Where’s disruption heading next? We asked 5 entrepreneurial minds for their top examples

Hotels have been done. Taxis have been done. Most travel has been done. Retail has pretty much been done, or is being done. Dating has most definitely been done. TV is still being done. News has been done. Power is about to be done. 

Since the advent of eBay and then exaggerated by the arrival of social media, disruptive platforms that have reshaped our everyday lives have changed the way we buy, sell, live, love and entertain ourselves. But does that mean disruption is done?

Not a chance.

In this feature, five of Australia’s brightest entrepreneurial sparks list five things each – businesses, industries and trends – that deserve your attention. 


Simon Dell TwoCents GroupSimon Dell, managing director, TwoCents Group

1. Co-ignition – recruitment

Co-ignition was born out of one of the core problems with recruitment: the cost. A UK-based platform that is launching in Australia concurrently, Co-ignition allows employers to place a job free of charge and then invite recruiters to bid on how much they’ll charge to fill the role. Immediately, the software disrupts the typical recruiter and employer relationship and, while the cost and speed benefits are obvious for the employer, the recruiter is accessing many more potential clients without the costly and time- consuming business development.

2. WeldConnet – welding

How much welding equipment is there in Australia? A lot. And how is that tested? Well, mainly individually and with paper forms, checklists and invoices. Well, WeldConnect is changing this with an app that automates the entire process and also allows users to purchase consumables for the industry from its online store. Thousands of man-hours are saved across the board.

3. PartsCheck – smash repair

When you’ve smashed your car up, a smash repair centre normally spends hours upon hours ringing suppliers to get the best deals on the pieces they need. PartsCheck not only automates this entire process, it also lets the end user pick the best prices from all the different possible suppliers with the click of a button. PartsCheck is an Australian company, originating in Brisbane and with global interest already.

4. GlassTerra – underground mapping

If you map things underground – think mining, construction and so on – the only way you can show your handiwork is for the person to whom you’re showing it to have the same software as you. And there are probably about 100 different software platforms. In comes GlassTerra, which can present the underground mapping on one simple system irrespective of where it was made, disrupting the very messy systems being used at the moment. Conceived and established in Brisbane, GlassTerra is due for launch in Australia mid-year.

5 RocketBuy – retail offers

How would you feel if a retailer sent you a message encouraging you to come in and shop as you walked past the door? Well, if it wasn’t something you wanted, you may not be excited, but the shopping target market is reacting well to RocketBuy, due to launch in Australia in June. Beacon technology is changing the way we get messages to phones and the development team from MenOnTheMoon has created a product that takes full advantage. Deals in your email? So 2014.


Joe Burston Rare BirdsJo Burston, founder of Job Capital and Rare Birds

1. Xero

This New Zealand company has shaken up the accounting world! I love using cloud technology in my business, and having a beautiful cloud accounting system that allows me to see a clear picture of my business financials, no matter where I am, allows me extra time to focus on other parts of my business. A testament to its success, Xero has been growing at a phenomenal rate, recently passing 200,000 paying customers in Australia and 400,000 overall. I’m sure it won’t be long before every small business in Australia will be using Xero.

2. Zoom

Another cloud disrupter and an excellent collaboration tool I couldn’t live without is Zoom. Zoom is a cloud meeting company that brings together video conferencing, online meetings, screen sharing and group messaging into one easy-to-use platform. It works on almost any system or device, and allows me to collaborate with my team from anywhere. Zoom is also growing quickly, recently raising $30 million and growing from 4500 companies signed up to 65,000 in a little over a year. 

3. Funding

I think the way in which entrepreneurs seek funding and the way investors decide to invest is ripe for disruption. I continually see entrepreneurs – women in particular – running around trying to secure random coffees with investors in an effort to pitch their business ideas. However, many may get to this stage and realise that their idea is not yet pitch-ready, and they may have missed an opportunity because they have acted too soon. Rare Birds will be launching a funding platform later this year in an effort to standardise this process. Entrepreneurs will only be invited to pitch if their idea is sound, and they can fulfil certain criteria – to ensure better success rates for both entrepreneurs and investors.

4. STEM initiatives 

Disappointingly, Australia lags behind the world when it comes to students studying science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM) at a tertiary level. Australia’s chief scientist, Professor Ian Chubb AC, explains that STEM education is important because countries such as Singapore, China and Finland, which all perform well in science and maths as measured by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), have enjoyed two decades of economic growth. I’ve noticed companies like Google Australia are supporting Australian STEM initiatives like the FIRST Robotics Competition, a trend that will hopefully result in a rise in STEM enrolments at a tertiary level. 

5. Social voice and validation

No longer are content creation, publishing and writing the exclusive domain of the technical experts – today, everyone can be a voice in their chosen field. I’ve always said that the purest form of content marketing is face to face storytelling, so now, with technology like Blogger, WordPress and Google sites, anyone can become a voice in minutes. What I really love about socially-generated content, versus traditional content, is that tone, persona and business validation can occur in days rather than months and thousands of dollars of investment first. The appetite to consume content has never been greater, and I’m looking forward to the next disrupter that collates the huge volume of data available and turns it back into beautifully written long- form content. 


Mark Cameron Working ThreeMark Cameron, CEO, Working Three

1. Vendor relationship management

What is happening with the vast amounts of data we are creating on a daily basis? Currently, companies view the data they have about you as their property. And this means that all the data you create can’t work together effectively. There is a new type of technology company emerging that addresses this issue, under the term VRM, or vendor relationship management (the opposite of CRM). VRM technologies work on the principle that all the data a consumer creates is far more valuable if it is held in one spot, and that spot should be controlled by the person that created it. It has taken a while to arrive at this point, but the world is now poised for a massive leap forward and many of the companies playing in this space will be the ones leading the charge.

2. Software writing software

The different disciplines within the field of artificial intelligence are quickly maturing and evolving. In the very near future, these systems will be able to write software programs of their own, and that will enable them to evolve to a point where they can take on many of today’s ‘knowledge’-based jobs. Research conducted by Oxford University suggests that 45 percent of all current jobs will be automated in the next 15 to 20 years. This will include professions like medicine, marketing, finance, software development and many others [Editor’s note: Editing?!]. What will this mean? Based on our experience of the last decade, as receptive tasks become automated, more time can be spent on creative jobs. We can expect the pace of innovation to explode and whole new industries to be developed.

3. Data becomes the product

Over the next two to four years, companies will start to really examine the massive volumes of data they have been storing over the last decade or so, and data utilisation will pick up steam. The data that organisations are storing about their customers and networks is currently being used to develop customer insights. It will soon move to becoming the raw material for generating revenue. This doesn’t mean selling the data, but rather designing new products and services that allow customers to make use of the data they have created. Banking and finance is an example of an industry that is already well down this pathway. Expect the next generation of digital experiences that brands offer up to their customers to become much, much smarter. 

4. The ‘all in’ digital company

Eighty-nine percent of companies surveyed by Gartner earlier this year believe that customer experience will be their primary basis for competition by 2016. The period of being ‘nervously immobile’ has come to an end. There are a number of companies already going all in – integrating the customer experience through scalable, digital solutions. These companies are doing more than just replacing one form of marketing with digital techniques. They are looking for completely new ways of interacting with their customers, and developing new business models in the process. The first wave of ‘digital disruption’ was owned by the Silicon Valley start-up. The next wave may well be owned by big brands that start acting more like venture capitalists. 

5. Chief digital officers

The digital revolution is already generating internal disruption within many firms and will soon produce organisational change. It will take the shape of a new senior management position with an entirely new role and dedicated resources. It is possible that the current chief information officer chief marketing officer roles evolve into the chief digital officer (CDO). But it is equally likely that this will not happen. Companies are rapidly shifting away from maintaining operational systems to implementing the digital capabilities that attract, convert, serve and retain customers. This suggests that the role of CDO will need to have influence over marketing, technology, strategy, customer insights and product development. In short, they will be at the pointy end of total business transformation. 


Taryn Williams Wink ModelsTaryn Williams, founder of Wink Models

1. Square app

Instant credit card processing for small business, this sophisticated app with the snazzy little attachment (that clicks into your smartphone) enables on-the-spot credit card processing, anywhere, anytime. Brilliant! Cash is in the bank instantly and you can record cash or card sales on the go. Gone are the days of having to set up a clunky merchant facility, or apply for a POS (point of sale) system with a bank and all the associated fees and hassle. Not to mention the time saved in not having to chase debtors, and relief with cash flow. Wins all round! This little gem is changing the way small businesses manage finance.

2. 3D printing and the 3D printing pen 

This powerful new technology is changing a vast number of industries – from reducing the costs associated with getting a minimum viable product (MVP) to market to allowing creative geniuses to create and present new ideas to clients and the general public. It has also reduced the cost of items like optical frames, allowing these to be provided to a broader market (think Third World).

3. Freelancer.com

Creating an entirely new supply and demand model for the workforce – disrupting the traditional model, and allowing people to work on a flexible basis on jobs and projects of their choice, at their rates… from anywhere in the world. Sounds good to me! I believe this is the way of the future and it will have such a positive impact on the global economy. Now someone in India has just as much chance of winning a project as someone in Australia or the US. Imagine the effects on equality and the resulting financial impact on local communities worldwide. 

4. Custom-made tech solutions for businesses 

I have to say it, building the Wink Model management app has transformed our business. It’s also the first in the industry. Changing the way talent are communicated with, and creating a seamless booking and payment process means faster turnaround times, more efficient client servicing, and better data integrity for models and clients – thereby delivering a better product at a higher standard every time. It’s just one example of how businesses are harnessing the power of technology to systemise their organisations and disrupt the market.

5. AngelList

Trying to get capital for a new product/service, and courting investors, is all compiled into one easy and transparent database, which disrupts the current model for new businesses trying to seek seed capital for products/ services. Programs like AngelList allow easy and fast access to funding to get projects off the ground, and provide alternatives to lending from banks or VC (venture capital) firms. This encourages more individuals to get that dream off the ground, which expands the traditional R&D from big business to the individual entrepreneur. Who knows what we will see as a result… the future is dynamic and exciting. 


Aaron Smith KX GroupAaron Smith, founder and CEO of KX Group

1. PromisePay

The payments space is undergoing huge change. The big players (banks, credit card companies) rely on legacy systems and processes, and are under ‘attack’ by hungry, technology-driven start-ups. These new players are venture backed, heavily focused on customer experience, and are infinitely more nimble than the financial industry incumbents. PromisePay, a new Australian payments start-up, is shaking up this space. Its disruption refreshingly allows multiple payment types (credit/ debit cards, direct debit, BPAY, PayPal) through a single window while taking away the pain normally associated with payments like chargebacks, fraud, risk, compliance and hiring staff to manage it all. They call it ‘fully managed payments’. It’s plug and play and, with the company doing 340 percent month-on-month growth since its launch in October last year, online merchants and marketplaces are already starting to love it.

2. Showpo

Showpo is an online fashion store that is majorly disrupting the retail space with its successful use of online stores and social media to sell. Starting out as a one-man show in a little garage in Sydney, Showpo had its first million-dollar turnover month in May 2014. With no funding, Showpo experienced its exponential growth through the use of social media, using Facebook to build its brand, purely because it could not afford to use traditional marketing channels. Showpo started by building its online community, who loved the engaging lifestyle posts and fashion competitions. Nowadays, with the changing of social media channels, Showpo is doing the same thing through Instagram with its high following growth potential. Showpo currently has one million followers between its Instagram and Facebook accounts. Not bad!

3. Liquid Snow Tours

If you have recently booked a trip to the ski fields of Japan, chances are that you have used the Australian-owned company Liquid Snow Tours to get you there. Starting out taking ski fanatics from Sydney to the New South Wales Alps, its founders saw a gap in the market to get people overseas where they would rather be skiing the white stuff, where snowfall is measured in feet, not centimetres! Last season alone, it took 5000 people to Japan though its online booking company. It has changed the traditional and tedious distribution process to go straight from the Japanese hotel to the Australian client through online distribution, cutting the process and dealing directly with hotels and clients in Australia through the web. This, in turn, is cutting the costs and making it easier and faster to book. Liquid Snow Tours then took it to the next level by buying hotels in Japan and filling up these hotels first. Add a bus line to and from the airport and it has become another one-stop shop for all your Japan adrenaline booking needs.

4. Nutrition Bar 

As Australia’s health industry increases exponentially, Nutrition Bar is answering the question everybody in the health space has been asking for years: ‘Where can I get healthy, clean food on the run?’ These guys have found an untapped niche. Whether it’s their nutrient-dense salads, delicious acai bowls or green smoothies made to order on the go, they are filling a gap in the market by providing fast, healthy, fresh food to the thousands of gym goers and health freaks alike. The team behind Nutrition Bar is making real waves and helping make Australia a healthier place. With three stores opening in just 12 months, it seems they could be onto something good.

5. We Love Numbers

Another start-up that is already seeing huge success, We Love Numbers is the new age company disrupting the typical accounting and bookkeeping market by building an entrepreneurial community (membership is by application only) and not just following the boring path of the financial industry’s norms. Being founded by Gen Y entrepreneurs, it also supplies a huge amount of support for growing businesses, backing it up with solid advice. Employing a distributed team (Australia, the US, South Africa, Bolivia and South Africa) to execute a lot of the work keeps membership fees at a reasonable rate and allows your questions to be answered when you need them most, which in the entrepreneurial world is usually not between 9am and 5pm.