Tuesday, 26 March 2019 12:04

First businesses chosen for Government-funded digital transformation initiative

First businesses chosen for Government-funded digital transformation initiative Image courtesy of sscreations at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The first businesses to undergo digital transformation under a new Australian Government initiative have been announced, with businesses to receive up to $20,000 in digital support as part of the Digital Champions initiative.

Australia’s Minister for Small and Family Business, Senator Michaelia Cash, on Tuesday announced the first businesses selected out of a total of 100 to get the cash.

“I applaud the enthusiasm and passion of the business owners who have stepped forward and embraced this opportunity to take their business to the next level of success,” Cash said.

Out of the 100 businesses, 15 have been selected to be digital champions and are receiving additional support and guidance from high profile digital mentors.

“These Digital Champions will each have access to a personal mentor’s extraordinary wealth of knowledge – absolutely inspirational business leaders like Michelle Bridges, Larry Kestelman and Dr Sam Prince, founder of Zambrero, to name just a few,” she said.

Cash cited data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing that only 50% of Australian businesses have a Web presence, with even less using software for accounting and invoicing.

However, when small businesses are digitally engaged, they are 50% more likely to be growing revenue, eight times more likely to be creating jobs, and 14 times more likely to be innovating new products or services.

“No longer is there a choice when it comes to digital engagement. If you want your business to succeed in today’s economy, you must use digital technologies,” Cash said.

“Helping small businesses invest in their digital capability will help them reach their full potential and will strengthen the small business sector, creating more jobs and an even stronger economy for all Australians.

“It is my great pleasure to announce the first businesses to join the Digital Champions project and I wish them and all the Digital Champions every success on their transformational journey.”

Digital Champions:

The 15 Digital Champions are from a diverse range of businesses, chosen to represent the wider small business community.  They are:

– Altina Drinks, Charnwood, ACT, Alcohol free craft cocktails and events

– Aubrey + Areegra,  Warracknabeal, VIC, Advertising and marketing

– Aurora Marketing Trust, Brisbane, QLD, Tender writing and bid management

– Barc for Pets, Newport, NSW, Pet services and online pet store

– Chancellor & Bendle, Keysborough, VIC, Plumbing & Drainage Services

– Heart Health and Fitness, Kardinya, WA, Exercise physiology

– Heating & Cooling Services, Dianella, WA, Evap Aircon & Gas Heater repair

– Jurra Industries, Toowoomba, QLD, Engineering Design

– Kangaroo Island Wilderness Tours, Pardana, SA, Tours of Kangaroo Island

– Mine Civil Resource Group, Bayview (Darwin), NT, Civil Construction & Maintenance

– Painter 4000, Deception Bay, QLD, Painting and decorating services

– Pro Art Signs and Designs, Smithton, TAS, Web design & manufacture signs & stickers

– Simplicity Campers, Tamworth, NSW, Offroad Speciality Caravan Manufacturer

– Strategic Connections Group Unit Trust, Ivanhoe, VIC, Project Management

– The Parents Village, Daceyville, NSW, Pre and postpartum support services


– Larry Kestelman; founder of Dodo Internet, property developer, creator of Capitol Grand South Yarra, lead investor in technology start-up incubator Oxygen Ventures, chairman of Frankly Digital Marketing agency and owner of the National Basketball League.

– Dr Sam Prince; founder and chief executive of Sam Prince Group, which includes Zambrero, One Disease, Next Practice, Sam Prince Hospitality, and Shine+ Drink.

– Michelle Bridges; co-founder and owner of the online 12 Week Body Transformation Program, fitness trainer, entrepreneur and author of sixteen fitness, nutrition and mindset books.

– Justine Kyle Yao; joined Google as a digital consultant aimed at advising SMEs into driving transformational change across their digital advertising and marketing channels. Previously, she worked as Project Manager at IBM, focusing on business agile transformations.

– Tim Reed; MYOB is a leading provider of online business management solutions. It makes business life easier for approximately 1.2 million businesses and accountants across Australia and New Zealand. Tim Reed joined MYOB in 2003, and was appointed chief executive in 2008 after holding several senior management roles in the business. He’s passionate about the potential of digital technology to transform society and help businesses succeed.

– Jason Romney; is Telstra’s head of Smart Precincts with a focus on the Internet of Things and smart cities. He was previously Telstra's Head of Technology Innovation and Executive Business Manager. Jason is a Barrister (at the Victorian Bar) and digital strategy consultant, working previously for companies such as Cisco, Microsoft and Fairfax.

– Angus Capel; is the small business advocate at Xero and is passionate about small business and the role it plays within communities. Angus works with a wide variety of stakeholders to solve problems, helping the sector reach its full potential.

– Marcus Wilson; the chief executive and founder of Surgical Partners. He holds degrees in Chemical Engineering and Commerce, an MBA from INSEAD, and is passionate about implementing technology-based solutions for the complex challenges facing healthcare practices. Marcus is a former healthcare analyst at Macquarie Group and chief financial officer at Focus Eye Centre.

– Yohan Ramasundara; is the president of the ACS. Yohan is an executive, investor and entrepreneur with extensive experience delivering successful outcomes in private, public and NFP sectors. He previously served as vice-president and the national treasurer of the ACS. Yohan is also the secretary-general of SEARCC – the Asia Pacific forum for professional ICT associations.

–  Jason Robinson; co-founder and director of RBK Advisory, an accounting and business advisory firm. RBK Advisory was the winner of the 2018 Xero Accounting Partner of the year, and Jason the winner of the Young Finance Leaders 2018 Accountant of the Year.

– Facebook: is an online social media and social network service company. Facebook’s mission is to ‘give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together’. Facebook estimates to have over a billion active users.

– Kristine Ferrer; Canon makes technology easy for small business owners so they can focus on what’s important for their business. As a digital innovator, Canon can offer advice and insights in a range of areas that can assist with the digital transformation of small businesses locally and across the globe. Kristine Ferrer is the Vertical & Channel Manager at Canon Business Services. As part of her role, she brings together the sales and marketing teams to deliver market leading engagement activities at every touchpoint of the customer journey and ensures these activities deliver profitable returns to the business.

– Leanne Berry; is a director of Love Your Numbers. Leanne has 20 years’ experience in providing services, support and advice to a wide range of industries in regional NSW. Leanne is a former Microsoft SME Ambassador and the 2018/19 MYOB Certified Consultant of the year and been nominated multiple times for Telstra Business Women's Award.  Leanne uses financial and operational software to ensure her clients are maximising the benefits and efficiencies of streamlined systems to improve results in their business.

– Ron Gauci; is the chief executive of the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) and a former director on the Board. Ron has held a range of previous positions including as CEO at Fed Square, Melbourne Storm, and Melbourne Polytechnic (Formerly NMIT). Ron has significant experience in the global technology and innovation industry and has held senior leadership and executive roles in organisations such as Microsoft, Telstra and IBM, as well as directorships in several organisations.

Corporate Partners

Eckoo; Facebook; Frankly; Google; MYOB; Optus; RBK Advisory; Sales Creator Surgical Partners; Talk About Creative; Telstra; Xero.



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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).


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