EthnoLink’s founder and CEO Costa Vasili is a son of migrant parents. His father, who was born in Cyprus, moved to Australia at 13 years of age. It is where he met Costa’s mother, who is also of Cypriot descent, and where Costa was born. To ensure that Costa had the best chance of success in Australia, his parents spoke to him and his brother mostly in English rather than in Greek. While this decision had a positive impact on Costa’s English language skills, it impacted Costa’s ability to speak Greek.
For example, Costa had great relations with his grandparents, who spoke almost exclusively in Greek, but he struggled to have in-depth conversations with them because of the language barrier. With that pain point in mind and with an opportunity to be introduced to the language services industry during his university years, Costa went off and started his translation company at the age of 20 years old, while still in university.
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It’s a business that is often not visible in plain sight, but according to O’Brien Boiler Services (OBS) Executive Chairman and co-founder Brendan O’Brien, boilers provide steam for breweries, laundries, hospitals, petrochemicals, glass, textile and industries that involve mechanical processes. Boilers and steam engines were the early forms of automation that have industrialised many cities and brought several changes to our lives today.
The advent of various technologies may have taken over our lifestyle that we sometimes forget that boilers, with the use of steam and heat, power many industries that we still use in our day-to-day activities. Brendan and his brother Shane have been in the industry for around two decades now, and they continue to provide good quality products and services to their clients and the communities they serve.
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With millions of apps available online that are increasing each year, an average smartphone user has a wide array of options on which ones to use that correspond to his needs. For AppsCore co-founder and Managing Director Alex Louey, whose company has been developing apps, websites, cloud solutions, Internet of Things (IoT), and other technology-based products, it’s more than just building a software. Its mission is to create great customer experiences for their clients and make their lives easier every day.
“We started off as a mobile app company. But now, we’ve progressed from being very focused on apps to focusing on making our customers’ lives easier and better for them to do things,” Alex quipped. “It means that we don’t look into a particular technology. Rather, we look at the problem to be solved and the appropriate technology to do it. We look at the entire life cycle. We look at the customer experience and the problem that they’re facing. Then, we build the software and look at what we can do to help clients engage customers and get the customers to use their business software,” he added.
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Be great and Be grateful. These are the two corporate values of Araza, a technology systems integrator and consultancy company, specialising in cloud and digital solutions. Its co-founder and Managing Director, Victoria Kluth, endeavours to live by these values as she leads others towards the vision and goals of her company.
Coming from a big corporate background, Victoria initially regarded herself as a corporate person, with her mind not set on the entrepreneurial road. Becoming an entrepreneur is just one of the many surprises life has brought on her, for which she is thankful that it happened and strives to be great at it. Among the many other unexpected things in her journey was Araza’s growth, now with 350 people in its fold. Going international never crossed her mind and through a partnership with another company, their business has an international offshore component. She is also regarded as a leader in Australia for gender equity, which is another milestone that she has not foreseen to happen in her profession.
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Speaking from experience, VÖOST co-Founder and Orange & Green Director Jason Scher affirmed that there are many difficulties that business owners encounter along the entrepreneurial journey. “Every single day, you’re going to be challenged with something that will make you think, ‘I’m not good enough. It is not working.’ Then, you start to have those thoughts of quitting,” he said. It takes a lot of effort, time, resources and inspiration to start a business and see it through.
“Anyone that hasn’t started a business or managed a business entirely has a different perception. It’s like the swan analogy where it all looks graceful above the surface, but under the water, the legs are paddling furiously. Some of my friends see our products in different supermarkets and outlets, and they think it must mean everything’s going well. But there’s a lot of hard work, a lot of long hours, and a lot of stressful moments that people don’t see,” described Jason.
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“Don’t try to be all things to all people. Have the courage to know what it is that you do well and focus on that.” These are words from Matthew Beesley, Founder and Director at Premier Technology Solutions. It all started in his garage at home, where he began fixing home personal computers (PCs). Never in his wildest dreams had he imagined himself to own and run a company someday.
At the time Matt was working for someone else, he wasn’t happy with how his former boss treated their clients. It was at that point that he decided to go out on his own.
“When I left, I had no ambition to build a company any bigger than just myself. I planned to be a sole trader forever. There was no grand plan to get to a certain size, and there was no ambition to be a large company. I was only trying to solve a problem, and things just snowballed from there,” he disclosed.
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To make other people life ready, Benjamin Trinh, founder and CEO of Life Ready Physiotherapy and Pilates, helps people on their journey towards finding their best quality of life. Understanding what is essential to his life, he builds his corporate structure that starts with his family. He and his wife, Linda, create an annual rhythm as a family, and then he fits his work rhythm into that annual rhythm. For Ben, it’s all about reverse engineering everything around what is important to one’s self.
His strength of coming alongside people and helping them hone their capabilities is what Ben believes as his mission in life. Thus, he would rather have a significant impact on fewer people as opposed to having several relationships at a superficial level. “I want to build fewer but deeper relationships and help those people realise their potential. And my legacy would be a company that’s doing that, a company that emulates those values in reality and that lasts beyond me. I don’t want the company to be dependent on me. The company has to be sustainable and lasting because our mission is to improve the healthcare industry,” Ben stated.
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If one has to describe the entrepreneurial journey of Antoine Bakhache, owner and Managing Director of Bakhache Luxuries, it is a life full of vivacity and hue. Born in Lebanon, Antoine has lived in the US, Thailand, India and Malaysia and worked and set up ventures in some of these countries. From events to jewellery to silverware to food, he has experienced it all – running businesses in various industries and now, expanding to Australia, another entrepreneurial adventure to add to his experiences.
For Antoine, what is central to any business is the people – the staff and the customers. With the former, getting the right people on board is crucial to the success of his ventures. “Your business is as good as the people that work with you. Even if you have the best brand and the best location, but you have the wrong people doing the job, it won’t work. I am blessed to be surrounded by a very good team, an enthusiastic team that is willing to learn, grow and work hard to obtain results,” Antoine remarked. “A sense of contentment and fulfilment for me is to have my team one day look back and appreciate that their journey with Bakhache Luxuries was a journey of learning and self-improvement,” he added.
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Experience and introspection are what Clayton Cross considers, owner of Predikkta and several other businesses, as his teachers, which guided him in his business endeavours. For him, it was a road full of trial-and-error that honed his capabilities as a business owner.
“I failed a lot more than most people did, and the pain and embarrassment have helped drive me to learn, up-skill and educate myself,” Clayton stated. He never had a mentor or a manual on how to start and manage a business. In truth, he ran his businesses very isolated, as he puts it, preferring to try things by himself. His whole education on entrepreneurship he acquired through practical learnings. From those experiences, he reviewed what happened, why it happened, and how he could improve.
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