Startups make up a quarter of 40under40 winners


// The postponed annual 40under40 awards was finally held last week, and tens of the winners this year came from startupland…

Local business publisher, Business News, has been running its annual 40under40 awards since 2002.

Over 700 West Australians have been recognised over the intervening years, and quite a few of them are startup founders. This year is no different.

Postponed from mid-March due to Covid, the annual awards night was held last week, and ten of the 40 were startup founders, with Tyler Spooner winning the ‘Startup‘ category:

Tyler Spooner accepting his 40u40 Award from Mark Beyer, Business News. Photo – LinkedIn.
  • Amanda Walker: WA HomeStay
  • Bernadette Olivier: The Volte
  • Dr Chris Brennan-Jones: Telethon Kids Institute
  • Leslie Delaforce: DreamSpark, formerly Tank Stream Labs
  • Nikhil Jayaraj: Regen Power
  • Paola Magni: Virtual CSI
  • Rafael Kimberley-Bowen: Scale Partners, angel investor
  • Samantha Hall: Spaces Alive
  • Tyler Spooner: Uno Group
  • Yvonne Power: Village Energy

Congratulations to them all. Rachael Ferguson was the overall winner with her business SynxBody.

Startup News spoke with one of the winners, Amanda Walker from WA HomeStay. It’s obviously been a tough year for a local accommodation startup that is taking on AirBnb, with lock downs, travel restrictions and a hit on the tourism dollar.

“[We’re] a couple with three kids, using our own income to fund a business,” said Amanda. “An award like this means the world as it is affirmation that we are not the only ones who think this might work.”

Mark and Amanda Walker at 40u40 Awards. Photo – LinkedIn.

The business was formed after Amanda (along with other holiday home owners) felt that Stayz had become less customer-friendly after its sale to NASDAQ-listed site HomeAway in 2018.

“We believed a local booking platform could be fair for both owners and guests, give back to the WA community and promote sustainable tourism at the same time,” she said.

WA HomeStay only charges 5% booking fee, while the other sites can charge 13-20% she said. They also give away $1 to Telethon Kids for every booking.

Covid was tough. The growing business screeched to a halt, and 100% of the bookings were refunded in full. Amanda says she used the time to develop best practice in cleaning, and spread this information among the owners.

“Since the regional restrictions have listed, business has boomed,” she said. “People wanted to get out of self isolation and getaway. There has also been a real upswing in support for a local booking platform.”

“With the increase in demand, we have started to branch out for the South West. We now have properties in Albany, Balingup and Jurien Bay. New properties are listing every week.”

“Helping guests find the perfect place for their special occasions is also really rewarding. We had a guest rebook their 60th wedding anniversary trip, as they were booked to go to Singapore when Covid hit. A gorgeous getaway in Margaret River, was just what the doctor ordered.”


Read more about the latest 40under40 winners at Business News’ 40u40 website.

Main Photo – Amanda Walker, photo supplied.

Disclosure – the author used to be CEO of Business News, and was a former chief judge of 40u40 (also a former winner, many, many years ago, when I was under 40 😎).