Jun 14, 2021

about 6 min read

From Unicorn to Giant: The Secret to Business Success in Australia

Out of 522 unicorn startups founded in a year, Australia is among the top 3 of them. With massive technology support, it is getting more and more difficult to drive a startup to success. There are many reasons why startups fail. However, there are also reasons why startups found their way out and became top leading in their industry.

How can they do that? What is the key? What set their business apart and successful in today’s competitive market? Let’s find out the secret to success of these “used-to-be” unicorn startups in Australia.  


1. Canva

First founded in 2012 by Melanie Perkins (born 1987) -  an Australian technology entrepreneur, Canva is now one of the most popular designing platforms across 190 countries with millions of users. It all started with a small thing: A yearbook design in Perth Australia. Their goal was to take the entire design ecosystem, integrate them into one page and make it accessible to the whole world. Canva is now worth over 4 billion US dollars. 



How it started

Back then in 2012, this market - designing was not touched by a new company in such a long time. It was always ruled over by some big brands like Adobe. Melani has this vision to take the market and change it. The idea seemed to be crazy and a little unrealistic during that time. However, with the frustration of trying to use all the designing tools with so many confusing buttons, Melani decided to take this business to the next level. She successfully pitched over 100 investors and got Canva to the day today. 


What is the key?

It was not luck that Melani came across. It is the dedication and the hard work that she put into every single step building this startup unicorn. “Throughout my life, I’ve always put a lot of effort into any single thing that I did,” Melanie explains. 


Everything would not just go its way without the ability of bringing everyone together as a team. Melani has never stopped trying to prove herself as the leader and empower all her partners to make sure everyone is on the same page and are heading to the same vision: “In the start, it was astronomical trying to figure out all the things about starting a company. Now we’ve got 600 people, so there are astronomical challenges trying to make sure that those 600 are all moving towards the one vision...As a leader, I feel my job is to set the vision and the goals for the company, and then to work with everyone to empower them to dream big and crazy,” 



It all started with the idea of trying to make things more simple. It was from a dedicated person knowing exactly what she is striving for. Having zero connection to people, Melani really worked her way out to find investors in every single meeting she could join. It was the hard work that paid off. And it was the good mind and warm hearted that connect people together as a whole. From a startup unicorn, Melani has made Canva a tech giant and made it international.


2. Airwallex

Airwallex, a fintech start-up founded by Jack Zhang, Lucy Liu, Max Li, and Xijing Dai, became a unicorn in March 2019 after only three and a half years. Airwallex is a Melbourne based cross-border financial startup unicorn. It works by allowing clients to open a local bank account in 50 different currencies so they can instantly send and receive money internationally. 



The online payment platform (like TransferWise for businesses) was founded in 2015 in Melbourne and is now headquartered in Hong Kong. It is now valued at US$1 billion. Foreign currency and cross-border payments to and from more than 130 countries are at the heart of its offering.


How it started

Jack Zhang and his co-founders first started a coffee shop franchise. Back then they had to use their bank account or traditional company in making international payments. It was deadly expensive and slow to use. Therefore, they started right there to solve one single problem: changing the way the bank system corresponds. What he thought of was creating a low-cost, real-time, transparent and efficient worldwide payment. 


What is the key?

By putting themselves in customer’s shoes and trying to fix their actual business operating issues, Airwallex are really becoming a more and more powerful startup unicorn. Giving businesses transparency and control while saving their time and money are the ultimate goals of Airwallex. It is the “customer first” mindset that impacts Airwallex and make it become a trustable online payment platform of all-sized companies.


However, he does not call this success. He rather thinks of it as a journey with all exciting experiences that he has gained with his team. “I wouldn’t call it a success story,” he says. “It’s more like a journey which is quite unique.” 



In order to achieve the so-called “success” in business, happiness would be the key that Mr Zhang mentioned. “With Airwallex, which is such a long-term, bold, ambitious vision, I truly feel that I’m very happy and I’m able to enjoy day-to-day life,” says Jack. “If you think about it, you probably spend more than 60 or 70 percent of your life at work. If you don’t enjoy it, then that’s pretty sad.” Based on that, being happy at work is the objective and the key important factor that he builds within his business culture. He wants to make sure everyone realizes their values and what they contribute does matter to the firm.


Moreover, according to Zhang, relationships and reputation are key to success. Reputation is crucial when it comes to holding would-be competitors at bay. Most of the time they had to expect what was going to happen. But once that reputation is earned, it’s very hard for people to come in and compete against. “Our number one priority is abiding by their rules. We’re very strict around making sure we don’t do anything that carries any kind of risk because our reputation is the only thing we’ve got.”


3. Judo

Judo bank is an Australia challenger bank focused on small and medium-sized enterprise lending. It also offers a range of personal term deposit products to consumers. Until January 2021, Judo bank has raised a total of 1.7 billion dollars of funding in 7 rounds. This has given them a valuation of 1.6 billions dollars.



How it started

As Alex Twigg - Co-founder and CIO of Judo bank share, Judo saw the great need in the Australian marketplace in this sector. Hence they wanted to contribute, to help and support the SMEs community. This all started with the intention of helping small businesses altogether by bringing real value of banking to this environment and the real trusted relationship that SMEs need and deserve. 


What is the key?

Trying to launch and operate a new bank is definitely not an easy thing. It has to do with a lot of complicating processes, procedures, systems, customer propositions,... It is a huge undertaking that must not be underestimated. Therefore, the key thing that they were trying to do from the beginning was to pick really experienced and credentialed partners to help them through this process. 



“Judo in a way was determined “different” both technically and systematically. As a brand-new bank trying to dive into the Australian marketplace, it is super important for us to find a partner and platforms to deliver an end-to-end customer experience of full banking proposition” - Alex shared.


Today's Australian startup scene fosters an environment where success is more attainable than ever before. Despite their phenomenal progress, these companies' founders would have gone through a lot of agony in their early years. Taking the risk of starting a business can be a challenging and risky process. If you've reached this point, a business consulting guidance may be beneficial in addressing your problems. 

Before you start, look over some helpful support we can provide you to avoid loss and gain more customers. Visit us at Goldenowl.asia to schedule a meeting today and get all your problems solved in no time!

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