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StartupSmart award winners graduate to Smart50 list

By James Thomson
Wednesday, 28 September 2011

SCO Recruitment, which finished in second place on the inagural StartupSmart Awards and was rescued from liquidation just two years ago, has taken top prize at SmartCompany’s fifth annual Smart50 awards in Melbourne last night.


The business, run by 30-year-old entrepreneur Larissa Robertson, was pipped by Job Capital at the StartupSmart Awards in March, but took the top spot at the SmartCompany event with average growth of 428% over the past three years.


Job Capital came in at number eight on the Smart50, with 139% growth, while Aspect Personnel, which came ninth in the StartupSmart Awards, was placed in the same position last night, with 138% growth.  


Other businesses that featured in the StartupSmart Awards list include 4Cabling, which was placed 26th last night, and Milan Direct, which came in at number 46.


The awards, sponsored by accounting firm WHK and hosted by the Victorian Government, recognise Australia’s top 50 fastest-growing small and medium-sized businesses.


To be eligible companies must have revenue of more than $500,000 and must produce revenue growth in each of the past three financial years, with companies ranked on average annual growth over that period.


The complete list can be viewed here. Analysis of the 10 big trends of the class of 2011 can be viewed here.


SCO Recruitment company was in liquidation when Robertson took over in May 2009 and began to turn around. It had revenue of $12.8 million in 2010-11 and employs 16 people.


Second on the list was Perth-based consulting group Velrada, which has ridden the mining boom to post growth of 297% and third place went to Queensland’s Nu-tank, which shrugged off this year’s devastating floods to post growth of 256%.


The award for top exporter went to software group PaperCut International and the top franchise award was taken out by booming gym franchise Anytime Fitness.


The award for innovation was presented to, an Australian site which has created an international online market for buying and selling websites.


The Smart50 welcomed a staggering 42 new companies to its ranks, the biggest number of new names in the five-year history of the awards and evidence of a new breed of nimble SMEs that have succeeded despite difficult economic conditions.


The smaller size of the businesses on the list meant the total revenue of the Smart50 fell from $741 million to $357.8 million, although the businesses grew much faster than last year with average growth of companies on the list 96%, compared to 60% in 2010.


SmartCompany founder Amanda Gome said the high turnover of the companies on the list underlined how difficult economic conditions are in some sectors and how well Smart50 members have done to post such strong growth.


“Clearly the environment has made it harder for established SMEs to keep producing the very high growth needed to stay on the Smart50,” Gome says.


“But we’re seeing a new group of smart, flexible entrepreneurs prove that it is possible to keep growing very quickly if you can target the right niches with high quality products and adapt as conditions change.”


The Smart50 list should provide real inspiration for start-up entrepreneurs or those thinking of taking the leap into business, with 40% of the businesses starting with less than $25,000 and taking just six years from establishment to become members of the Smart50.


The top 10:




REVENUE 2010-11 ($m)

SCO Recruitment









Inxpress Australia



LSA Recruitment Group






Anytime Fitness



Job Capital



Aspect Personnel






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