Meet the Melbourne entrepreneurs taking on the world

2XU. Photo: Supplied

2XU. Photo: Supplied

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What does it take to create an international brand? Sarah Harris talks to home-grown entrepreneurs taking on the world.

2XU

Launched 2005 by Jamie Hunt, Aidan Clarke & Clyde Davenport

Producing high-performance sporting apparel beloved by elite athletes and Brighton-mums-in-a-hurry, 2XU was founded by former world triathlon champion Jamie Hunt with Aidan Clarke and Clyde Davenport in 2005. Today the company has an annual turnover of USD$75 million, has more than 200 employees and sells in more than 70 countries. Aidan, co-founder and director, gives us the drum.

Secret of your success?

We are obsessive about product quality and performance and engaged in constant and ongoing R&D and evolution.

Aidan Clark, Clyde Davenport, Jamie Hunt. Photo: Supplied

Aidan Clark, Clyde Davenport, Jamie Hunt of 2XU. Photo: Supplied

Biggest success to date?

So hard to choose just one. From being chosen as R&D and Compression partner to the Australian Institute of Sport, to equipping US Navy Seals, NFL teams and NBA players. There is a constant thrill of being chosen above all others (and often despite sponsorship conflicts) by the world’s leading sporting individuals and institutions.

Advice for a budding entrepreneur …

Be prepared to be relentless, to pursue your opportunities with passion. Don’t take no for an answer, and find a good mentor who can offer you some foresight through their hindsight.

 

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NANA JUDY

Launched 2006 by Glenn Coleman

Nana Judy's Glenn Coleman. Photo: David Higgs

Nana Judy’s Glenn Coleman. Photo: David Higgs

From a menswear label started in a Kensington garage and named after his great-grandmother’s dalmatian, Glenn Coleman has built one of the world’s coolest streetwear brands. With showrooms in New York and LA, 25 full-time staff and a brand presence in more than 15 countries, nANA jUDY is the name on the hips and lips of the likes of Bella Hadid, Ruby Rose, Kylie Jenner, Miranda Kerr, Leonardo DiCaprio and Rihanna.

Secret of your success?

There is a lot of thought in what we do. We don’t rush into things and we are selective. We don’t just partner with anyone or put our name to any event, we make sure they are the right fit and represent our brand well. The brand reached the decade milestone this year by keeping relevant and innovative in all aspects: design, marketing and business.

Biggest success?

Landing iconic stores such as Bloomingdale’s. Also our Coachella music events (nANA jUDY has hosted one of the hottest parties at the Californian music festival for the past three years) with celebrities Kylie Jenner, P. Diddy and Rihanna. Creating a cool brand culture is very rewarding achievement.

Biggest hurdle?

Managing growth. When you are growing fast and consistently year on year, you are constantly looking forward. Because we haven’t had the flat line, all our resources are always busy; it’s a good problem to have.

Why keep your HQ in Melbourne?

Being an Australian brand really does help in America, and in Australia, too. And, it’s a great city.

Advice for a budding entrepreneur …

Do your research and reach out to people in the industry to get advice. Be open-minded in hearing that advice because there are a lot of different ways of doing things. Business is a lot about relationships and the way you conduct your business is very important.

 

 

INTREPID TRAVEL

Launched 1989 by Darrell Wade & Geoff Manchester

Intrepid Co-founders Geoff Manchester & Darrell Wade. Photo: Julian Kingma

Intrepid Co-founders Darrell Wade & Geoff Manchester. Photo: Julian Kingma

Inspired by an eight-month journey across Africa in a refurbished council tip truck, Darrell Wade and Geoff Manchester established Intrepid Travel. Today the company has 1600 staff, offers more than 1000 trips in more than 100 countries and runs a major philanthropic fund. Darrell, now executive chair of Intrepid Group, explains the journey.

Secret of your success?

Intrepid will always be a group of travellers working together in a business, rather than a business that happens to work in travel. You need to get under the skin of a destination before you really get the “wow” moments happening. From watching the sunrise from the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro to sharing stories and a meal with the Yolngu people in East Arnhem Land – this is what Intrepid is all about.

Biggest challenge of going global?

In our first year we took 47 travellers to Thailand, this year we will take 250,000 travellers to more than 120 countries across the world. That scale brings huge advantages in lots of ways, but it also means we need to work harder than ever to make sure the travel experience is as fresh, personal and original as it can be.

Biggest hurdle?

About six years ago we merged with a listed British company to form a new joint venture – that was a mistake. I misread the cultural differences between the two organisations and it just didn’t work. Two years ago, we “consciously uncoupled” from the company and bought back the entire business, plus more.  Since then, we have never looked back.

Why keep your HQ in Melbourne?

We like Melbourne. With the possible exception of New York, where would you rather live? Of course, the reality is that having global HQ here is a bit of an accident of history rather than any form of planning. Melbourne is a terrible place to run a global business in some regards; we are a long way from major source markets and our people are forever on planes to manage our network, plus Australian tax rates are not exactly competitive, and it’s an expensive place to have an office. But, all in all, we’re very happy here.

Advice for the budding entrepreneur …

The first time I went travelling on my own, I bought a

Lonely Planet guide (another great Melbourne travel company) and Tony Wheeler wrote the travel advice that was along the lines of “don’t think too much about it, just go”. I think entrepreneurship is like that. There are a million reasons not to start a business, but at the end of the day if you believe in an idea then you just have to give it a go.

 

PANA CHOCOLATE

Launched 2012 by Pana Barbounis

Photo: Supplied

Photo: Supplied

Pana Barbounis started his chocolate empire dream making, packing and delivering every bar himself on his Vespa scooter. Five years on, the Pana Chocolate group turns over close to $10 million a year, employs 108 people, and sells its handmade raw vegan chocolate in more than 25 countries.

Secret of your success?

First and foremost, it is the human capital, the people who bring a wealth of experience, passion and love for the brand. Secondly, consistency. We have retained most of our original staff and 80 to 90 per cent of the suppliers we started with, which enables us to keep a consistent product in the market.

Biggest challenge of going global?

We have gone into countries like Iceland, Slovakia and Slovenia that we really shouldn’t have, only because we haven’t been able to offer them the support to grow the brand. A distributor will only take a brand so far. As brand owners we really have to support them with marketing, sales and the rest of it.

Biggest hurdle?

Every year poses its own challenge. Three years ago, for me, it was about letting go; empowering the team and not feeling like I have to be across everything. Two years ago, it was about team structure and now it is about making sure we have the right leaders to take us to the next level. I am learning on the job, to be honest. I haven’t run a company this size before.

Why keep your HQ in Melbourne?

It is my home and, I believe, the food capital of the world. We have such a depth of culture, the food infusion is absolutely amazing.

Advice for the budding entrepreneur?

Back yourself. Don’t deviate from your strategy. I am about to move to my fourth location purely because I hadn’t backed myself and gone into bigger premises.

 

ADORE BEAUTY

Launched 2000 by Kate Morris

Adore Beauty's Kate Morris. Photo: Supplied

Adore Beauty’s Kate Morris. Photo: Supplied

When 19-year-old Kate Morris decided to launch Australia’s first online beauty retail business in 2000, the banks and cosmetic brands laughed. Today Adore Beauty has 60 staff, customers in every country on earth and an annual turnover of $30 million.

Secret of your success?

I think there are three things. One, we don’t ever do anything without thinking about how it will benefit our customers first. Two – and I think this is at the heart of any disruptive business – we absolutely refuse to accept the status quo. We have always been willing to push the envelope, to try to change the way things are done. And three, I have an amazing team. It’s genuinely an inspiration to work with them.

Biggest success to date?

We have tripled the size of the business in the past three years, that’s been a pretty amazing ride. Though the thing that makes me most proud is the huge amount of positive customer reviews we have.

Biggest hurdle?

It was pretty tough at the start to convince the beauty industry that what we were doing was the way of the future. There were a lot of knockbacks from brands that thought that we wouldn’t be able to offer a good customer experience online.

Why keep your HQ in Melbourne?

Melbourne is a wonderful place to run a business, there’s great talent here. But mainly it’s because I like living here. I’m a Tasmanian by birth, Melburnian by choice. I love this city, it’s so vibrant.

Advice for a budding entrepreneur …

Work on your resilience. Starting your own business is a journey that will be full of setbacks and knockdowns. Successful entrepreneurs are able to get back up, dust themselves off and keep going.

 

 

CRUMPLER

Launched 1995 by Dave Roper, Will Miller & Stuart Crumpler

Crumpler Bags' Dave Roper and Stuart Crumpler. Photo: Simon Schluter/The Age Melbourne Magzine

Crumpler Bags’ Dave Roper and Stuart Crumpler. Photo: Simon Schluter/The Age Melbourne Magazine

Crumpler started life making bags for bike couriers in 1995. Today the employs more than 100 people, produces more than one million bags of all sizes annually and is one of the world’s most travelled and best-recognised luggage brands. CEO Adam Wilkinson picks up the story.

Secret of your success?

Crumpler has always inspired a strong emotional connection with our customers. From early days, Crumpler stood out from the pack – quite literally – through the strong, vibrant colours of our bags and the irreverent, rebellious spirit of our marketing.

Biggest hurdle?

Navigating the growth and progress of Crumpler, from a small local business to a global player, while remaining true to the brand and maintaining a high standard in terms of product quality, design, and innovation.

Why keep your HQ in Melbourne?

We believe Melbourne is in the DNA of the Crumpler brand. Also, it’s such a creative hub, on a local and global scale. We celebrate creative entrepreneurship and those from all walks of life who adopt a forward-thinking mindset.

 

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