Motorbike manufacturer braaap named Telstra Victorian Business of the Year

Media Release, 03 July 2013

Australia’s only home-grown motorcycle brand, braaap, has shown that two wheels are better than four and proves that vehicle manufacturing has a place in Victoria after been named the 2013 Telstra Victorian Business of the Year in Melbourne tonight.

As a teenager Brad Smith, braaap founder, built his dream bike and in 2005, aged just 18, set off for China to secure a manufacturer and subsequently establish his company around a mission to make motorcycling fun and affordable.

His Frankston-based business, which also took out the Small Business Award, has ‘super concept’ stores in Melbourne, Launceston, Devonport and Hobart selling bikes, spare parts, protective gear and a host of related wares. It also has a national dealer network, a growing online presence, and is now expanding to New Zealand and the USA.

As global lending tightened after the global financial crisis, braaap also launched a consumer finance arm helping sales increase 300 per cent above the industry growth rate.
Fundamental to its success is the ‘braaap experience’ driven by the joy of seeing children ride safely.

“I want to help others build a lifestyle designed around a fun, clean and healthy adrenaline sport. I want motorbike riding to be affordable and accessible to the masses, to give them the experience I had when growing up and the connection it created with my family and friends,” Mr Smith said.

“The idea of people getting a clean adrenalin rush, having fun together, seeing people getting outside and active motivated me to design the bike, the retail experience, the consumer finance company and the tracks to ride.”

Other winners in the Telstra Victorian Business Awards are Melbourne based which won the Start-Up Award. Launched in 2012, the business is geared towards younger, healthier Australians who want hassle-free policies that are easy to buy, understand and are accessible online.

The Micro-Business Award was won by Torquay’s Great Ocean Road Surf Tours, where owner Alistair Lawson is a passionate surfer who offers surfing programs to learners through to surfing die-hards.

Melbourne-based mortgage aggregators Connective took out the Medium Business Award and Australia’s largest olive farmer and producer of extra virgin olive oil, Lara-based Boundary Bend Olives, won the Regional Award.

Will Irving, Telstra Business Group Managing Director and Ambassador for the Telstra Australian Business Awards, said braaap was a fantastic example of an entrepreneurial Victorian business that had persevered with its passion to become a standout in the local community.

“braaap founder Brad Smith is an outstanding young entrepreneur with a clear vision and approach to business success,” Mr Irving said.

“Judges were impressed with braaap’s great business model, creativity and the genuine compassion and empathy for employees as they are guided to personal, professional and financial success.”

The Telstra Australian Business Awards were launched in 1992 to recognise the achievements of small and medium businesses and to share their growth ideas and strategies in a way that benefits the wider business community.

“We are thrilled each year to learn about businesses that innovate, persevere and thrive, even through tough economic conditions, and I encourage Victorians to nominate businesses now for the 2014 awards,” Mr Irving said.

The winners of the 2013 Telstra Victorian Business Awards announced tonight in Melbourne are:

Telstra Victorian Business of the Year

braaap, Frankston

Start-Up Award, Melbourne
The online health insurer is reinventing health insurance for younger, healthier Australians and is now one of Australia’s fastest growing health insurers. Judges said the business had a clear vision and had built a dream team, specialising in web and health care, and a compelling customer offer. Judges noted how the business had overcome barriers to entry, especially government licences and regulations.

Micro-Business Award

Great Ocean Road Surf Tours, Torquay
What started as a hobby has developed into a burgeoning business that offers a range of programs to suit surfers at all levels including day trips, camps for surfing die-hards and learn-to-surf tours. Judges singled out the business for its passion and outstanding product segmentation, which allows for targeted product marketing, and a demonstrated commitment to sustainable environmental practice.

Small Business Award

braaap, Frankston

Medium Business Award

Connective, Melbourne
The fastest growing aggregator in the mortgage broking industry, Connective has 1,800 members who settle in excess of $1.4 billion in mortgages each month through more than 50 Australian lenders. Judges said the business had challenged an industry that was characterised by unreasonable agreements by offering a fair and transparent new way for brokers to do business. They said Connective had continually expanded its services for customers and developed exceptional and thorough business practices.

Regional Award

Boundary Bend Olives, Lara
As Australia's largest olive farmer and producer of extra virgin olive oil, with 2.5 million trees on more than 6,000 hectares, the business has grown domestic and global sales despite the high Australian dollar and low world olive oil prices. Judges said Boundary Bend Olives had flourished despite drought, flood and a myriad of challenges. Calling it ‘exceptional’, they recognised the owners’ dedication to their business, the region and employees and production of a quality product without compromise.

Winners of the Telstra Victorian Business Awards will be judged against category winners from other states and territories in the lead up to the national Telstra Australian Business Awards to be announced in Sydney on 22 August. Winners of the 2013 Awards will share in more than $500,000 in prizes, which is split among state, territory and national winners.

For more information about the Award winners, or to nominate for the 2014 Telstra Australian Business Awards, visit the Telstra Business Awards website.