. One where you can order your food from a web app or through WhatsApp and get it delivered within 20 minutes. At a cheaper price.

That’s the offering from Geezy Go, part of the Geezy Global group, which has Australia’s first digital supermarkets operating in Sydney and Melbourne and plans to expand around Australia.

Geezy Go has warehouses across the cities. The warehouses are closed to customers. The pickers and packers select and pack the groceries and the drivers are sent out on e-bikes to deliver the goods to the customer within 20 minutes of them placing the order.

Geezy Global, which also operates in New Zealand, the UK, the US and India,  works with brands right around the world and Geezy Go is also working with Australian brands. 

Geezy Go vice president of growth and strategy, Dhruv Kohli, said the company was building a section in its app, www.geezy.store, for local producers and local brands.

“We buy all the produce from our local farmers and we are aiming to promote localisation, helping these small entrepreneurs who are coming up with new brans to the market, helping them get featured on our web apps and giving customers access to their products in just 20 minutes, ” Mr Kholi told Talking Business.

This means customers can get anything they normally buy at supermarkets from Geezy Go.

LOWER OPERATING COSTS DELIVER SAVINGS

Mr Kholi said the goods at Geezy Go were cheaper because they were not burdened by the real estate charges of stores, cleaning and electricity costs. Geezy also has an Australian workforce of just 38. With such lower margins, the reduced costs are passed on to customers.

“Instead of having 10 different varieties of olive oil, we’ll work with just two varieties of olive oil,” Mr Kholi said.

He said Geezy Go was planning to expand from Sydney and Melbourne, and will extend to Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Hobart

Customers don’t have to download anything, he said. They just go to www.geezy.store, pick the items, pay online through Stripe, and the order will come to the team which will pack and pass it on to the drivers who deliver it in 20 minutes.

He said Geezy Go has a 99 percent satisfaction rating from customers and the average delivery time is 15 minutes.

Mr Kholi said Geezy Go was growing by word of mouth.

“We deliver to someone in one apartment building and then you see the next day, four others are ordering from the same apartment building,” he said.

USING WHATSAPP TO PROMOTE

Mr Kholi said that while a lot of companies are relying on email support and chat support, Geezy Go is using WhatsApp.

“We have WhatsApp support,” he said. “So basically if you are not finding the answer for everything, anything in the app, or you want to know anything, you just WhatsApp us and our team will respond within one minute.”

Mr Kholi said Geezy Go was now building a service where people can do their shopping on WhatsApp.

“Soon you’ll be able to order your groceries from WhatsApp as well,” he said. “You can see all the items on WhatsApp.

“You can just choose and our team will deliver it to you,” Mr Kholi said.

www.geezy.co

www.leongettler.com

 

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

https://play.acast.com/s/talkingbusiness/talking-business34-interview-with-dhruv-kholi-vice-president

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Naked Wines help clothe and feed our winemakers

By Leon Gettler >>

NAKED WINES has had tremendous success as an online wine industry disruptor during the pandemic. The pandemic has expedited people’s comfort with buying online, particularly from Australian producers.

“Prior to the pandemic, 90 percent of Aussies wanted to buy local and what we saw through COVID was a real understanding of every dollar spent and a really strong purchasing stance to support local businesses and producers who are by far the most exposed at this time,” Naked Wines managing director Alicia Kennedy told Talking Business.

“For us, the impacts of COVID-19 have accentuated the wine industry’s challenges and validating our model.

“We’ve really seen the power and possibilities of when you have a community of over 130,000 angels, which is what we call our subscribing customers, backing not just Naked but our independent wine makers.” 

Ms Kennedy said this was the reason why Naked Wines was able to work very well through COVID-19.

The Naked Wines business model cuts out the middle men and hidden costs of distribution and advertising which drive up the wine label price tag. The Naked Wine business model connects the wine makers direct with the consumers

This disrupts the Australian wine market where 75 percent of the distribution of wine is controlled by Woolworths and Coles, who not only have retail brands like Dan Murphy’s and Vintage Cellars but also vineyards.

Because the costs have been cut right back, the Naked Wine product can often be up to 40 percent less than what’s on offer by retailers.

“It creates a really efficient go-to-market where we are able to support independent wine makers, to take away any of the fear or concern that they’ll end up with a lot of wine and a lot of debt,” Ms Kennedy said.

“We can actually fund them up front and that means we end up getting the wine directly to the consumer at a much better price, because it’s really efficient, than they would have found in other wine shops,” she said.

DIRECT CONTACT WITH WINEMAKERS

The model sees consumers talk to the wine makers directly through the Naked Wines site. Each wine maker has a message wall, so comments and feedback can be posted back and forth.

“The wine makers absolutely love to hear first-hand that information and feedback from the consumer,” Ms Kennedy said. “It’s as close as you can get to be being at a cellar door and sitting across from a wine maker but ultimately, and efficiently, sitting at your home and it being delivered to you.”

Naked Wines boasts 61 of the best wine makers in Australia and New Zealand. 

The stable includes award winning wine makers who have often worked for top wines like Yalumba, Wolf Blass, Vasse Felix and Penfolds.

There are also emerging wine makers who are accredited as the ‘young guns’ in wine.

And because wine makers are regional, Naked Wines has put its stable together by word of mouth.

Naked Wines has come up with initiatives to support the industry which has been hit by bushfires, COVID-19 and the China tariffs.

It raised over $329,000 for wine makers affected by the fires. It had a COVID relief fund which offered much needed support for wine makers who saw their sales to restaurants and cellar doors disappear overnight when lockdowns occurred.

In response to the China tariffs, Naked Wines launched its Stop The Squeeze campaign, offering a $5 million relief fund for those Australian producers that had made quality wines destined for China which were suddenly without a market.

Ms Kennedy said that campaign attracted 11 benefactors. And with the tariffs continuing, Naked Wines is putting out a Stop The Squeeze wine monthly.

www.nakedwines.com.au

www.leongettler.com 

 

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

You can trust Aussie-made face masks … now going international

By Leon Gettler >>

MANY FACE MASKS are now coming onto the market. But according to Scott Huntsman, founder and CEO of Sydney-based All-Cast PPE Supplies – one of the country’s largest personal protective equipment (PPE) suppliers – 80 percent of the masks available are not registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and therefore are not identified as being able to stop the transmission of COVID-19.

Mr Huntsman said Australia is now seeing “a flurry of cheap products on the market”.

“Just the other day, we were in a service station and it was $12.95 [for a box] and they claimed it would protect you from COVID-19 – and that’s one of the things you are not allowed to do,” Mr Huntsman told Talking Business.

He said about 80 percent of the masks for sale will not give sufficient protection. 

“There’s a lot of brands that popped out of nowhere and you’ve got your cheaper imported products as well that are sold by street vendors,” Mr Huntsman said.

“We’ve even had landscapers contacting us to sell us masks, hoping we could move the product, so there would be thousands.”

Mr Huntsman said people picked up these masks thinking they would protect them from pathogens, but they are left vulnerable to COVID-19.

 

TIPS ABOUT QUALITY MASKS

Mr Huntsman said there are several things consumers should do when picking up face masks.

The first is to look for an Australian-made mask, which is to be registered with the TGA. They need to look at the filtration efficiency and examine the test results if they are available.

Generally, the manufacturer will feature those on their websites. They should examine their registration with the TGA. They should also read the packaging carefully.

“There is a lot of fake stuff on the market,” he said. “We get samples of them every day, and we look at the construction of those masks, we look at how thin the materials are, we water test them.

“With a good mask, you should be able to cup it in your hand and make a cup out of it and pour a glass of water in there without any leaks,” he said.

Part of the problem is that face masks can be sold without going through the TGA.

Vendors can sell them as long as they don’t make therapeutic claims of anti-viral protection and bacterial filtration.

 

THE ORIGINS OF ALL-CAST

Mr Huntsman said All-Cast was created as the brain-child of his brother-in-law and himself, setting it up as a family business. 

Before the pandemic, the brothers saw it developing medical equipment and, subsequently, they saw there was a need for face masks. They did their research, crossed all the hurdles and established a successful business.

At one stage, they were employing 180 people and the company is now moving forward into other products on the market such as sterile wraps, surgical respirators, and industrial respirators.

Mr Huntsman said All-Cast, unlike other companies, never gouged prices. All-Cast pricing has remained the same throughout the entire pandemic.

He said the main market was the general population but the company planned to move into the direct medical space.

With COVID-19 likely to be around for some time, he sees the market moving into a continuous supply.

Mr Huntsman said the company was looking to move its masks into the global market. He has already had discussions with suppliers and is assisting other manufacturers in the US and Europe in terms of efficiency and product make-up.

www.allcastppe.com.au

www.leongettler.com  

 

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

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Pro Medicus wins over medicos with 3D imaging

By Leon Gettler >>

PRO MEDICUS is a great Australian health-tech business success story.

The medical imaging technology company was once trading at 50 cents a share. Fast forward to today and it’s trading at $41.33 a share.

How did this company succeed in a sector where others have failed? How did it turn itself from a small Melbourne-based company into a global player with a strong market in the US?

The story of Pro Medicus’s success lies in its acquisition of radiology platform, Visage Imaging that allows medical images to be accessed anywhere and with lower data requirements. It is the product the company now sells in the US and the US is more than 60 percent of its revenue.

When Pro Medicus acquired Visage, it was during the heights of the Global Financial Crisis. 

At the time, Visage was the life sciences division of a Nasdaq listed company that specialised in software for the defence industry which had invested heavily in building life sciences as the second string to their bow. But it was a loss-making division and they had to divest it.

There were a number of prospective buyers but Pro Medicus acquired Visage after six weeks of due diligence.

FORTUNATE BUYING DECISION

Pro Medicus CEO Sam Hupert said it was the best business decision he had ever made.

“We’ve been very happy, not just financially. The product itself is on the world stage and it does a lot of good,” Dr Hupert told Talking Business.

“It’s something that really enhances clinicians’ capabilities so it’s exciting not just from the financial point of view but also in terms of what it does from the clinical side.”

“The product which we bought had this great streaming technology but it was only used for the very advanced visualisation of 3D, so it was it was really designed to sit on top of someone’s system that was predominantly 2D and then called in when you needed the more fancy things.”

Dr Hupert realised that even if a radiologist was looking at a CAT scan of chest, they needed to look at the x-ray from one desk top that could do everything.  Pro Medicus was the only company that could do both 2D and 3D

“It took a while for the market to understand what made this mouse trap so different,” Dr Hupert said. “A lot of our competitors thought who are these guys? They are too small, they’ll never be able to put it in – but thankfully we proved them wrong and that reset us in the market and we’ve progressed significantly since then. 

“The product we sell in the US is the clinical product. It’s what the radiologists use on their desktop to call up images, enhance them, make them into 3D as needed. Think of it as an Adobe for radiologists.”

BUSINESS BEST MEDICINE

Extraordinarily, the idea of Pro Medicus came to Dr Hupert when he was working as a general practitioner with a small practice in the Melbourne suburb of Coburg. He put the business together when he met Anthony Hall, a systems analyst, at a wine tasting

“This fell on me as an idea with Anthony Hall,” he said. “At that stage, doctors didn’t have computers. There wasn’t even the IBM PC when we first started talking about it and it just grew from there.

“Eventually it got so busy … I realised I had to choose between being in the IT space or clinical practice and I thought I could always go back to the practice – so I left the practice full time and, as they say, the rest is history,” Dr Hupert said.

“In my medical training, the word computer wasn’t even used. CT scanning, which is computerised stenography, had just come out then, and I just thought it would be the new form of literacy. I was looking for a computer to buy myself to tinker around with and one thing led to another – and here we are.”

www.promed.com.au

www.leongettler.com 

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

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Verus Global start-up disrupts global freight forwarding

By Leon Gettler >>

CLOUD-BASED technology is the secret behind Verus Global, the start-up that is disrupting the global freight forwarding industry

Starting up in Australia in 2019, Verus made an impressive $245 million in its first year of operation.

Verus started with three offices and now has 14 offices around the world, including China, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and Australia.

Company founder Jackson Meyer said freight forwarding was not the world’s most exciting industry, but it did offer a unique niche. 

It is also a saturated market.

In Australia alone, Verus has 700 competitors which meant it had to set up a competitive advantage.

 

FREIGHT IN THE CLOUD

Verus chose to do this through cloud based technology, which was a lot more cost effective than setting up servers, he said.

“We instilled that from day one. We were able to not inherit any legacy ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems and from there we were always looking for ways to leverage our tech and automation so we were pretty lucky to have that driven from the top down,” Mr Meyer told Talking Business.

“All of our customers and clients and internal staff members are able to build a platform and a system that works best for them instead of trying to work around a system that’s been in place for 10 to 16 years.”

Mr Meyer said a lot of trust goes into backing cloud based technology.

“When we are building these systems, we have our IT people speak to their IT people and usually they’re invested in benefiting not only their business but I guess the business moving forward and they know that is the way of the future,” he said. 

“Obviously there are going to be a few hiccups here and there, there are going to be some teething problems, but if everyone is understanding of that situation, there is a massive buy in, ranging from management right through to your warehouse staff who actually use it as well.”

 

USING THE BIG GUNS

The company’s emails, internally and externally, are run by Microsoft 365, a cloud-based tech system. Its ERP platform is also hosted by the cloud so all users, including its 53 staff, across the company’s 14 locations, just log into its ERP.

Verus also has a data integration platform for its clients which is hosted by Microsoft Azure, the tech giant’s cloud computing platform, which allows Verus to run purchase orders through its customer’s platforms and then reiterate the information into the Verus ERP.

Everything is completely transparent. Everything that Verus staff put into the system is correlated back to the customers.

“It’s really important that our customers see that we are adding value to their business, not only by trying to save them money through analysing the supply chain but also stop re-keying stuff that doesn’t have to keyed in again, really trying to enhance the business processes as well as time management,” Mr Meyer said.

Many Verus customers are in stationery, plastics, resin and building and construction.

“Stationery is a very big market for us,” Mr Meyer said. “It’s a good market in terms of a series of different areas we import from, obviously being Asia, also the United States and Europe as well.

“I’m very, very thankful that we’ve been able to sign and partner with a series of blue chip customers that are listed not only on the Australian stock market but also the New York Stock Exchange so there’s a real mix.

“We’ve also got smaller customers as well, which we don’t take for granted, and they range from mum and dad companies with maybe one or two containers per annum right through to big players.”

www.verus-global.com 

www.leongettler.com

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

 

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IPO success just another stage in Booktopia’s tour de force

By Leon Gettler >>

BOOKTOPIA’s listing on the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in December is just the beginning of a long process, according to the company’s founder and CEO Tony Nash.

It is all part of the further development of a company he set up 17 years ago with a $10 budget

“Imagine being in the Tour De France and you’re on the 10th stage and you go through the 40km-to-go banner and, once you get through that, you’ve got another 40 km to get to the finish line which is at the top of the mountain; and after you’ve done that, there’s another 11 stages to go before you get to the Champs-Elysees where you travel at 20km an hour hugging your friends, drinking champagne,” Mr Nash told Talking Business.

“The IPO (ASX initial public offering) is just a quick milestone and it’s in the rear vision mirror very quickly as you’re moving to what’s next.”

He said while the pandemic has been good for Booktopia, with so many more people reading, it had to be seen in the context of other businesses struggling and letting people go. 

“It’s difficult for us to say yeah it was great. Yes, we were up by a significant amount but it was a bitter-sweet period,” he said.

READING THE TEA LEAVES

Mr Nash said Booktopia was actually planning to do its IPO a year later, but the pandemic saw an acceleration for online businesses.

“Once it was clear that the pandemic had pushed e-commerce, and not just the pure plays like us, but e-commerce from all the traditional retailers … hence we were able to bring the IPO forward because the whole landscape had changed,” he said.

“People were asking us is it like a tsunami where you get inundated and the water recedes back to the old water line? Not at all. It’s more like a railway track where you have been shot down the track a few years.

“Because the pandemic has gone on for so long, people have actually changed their buying habits. It was going to take a lot longer, we’ve just got there faster.”

Booktopia has a 14,000 square metre facility near the Sydney Olympic Stadium, holding around 800,000 books. The company has invested a lot of money in automation and a pick-and-pack system to get the product out the door either the same day or the next day.

PUBLISHERS CHOOSE BOOKTOPIA

Publishers around the world have also appointed Booktopia as their Australian and New Zealand distributor, which sees the company sell to Amazon and the book shops. Booktopia has also now moved into publishing.

He shrugs off suggestions that Booktopia is competing with Amazon.

“Maybe they’re competing with us,” he said.

“Books was part of their DNA. They started on books. It’s less than 3 percent of their revenue today. It’s not a priority.

“They are actually more of a tech company. They actually prefer somebody else to sell the books – and they’ll take their clip of the ticket – rather than actually fulfilling the order themselves.”

Mr Nash said Booktopia’s credentials as an Australian company in this space has won over many customers. It is also unique because there are few alternatives in English speaking countries.

Booktopia has also moved into audio books. He said the business is small but it is growing – as opposed to e-books, which are losing popularity. 

Mr Nash said, “I think a lot of people have realised they spend so much time on screens, on their phone, on their computer. A book has a special place.

“It’s a 570-year-old industry that has been successful because of the way the author can connect with the reader. In 100 years, when they look at that, they’ll ask why did books survive? What is about a book that didn’t crack when technology came thundering down?”

www.booktopia.com.au

www.leongettler.com

 

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

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