Aus­tralian en­trepreneur­ship in the Asian Century

Asia is boom­ing and there has never been a bet­ter time for Aus­tralian en­trepreneurs to cap­i­talise on the op­por­tu­ni­ties in the re­gion.

Business First - - CONTENTS - By Jon Michail

The Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott re­cently told an ASEAN busi­ness fo­rum that “trade means jobs” and his lat­est visit to the re­gion, that in­cluded at­tend­ing Aus­tralian Week in China, proved to be a suc­cess for the sim­ple rea­son that there is ex­tra­or­di­nary scope for Aus­tralia and Asian coun­tries in gen­eral to mu­tu­ally ben­e­fit from grow­ing re­la­tion­ships.

Dur­ing the visit, Mr. Ab­bott and his po­lit­i­cal col­leagues were joined by an un­prece­dented del­e­ga­tion of min­is­ters, state pre­miers and heavy hit­ting bil­lion­aires James Packer, Kerry Stokes and Andrew “Twiggy” For­rest and more than 630 busi­ness people.

They also toured Ja­pan and South Korea; these two coun­tries, plus China have a com­bined pop­u­la­tion of 1.5 bil­lion, a GDP of $15 tril­lion and buy more than half of Aus­tralia’s ex­ports. China is our big­gest trad­ing part­ner, fol­lowed by Ja­pan and South Korea in fourth place.

The op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist not only in Asia but also in Aus­tralia; Aus­tralians by na­ture are world class in terms of ap­ti­tude and pro­fes­sion­al­ism and are recog­nised as such in the re­gion de­spite hav­ing an im­age of a in­for­mal­ity.

Al­though our en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit can al­ways get bet­ter, I be­lieve we (en­trepreneurs, govern­ment and NGOs) are all in an ex­cel­lent po­si­tion to lever­age our for­mi­da­ble skills via ser­vices and prod­ucts be­cause of our lo­ca­tion and bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of Asian cul­tures than Euro­pean or Amer­i­can businesses.

The Prime Min­is­ter re­cently echoed some of these sen­ti­ments when he said, “For Aus­tralia, the tyranny of dis­tance has given way to the ad­van­tage of prox­im­ity.”

Our over­all ap­pre­ci­a­tion of Asian cul­tures and mul­ti­cul­tural di­ver­sity is al­ready pro­duc­ing many great re­sults – our ex­pe­ri­ence the ground points to count­less suc­cess sto­ries, large and small, that have helped cap­i­talise on this un­prece­dented growth.


The Asian eco­nomic strength has helped the Aus­tralian real es­tate mar­ket re­bound mostly be­cause of the in­flux of Chi­nese im­mi­grants and their money com­ing into the coun­try.

That has been good news for de­vel­op­ers, builders, es­tate agents, banks and oth­ers be­cause it has among oth­ers things gen­er­ated ac­tiv­ity and cre­ated jobs. Other pos­i­tive home grown sto­ries in­clude:

Rus­lan Ko­gan

Founder and CEO of Ko­gan Tech­nolo­gies. Now 31, Ko­gan started eight years ago in his par­ents’ garage in Mel­bourne with lit­tle money, im­port­ing elec­tri­cal goods from China re­branded to the Ko­gan brand. He is and now rated as one of Aus­tralia’s leading on­line re­tail­ers. Ac­cord­ing to BRW, Ko­gan is now val­ued at $315mil­lion, not bad for a kid from the sub­urbs.

Ja­nine Al­lis

Founded Boost Juice in 2000 and now has a rev­enue of $200mil­lion plus. With 250 stores op­er­at­ing in 14 coun­tries in­clud­ing Asia, the com­pany’s fu­ture growth will come from ex­pand­ing into the Asian re­gion.

Carolyn Creswell

Founder of Car­man’s Fine Foods who started a small busi­ness with $2000 and has now suc­cess­fully launched it

in­ter­na­tion­ally. Carolyn knows the com­pany’s fu­ture growth prospects will be fu­elled by ex­port­ing across the re­gion. Ms. Creswell won the 2013 Tel­stra Busi­ness Woman of the Year Award in recog­ni­tion of her en­tre­pre­neur­ial ef­forts.

Alec Lynch

Founder of crowd-sourc­ing site, De­sign Crowd, also started in his par­ents’ liv­ing room and is cur­rently ex­pand­ing glob­ally, first buy­ing a US com­pany in 2012 and then mov­ing into Asia.

Matt Bar­rie

Founder of Free­lancer, the pop­u­lar crowd-sourc­ing site with over $50mil­lion rev­enue and 4.3mil­lion users where talk of a pub­lic list­ing is on the agenda.

Dr Sam Prince, 30

A med­i­cal doc­tor, en­tre­pre­neur, and phi­lan­thropist. He started the Mex­i­can restau­rant Zam­brero Fresh Mex Grill at age 21 while he was at med­i­cal school, be­liev­ing a mar­ket ex­isted for healthy Mex­i­can food. By 2009 there were 17 stores in Aus­tralia and the com­pany had gen­er­ated more than $13.7 mil­lion in rev­enue.

Soon af­ter­wards, Prince set up the Emag­ine Foun­da­tion, through which he’s built 15 schools in Sri Lanka and Viet­nam and plans 100 more in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion by 2014.

Prince is also chair­man and founder of One Dis­ease at a Time, set up in 2010 to work on erad­i­cat­ing sca­bies, a dis­ease rife among Indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties. His prodi­gious achieve­ments saw him named as the 2012 Young Aus­tralian of the Year for the Aus­tralian Cap­i­tal Ter­ri­tory. Prince is an en­tre­pre­neur with a so­cial con­science and much heart.

“Sam Prince does the work of 100 men, im­prov­ing the lives of thou­sands through his in­no­va­tive med­i­cal, busi­ness and aid projects,” stated GQ in nam­ing him the 2011 Man of Chivalry in its an­nual Men of the Year list.

Ge­orge Calom­baris

As a judge on MasterChef Aus­tralia, Ge­orge Calom­baris has be­come one of the world’s best-known tele­vi­sion chefs, with an au­di­ence num­ber­ing in the mil­lions. His per­sonal brand in­flu­ence has added much to his for­tunes and helped to re-ig­nite an in­dus­try that at times is dif­fi­cult to suc­ceed in.

MasterChef Aus­tralia, which heads into its sixth sea­son in 2014, is seen in ap­prox­i­mately 50 coun­tries world­wide, in­clud­ing In­done­sia, In­dia, Malaysia, Pak­istan, Thai­land, Sin­ga­pore, Tai­wan and Viet­nam.

Op­por­tu­ni­ties ex­ist in nu­mer­ous ways in­clud­ing sport

The 2015 Asian Cup – now just a year away – not only of­fers a unique op­por­tu­nity to en­gage neigh­bour­ing na­tions in a world-class fes­ti­val of foot­ball, it could help Aus­tralia take a foot­ing in the Asian Century it­self.

The Asian Foot­ball Con­fed­er­a­tion (AFC) Asian Cup in Jan­uary 2015 will be the largest foot­ball event ever hosted on Aus­tralian shores. Stag­ing a mar­quee event for the 47 na­tions of the Con­fed­er­a­tion comes at a time when there is grow­ing recog­ni­tion of the po­ten­tial to lever­age foot­ball, and Aus­tralia’s mem­ber­ship of the AFC, to broaden and strengthen en­gage­ment in a re­gion vi­tal to Aus­tralia’s fu­ture pros­per­ity.

Asia’s ex­tra­or­di­nary as­cent, which has al­ready changed the Aus­tralian econ­omy, so­ci­ety and strate­gic en­vi­ron­ment, will con­tinue to drive trans­for­ma­tions and deliver op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth through­out the ‘Asian Century’.

Lev­er­ag­ing the ap­peal of the world’s most pop­u­lar sport to tap into Asian growth mar­kets has al­ready been put into prac­tice. In 2011, for ex­am­ple, Aus­tralian foot­baller Joel Grif­fiths, then a star player in the Chi­nese do­mes­tic league, helped draw a crowd to a busi­ness break­fast in Bei­jing to fa­cil­i­tate trade en­gage­ment. The Aus­tralian Trade Com­mis­sion (Austrade) has also staged trade pro­mo­tion and busi­ness-net­work­ing events for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa and will do so again at the up­com­ing 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The 2015 AFC Asian Cup Lo­cal Or­gan­is­ing Com­mit­tee says that host­ing Asia’s largest sport­ing event and fes­ti­val of foot­ball brings a raft of ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, as well as re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. With a po­ten­tial tele­vi­sion reach of 2.5 bil­lion people, they are acutely con­scious of the stage for both na­tional and des­ti­na­tion im­age build­ing that they have taken car­riage of.

The ev­i­dence points to Aus­tralia be­ing the ideal lo­ca­tion and the tim­ing is right to cap­i­talise on the boom of our Asian neigh­bours.

Jon Michail is the founder and CEO of Im­age Group In­ter­na­tional. im­age­

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