Ruslan Kogan has come from extremely humble beginnings to become one of Australia's most successful entrepreneurs.
By the age of 23 Ruslan had worked at the IT departments of Bosch, GE, Telstra, and was a management consultant at Accenture. Disappointed that he couldn't personally afford the latest technology, despite his well paying job, he saw a gap in the market. He realised that the big retailers were operating on very high margins, and there was an opportunity for a better value, direct, new style of retail business.
Despite everyone telling him he was crazy, Ruslan started Kogan in his parent's garage, with a new brand of televisions. Kogan.com has rapidly grown to become the go-to store for the best prices on a wide range of consumer goods - electronics, homewares, lifestyle, beauty, furniture, fitness, toys, travel, tools, appliances, and more. In recent years, the range has expanded from several hundred to tens of thousands of products.
Kogan.com has gone on to grow it into a multinational consumer electronics and online retail business with millions of happy customers. In nine years, the company has gone from garage to global, become the most efficient retailer in the world. It now has offices in Australia, China, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.
Kogan.com is a challenger brand in some of the most competitive industries in the world. Its direct-to-consumer, online only business model means it can undercut the biggest retailers. The low margin, high volume approach has seen Kogan.com become the biggest online retailer in Australia.
Naomi Simson founded RedBalloon in 2001 and went on to become one of Australia's tech success stories. From just an idea and persistence redballoon.com.au has now sold more than two and a half million experiences.
Naomi has many labels: entrepreneur, speaker, director, chair, mother, author, blogger, innovator and now TV personality as a ‘Shark' on Network TEN's Shark Tank Australia. Before founding RedBalloon with her business partner, Naomi worked with big brands including IBM, Apple, KPMG and Ansett Airlines - all of which influenced who she is today and her views on workplaces.
Committed to making the world a better place, Naomi shares tips on happiness, business lessons and advice to those on their own career journey (entrepreneurial or not). She shares insights at naomisimson.com - in Australia's top 15 Best Business Blogs - and is a LinkedIn Influencer, dispensing knowledge to her 860,000+ followers. Naomi is a successful author; her first book, I Want What She's Having, was reviewed as an 'essential business read' by The Australian, and her latest work Live What You Love is in strong demand. Naomi has recently been listed on Business Insider’s list of Australia’s biggest tech influencers on Twitter.
David de Garis
David de Garis, Director and Senior Market Economist, NAB
Dave is the economist on the floor of the Melbourne dealing room where he keeps his colleagues up to speed with what is happening on a day to day basis with the economy and the markets. He speaks widely with NAB’s business client base across the country, has been regular visitor to the Top End, with client contact and conversations that provide him with timely insights and real information about what is happening at the coal face for business. He is a key spokesman for NAB on the economy and markets with the financial media. You might have seen him on Sky Business, ABC24 Digital, ABC Lateline’s 'The Business', Bloomberg TV, CNBC, or heard him on the radio with the likes of ABC Radio National, or in the press. He’s been a proud member of the NAB team for the best part of a decade, and he’s previously worked in Canberra at the ABS, Treasury and Prime Minister’s Departments before joining the private sector. He’s an active Rotarian, lives in Melbourne, he says he spends too much time at airports and originally hails from a farm south of Hamilton in the Western District.
Matt Moran is an industry icon. A renowned chef and restaurateur, he has an ever-growing list of successful restaurants that consistently garner praise from the food industry, media and general public alike.
A highly driven and passionate individual, Matt’s business accolades are strong. Arguably Australia’s most influential and recognisable chef, he has 30 years in the industry, runs 10 highly successful restaurant businesses, manages several hundred staff and is continuing to expand his empire. All the while building a prominent public profile, media relationships and engaging in TV and event appearances.
Four-time Olympian, Gold medalist and businessman, Mr Steven Bradbury brings a fresh and uniquely Australian feel to the corporate world. Having started and growing his own business, Revolutionary Boot Company (RBC), Mr Bradbury talks from experience.
He initially identified a need to fulfill his own personal requirements for custom made skating boots, having experienced difficulty receiving them from overseas. Soon thereafter Mr Bradbury and fellow skater Mr Clint Jensen decided to make their own; tailoring a solution for a target market of speed skaters in Australia and around the world. Five years later, skaters wearing RBC boots had won three Gold, three Silver and two Bronze medals at the 2002 Salt Lake City, Winter Olympic Games. This was sweetened by one of those gold medals being won by Mr Bradbury himself. In 2006 RBC moved into custom cycling shoes and before selling the company in 2012 were exporting custom cycling shoes to 23 countries.
Carman’s founder Carolyn Creswell is an inspirational leader whose success proves that you can run a multinational business and still love what you do and have a genuine work-life balance. Carolyn has grown Carman’s to become the number one selling gourmet muesli brand on Australian supermarket shelves, while at the same time maintaining a successful relationship with her husband Peter and raising four kids aged ten and under!
Over two decades, Carolyn has focused on producing delicious tasting products using real ingredients. From humble beginnings where at age 18 Carolyn used to park her tiny Daewoo alongside semi-trailers in supermarket loading docks, Carolyn’s determination has seen Carman’s build a strong following in more than 32 countries around the world. As a proud mother, Carolyn understands the importance of producing nourishing foods for herself and her family and applies this philosophy to every Carman’s product.
Lisa Messenger is the vibrant, game-changing Editor in Chief of Collective Magazine and owner and Creative Director of The Messenger Group. She has worked globally in events, sponsorship, marketing, PR and publishing.
Lisa has authored more than 17 books and The Messenger Group has custom published more than 400 books for companies and individuals. Lisa has been a regular commentator on business, entrepreneurialism and property and has sat on a number of boards including the Australian Businesswomen’s Network and Publishers Australia.
Her passion is to challenge individuals and corporations to change the way they think, take them out of their comfort zone and prove that there is more than one way to do anything. She encourages entrepreneurial spirit, creativity and innovation and lives life to the absolute max. Most mornings she wakes up and pinches herself as to how incredible her life is, but is also acutely aware and honest about life’s bumps and tumbles along the way.