By James Thomson, Patrick Stafford and Brad Howarth from smartcompany.com.au
They're smart, they're young, they're tech savvy - and they're not afraid of the downturn. Meet SmartCompany's Hot 30 under 30 - a group of 30 entrepreneurs aged 30 years and under who are on their way to becoming Australia's next generation of business leaders.
Nearly every business on the list has revenue of $1 million or more, and while technology focused sectors such as online (seven members), information technology (six members) and digital marketing (six members) dominate, there are entrepreneurs from the retail, telecommunications, hospitality and health sectors.
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So why has this bunch of entrepreneurs risen so far, so fast? Here are five secrets of the Hot 30 under 30:
They are immersed in technology
Ben Keighran, a San Francisco-based internet entrepreneur who was listed on last year's BRW Rich 200 with a fortune of $28 million, taught himself programming at the age of 10 and started his first website (an electronic bulletin board service called The Zone) at the age of 13.
This group of entrepreneurs represents the first generation that really grew up with a keyboard in their hand and they are using this to their advantage, particularly with businesses built around social networking and collaborative technologies.
They understand how Australia's economy is changing
The great trend that is changing Australia's economy is outsourcing, by households, business and government.
A number of entrepreneurs on the Hot 30 have seized on this, building businesses in areas such as on-site IT support (David Hancock from Geek2U), personal services (Erica French from Fit2Date), health (Tristan White from Physio Co), education (Marcus Sellen from Selmar Institute of Education) and even something as simple as picking a utilities supplier (Leon Hayes from Switch Select).
They understand global markets
Good friends Ruslan Kogan and Dean Ramler have built online retailing businesses around the ability to source cheap goods from around the world in the areas of electronics and furniture.
Their businesses rely on strategies that underpin globalisation, such as low-cost sourcing, short supply chains and clever use of technology.
They start small and dream big
A number of entrepreneurs on the Hot 30 have built strong businesses from very humble beginnings. Take Andrew Northcott from Labour Solutions Australia, who started by hiring himself out as a labourer and now runs a business with $3.8 million in revenue.
Or Saxon Mitchell, who runs events company Venue Management Services. He started out as a waiter-for-hire, working out of a spare bedroom that he grandly called "Suite 2".
They are young
Yes, it's obvious, but in some industries being young is a big advantage. Around 20% of the members of the list work in advertising and marketing, where young and creative executives are prized for their fresh and original ideas.
SmartCompany would like to thank everyone who nominated for the Hot 30. We had information on many fantastic entrepreneurs who we are sure have big things ahead of them. If you didn't make the list this year, we hope you'll be back bigger and better in 2010.
Meet the Hot 30 under 30:
In 2005 he co-founded Reddog Technologies with Jason Rudolph, another non-IT geek who had previously worked as an electrical engineer. Read more on Nathan Aherne.
In 2005 he established the green power retailer Greentricity with a business partner, and from there developed the idea of COzero, a business he launched in late 2006 with another partner. Read more on Nick Armstrong.
Smartpath co-founder Owen Batt and business partner David Hodges built a business by finding something that its clients hated doing. Read more on Owen Batt.
Innovative Solutions Oceania operates four divisions ranging from toys to sports marketing and property investment. Read more on Luke Berry.
CustomWare has over 70 staff, offices in Sydney, Melbourne, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Wellington and revenue of around $8 million. Read more on Robert Castaneda.
Alana Chang and Lauren Chang Sommer
The sisters have turned their four-year-old company Moi Moi Fine Jewellery into a multimillion dollar business. Read more on Alana Chang and Lauren Chang Sommer.
Nick Crocker and Ben Johnson
They formed the digital strategy agency Native Digital in 2008 to explore the intersections between the internet and entertainment. Read more on Nick Crocker and Ben Johnson.
Adam Franklin and Toby Jenkins
These two founded Bluewire Media in 2005 with a commitment to quality, offering a value guarantee they claim is better than money-back. Read more on Adam Franklin and Toby Jenkins.
She started Fit2Date as a method for single, fit people to train and get to know each other. Read more on Erica French.
In 2004 he founded 24/7 Distribution, a technology wholesaling business with a focus on value-added services and training. Read more on Tony Geagea.
His company, Geeks2U, is now Australia's largest provider of onsite computer repairs and technology support. Read more on David Hancock.
Switchselect.com aggregates deals offered by gas and electricity companies and allows users to find a cheaper deal to which a user is signed. Read more on Leon Hayes.
Nick Holmes a Court
BuzzNumbers helps companies monitor word-of-mouth conversations online using technology initially developed by Holmes a Court himself. Read more on Nick Holmes a Court.
After working in the SEO sector for clients such as Drive.com.au, Domain.com.au and eBay, he started Switched On Media. Read more on Andy Jamieson.
Justin Kabbani and Daniel Monheit
Concentrating on a smaller number of high-value clients has enabled them to quickly grow their digital media agency Hard Hat Digital into a thriving enterprise. Read more on Justin Kabbani and Daniel Monheit.
In 2006 Keighran moved to San Francisco and attracted $6 million in funding from venture capital firm VantagePoint, which he used to start instant messaging firm Bluepulse. He is now involved with another mobile social messenger service called Aardvark. Read more on Ben Keighran.
He founded my247.com.au in 1999 to help people organise their entertainment options online and on their mobile phones. Read more on Chris Kettle.
His company makes electronic devices in China with parts from different manufacturers, such as Samsung and LG, and then ships them to Australia for a cheaper price. Read more on Ruslan Kogan.
He operates Venue Management Services, a hospitality and events management company. Read more on Saxon Mitchell.
The global financial crisis has not dampened the enthusiasm of late-night impulse shoppers, says the chief executive of Danoz Direct. Read more on Alan Meyerson.
He started labour hire business Labour Solutions Australia in 2004 at the age of 21 by hiring himself out as a labourer. Read more on Andrew Northcott.
She started with a vision of growing the green products and services sector by putting suppliers in touch with a widening group of customers. Read more on Katie Patrick.
He designed a business model that would create designer furniture in China and sell them purely online. Read more on Dean Ramler.
Adam Rockett and Chris Ryan
The pair founded Strike Group Australia, a wholesale telecommunications company exporting to 78 different countries. Read more on Adam Rockett and Chris Ryan.
Despite creating Freestyle Media in the midst of the dot-com bust, the company has grown and now offers general search engine optimisation and marketing services. Read more on Fred Schebesta.
Sellen had been left without work when the training company he had previously worked for went broke, so he set about creating his own. Read more on Marcus Sellen.
Aged 24, he has joined forces with Photon Group-owned company Geekdom to create Geekversity, taking what he has been teaching and transforming it into a formal course. Read more on Shaun Stenning.
Intabill is an online payments company offering a range of services to online businesses, including payment processing, fraud minimisation, reporting and billing. Read more on Daniel Tzvetkoff.
While the advertising industry struggles, many digital businesses such as August continue to thrive. Read more on Zoe Warne.
He began physical therapy company Physio Co after leaving a private physiotherapy firm when he was 24. Read more on Tristan White.
This article first appeared on SmartCompany.com.au, Australia’s premier site for business advice, news, forums and blogs.
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