RICH PICKINGS: Bright young things

The latest Young Rich list has been usurped by a growing breed of pioneering entrepreneurs from various industries.

Nathan Tinkler’s fall from the top of BRW’s Young Rich list has grabbed all the headlines in the last few days, with most saying the list highlights a shift from mining to technology.

That’s true, but what it also highlights is the shift from one giant trader to an army of business builders.

Tinkler became very rich, very quickly, by buying and selling a series of assets, using debt to constantly trade up.

The vast majority of the other members of the list – from the new list leaders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar through to leading women Carolyn Creswell and online retail guru Ruslan Kogan – have built fast-growth, profitable and sustainable businesses that have changed their sectors and have a long future ahead of them.

In some ways, Tinker’s drop is a little victory for entrepreneurialism.

Of course, the Young Rich list is full of 100 other fantastic stories and some great money-making trends – let’s look at the top 10.

Partners rise to the top

It’s important to note that it took two people to depose Nathan Tinkler at the top of the Young Rich – Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar are one of 17 joint listings on the list, and one of eight partnerships from the tech sector. It’s hard to say what’s behind this trend. Perhaps tech companies require such a range of skills (technical, marketing, operations) that it’s impossible for one person to manage everything. Perhaps two heads are just better than one. Regardless, my favourite partnership story involves Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani, who met in an internet chatroom in 2003 and started their first business a year later.

Mining is far from dead

Tinkler might have lost top spot, but with $400 million he is still a force to be reckoned with. In addition, there are two more mining-related entrepreneurs in the top five: Mark Ackroyd, who debuts with $290 million with National Plant & Equipment and Ashley Fraser, who is valued at $195 million and owns a mine machinery leasing business called Orionstone. The growth these entrepreneurs see might slow, but like the mining boom they’ve got many good years ahead.

Retail remains healthy

The retail industry is having a tough time of it, but you wouldn’t know it from the Young Rich list. Catch of the Day’s Hezi Lebovich; Kogan founder Ruslan Kogan; Bigcommerce’s Mitchell Harper and Eddie Machaalani; RetailMeNot.com founder Bevan Clarke and Guy King; and Malaysian-based entrepreneur Patrick Grove are all leaders of an emerging group of online retail leaders. Their prominence on the list – all of these men are in the top 20 – shows that not only is online retail a growing force, but it’s a highly profitable one too.

Small slice, bigger pie

One trend from Australia’s main rich list is that entrepreneurs tend to retain 100 per cent of their businesses. That’s not the case on the Young rich list, where founders are willing to sell down to get capital to expand. Mark Ackroyd sold half of his machinery hire business National Plant & Equipment to Japan’s Mitsui in July for $150 million, while Ashley Fraser sold a minority stake to private equity group Advent Capital last year for $68 million. Cannon-Brookes and Farqhuar of Atlassian, Harper and Machaalani of Bigcommerce and Leibovich of Catch of the Day have all taken in private equity in the last 12 months. It’s the balancing act for entrepreneurs: Is a smaller slice of a bigger pie better than a bigger slice of a smaller one?

It’s a man’s world

If you want to get onto the Young Rich list, then being female is not the way to do it. In the last decade, the proportion of women on the list has fallen from 14 per cent in 2003 (six of the 63 members of the original list) to just six out of 100 on this year’s list. I feel like a broken record, but to state again: getting more women into entrepreneurship is just as urgent as getting more women on to corporate boards.

Feeding and clothing the masses

You can never really go wrong providing the basics for the masses, and the Young Rich proves it again. Carolyn Creswell is the richest woman on the list with a $50 million fortune based on her health food business Carmen’s Fine Foods, while coffee magnate Phillip Di Bella and Crust Gourmet Pizza founders Michael Logos and Costa Anastasiadis also make the list. Clothing designers have always had a strong presence on the Young Rich and this year it is no different: there’s Ian and Paul Everest from action wear brand Unit; Sarah-Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton of Sass & Bide; Bruno Sciavi of Jupi Corp and Richard Poulson and Kylie Radford of Morrison.

Home and away

More than 20 members of the Young Rich live overseas, although around half of these are sportspeople or entertainers, including golfer Karrie Webb, actor Sam Worthington and motocross star Chad Reed. Of the business people on the list, the unsurprising home away from home is San Francisco, home of the tech Mecca Silicon Valley. To steal a line from Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

Did the earth move for you?

Moving earth in one form or another is at the heart of many businesses on the Young Rich. Top five members Mark Ackroyd, Ashley Fraser and Laurence and Prue Eales lease out the heavy equipment to move earth; Jim Campbell’s business Murphy Pipe and Civil shifts dirt for big pipeline projects; and Dave Simmons’ engineering business The Simmons Group moves the earth for big projects such as Perth’s new airport terminal.

Millionaire’s factory

Tibra Capital isn’t quite the household name that Macquarie Bank is, but the firm’s influence on the Young Rich list is impressive. Christian King, Kinsey Cotton, Glenn Williamson, Tim Berry and Danny Bhandari all take their place on the list this year, with fortunes ranging from $33 million to $20 million; all up, the Tibra five are worth $138 million. The firm specialises in high-frequency trading, a controversial area of the market that is being closely watched by regulators.

Fame still matters

Being talented in some way – on the sporting field, on the silver screen or on the stage – is still a great way to make money when you are young. A total of 13 members of the list can be classed as celebrities, which soccer player Harry Kewell leading the way with $50 million.